Before You Buy

REGISTERING YOUR VEHICLE OR VESSEL IN IOWA WITHOUT A REGISTRATION AND/OR TITLE

Iowa law requires documentation in order to transfer the registration and/or title of a boat, snowmobile or OHV into your name as the new owner. If you do not have all of the documentation required, you will need to go through what is called the bonding process. Documentation required for transferring ownership includes a proof of purchase document, registration and/or title.

What is the bonding process?

If your vehicle or vessel cannot be titled or registered by your county recorder because you do not have the proper registration and/or title documents, you must first fill out Form 542-0855, Request Form for Bonded Title or Registration.Upon receipt of a completed form, the IA DNR will review and investigate the information you provide to determine if you can register your vehicle/vessel and what process you will need to go through to legally transfer ownership into your name. The initial investigation will take 4-6 weeks to complete.

NOTE: Iowa law requires the seller give the buyer, at the time of purchase, written documentation of ownership such as a bill of sale AND registration and/or title signed over to the buyer. If you have not already contacted the seller, please contact the seller of the vehicle and ask them to comply with this requirement before submitting the request form.

Getting started

If you do not have the last registration and/or title, the first step in moving forward with transferring your vehicle or vessel into your name is to submit the bond request form and supporting documents to the IA DNR. You can submit this form by email, mail or fax as instructed on the request form.

To avoid processing delays, please submit the following, required supporting documents along with your request form:

  • A copy of any written document received at the time the vehicle was acquired, such as a bill of sale or cancelled check.
  • Photos of the Front, Back, One Side, Registration Number, and the manufacturer’s ID number (Serial Number, VIN or HIN)

Please refer to the sections below should you have questions about the required supporting documents.

After your request form is submitted:

Once the request form has been submitted, the Iowa DNR will investigate the vehicle or vessel registration history and review supporting documents to determine the current registration status of the vehicle or vessel you are trying to register. As part of the investigation, the Iowa DNR may also notify the last registered owner of the request for a bonded title and/registration.

Once the investigation is complete:

The IA DNR will determine the steps you need to complete to get the vehicle or vessel registered and/or titled in your name. After six weeks, you will be notified that one or more of the following action steps may be required as result of the investigation, in order for you to be approved to transfer ownership of your vehicle/vessel.

  • You may be required to get an inspection done by a conservation officer or another certified peace officer
  • You may need to complete an affidavit form
  • You may be required to purchase a surety bond to cover one and one half times the determined, current value of the vehicle or vessel. If this is needed, a bond form will be sent to you showing the current value of the vehicle or vessel and the amount of the bond needed. The bond form will include instructions for completion and return to the Iowa DNR. Fees to obtain a surety bond through a bonding company are set by the surety company. Please refer to the bonding company for the fee to obtain your surety bond. If a bond is needed, the IA DNR will hold the bond for three years, after which time the bond will expire and there is no requirement for a bond.

Upon review of the completed paperwork and any additional steps requested above, you will be notified in writing of your approval to obtain a title and registration through your county recorder’s office. You will use your approval letter in lieu of a signed title and/or registration by the seller to transfer your vehicle and vessel into your name.

Note: There may some instances that the DNR cannot approve the transfer of ownership of your vehicle/vessel. If we cannot approve transfer, you will be notified in writing after the investigation. I.e. There is an active lien of the vehicle/vessel. 

After You Buy
Frequently Asked Questions
+ Buyer Beware - Before you buy
+ Can I bond in Iowa if I live in another state?
+ Only have a bill of sale?
+ Only have the title or registration?
+ Having trouble obtaining title or registration?
+ Last registered owner is deceased?
+ Vehicle/vessel still has an open lien on it.
+ Last registered owner claims ownership?
+ Found a vehicle/vessel and I want to keep it.
+ How much does the bonding process cost?
+ What is a written document of ownership?

It is a written document received at the time the vehicle/vessel was acquired, such as a bill of sale, statement of gift or cancelled check. This document must include the following information: Year, Make, Model, Registration Number, HIN of vessel or VIN of vehicle, buyer’s printed name and address, seller's printed name and address, date of purchase, purchase price.

Questions?

Please contact us:

bonding@dnr.iowa.gov

or 515-725-8273

Iowa's Bonding Process