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Motor Vehicles

The following topics are covered in this section:

Courtesy registration renewal notices go out the month before registration is due. 

There is a three-month window to renew; payments can be made the month before, the month of or the month after your registration is due without being penalized if driving in Iowa.

The following vehicles NOT allowed to renew online include:

  • IRP (prorate),
  • Firefighter vehicles due to the annual certification,
  • Personalized plates that have been expired for more than 30 days,
  • Customers with outstanding debts.

Transfer of Ownership

A BILL OF SALE is REQUIRED for all title transfers in Tama County as of January 1, 2020.

  • New Owners must complete the transfer within 30 days of purchase to avoid penalties
    • Purchased vehicles can be driven without plates for 30 days from the date of sale if the vehicle is currently registered.
    • If stopped by law enforcement prior to completing the transfer, the owner must provide properly assigned title or bill of sale along with proof of insurance
  • Odometer readings are required for vehicles 20 years and newer (beginning with vehicles from the 2011 model year).
  • Damage disclosure statement is required for vehicles 7 years and newer.
  • Small trailers (2000 lbs or less) are issued a registration only

Moved To Iowa

  • Iowa requires vehicles to be registered with 30 days of residency, even though you may have valid plates in another state. Contact your previous state to claim any refund and dispose of plates.
  • Required documents:
    • Iowa driver's license or actual social security card
    • Signed and completed Certificate of Title application
    • Out of State Title OR
    • Out of State registration (if the title is held by a lienholder)
  • If your title is held by a lienholder, you may either request the lienholder mail the title to us for updating or bring your title to us once the lien is satisfied. Please note: if you should sell your vehicle privately, you must obtain an Iowa title.
  • If the vehicle is leased, you must provide the lease agreement and Power of Attorney.

Selling Vehicles

  • Complete the Assignment of Title section on the back of the title, including:
    • Date of Sale
    • Name and address of the buyer
    • Odometer reading if the vehicle is 20 years or newer (beginning with vehicles from the 2011 model year)
    • Damage disclosure (if the vehicle is 7 years and newer)
    • Print and sign your name(s) as seller
  • Complete a Bill of Sale, including:
    • The date of sale
    • The purchase price
    • Year, Make, and Model
    • The name(s) of buyer(s)
    • The seller(s) signature (the bill of sale does not need to be notarized)
  • ALWAYS take the license plates off the vehicle and return them to our office.
    • This is how we can apply for a refund for any unused registration for $10 or more.
    • Even if there is no refund, this is the only way we can get those license plates out of your name.
    • If the new owner(s) drives away with your license plates on the vehicle, there could be a liability for an accident, ticket or other occurrences they might be involved in.   

Lost Title

  • Complete the Replacement Title Application. All owners listed on the title must sign the application.
  • If the title has a lien, the Replacement Title Application will be completed by the lienholder.
  • If the title is lost, the replacement title will be held for a 5-day waiting period. If the title is available and returned with the Replacement Title Application, the Replacement Title will be issued the same day.
  • A $25 Replacement Title fee is due.

Personalized or Special Plates

  • Numbered and special plates that are in our inventory are available for purchase.
  • Personalized plates can be ordered online at the Iowa DOT Website
  • Extra fees will apply upon renewal of vehicle.

Storing a Vehicle or Trailer

  • Requirements:
    • The registration must be current
    • The plates must be turned in to the county in which the vehicle is registered
    • The vehicle or trailer may be registered at any later period of time by paying the current full annual registration fee

Mobile Home Titles

  • Mobile homes are titled in the county or state where the mobile home is located. 
    • If the mobile home is changing locations within another county, a tax clearance is required from the county the mobile home sits in before the title can be transferred to the new owners. This ensures there are no delinquent taxes on this property. To obtain a tax clearance, the owner who sells the home between July 1 and December 31 must have paid the September installment of property taxes. The owner who sells the home between January 1 and June 30 must pay the March property taxes.
  • Mobile homes can be taxed as real property if it sits out in the county or taxed as a mobile home if it sits in a park. Property taxes for these are due annually with installments being made in September and in March.
  • Mobile homes have titles that need to be transferred just like a vehicle title within 30 days of purchase. The new owner(s) will also be required to complete an application for certificate of title and/or registration form (Form 411007).
  • Fee for new registration (Use Tax) is only paid on a prorated portion of the purchase price if the mobile home is brand new. No fee for new registration is collected upon transfer of a used mobile home.
  • Tiny Homes/House on Wheels provided the dimensions don’t exceed 8’6” x 45’ and the wheels/frame are permanently affixed, title as a towable recreational vehicle. If such a vehicle will be used as a place for habitation for more than 90 consecutive days, it should be titled as a mobile home.


All trailers used upon the Iowa roadways are required to be registered and plated.

Iowa differentiates trailers by empty weight. 

  • Trailers that weigh 2001 lbs or more are titled and have an annual fee of $30/year. 
  • Trailers that weigh 2000 lbs or less do not get title, only are issued a registration, and have an annual fee of $20/year. 

Upon the purchase of a regular trailer, the title must be signed over to the new owner. If the title cannot be found, the previous owners can order a replacement title. The new owner(s) will also be required to complete an application for certificate of title and/or registration form (Form 411007) as well as have a completed bill of sale at the time of transfer.  

Upon the purchase of a small regular trailer, the previous owner must sign the bottom portion of the most current registration over. If the most current registration cannot be found, the previous owner(s) can order a replacement registration for $3.00 from their county treasurer's office. If a replacement registration cannot be achieved, the previous owner(s) can complete a notarized bill of sale (bill of sale link) with all the required information. The new owner(s) will also be required to complete an application for certificate of title and/or registration form (Form 411007) as well as have a completed bill of sale at the time of transfer.

Homemade Trailers

Travel Trailers

Payment Methods

  • In office you may pay with Cash, Check or Credit Card (cards accepted for an additional fee)
    • Accepted credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, Discover
  • Mail (if at the end of the month, mail must be postmarked to not incur penalties)
  • Online through iowatreasurers.org

Checks should be made out to Tama County Treasurer

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