Types of Special License Plates in Iowa

SUMMARY: Types of Iowa Specialty License Plates

Several different types of special license plates are offered in Iowa. You can order personalized plates or plates that support various causes, including charitable organizations or colleges. If you're eligible, you can also get tags for your military service or antique license plates for a classic car.

Read below for more information about the types of special license plates offered to Iowa residents.


Personalized License Plates in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) offers personalization of the standard Iowa license plate as well as most special plate designs.

You can create your own custom tag number for your personalized license plate; however, it must meet IA DOT guidelines to be approved:

  • Your personalized plate must have at least 2 letters and no more than 7 characters.
  • The plate CANNOT have:
    • The number “0".
    • Punctuation.
    • Existing character combinations.
  • The language CANNOT:
    • Be offensive, profane, vulgar, hostile, or prejudiced.
    • Use offensive foreign language.
    • Show affiliation with a government agency.

You can check the availability of a plate number on the IA DOT website. When you apply for a personalized plate, you can include several options in case your first choice is not approved.

Personalized license plate fees in IA are charged in addition to other registration fees:

Special Interest & Charity Plates

A wide range of special interest and charity license plates are available from the Iowa DOT.

These plates allow you to show your support for special causes, charities, and other organizations. The fees help to support the cause or organization featured on the plate.

Examples of special interest and charity license plates include the:

  • Breast Cancer Awareness plate.
  • Ducks Unlimited license plate.
  • Education license plate.
  • Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness tag.

Fees for special interest license plates vary and are charged IN ADDITION to standard registration fees and renewal fees. Some examples of fees include:

  • The Education license plate:
    • $35 to order.
    • $10 to renew.
  • The Choose Life plate:
    • $25 to order.
    • $5 to renew.

NOTE: Special interest plates can be personalized for additional fees.

See the IA DOT website for a complete list of special interest license plate and their fees. For application instructions, visit our Applying for Special License Plates page.

Collegiate Plates in IA

Collegiate license plates are much like special interest plates, allowing you to show your support for an Iowa college or university.

Some of the collegiate plates available are tags for:

  • Iowa State University.
  • University of Iowa.
  • Upper Iowa University.

Fees for collegiate plates are charged IN ADDITION to registration and renewal fees. Fees vary based on the college type (private or public):

  • Public university plates:
    • $50 to order.
      • $25 of the initial plate fee goes to the university.
    • $5 to renew.
  • Private Iowa college and university plates:
    • $25 to order.
    • $5 to renew.

NOTE: You can pay additional fees to personalize collegiate plates.

A complete list of collegiate plates is available on the IA Department of Transportation website. You'll find application information by visiting our page on Applying for Special License Plates.

IA Military License Plates

Many IA military license plates are available, including those affiliated with U.S. military branches, and plates that recognize special honors.

Iowa military plates include:

  • The Purple Heart license plate.
  • The Retired Navy plate.
  • The Silver Star plate.

To be eligible for a military plate, your service record must reflect the plate that you want. You must be able to provide proof of eligibility, such as your discharge papers.

Fees vary for military license plates; for example, for military retiree plates:

NOTE: You can also personalize most military plates for an additional fee.

See the Iowa DOT website for a complete list of military plates and fees. For application details, visit our page on Applying for Special License Plates in IA.

Antique & Vintage License Plates

Antique vehicle license plates are available for vehicles that are:

  • At least 25 years old.
  • Driven ONLY for display or events, such as car shows.

You can also apply to use an authentic vintage Iowa license plate issued the same year as the model year of your vehicle.

For more information about antique and vintage license plates, contact the Iowa DOT:

  • Online.
  • By calling (515) 239-1101.
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