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A certificate of title issued by the state of Iowa is a document that proves legal ownership of a vehicle. A title must be obtained when an individual purchases a new vehicle. A title transfer must also be completed when a used vehicle is sold or gifted, or when a vehicle changes hands as a result of the death of the vehicle's owner.
OBTAINING A TITLE FOR A NEW VEHICLE
For new vehicles, the licensed dealer that sold the vehicle typically will accept and submit the required titling information and fees on behalf of the buyer. However, buyers wishing to handle the titling independently can do so. Those interested in applying for a new title without the dealer's assistance should refer to the Registering a Motor Vehicle in Iowa page on the Iowa Office of Vehicle Services website.
TRANSFERRING A TITLE ON A USED VEHICLE:
Sale/Purchase or Gift of a Used Vehicle
When you purchase a used vehicle, or obtain one as a gift, the title must be legally transferred into your name. This is done by obtaining the following documents, and submitting them along with the appropriate fees to the county treasurer's office:
- The current title, with the assignment completed by the seller or donor (signing the title over to you), and notarized. The title must include the federal odometer disclosure, if the vehicle is less than ten years old.
- If the title does not indicate the date of sale and selling price, a completed Bill of Sale, signed by both current and new owner and notarized, is required.
- An [ Statement Odometer Disclosure Statement], if the title does not include this information and the vehicle is less than ten years old. This form can be obtained at the county treasurer's office.
- A [ Damage Disclosure Statement] is required for vehicles less than eight years old. Damage disclosure must also be made if it was greater than 50% of the NADA market value of the vehicle before it was damaged.
The fees depend on the type of vehicle purchased. You can use the online fee calculator and refer to the here for information on using the fee calculator.
Alternatively you can contact your county treasurer's office for more information.
Most of the offices offer the option of credit card payments.
Transfer of Title Following Death of Vehicle Owner
In the event of the death of the vehicle owner, the title is often transferred to the heirs or someone else identified in the owner's will. The procedures and fees for this type of transfer are similar to those outlined above. In addition, it is important to determine how the estate of the deceased has been settled by the heir(s).
The heirs may need to complete an affidavit of Death Testate (when the deceased has a will) or Intestate (when the deceased does not have a will), whichever is applicable, and provide copies of both the death certificate and the will (or a notarized statement of its contents), if there is one.
For more information on title transfers following the death of a vehicle owner, contact the local county treasurer's office.
Appropriate title transfer documents and fees should be submitted to your local county treasurer's office.
- Contact the local county treasurer's office if you wish to add, remove or change a name on a vehicle title for reason other than those discussed above.
- If there is an existing lien on the vehicle, there will be additional requirements for transferring the title.
- A valid title provides proof of ownership of the vehicle. However, remember that a title transfer does not entitle the new owner(s) to legally operate the vehicle. For this, refer to the appropriate license and registration information.