Registration Renewal in Iowa
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Renew IA Registration
In Iowa, vehicle registrations are set to expire at the end of your birth month. This occurs regardless of the actual day you were born. If your birthday is July 2 and your mother's birthday is July 19, for example, both of you will have your vehicle registrations expire on July 31.
Note that there is a one-month grace period after this date in which you can renew without penalty.
Register a Vehicle in IA for the First Time
If you are a new state resident or have recently purchased a different vehicle, follow the directions on DMV.org's Car Registration page to register your vehicle for the first time.
Register a Non-Operational Vehicle
If your vehicle is non-operational, you can save money by putting the plates in storage at your county treasurer’s office. When you surrender your plates and current registration, the State Motor Vehicle System is updated and the registration is stamped "STORED". You will not have to pay a penalty if you decide to take the vehicle out of storage at a later date.
Before your registration is set to expire, you should receive a renewal notice in the mail. This notice will contain the amount of your registration renewal fees and instructions for how to submit your payment.
If you do not receive a renewal notice, the county treasurer’s office may not have your correct address on file. When you move, it is your responsibility to update your address with the county treasurer's office within 10 days.
Failing to do so may result in a misdirected renewal notice, although you will still be expected to pay your registration renewal fees in a timely fashion.
Registration renewal fees should be listed on your reminder notice. If you did not receive your notice or you have questions, contact your county treasurer's office for additional information.
If you're wondering why your registration renewal is more expensive than your friend's registration, keep in mind that the charges are calculated based on the value of your vehicle. The newer and more valuable your automobile is, the more expensive it will be to register. This is similar to how car insurance is more expensive for drivers with newer vehicles.
Unlike other fees, vehicle registration costs in Iowa do not increase each year. Fees were increased on January 1, 2009, but the last increase was in the mid-1980s. For more information about this new fee increase, please visit the Iowa Department of Transportation website.
Avoid Late Fees and Penalties
Vehicle registrations can be renewed up to one month in advance. There is also a one month grace period after the registration expires. After this, however, penalties are accessed at 5% of the fee due per vehicle. The minimum penalty is $5 per vehicle, with charges rounded to the nearest dollar amount.
Although the county treasurer does send out reminder notices, failing to receive a notice does not affect the amount of late fees and penalties you will be charged for a delinquent registration.
- Check your renewal notice. Online renewal is available if you do not have any overdue registration fees and you've received a PIN number with your renewal notice.
- Visit the state's online renewal website and enter the necessary information into the form.
- Pay by credit card or using an eCheck electronic debit. If you're on a tight budget, however, be aware that there is a small additional fee charged for taking advantage of the online renewal system.
- Receive your registration and validation stickers in the mail. Your request should be processed within 24 business hours of your online payment.
- Obtain your renewal notice. If you did not receive a notice, there is a chance you have an incorrect address on file. Contact your county treasurer’s office for details.
- Visit your county treasurer’s office. No appointment is needed, but it's a good idea to call ahead to confirm the location's business hours.
- Provide payment for all needed registration fees. Keep in mind that most locations will not accept credit or debit card payments for in person registration renewal.
- Receive your registration and validation stickers in the mail. Contact your county treasurer’s office to request a replacement if these items are not received within two weeks.
- Complete the blank portions on your registration renewal notice.
- Mail the notice and your payment to the address listed.
- Your payment will be processed as soon as it is received. If you do not receive your registration and validation stickers in the mail within two weeks, contact your county treasurer’s office to request a replacement.
After renewing your registration, you'll receive validation stickers that should be affixed to your license plates. These allow law enforcement officers to see at a glance that your registration is current.
Keep in mind that state law requires stickers to be attached on or before the enforcement date of the first day of the second month following the registration month. If your stickers are not attached by this date, you may be ticketed.
If you itemize deductions on your taxes, you may be able to deduct part your vehicle registration fee as a personal property tax expense. Your vehicle is eligible if it carries 10 people or less and is constructed on a truck chassis or with special features for occasional off-road operation. However, fees for pickups, motorcycles, motor trucks, work vans, ambulances, hearses, non-passenger carrying vans, campers, or motor bikes are not eligible for this tax deduction.
Consult a qualified tax attorney if you have questions about how to properly claim this deduction on your return.
Once your vehicle is properly registered and insured, you're ready to hit the road. While driving defensively is a good start in keeping yourself safe, you'll also want to make sure you've taken precautions to keep your vehicle in optimal running condition.
Tire rotation, tire replacement, oil changes, and regular tune ups can keep your vehicle in top condition and reduce your chances of getting stranded. If you don't know how to complete these tasks yourself, look for a mechanic you can trust. You may also wish to consider enrolling in a roadside assistance program or purchasing an after-market auto warranty to provide additional protection.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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