Selling Your Vehicle
Before selling your vehicle, it is important to understand the state and federal requirements in order to avoid problems between you and your buyer. To make this process easier, the Iowa Department of Transportation has created a convenient ‘How to Sell Your Vehicle in Iowa’ checklist.
For additional information on how to sell your vehicle in Iowa, select from the topics listed below:
Selling a vehicle that has more than one owner listed on the title (Back to Top)
Vehicles with more than one owner carry the words "and" or "or" on the face of the title. Each of these name connectors means something different (see Admin Code 761--400.14(321)).
If the name connector "and" appears, then all owners that are listed on the title will have to sign as sellers when the vehicle is sold.
If the name connector "or" appears, then only one of the owners listed on the face of the title will need to sign as the seller when the vehicle is sold. All owners of the vehicle must sign the application form when applying for a replacement title or junking certificate, regardless of the name connector.
Selling to an Iowa Dealer (Back to Top)
After delivering the vehicle to the dealer, remove the license plates and keep them. Dealers are very helpful with the necessary paper work. Give the dealer:
- The title (with the top section on the back completed).
- Name of the county where the vehicle was last registered and the date the license plates expire.
- A completed odometer statement (for motor vehicles nine model years old or newer).
- A completed damage disclosure statement (for motor vehicles seven model years old or newer).
If purchasing a replacement vehicle from the dealer, give the dealer the registration receipt. If not purchasing a replacement vehicle from the dealer, keep the registration receipt.
Selling to an Individual who is not a Licensed Dealer (Back to Top)
The procedure will vary depending on where the buyer is from, but one step always remains the same and that is to remove the license plates and keep them.
Selling to an Iowa Resident
Give the buyer the:
- Completed odometer statement (for motor vehicles nine model years old or newer).
- Certificate of title.
- Name of county where the vehicle was last registered and the date the license plates expire.
- Bill of sale
- Damage disclosure statement (for motor vehicles seven model years old or newer).
Fill out the assignment, odometer and damage disclosure portions on the back of the title. In some situations, such as when the title is one issued prior to Jan. 1, 2005, a separate damage disclosure statement is required. If possible, go with the buyer to the county treasurer's office to complete the title transfer.
The buyer shall Complete the "Application for Certificate of Title" portion of the title or obtain a separate Application for Certificate of Iowa Title and/or Registration 411007. All buyers must include printed full legal name, Iowa state identification number or social security number and date of birth. Purchase price must be declared. If there will be no lien on the new title, print "none" after the words "If none, so state." in the security interest information area. If there is a lien, provide all information as requested in that area. All buyers are required to sign the Application for Certificate of Iowa Title and/or Registration 411007 in dark ink.
If you are unable to go with the buyer to transfer the title, obtain a receipt from the buyer stating the person has bought the vehicle and accepted delivery of the vehicle and title.
If the buyer does not have plates to transfer to the vehicle and the vehicle is currently registered, the buyer can use it for 30 days without plates, as long as a copy of one of the following is carried in the vehicle.
- Bill of sale, which describes the vehicle, and is signed and dated by the seller.
- Title assigned to the buyer, or photocopy of both sides of the title.
However, it is suggested that the buyer go to their county treasurer’s office immediately and get plates to avoid the possibility of being stopped by a peace officer checking for ownership documents.
If the vehicle is not currently registered, the vehicle cannot legally be operated on the highways until the registration fees are paid.
The buyer may purchase a 30-day temporary permit from the county treasurer for a $25 fee.
The buyer has 30 days from the date of sale to complete the transfer to avoid title and registration penalty.
Selling to a non-Iowa Resident
Give the buyer the:
- Completed odometer statement and damage disclosure statement.
- Certificate of title with the assignment portion properly completed.
If the non-Iowa buyer does not have valid plates for the vehicle and it is currently registered, the county treasurer will issue a 30-day transit plate for $3.
Selling for Junk (Back to Top)
If the vehicle is being sold for junk and will never be driven again, give the buyer the title (top section on the back completed). Obtain a receipt stating the buyer has accepted delivery of the vehicle and title, or take the title and registration receipt to the county treasurer and get a junking certificate. Give (assign) the junking certificate to the buyer.
A junking certificate issued by the county treasurer shall authorize the holder to possess, transport or transfer by endorsement the ownership of the junked vehicle. The person or persons who obtain the first junking certificate are the only persons allowed to request the title of the vehicle to be reinstated. To reinstate a title, an application must be filed and the appropriate fees paid within 14 days of the date the first junking certificate was issued. No further titling of the vehicle is allowed except if the vehicle is 25 years old or older, in which case the person may apply for a certificate of title under the bonding procedure as provided for in Iowa Code section 321.24.
Notice of Sale Form (Back to Top)
A vehicle seller may complete and file form 411107 “Notice of Sale of Vehicle and Delivery of Title” with the county treasurer of the county where the vehicle is registered certifying the sale or transfer of ownership of the vehicle and the assignment and delivery of the title to the buyer. Upon receipt of the form, the county treasurer will file it with the copy of the registration receipt for the vehicle on file in the treasurer’s office and on that day the treasurer shall note receipt of the form in the vehicle registration and titling system. Upon filing the form, it is presumed that the seller has assigned and delivered the certificate of title for the vehicle. For a leased vehicle, the leasing company or lessee may file the same form to certify that a lease has expired, or been terminated, and the date that the leased vehicle was surrendered to the lessor.
