Iowa License Plate Lookup

Check any Iowa License Plate for vehicle history records

In Iowa, the state Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) manages vehicle titling and registrations, with county treasurers processing these tasks for residents.

Purchasing a used car can be complex and potentially risky, particularly with the possibility of scams involving faulty vehicles that may require expensive repairs.

To mitigate these risks, VinFreeCheck offers a free license plate lookup service. Simply enter the license plate number and select the registration state on our website. This tool provides detailed, current information about the vehicle, helping you make an informed purchase decision.

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    Black Out Aesthetic 🔲

    In Iowa, a unique approach to vehicle registration involves the use of the "blackout" license plate, which has gained popularity for its distinctive aesthetic. These plates feature black backgrounds with white or light-colored lettering, standing out from standard designs.

    Where is My Iowa License Plate Number?

    Iowa requires both front and rear plates to be displayed on vehicles (rear plates only for motorcycles and trailers). Some documents, such as the registration receipt, also denote the license plate number of the car, if you're not currently with it at the moment.

    Iowa registration receipt

    How to Get a License Plate in Iowa

    You'll first need to title and register your car before applying for license plates. If you're moving to Iowa from another state, you'll need to complete the titling and registration within 30 days of establishing residency.

    You'll also need to present the following items at the county treasurer's office:

    • Certificate of title
    • Completed and signed application form for an Iowa certificate of title and/or registration
    • Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) for new vehicles
    • Bill of sale or purchase agreement
    • Odometer disclosure
    • Damage disclosure, if applicable
    • Cancellation of Security Interest (form 411168), if applicable
    • Payment of all relevant fees

    You can visit the MVD site to make an online application for new plates. You'll usually receive your new plates within 3-6 weeks after completing the titling and registration process.

    Available License Plate Designs

    Standard: These use the regular "City and Country Reboot" design as voted in the 2017 Iowa State Fair.

    Personalized: Personalized plates can have up to seven alphanumeric characters, but must have at least two characters. Certain terms and conditions do apply, such as no usage of special characters, and no "profane, obscene or inflammatory" combinations, or "those contrary to public policy."

    Personalized plates have a $25 initial fee and a $5 annual registration fee "at the time of renewal."

    Disabled: Qualified persons with disabilities, with an accompanying letter of certification from a licensed medical practitioner (either in Iowa or any "contiguous state" such as Minnesota), can apply for these plates.

    Military: These are issued to active-duty or retired military personnel of any US military branch. Available plates include recipients of commendations, such as the Legion of Merit.

    Specialty: These plates exist for people who want to identify with or show support to certain organizations, groups, interests, and charities. Plate options include:

    • Collegiate plates
    • Organization/association plates
    • Environment and conservation plates
    • Antique plates
    • Volunteer organizations/professions
    • Awareness programs
    • Sports teams/events

    What is Inside the License Plate Lookup Report?

    Various useful records are available for your perusal when you get a lookup report.

    Market value: The estimated or actual market value of the car. Having this on hand enables you to determine if a seller may be selling that vehicle for more than its actual market value.

    Previous owners: Find out the number of previous owners the vehicle has had and how long they've had it in their possession. It doesn't disclose any personal or sensitive information. It does, however, give you a sense of how they used the car before selling it to the subsequent owner(s).

    Accident records: Find out if the car was involved in any road accidents. Some cars that were in an accident may not have had extensive maintenance performed to keep it roadworthy. You should always be cautious if you see such records; get an independent check done to look for potential problems.

    Flood records: Floods can cause certain mechanical faults that can be missed without a thorough inspection. With the report, you'll find out if a car has been in any floods and if any maintenance was done to keep it in working condition, or otherwise.

    Junk/salvage title check: If a car has sustained major damage in either an accident or flood, it might be written off as a ‘total loss’ by an insurance company. This record will notify you if that may be the case. Most times, the total costs to maintain or restore the car are far too expensive owing to the severity of damage it's sustained.

    Lien records: Provides information on whether the car has been used in a lease, as collateral for a debt, as a rental car unit, etc. A car dealership (or previous owner) is legally obligated to repay any existing liens before selling the car. If they don't, you may end up becoming liable to repay the remaining amount.

    Odometer records: Determine how far the vehicle has been driven. In many cases, fraudulent parties will alter odometer records to falsely claim the vehicle has been driven far less than it actually has. As odometer tampering is considered a federal offense, you should report the seller immediately to the relevant authorities.

    In accordance with the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), all personal information pertaining to drivers will not be revealed in a lookup report. Only approved associations, organizations, or people can obtain this information. Be aware of fake websites that claim to provide every single facet of a car's previous drivers, as they may be fraudulent websites.

    Why License Plate Lookups are Important

    According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) "Hot Wheels" report for 2020, here are the top 10 most commonly stolen vehicles in Iowa.

    1. Chevrolet Pick-Up (Full Size)
    2. Ford Pick-Up (Full Size)
    3. Chevrolet Impala
    4. Chevrolet Malibu
    5. Dodge Pick-Up (Full Size)
    6. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
    7. GMC Pick-Up (Full Size)
    8. Ford Fusion
    9. Toyota Camry
    10. Honda Civic

    Auto theft remains a significant concern in Iowa, highlighting the importance of conducting a license plate lookup when considering a used vehicle purchase. This process helps verify the vehicle's history, identify potential fraud, and ensure safety. Even if a seller provides a vehicle history report, you might want to verify this information through reputable sources like the NICB and NMVTIS to detect discrepancies and avoid purchasing a problematic or stolen vehicle. Always ensure your vehicle history report is accurate and up-to-date to make an informed decision.

    With our sources coming from reputable databases such as the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), to name a few, you can rest assured that the report you get is accurate, up-to-date and dependable when you're looking to buy a used car. Get a lookup done today!

    State Based Informational Guides

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