Selling a Car in Iowa

When you’re selling a vehicle in Iowa, you need to follow some requirements that are specific to the state. We’ve collected the appropriate information here about these requirements so you can have what you need to know in order to experience a successful vehicle sale.

1. Title Information

In Iowa, you can sell only sell a vehicle if you have complete ownership of it. In other words, any “lien” (loan) on the vehicle must be paid off before you can sell the vehicle.

Before you sell your vehicle, make certain that you have the actual title. If you cannot find the title, you’ll need to request a replacement title from the Iowa Department of Transportation. You need an official title because you and the vehicle purchaser will both sign the title as proof of the transfer of ownership from you to them. Make sure both of you fill out the title transfer section of the title completely; do this because you don’t want to accidentally end up still owning the vehicle and being liable for anything the new driver does with it.

In Iowa, all vehicles must be titled.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

Iowa requires you to put together a Bill of Sale when you sell a vehicle. The Bill of Sale should include the following elements:

  • The new owner’s name
  • The full address of the new owner
  • The seller’s name
  • The full address of the seller
  • The date of the sale
  • The sale price
  • A full and detailed vehicle description, including the vehicle’s make, model, year, series number (if applicable) and body type (2-door, 4-door, sedan, etc.), as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The vehicle’s odometer reading at the time of sale
  • The signatures of the seller and new owner

It is important that you keep a copy of the Bill of Sale for your records, as the purchase price of the vehicle is considered taxable income and should be reported on your next taxes. Check with your accountant for full details regarding this. Also, make absolutely certain that the person buying your car has a copy of the Bill of Sale and that they will begin the titling process on their side within 15 days. Anything longer and you might get a fine.

3. Inspections

Iowa has no formal inspection program for vehicles or any emissions testing requirements. However, vehicles in the state must be registered at all times.

4. License Plates

In Iowa, when you sell your vehicle, the license plates remain with you and not the vehicle. You then have the option of transferring those same plates to your next vehicle.

5. Odometer Disclosure Requirements

Iowa requires people to formally disclose their vehicle’s odometer reading when they sell the vehicle or whenever a new title is required for any reason, but only if the vehicle is 10 years old or newer. To satisfy this requirement, you can input the odometer reading on the back of the title; more effective, however, would be to use the Iowa-specific Odometer Disclosure Form.

6. Other Information

If you have questions or want more details regarding vehicle selling, check out the website for the Iowa Bureau of Motor Vehicles.