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  • Plate Surrender in Iowa

    Registering a car?

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    Surrendering your Iowa license plates comes into play if you apply for a registration refund after moving out of state, or if you fail to transfer the plates after removing them from a previously owned vehicle.

    For more on this and other license-plate-transfer scenarios, keep on reading.

    Moving to Iowa

    You must register your car with your county treasurer’s office within 30 days of establishing residency. No surrendering of plates is required, unless mandated by your former state’s DMV.

    When registering you'll have your choice between standard and specialized license plates.

    Visit our relocation guide for information on Iowa, your new home.

    Moving from IA

    After moving out of Iowa you have two choices:

    • Pursue a registration refund. This requires surrendering your license plates to your county treasurer.
    • Retain your Iowa license plates. No action is required. Keep them as souvenirs or check if your new neighborhood offers license plate recycling.
    • For relocation guidance, visit our Moving Out of Iowa page.

    Selling a Used Car in Iowa

    Remember to remove the license plates before handing over the car keys. You then have 30 days to transfer the license plates to another vehicle in your name.

    For more on selling your car, visit our Title Transfers page.

    Buying a Used Car in IA

    The seller surrenders the car title, but not the license plates. If you don’t have plates to transfer and the vehicle is registered in Iowa, you can drive the car temporarily without plates provided you carry one of the following documents:

    • A completed bill of sale that’s signed and dated by the seller.
    • The car’s title.

    For help on what steps to follow when buying a car, check out our Vehicle Title Transfers page.

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