Registering a custom car in Iowa is a process that can be completed by owners of modified or homemade vehicles through the state Department of Transportation (DOT). However, prior to applying for a custom car registration with the DOT Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), vehicle owners must ensure that their vehicle qualifies for this type of registration document.

Also, before requesting a registration for custom cars, applicants will be required to submit their vehicle to an inspection conducted by the MVD Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection. Find out more about the IA custom vehicle registration process by reading the sections outlined below.

Definition of a Custom Vehicle in Iowa

The state DOT will issue a registration for custom vehicles in Iowa to applicants whose motor vehicles qualify under state law as reconstructed or homebuilt vehicles.

Per the Iowa Administrative Rules, reconstructed vehicles can undergo the custom auto registration process after they have been modified from their original construction by using new or used components and made roadworthy.

The procedure to register custom car projects can also be completed for homemade vehicles that were not built by a recognized manufacturer as an existing make or model of vehicle.

Steps in the Iowa Registration Process

To successfully finalize the Iowa custom car registration process, applicants will be required to complete certain specific steps in addition to those that apply for the standard vehicle registration procedure. Therefore, in order to obtain the department’s approval to title and register custom vehicle projects, you will first be required to complete the following steps:

  • Schedule a vehicle inspection by calling or emailing the MVD Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection.
  • Complete the MVD Affidavit to Operate a Vehicle for Inspection for purposes of obtaining the authorization to drive your car to the inspection facility.
  • Submit the supporting ownership documents during the inspection, such as a car title or a manufacturer’s certificate of origin and bills of sale and receipts for the major parts used to build or modify the vehicle.
  • Obtain an authorization form for an Iowa vehicle identification number (VIN) and retrieve the application and ownership documentation from the inspector.

After completing the mandatory inspection for an IA custom vehicle registration, applicants will be required to visit their county treasurer’s office in order to finalize the titling and registration procedure. During the final step in the process of registering a custom vehicle, auto owners will have to submit the title and registration form, the VIN approval form, the ownership documents and payment for the applicable fees.

Fees to Register a Custom Vehicle in Iowa

Vehicle owners applying for custom car registrations in Iowa will be required to arrange payment for several types of fees in order to successfully complete the registration procedure. The fee for a new registration for custom vehicles generally varies based on the vehicle’s empty weight and fair market value.

Applicants who have paid sales tax on any components used in the vehicle construction will be required to provide the corresponding proof of payment. Also, since the IA custom auto registration process consists of additional steps, additional service fees may also apply.

Note: Check with your local DOT location to inquire about the exact payable costs that must be paid initially and the car registration renewal fees that apply afterward.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.