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A car title is an important document that proves who owns a vehicle. Whenever a vehicle is bought or sold from an existing owner, that vehicle’s title must be transferred to the new owner. Most states do not offer an online title transfer option. However, you can prepare to transfer ownership of a vehicle either as a seller or buyer by downloading our online title guide. Our online guide will provide you with information on the forms you will need, the required fees and the specific title transfer guidelines in your state to help you have a smooth experience.

2. By Mail

Some states allow their residents to transfer their vehicle titles by mail, but these states may have certain eligibility requirements and limitations involved with this option. If you need to have a title immediately, attempting to transfer a car title by mail may not be the best option for you. You will have to wait for the postal service to deliver your request to the DMV and then wait for the postal service to deliver your new title to you. Additionally, payment options are typically limited to check and money order.

3. In Person at the DMV

The most direct way to transfer your vehicle title is in person at a DMV office. There are several states that require their residents to transfer their titles in person and do not offer online or mail-in options. Additionally, not all states offer title services through their DMV sites. As such, it is important for you to be prepared for the transaction and to know where you can apply. Our online guide offers all the information you need to transfer a vehicle in one place.


The Iowa car title transfer process must be completed through the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the state Department of Transportation (DOT) by vehicle owners who have purchased or sold a motor vehicle. However, the MVD title transfers for cars must also be finalized under other unique circumstances, such as after transferring the vehicle ownership as a gift, donation or inheritance.

Note that when completing a vehicle title transfer in IA, new car owners may also be required to apply for a new registration card at the same time. Review the IA title transfer requirements and the situations when an auto title transfer is necessary in the sections outlined below.

What is a car title transfer in Iowa?

Before applying for a transfer of car title in Iowa, vehicle owners must get more information about the car title transfer process and the function of a certificate of title. The IA title transfer for cars is a procedure that must be completed on each occasion a motor vehicle changes ownership from one person to another, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the passing of possession.

If you fail to meet the state title transfer requirements after obtaining a used vehicle, you will be unable to complete the car registration procedure and obtain new license plates. If you are the seller, on the other hand, you will also have to complete the title transfer transaction to avoid accountability for the sold vehicle in the future.

When is a vehicle title transfer required in Iowa?

Transferring a car title in Iowa is a mandatory transaction that must be initiated within a certain number of days of buying or selling a vehicle within the state. However, in addition to the standard Iowa car title transfer, which is completed between a seller and a purchaser, other unique situations will also require the completion of the transfer of vehicle title in the state. For instance, the auto title transfer process must also be finalized if the vehicle in question is donated, inherited or transferred as a gift.

Information and Documents Necessary to Transfer a Title in Iowa

One of the most important steps in the Iowa vehicle title transfer procedure is meeting the applicable title transfer requirements, which include submitting certain documents and paying the titling and registration fees. Note that the IA car title transfer requirements may vary depending on factors like the applicant’s circumstances, the vehicle age and the nature of the ownership transfer. The standard documents to transfer a vehicle title in IA after a private sale are outlined in the following list:

  • A completed title application, if necessary
  • A properly signed-over certificate of title
  • A separate odometer statement if the title does not have a specific area for this purpose
  • A damage disclosure statement if the title does not contain a specific section for this purpose
  • A bill of sale, if required
  • An official identification document, such as a license to drive

Note: If the title transfer for vehicles cannot be completed due to a lost title, the seller can obtain a replacement title certificate by submitting a paper application by mail or in person to the MVD.

If you are wondering how to fill out transfer of title forms, it is important to note that both the buyer and the seller must provide certain information in order to finalize the title transfer for cars in IA. For instance, the seller must ensure that he or she fills out the Assignment of Title section on the current title certificate with the buyer’s personal information, the date of sale and his or her official signature. Conversely, the buyer will be required to fill out an application with his or her personal information, the purchase price of the vehicle and any applicable lien information.

Steps for Performing a Transfer of Title in Iowa

If you are wondering, “How do you transfer a title on a car in Iowa?” note that you cannot complete the title transfer online. Thus, you will need to submit the necessary items outlined in the previous section in person at your local DOT office.

While the division recommends that both the seller and the buyer complete the vehicle title transfer procedure together, you can still transfer the auto title without the assistance of the other party. After submitting the necessary documents and fee payments to complete the IA transfer of car title, the presiding MVD agent will forward your request for the manufacturing of new documents.

Note: As proof of sale, the seller can either obtain a notice signed by the buyer that confirms the sale or a copy of the back of the car title or submit a specific notice to the state MVD.

Getting a New Car Title Versus Title Transfers in Iowa

Prior to getting a new car title in Iowa, vehicle owners are encouraged to learn the differences between the process for obtaining a new car title and the title transfer procedure. A DMV new title is required for all types of motor vehicles, mobile homes, travel trailers, semi-trailers and regular trailers that are over 2,000 pounds. The state Department of Transportation (DOT) issues a new title for a car that was recently purchased as brand-new or to new residents who want to operate their out-of-state vehicles in the state.

Thus, there are different procedures for motorists to order a new car title or transfer an existing certificate to another entity. A title transfer procedure, for instance, must be performed when motorists want to transfer the ownership rights of a motor vehicle from one person to another. The process of transferring a title may be a requirement when purchasing or selling a motor vehicle. Moreover, drivers may also need to transfer their car titles upon inheriting a vehicle or receiving it as a gift or donation.

Car Title Transfer Fees in Iowa

When transferring your vehicle title in Iowa, you will be required to arrange payment for several types of fees. Note that the total car title transfer cost will include both the standard titling fee and the applicable registration fees. Therefore, in addition to a titling fee, vehicle owners will also be required to pay registration fees that vary based on factors such as the vehicle type, age, weight and price.

The costs to transfer a car title in IA and register the vehicle in question may also differ depending on the applicant’s county of residence. To learn more about the costs to transfer a vehicle title in Iowa, contact your county treasurer.

Last updated on Monday, January 14 2019.

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