How to Buy a Personalized License Plate in Iowa

If you’ve been looking for a way to make your vehicle a little more fun, a personalized license plate may be perfect for you. A personalized license plate is a great way to add a little bit of flair, and a little bit of your own unique personality to your car.

In Iowa, there are two parts of your license plate that can be personalized, for only a small fee. First, you can choose from a wide selection of plate designs, and second, you can create a custom plate message. Between these two things, you’ll be sure to find the perfect license plate for you and your car.

Part 1 of 3: Pick out your personalized license plate

Step 1: Go to Iowa’s website. Visit the official website for the state of Iowa.

Step 2: Go to the Department of Transportation website. Navigate to the Iowa Department of Transportation web page.

On the left side bar of the Iowa website, click on the link titled “Transportation”. When the next page loads, click on the link that says “Department of Transportation”.

Step 3: Go to the specialty and personalized plates page. Navigate to the specialty and personalized plates page on the Department of Transportation site.

Click on the button titled “Online services”, which is at the top of the page.

Click on the button that says “Vehicles”.

Click on the link that is titled “Order specialty and personalized plates”.

  • Tip: The specialty and personalized plates page has a lot of tips and information, which is very helpful to read.

Step 4: Select your vehicle type. At the bottom of the page, select the type of vehicle that you are getting personalized license plates for.

Where prompted, mark whether or not the vehicle is currently being leased.

  • Tip: The vehicle that you are getting plates for must be currently registered in the state of Iowa.

  • Warning: If you are leasing your vehicle, you will need to provide a copy of your lease agreement to the Department of Transportation before receiving your plates. Make sure that personalized plates are allowed in your lease agreement.

Step 5: Choose between specialty and personalized. Select whether you wish to purchase a specialty plate, or a personalized plate, then click the button that says “Next”.

A specialty plate is a unique plate design, but a randomly assigned plate number. A personalized plate is a unique plate design plus a custom license plate message.

  • Tip: If you opt for a specialty plate, you will not have as many plate design options as if you choose a personalized plate. You will only be able to select a college or university themed plate design for a specialty plate.

Step 6: Choose a plate design. Select the license plate design that you would like.

Iowa offers a few dozen license plate designs to choose from. To select the design that you wish to purchase, click on it.

  • Tip: Amateur radio, EMS, firefighter, military, and veteran plates are not shown on this page, but are available. To purchase any of these plates you will need to provide certification, and will thus need to visit a Department of Transportation office. This is also true if you would like to purchase a disabilities plate.

Step 7: Choose a plate message: Select your personalized license plate message.

Choose a license plate message, and type it in the box titled “Type in personalized text”.

Plate messages cannot use special characters or punctuation marks, though they can use spaces. However, spaces count towards the character limit.

Plate messages can consist of both letters and numbers, but they cannot contain only numbers.

After typing your message, explain the meaning of the message in the box below, then click the “Next” button. You can also input two additional plate messages in case the first one is already taken, but there is no need to do that since you have already checked the availability.

  • Tip: Different license plate designs can fit different character limits. Be sure to read the section titled “Requirements” on the page to see how many characters you can use for the plate that you selected.

  • Tip: This step and the next step are not required if you are only purchasing a specialty plate.

  • Warning: Crude or offensive license plate messages will be rejected. They will appear on the Department of Transportation website as being available, but your application will be rejected later. Messages that denote governmental agencies also fall into this category.

Step 8: Check availability: Check the availability of your license plate message.

After choosing your message, click the button that says “Check availability” to see if the plate is currently registered to someone else. If you receive an alert saying that the plate is unavailable or invalid, try again until you find an available plate.

Part 2 of 3: Order your personalized license plate

Step 1: Log in: Log in to the Iowa Motor Vehicle Division.

You do not need a preexisting account to log in. You simply need to provide your first and last name, date of birth, driver’s license or identification card, and the last five digits of your social security number.

After inputting your information, select the box certifying that the information is accurate, and then press the “Login” button.

  • Tip: Your driver’s license or identification card must be for the state of Iowa.

Step 2: Fill out your information: Fill out all of the information on the application form.

Fill out both your personal information and information about the vehicle that the personalized license plates are for.

