How to Sell a Car in Iowa

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The steps and process for selling a vehicle online are different in every state. Learn how to sell your used car or truck privately in Iowa.

Whether you live in Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast, or Central Iowa, if you are thinking about privately selling your used car or truck, you’ve come to the right place. With an estimated 1.2 million registered trucks and cars in the state of Iowa, it’s no wonder that thousands of private vehicle sellers from the Hawkeye State have used Autotrader to sell their car. Below, we’ve outlined the four steps and forms required for how to sell a car in the state of Iowa so you can sell your car quickly for the most cash.

Remember, most states consider the vehicle title a legal document, so the legal names (no nicknames) of both parties involved should be used, along with legible handwriting using black or blue ink. Mistakes, errors, and using White-Out may void the document so be careful and take your time filling it out.

The Iowa DOT website has a nice landing page specifically about how to sell your car. It includes a link to a very helpful checklist for How to Sell Your Vehicle in Iowa walking you through each step. At the bottom of the checklist, there’s a Buyer’s Acknowledgement of Delivery of Vehicle & Title that the buyer should fill out and sign for the you, the seller, to keep. This step is optional, but we recommend taking that extra step so that you, the seller, have evidence of sale and delivery of the vehicle to the buyer.

Step 1: Allow the buyer to have the car inspected by a third party
Step 2: Organize and gather all related vehicle documentation
Step 3: Transfer the title
Step 4: Remove your plates and cancel your insurance

Step 1: Allow the buyer to have the car inspected by a third party

Many used car shoppers who buy a car privately pay for a pre-purchase vehicle inspection conducted by a qualified and licensed auto mechanic of their choosing. Although the buyer pays for this inspection, the seller and buyer must agree on when and where the inspection is to be held. If the inspection does find any issues with the car, it is a good idea for you, as the seller, to keep the report for your records. Iowa does not require this inspection and doesn’t have any forms that need to be filled out, but it’s a step Autotrader recommends the buyer completes before the final purchase.

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Step 2: Organize and gather all related vehicle documentation

Find all maintenance records, the owner’s manual and other paperwork related to the vehicle. If you can provide the buyer with extensive and detailed maintenance records, this will help provide the buyer with confidence that you’ve maintained the car in a proper and regular manner. You may even want to consider including a vehicle history report from a service like CarFax or AutoCheck.

The most important document when selling a car is the certificate of title. If there is a lien on the title, the lienholder must release interest in the vehicle before the car is sold. This can be achieved either by the seller paying off the car or by the lienholder providing a letter of lien release. If you can’t pay off the car, then a lien release statement from your lienholder must be submitted to the DMV.

A Damage Disclosure Statement (Form 411108)is required for all motor vehicle title transfers except if:

  1. Trucks/Tractors with a gross vehicle weight rating of 16,000 pounds or more
  2. Motor vehicles which are eight model years old or older
  3. Motorcycles / Motorized bicycles
  4. New motor vehicles with a mileage of 1,000 miles or less

Some states require a bill of sale for a private vehicle transaction, but Iowa is not one of them. While a bill of sale isn’t required, it’s always a good idea to have one. You can find a template for a bill of sale from services like LegalZoom to make it quick and easy.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) odometer disclosure requirements were updated in December 2020 impacting certain private vehicle sales in Iowa: For a vehicle transfer that occurs from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2030, any vehicle of model year 2011 or newer (2012, 2013, etc.) will require an odometer disclosure. Starting on January 1, 2031, any vehicle that is less than 20 model years old will require an odometer disclosure. Previously, the NHTSA required disclosure was for only the first 10 years. Cars older than 2010 are exempt from odometer disclosures.

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Step 3: Transfer the title

If the vehicle’s title has been lost, stolen or badly damaged, you can get a replacement/duplicate Iowa title by filling out form 411033. With that form filled out plus a $25 fee you can get a duplicate title by filing the form at your local county treasurer’s office.

When selling a car privately in Iowa, the buyer and the seller both need to fill out the relevant sections on the back of the title. This information includes the legal name, address, and signature of the buyer and the seller(s) along with the date of the sale, the odometer reading, and the purchase price. When this is filled out accurately and legibly, it makes it easy for the buyer to transfer registration and acquire a new plate. IF jointly owned with the name connector of "AND", both sellers must sign the title.

After this process is complete, you, the seller, need to fill our section 2 of form 411107 which is an Affidavit of Sale and Delivery of Title. This needs to be filed with your local county treasurer to determine when a vehicle has been sold and delivered but ownership has not been transferred to the new owner.

If you’re wondering about gifting a car to a relative, you can follow the same process that is outlined here to transfer the title. For inheriting a car, it’s mostly the same process, but you’ll need to file documentation of the inheritance with the county along with the title of the vehicle in question.

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Step 4: Remove your plates and cancel your insurance

The seller must remove their license plates before handing the vehicle over to the buyer. If you do not do so, you may be liable for any violations after the buyer has taken possession of the vehicle. After the sale is complete, you need to return the plates to your local county treasurer’s office along with Plate Cancellation form 411122. Otherwise, you can transfer your plates to another vehicle if you buy one within 30 days.Make sure to cancel your insurance as soon as possible after you’ve removed your plates so you don’t continue paying to insure a car that you no longer own. You may be able to receive a refund on your vehicle’s registration if you submit a Claim for Refund Form 441047 within six months from the date of the vehicle’s sale. Note: refunds of less than $10.00 will not be granted.

For more information, visit the Iowa DMV website.

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Questions about selling your car in Iowa? We have answers.

What paperwork do I need to privately sell a car in Iowa?

The following paperwork is required for selling a car in Iowa:

  1. Certificate of Title
  2. Affidavit of Sale and Delivery of Title (section 2 of form 411107)
  3. Plate Cancellation (form 411122)
  4. Odometer Disclosure (if applicable)
  5. Damage Disclosure Statement Form 411108 (if applicable)

The Seller’s Checklist provided by the Iowa DMV is recommended for sellers, but not required.

Is a Bill of Sale required for selling a car in Iowa?

No, a bill of sale is not required. However, it’s always a good idea to have a bill of sale signed by the seller and the buyer with a copy for both to transfer ownership and give legal protection to both parties.

Do I remove my license plates when I sell a car in Iowa?

Yes, your license plates must be removed upon the sale of the car and either returned to your local county treasurer’s office or put on a vehicle you buy in the next 30 days.

How do I get a replacement vehicle title in Iowa?

The owner of the vehicle will need to fill out an Application for Replacement of Iowa Certificate of Title, form 411033. If there are two or more owners, all must sign the form. If the title has a lien on it, the lien holder must be apply for the replacement title (must be notarized). Once submitted, there is a state required 5-day waiting period before a replacement title is issued.

Do I need to have a license plate on the front and rear of my car?

Yes. Current Iowa law requires state-issued license plates to be displayed on the front and rear of most vehicles, unless the vehicle is a model year 1948 or older. Therefore, when you register a vehicle in Iowa, you’re provided with two plates.

What if I lose one of my two Iowa license plates?

Go to your County treasurer office and bring your current vehicle registration and your remaining plate. For a small fee, you’ll receive a replacement plate.

Does a vehicle Bill of Sale have to be notarized in Iowa?

No. When you privately sell a vehicle in Iowa, the Bill of Sale does not need to be notarized.

Does a vehicle title have to be notarized in Iowa?

No. When you privately sell a vehicle in Iowa, the title does not need to be notarized.

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