Iowa License Plate Lookup

Iowa License Plate Lookup

IA license plates are currently issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Particularly, Motor Vehicle Division is responsible for the process.

The County Treasurer is responsible for titles. It is also responsible for registration renewal. Issuing personalized and special plates are also the county treasurer’s responsibility.

Requirements for registration plates are different for various types of vehicles. For instance, you should attach license plates on the front and the rear if you have a truck tractor or vehicle. On the other hand, registration plates should be on the rear of motorcycles, autocycles, or other vehicles.

This page will help you better understand the current laws of IA license plates. We will talk about some important facts you need to know while conducting an IA license plates lookup.

Necessary things to consider while looking up Iowa license plate numbers will not be left out as well. There will be a part dedicated to specialty and personalized license plates.

Renewal of license plates is also important and you need to consider the time carefully. And, of course, what if you lose some important documents?

Iowa DOT may reject vanity plates for one or more reasons, check out our banned Iowa license plates page for more details.

Iowa License Plates Lookup

If you are in Iowa license plate lookup you should take into account some important factors.

  1. Personalized license plates may have a maximum of 7 characters. It can be both letters and numbers. However, they should have less than 2 characters.
  2. You should use no punctuation marks.
  3. License plate can’t only consist of numerals.
  4. Recommending any government agency is also banned.
  5. There should be no words that are offensive. No swear word can be on the license plate.
  6. You can place no frame around the registration plate. But it is only if the frame covers the license plate number.

IA law allows vehicles to operate on the highways without a license plate for up to 45 days. But there should be a written notice on the rear of the vehicle. There should be “Registration applied for” notice.  It should also include the registration number.

If you bought a car from IA you can also drive it for up to 45 days without license plates. For this, you need a temporary tag. The fee for the temporary tag in IA is $10.

License Plate Number Lookup in IA

It is legal to look up for IA license plate number. Moreover, you can lookup it for free via various websites. Yet, we suggest you conduct your search via Government Official Webpage.

How to request vehicle information?

  1. You can use the vehicle identification number and license plate number.
  2. There are two ways you can request the information: request it by fax or in person.
  3. The payment should be done before you access the information.

What services are available?

  1. You can access the history of a vehicle.
  2. Owner name research is also possible.
  3. You can get information about the vehicle title and registration.

There are also fees for each search. You can also get copies.

You need to complete the “Privacy Act Agreement Form Request of Motor Vehicle Records” form for accessing information.

Specialty License Plates in IA

Now there are 63 types of specialty license plates suggested by Iowa. 24 out of 63 specialty license plates are military license plates.

They are considered as alternates to IA standard license plates. Standard Iowa license plates have no graphic design and are just available with personalized messages. Unlike standard IA license plates, you can see the graphic design on the special license plates. There are also images related to the organization. They can also have a message according to the vehicle owner’s interest.

Note: All vehicles and trailers are available for specialty license plates.

How can I order specialty license plates in Iowa?

There are two ways of ordering specialty license plates in IA: online or by email. It is a must to have an IA driver’s license to apply online. Having only an ID is also possible to complete the online process. Also, you have a credit card. Because this is the only payment method for online orders.

Are all specialty license plates available online?

Some specialty license plates are not available online. You can order them only by email. Some of these plates are military and firefighter plates.

Who benefits from the fees from specialty license plates?

Road Use Tax Fund is the only beneficiary from specialty plates. The total fees collected from specialty license plates go to that find. Road Use Tax Fund also receives initial insurance and annual renewal fees.

There are cases when The State Department also sponsors some specialty license plates. For example, the State Department sponsors Veterans special plates. In this case, a special fund receives the fee.

Note: IA Department of Transportation approves all specialty and personalized license plates.

Personalized License Plates in IA

Personalized license plates give you the chance to show your unique personality. It is done through the license plate message.

There are two ways to personalize license plates in IA.

  1. You can choose one from already existing designs for license plates.
  2. You can also create your own customized message.

There are different limits of characters. It is based on license plate design. You should check the requirements for each design. It will show how many characters you can use for the plate you chose.

There are again two ways of ordering personalized license plates in IA. You should use the same online method or order by email as in the case of specialty license plates.

For ordering online, you need an IA driver’s license. A credit card is also a must for completing the application process.

You can purchase personalized plates as a gift. The gift certificate can be directly sent to the other owner of the vehicle.

How much does it cost to get a personalized license plate in Iowa?

The personalized plate fees are added to the standard license plates fees. But it doesn’t include fees and taxes. All in all, the fee for a personalized plate will be $60. It also includes the annual registration fee.

There is also a $15 renewal fee. It is added to the annual registration fee.

How long does it take to get the personalized license plate?

The County treasurer’s office will receive your plate prototype. The committee will make a decision. After approval, they notify you when the plate will be ready to use.

Usually, the process takes from 3 to 6 weeks.

Renewing License Plates in IA

You must renew your vehicle registration within 30 days before the plate expiration date. You can find the date on the registration document. The sticker of your license plate also carries the expiration date.

IA driver’s licenses have 2 months period allowing you still drive your car. But it is only after the expiration date. It only allows drivers to drive within IA. However, it doesn’t apply to temporary residents.

For renewing your license, you can use the government’s official online selector tool. It is specially designed for making appointments. It can also help you to understand if there are other options within your city to renew the vehicle.

Getting an appointment may take up to a few weeks.

There is another option as well. You can apply for getting an extension of your driver’s license.

You can use this service in some cases. For example, if you are can’t get an appointment before your license plate expires. Also, the current pandemic situation doesn’t allow you to do all the documentation in person.  There may be even cases when you are not eligible for online renewal.

You may get a temporary extension of your driver’s license. It will be valid from 6 to 12 months.

Extensions will be ready from 7 to 10 days.

You can also find online renewal options like www. For applying online, you should already have a renewal notice. It should contain a PIN.

Renewing via mail or in person at your County Treasurer’s Office is also possible.

Replacing License Plate and Title in IA

You can replace both your license plate and title in IA.

License Plate replacement:

You need to return your registration and any plates that you still have. You should give it to the local County Treasurer.

The fee for replacing plates is $5. In case of not having registration, you will pay $8.

After payment, you will get a replacement plate.

Title replacement:

You may need to replace the title if you lost it. It is also possible if someone stole your title.

There are 2 ways to apply for replacing the title.

  1. You can do it by mail.
  2. You can do it in person.

The fee is $25.

There is a possibility of a fee waiver if you lost your license plate because of the accident.

Manush K

Manush K

Manush considers writing as a form of art. Mixing facts with good grammar and the right punctuation is not enough for having unique content. She is sure, that you can't be a good writer if you are not able to leave the traces of your individuality in your work. She is a freelance content writer, translator, and voice talent in Upwork. She also works as a freelance writer on and has written many academic essays and literature reviews. Her educational background in social studies and linguistics give her the chance to find the right approach for each written material.