  • Tip: Before submitting your information, double check to make sure that all of your answers are accurate, and that there are no spelling errors.

Step 3: Pay the fee: Pay the personalized license plate fee.

Enter your credit or debit card information to pay the personalized license plate initial fee, as well as the annual validation fee.

  • Tip: The amount of the fees changes depending on which plate design you have selected, and whether you are getting a specialty plate or a personalized plate.

  • Warning: The personalized plate fees are in addition to any standard license plate and registration fees and taxes.

Step 4: Confirm: Confirm your payment and your personalized license plate order.

Part 3 of 3: Install your personalized license plates

Step 1: Pick up your plates: Pick up your plates from the treasurer’s office.

When your plates have been approved, manufactured, and delivered, you will receive a notice in the mail. Go to your local county treasurer’s office to pick up your plates.

Step 2: Install your plates: Install your new personalized license plates.

Install your personalized license plates on the front and back of your vehicle as soon as you receive them.

  • Tip: If you are not comfortable installing a license plate, call a mechanic to come help you out.

  • Warning: Be sure to place current registration stickers on your license plate before you drive your vehicle.

When your new personalized license plates are installed, your car will have an extra bit of your personality on it. Both the plate design and the specialized message are sure to make you smile every time you go to your car.

Next Step

Schedule Oil Change

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil Change. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Oil Change reviews

Excellent Rating


Rating Summary


33 years of experience
991 reviews
33 years of experience
Volkswagen Passat - Oil Change - Hampton, Virginia
Matt always does a great job. Very professional. I look forward to my next appointment.... A++++++
Ford Expedition - Oil Change - Hampton, Virginia
I am so please to have Matt work on my vehicle, he is very friendly and personable, and always does a great job.


22 years of experience
37 reviews
22 years of experience
Audi A3 - Oil Change - Queen Creek, Arizona
Job well done! Greg was on time and professional. He treated my vehicle with care. He completed the job smoothly and so far so good. First time using Your mechanic and it was a pleasant experience. I will be looking into them again. Thanks Greg!
Ford Explorer - Oil Change - Scottsdale, Arizona
Greg was very friendly and professional. Communication was great, he let me know what he was doing. He went above and beyond to make sure everything was running smoothly. I would 100% recommend Greg!


27 years of experience
93 reviews
27 years of experience
Buick Encore - Oil Change - Oakland, California
Another home run! Really appreciate the flexibility regarding my service appointment. Due to my work schedule I desperately needed a late appointment. So grateful my car is receiving top shelf professional service. Replaced a oil pan drain plug that was seriously damaged and stripped by a competitor that will NEVER get my business again! All services were quickly completed. Thank you so much for another great experience with my.... Your Mechanic Lavell 5 ⭐️ Service consistently.


23 years of experience
483 reviews
23 years of experience
Porsche 911 - Oil Change - Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Brian is extremely knowledgeable and very personable and has taken very good care on my 911. I would recommend Brian to any one who has mechanical car challenges. I would recommend Brian to all My friends and family

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Related articles

How to Buy a Personalized License Plate in Missouri
A A personalized license plate is a great way to customize your car. With a personalized plate, you can display a sentiment on the front and back of your car that no one else has. You can cheer on a...
How to Buy a Personalized License Plate in New Jersey
If If you have been looking for a new way to add some customization and fun to your vehicle, a personalized license plate could be a great option for you. With a personalized plate, you can make your car uniquely...
How to Buy a Personalized License Plate in Alaska
Many Many drivers are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their car in any way possible. One such way is with customization and personalization. A personalized license plate can be a great way to add customization to a...

Related questions

Is it illegal to have license plates as body work?

Hi Salvador, this is an interesting question. I'm not sure if it's legal or not so your best bet is to contact the Missouri DMV and see what they say.

Spewing oil leaving a puddle an shaking violently starts but sounds very bad like it's not getting oil an is rough sounding

Your description of the lack of oil tells me your engine is probably already badly damaged. The main problem is you drove it home with the problems you have described. The only way to save a motor from damage when...

Battery charge low

Hi. The alternator is the key part of the charging system and helps maintain the battery charge during vehicle operation. A faulty alternator is common and can cause the problem mentioned. A loose wire, blown fuse, or faulty alternator are...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 ·