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New car titles cannot be obtained online or by mail. Titling must be done in person at your local DMV. Depending on your case, a car dealership may be able to request a title on your behalf. To make sure you are fully prepared for the titling process, download our informative online car title guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to complete the application process quickly and easily. You will also get in-depth details on how to complete other important title transactions, such as transferring ownership, updating information and replacing your title if it is lost.

2. In Person at the DMV

To obtain a new title, you must provide details that relate to your car, such as its make, model, VIN number, date of purchase, odometer reading and lienholder information. You must also fill out a title application and pay various fees, such as new title and registration fees, emissions and VIN inspection charges & more. Filling out the title application and gathering the funds to cover all applicable fees can be confusing. You may not know which application to complete or which fees you need to pay. Furthermore, arriving at the DMV unprepared will likely result in a long wait time and potential mistakes on your application, which would mean having to return to complete the transaction.


Vehicle owners may need to get a new car title in Iowa in several different circumstances. A car title renewal or update may be necessary if a vehicle owner is new to the state or has purchased a new or used vehicle. Motorists often confuse how to get car title with how to apply to register their vehicles. Although these processes are often done at the same time or close together, they are not the same and it is important to understand the differences to ensure that vehicles have all their necessary documentation in order.

It is extremely important that ownership document information is kept up-to-date and that it is corrected quickly if it is found to be inaccurate. Certificates of title that are erroneous or out-of-date can delay or prevent a vehicle owner from selling or transferring their vehicle to a new owner or state. It may also affect vehicle registration and other standard tasks and requirements. Replacing certificates of title is an important task for if something happens to the original document.

Where to Apply for a Car Title in Iowa

Unlike vehicle registrations, which must be periodically renewed, Iowa title renewal is not required by state law. A vehicle owner needs to update his or her ownership documents when there is a relevant name, address or ownership change but, barring such changes, a title is otherwise valid for the life of the vehicle. When motorists refer to the need for a “DMV title renew” or “title registration” application they are generally actually referring to either registration renewal or updating a title.

To get a new certificate of title or complete most other car title transactions, motorists must submit their applications in person or by mail. Title transactions cannot be handled online or over the phone. To request any type of title, applicants must first acquire and fill out the necessary form. Forms, along with the accompanying documentation and payment, can be turned in or mailed in to either the Iowa Department of Transportation or a County Treasurer’s Office.

The Iowa Auto Title Application

Iowa vehicle title applications are available from the Iowa Department of Transportation or County Treasurer’s Offices. To complete the application, motorists will need to provide a variety of personal information including their names, addresses, social security numbers and dates of birth. If a DMV auto title lists more than one legal owner, all listed owners must provide the required information and sign the form before it will be accepted. To get ownership documents for a car owned by an organization or corporation, the applicant will need to provide Federal Employer Identification numbers and other alternative ID information.

Car title renewal applications also require that applicants supply basic information on the vehicles in question. This includes vehicles’ makes, models, years, styles, colors and fuel type. Depending on the circumstances for updating title information, additional information such as odometer readings may also be required.

If a vehicle for which an auto title is being sought is under lien, the applicant will need to enter full information on all parties associated with the lien on the form. Applicants must also supply information on the purchase or acquisition price of the vehicle. Additional optional sections of the form will need to be filled out if the motorist is filing for an exemption from state Use Taxes or if the vehicle is “home built” or has been reconstructed from salvage.

Documents You Must Provide When Applying for a New Car Title in Iowa

Iowa title applications must be accompanied by approved and adequate documentation or they will not be processed. In addition to the new car title application form, applicants will need a clean, authorized hard copy of the vehicle’s previous title. This may be a title issued to the owner in a different state or a title issued to the previous owner from whom the current owner has purchased or acquired the vehicle. To get a car title for a newly manufactured vehicle, motorists must supply the documentation given to them by the dealer showing the vehicle’s new status and lack of former title.

Photocopies and digital copies of certificates of ownership will not be accepted. Titles which have been written on, whited out, damaged or otherwise altered will also be refused. Applicants who do not have acceptable and clean DMV car titles with which to request their title renewals will need to get appropriate titles before applying for revised or corrected titles.

Auto title applicants who have recently purchased used vehicles may need to include formal statements related to odometer readings and/or damage disclosures with their applications. All car title renewal applicants will need to bring or send acceptable forms of payment with their applications. The total cost may vary depending on the type of vehicle, an individual’s tax situation and what other transactions, if any, are being processed at the same time. Vehicle title applicants should contact the office through which they intend to file their requests to verify what the total costs will be and what forms of payment are accepted.

What is the difference between a vehicle registration and a car title in Iowa?

Despite often confusing terminology, Iowa auto titles are not the same as vehicle registrations. New and used car titles are legal documents that serve as motorists’ proof of ownership of their vehicles. All vehicles must have a title deeding their ownership to an individual, a group or individuals or a corporation or organization. However, not all vehicles owned and titled by motorists can be legally driven on the road.

Iowa vehicle registrations serve to separate vehicles that can legally be driven on road from those which cannot. Vehicles with certain types of DMV car titles, such as salvage or junk titles, cannot always be legally registered for on-road use. Unlike titles, which are valid from the time of issue until some relevant change requires vehicle owners to apply for an updated or corrected one, drivers must complete a vehicle registration renewal process each year.

Confusion between titles and registrations often stems from the fact that they are typically applied for at the same time. Understanding the key differences between them, however, can help motorists ensure that their vehicles are and remain fully and appropriately documented for safe and legal use.

Car Title Costs in Iowa

The car title costs in Iowa are closely associated with vehicle registration fees, since these procedures are generally performed simultaneously. However, there are particular fees related to titles depending on the request filed by an applicant. For instance, the cost to replace a title in IA is $25.

Last updated on Wednesday, December 5 2018.

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