Selling Your Vehicle

Selling your vehicle in IOWA

To process a title transfer please be in our office by 4:15 pm

Selling to a Private Party

We have developed a Buyer's and Seller's Checklist in an effort to be able to process title transfers in a single trip.  Other important information to consider is as follows:

  • If the vehicle is currently registered, the buyer can operate the vechicle for thirty (30) days without license plates if they carry one of the following in the vehicle: 
    • Bill of Sale with sufficient detail
    • Vehicle title with the assignment of title completed;
    • Photocopy of both sides of the completed title

Small Trailers
Trailers weighing less than 2,000 pounds empty are not issued a title when they are registered in the State of Iowa.  If the registration says "Small Regular Trailer" the registration is the ownership document.  To sell a small regular trailer, you must sign the bottom of the registration where it says "Sellers Signature" and date.  Or provide a signed Bill of Sale with the VIN, Date of Sale and Name of Seller.

Registration Credit
Before transferring possession of your vehicle, trailer, or travel trailer remove and keep your license plates.  You may be entitled to a refund or credit of the unused portion of registration fees.

If you are purchasing another vehicle within 6 months and wish to receive a credit toward the registration fees, fill out the bottom of your registration receipt for the sold vehicle and submit it with the title and application for your replacement vehicle.  Do not transfer the plates on the new vehicle until you have completed the transfer with the treasurer's office.

If you are not replacing the sold vehicle and wish to receive a refund, complete the bottom of your registration receipt with the date of sale and submit both the plates and registration to the County Treasurers Office.  Note:  To receive a refund, this must be done within six (6) months from the date of sale of the vehicle.  Credit of less than $10.00 will not be refunded.

Correcting Common Title Errors
If you make an error - DO NOT CHANGE, DO NOT WRITE OVER, DO NOT CROSS OFF, DO NOT USE WHITE OUT & DO NOT ERASE!  These are the errors and can void a title.  Below are some of the things that we can do to correct:

  1. Affidavit of Correction (Form 411219) should be completed for the following common title errors:
    • Incorrect sale date
    • Seller / Buyer name put on the incorrect space
    • Seller / Buyer name misspelled
    • Do not cross through the error
    • This form must be notarized.
  2.  Incorrect odometer recorded on Iowa title - upon review in the Treasurer's office, you may be instructed to contact teh DOT investigator to certify your mileage or previous owner will need to get a replacement title and start over.  Do not try to rewrite odometer.
  3. Incorrect odometer recorded on Out-of-State title - title will need to be corrected in teh state issued.

What you need to know BEFORE you advertise your vehicle or trade/sell to a vehicle dealer to avoid problems between you and the buyer.

Click on the link above for the latest information from the Iowa Department of Transportation on selling your vehicle in a private sale or trading/selling to a dealer.


For current Motor Vehicle forms Click Here  and search for Vehicles (plates, registration, titles, buying/selling)


Diana Christensen Chief Deputy
Motor Vehicle Department
Phone: 712-279-6500
Fax: 712-279-6493