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  • Title Transfers in Iowa

    Registering a car?

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    What is a Title Transfer?

    A title transfer is necessary whenever the legal ownership of a vehicle changes hands. Some of the more common reasons for transferring a vehicle title include:

    • Selling or buying a vehicle
    • Repaying an auto loan
    • Giving a vehicle to a family member
    • Giving a vehicle as a gift
    • Donating a vehicle to charity
    • Inheriting a vehicle
    • Changing names after divorce or marriage

    Selling a Vehicle

    In many cases, residents choose to sell their vehicles privately. This transaction can be tricky, however, because both parties want to leave feeling like they've gotten the best deal possible. One way to make selling your vehicle easier is to purchase a vehicle history report to show potential buyers your vehicle is worth the asking price. For additional information, please see our section dedicated to VHRs.

    Once you've sold your vehicle, follow these steps to complete the transfer of ownership:

    1. Complete the odometer statement.
    2. Complete the damage disclosure statement.
    3. Complete the Certificate of Title by entering the mileage, then signing and dating the document. If needed, see our section on Replacing a Lost Title to learn how to request a duplicate.
    4. Have the buyer sign and date the title, then provide him/her with the name of the county where the vehicle was last registered and the date the license plates expire.
    5. Provide the buyer with a Bill of Sale.

    Buying a Vehicle

    New Cars

    When buying a new car, the dealer will assist you in completing all of the paperwork needed for the title transfer.

    Used Cars

    It's important not to forget that you'll also need a valid car insurance policy for your new purchase. To get quotes from a variety of carriers, visit our Insurance Center.

    You should order a vehicle history report online to make sure you know as much as possible about the car you are about to purchase.

    When you're ready to make the sale official, you may need to follow these simple steps:

    1. Ask the seller to sign and date the title. The lienholder will also need to sign, if applicable.
    2. Sign and date the title.
    3. Take the paperwork to your nearest county treasurer's office to complete the transfer process. No appointment is needed, but it's a good idea to call ahead to confirm the office hours.

    Be prepared to pay all necessary vehicle registration fees at this time.

    Removing a Lien

    When you pay off your car loan, the lienholder's name must be removed from the title. In most cases, this is something the lienholder will take care of for you.

    Donating a Vehicle

    Donating a vehicle to charity can be a great way to support a cause you believe in. To learn more, please see our section on car donation.

    Making Name Corrections

    Changing a Name

    To change, add or delete a name, you may need to:

    1. Visit the county treasurer in the county where your title was first issued.
    2. Provide proof of your name change, such as a copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order.
    3. Provide payment for the $25 title fee.

    Obtaining a vital record is an easy way to provide proof of identity. For details on updating your driver's license, please visit our section on Changing Your Name.