Title Transfers in Iowa
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A title transfer is necessary whenever the legal ownership of a vehicle changes hands. This process must be completed at the county treasurer's office within 30 days. 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
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:
- Complete the odometer statement.
- Complete the damage disclosure statement.
- 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.
- 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.
- Provide the buyer with a Bill of Sale.
When buying a new car, the dealer will assist you in completing all of the paperwork needed for the title transfer.
If you are interested in buying a new car, save time by shopping online for a new vehicle.
Buying a vehicle requires careful planning and research. Obviously, you need to consider your budget and whether the vehicles in your price range will meet your needs with the car loan options you have available. However, 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.
Finally, 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, follow these simple steps:
- Ask the seller to sign and date the title. The lienholder will also need to sign, if applicable.
- Sign and date the title.
- 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. Registration costs for vehicles from 1993 and newer are based on a formula that combines vehicle weight and list price. Fees for older vehicles are calculated on a flat fee basis.
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.
A transfer to family is defined as assigning ownership of a vehicle to your:
To complete a family title transfer:
- The registered owner should complete the back of the title by entering the mileage in the correct area. Don't forget to sign and date the document.
- The new owner should sign and date the title.
- The new owner should visit the county treasurer's office to submit the paperwork.
You could be eligible for trade-in credits on your vehicle use tax when you register your new vehicle. This exemption applies for adopted and step relationships as well as biological relatives. To learn more about how to claim this exemption, contact your local county treasurer's office.
If you receive a vehicle as a gift, follow these steps to complete the title transfer process:
- Have the person giving the gift sign complete the back of the title by entering the mileage in the correct area. They should also sign and date the document.
- Add your signature to the title.
- Visit the county treasurer's office to complete the title transfer process.
When transferring a title, be prepared to pay all necessary vehicle registration fees. While fees for older vehicles are calculated on a flat fee basis, registration costs for vehicles from 1993 and newer are based on a formula that combines vehicle weight and list price.
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.
When you donate your vehicle to charity, you can often receive a tax credit. Consult a tax attorney for more advice on this issue.
Consider consulting a probate attorney for advice if you are the heir to an estate that includes one or more vehicles.
There are three ways to handle a title transfer that occurs as the result of a death:
- When an Iowa resident dies and the will goes through probate, the courts will handle the vehicle transfer.
- If there is a will that did not go through probate, you'll need to complete an Affidavit of Death Testate to arrange for a title transfer.
- If the deceased person did not have a valid will, you'll need to complete an Affidavit of Death Intestate to arrange for a title transfer.
When you transfer the title, be prepared to pay all required vehicle registration fees. For vehicles from 1993 or newer, fees are based on the vehicle weight and list price.
Don't forget that you'll also need a valid car insurance policy for the vehicle. To find the coverage you need at a price that fits your budget, visit our Insurance Center.
Changing a Name
- Visit the county treasurer in the county where your title was first issued.
- Provide proof of your name change, such as a copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order.
- Provide payment for the $15 fee to have the new title issued, plus an additional $10 processing fee if lienholder documentation is needed.
Deleting a Name
- Write the correct owner name under "Registered Owner."
- If the title has "and" between the names, have both parties sign. If the title has "or" between the names, only one person needs to sign the document.
- Bring the paperwork to the country treasurer's office. No appointment is needed, but you may want to call ahead to confirm the location's business hours.
- Pay a $15 fee to have a title issued. There is also a $10 processing fee if you have a require documentation from the lienholder.
Adding a Name
- Add the name of the new co-owner to the correct section on the back of the title.
- Visit the county treasurer's office with the appropriate paperwork. No appointment is needed, but you may want to call ahead to confirm the location's business hours.
- Pay a $15 fee to have a title issued, plus an additional $10 processing fee if you have a require documentation from the lienholder.
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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