Scooters, Mopeds, Etc... in Iowa

The Iowa Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) has license and registration requirements for scooters, mopeds, and motorized bikes. On this page, we’ll help you figure out which of these vehicles you have and what you need to legally ride it.

Iowa Motor Scooters

Generally, Iowa places motor scooters in the same category as motorcycles, meaning they:

  • Are equipped with a seat or saddle for the operator.
  • Have 3 wheels or fewer on the ground.

If you have a motor scooter, you’ll need to complete licensing and registration requirements applicable to motorcycles.

Mopeds & Motorized Bicycles

Your vehicle is a moped (also known as a motorized bicycle) if it meets EACH of the following:

  • Has a seat for the driver only and is NOT designed to carry passengers.
  • Designed to operate with no more than 3 wheels on the ground.
  • Can’t go faster than 39 MPH on level ground unassisted by human propulsion.
    • The moped’s top speed should be printed on the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO).
  • Able to go at least 20 MPH up a 3% incline.

You must register your moped the same as you would a motorcycle or any other vehicle at your county treasurer’s office.

Next, we’ll go over the licensing requirements and safety laws for riding mopeds in Iowa.

IA Moped License Requirements

You must be at least 14 years old to apply for a moped license.

If you’re:

  • At least 18 years old AND have a valid IA driver’s license, you DO NOT need to apply for a moped license—your valid driver’s license is enough.
    • If you don’t have a driver’s license, you’ll need to apply for a moped license following the process outlined below.
  • Younger than 18 years old, you MUST apply for a moped license following the steps below, regardless of whether you have a driver’s license.
  • 14 and 15 years old you must complete a moped education course PRIOR to applying for a moped license.
    • You will need to present a certificate of completion when you apply for your moped credentials.
  • At least 16 years old, taking a moped education course is optional when applying for your moped license.

Apply for Your Moped License

To apply for a moped license, head to your local driver license office and be prepared to:

  • Provide:
    • A parent consent form if you’re younger than 18 years old.
    • Acceptable proof of your age, identity, and Social Security number.
    • A certificate of completion for a moped education course if you were required to take one.
    • Payment for the $8 moped license fee.
  • Pass a vision and knowledge test* IF you’ve never held a driver’s license.

When everything’s said and done, you’ll receive your moped license, which is valid for 2 years.

Keep the Iowa Moped Operator’s Manual (Form MM193) handy while preparing to apply for your Iowa moped license. It’s full of useful instructions and helpful tips specific to moped riders in The Hawkeye State.

*NOTE: You may have to pass a moped skills test, too—call the driver license office ahead of time to confirm.

Moped Safety Regulations

Once you’re properly licensed and have registered your moped, it’s time to hit the road—but not until you understand Iowa’s moped safety laws and regulations, which state you:

  • Can’t carry passengers on your moped.
  • Must attach a Day-Glo orange safety flag to the rear.
    • The flag must extend at least 5 feet above the ground, be triangular in shape, and be no smaller than 30 square inches.
  • Can’t operate side by side with other vehicles in the same lane of travel.
  • Can’t operate your moped between lanes of travel.
  • Must keep the moped’s headlight on when operating on public streets and roads.
  • Can’t carry packages or any kind of items that prevent you from keeping both hands on the handgrips.

Additionally, the state recommends studying the safety laws for all drivers outlined in the Iowa Driver’s Manual.

Autocycles in Iowa

An autocycle in Iowa is a motor vehicle that has:

  • 3 wheels.
    • 2 wheels in the front and 1 wheel in the back.
  • A steering wheel instead of handlebars.
  • No more than 2 seats that do NOT require straddling.
  • Pedals for acceleration, braking, and clutching.

As long as the vehicle meets the above criteria, it’s an autocycle and not a motorcycle—even if it has a vehicle identification number and manufacturer’s certificate of origin that identifies it as a motorcycle.

Autocycle License & Registration

You can operate an autocycle with any driver’s license for noncommercial vehicles, including basic Class C driver’s licenses; you don’t need a motorcycle endorsement.

You must register your autocycle before you can operate it on public roads. The autocycle registration process follows the same steps for registering a motorcycle in Iowa (including paperwork, insurance, and fees).

After you register your autocycle, you’ll receive 1 license plate to affix to the rear of the vehicle.

Safety Regulations for Autocycles 

Before you hit the road, note that:

  • Autocycles are equipped with seatbelts and all operators and passengers must wear them.
  • Iowa’s child restraint safety laws for standard motor vehicles apply to children riding in autocycles.
  • The state doesn’t require helmets when operating or riding in an autocycle, but for your safety, it’s a good idea to wear one.

Check out both Iowa’s motorcycle operator manual and driver’s manual for additional traffic laws and safety tips.

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