A person who has made a bona fide sale or transfer of the person’s right, title, or interest in a motor vehicle and has delivered possession of the motor vehicle to the purchaser or transferee is not liable for any damage thereafter resulting from negligent operation of the motor vehicle by another. The purchaser to whom possession was delivered is deemed the owner.
Unused Registration Fee (Back to Top)
If you sell a vehicle and do not replace it, you may apply for a refund. The following is required:
- You have up to six months after you sell your vehicle to apply for a refund.
- The calculated unused portion of the registration fee must be $10 or more to receive a refund. The refund is calculated from the date the vehicle is sold to the expiration of the registration.
- The license plates must be submitted to the County Treasurer
An electronic Claim for Refund form is submitted to the State of Iowa by the County Treasurer. The refund will take approximately four to six weeks to process.
If you turn-in a leased vehicle, you may apply for a refund for the unused portion of the registration renewal paid.
For vehicles moved out-of-state, you may apply for a refund and must return the Iowa license plates along with providing evidence of the vehicle's registration in another jurisdiction. The claim must be filed within six months of the date the vehicle was moved out of state.
To calculate the estimated unused portion of your registration, see our Calculate Your Transfer Fee/Credit section. The Claim for Refund form must be submitted to the county treasurer’s office in any Iowa county.
When a vehicle is replaced within six months, any registration fee remaining on the old vehicle will be applied as a credit to the new vehicle. To obtain a credit for unused registration fees:
- Sell, trade or junk the vehicle.
- Apply for title on the replacement vehicle within six months after selling the old vehicle. The plate number and VIN of the vehicle sold shall be listed on the Application for Certificate of Iowa Title and/or Registration 411007.
- Transfer the plates from the vehicle sold to the replacement vehicle.
Credit cannot be transferred or assigned to another person unless the vehicle is being sold or given to a spouse, parent or child.
If the credit amount is less than $10, no credit will be granted. Also, check the registration receipt received from the county treasurer for further information.
If the unused registration fee of the vehicle sold, traded or junked is more than the fee of the vehicle purchased and the excess credit is $10 or more, a refund may be applied for.
If a vehicle is transferred to a spouse, parent or child, the fee credit and plates may also be transferred. The person to whom the car is transferred must apply for the title within 30 days of the transfer. In addition, it should be indicated on the registration receipt if the fees and plates are to be transferred.
For a spouse, parent or child to use your credit, the vehicle must be sold or given to them and the instructions outlined must be followed.
Odometer Statement (Back to Top)
A vehicle's odometer has recorded the number of miles driven. If the vehicle sold is model year 2011 or newer, a statement indicating the number of miles must be given to the buyer, and it must be correct.
There is an odometer statement on the back of the Iowa Certificate of Title in the assignment area. The seller completes the odometer reading (no tenths of miles) in dark ink. Titles with an area for a mileage reading must be completed and a separate odometer statement will not be accepted in its place. Be careful when filling in the mileage because an alteration may require a replacement title. The signature and printed name of the seller is required as well as the signature and printed name of the buyer in dark ink. If there is no odometer statement on the back of the Iowa title, one can be obtained from the county treasurer or the dealer who is buying the vehicle.
If the odometer does not show the correct mileage, check the correct boxes on the form that state the reason the mileage is not actual.
Damage Disclosure Statement (Back to Top)
If the vehicle sold is 7 years old or newer, a damage disclosure statement is required to be completed for all motor vehicles except:
- Motor trucks and truck tractors with a gross vehicle weight rating of 16,000 pounds or more
- Motorcycles/Motorized bicycles (moped scooter)
- Special mobile equipment.
- New motor vehicles with a true mileage of 1,000 miles or less, unless the vehicle has sustained damage for which the cost of repair exceeds 50 percent of the fair market value of the vehicle.
If the Iowa title issue date is prior to January 1, 2005 or if it is an out-of-state title, you will need a separate Damage Disclosure Statement (Form 411108) completed. Complete section 1 for an Iowa title dated prior to January 1, 2005 and both buyer and seller will need to sign in dark ink. The damage disclosure for out-of-state titles can be self-certified (section 2 of form 411108) for the first Iowa assignment and only the buyer will need to sign.
A model year formula for damage disclosure statements (Iowa Code 321.69 Admin. Rule 400.55(2)) shall be the current year minus eight (8). The resulting number represents the first model year for which a motor vehicle is exempt from the damage disclosure statement requirements for a title transfer. Example: Current year (2019) - 8 = 2011. The damage disclosure statement would be required for a 2012 motor vehicle model year and newer.
Damage must be disclosed if it exceeds 50 percent of the fair market value of the motor vehicle before it became damaged. The amount of damage shall be based on estimates of the retail cost of repairing the vehicle, including labor, parts and other materials if the vehicle has not been repaired; or on the actual retail cost to repair, including labor, parts and other materials if the vehicle has been repaired. All repair charges, including sales tax, must be included.
Example: A vehicle had a retail value of $22,000 at the time it was damaged, and the cost to repair it was $13,000. The cost to repair is more than 50 percent of the retail value of the vehicle at the time it was damaged. Therefore, the "Yes" box in Section 1, Question 2, must be checked.
"Fair market value" refers to the average retail value found in the "National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Official Used Car Guide." NADA guides may be available through a library, insurance agent, auto dealer or at the NADA's website.
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