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How to Get a Title for an Abandoned Vehicle in Iowa

by Nicole Schmoll

An abandoned vehicle, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation, is one that is left unattended on public property for more than 24 hour and which does not have current registration plates, is completely inoperable or has been impounded by police and has not been claimed within 10 days. Obtaining a title for an abandoned vehicle involves both the Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles and your local police department.

Step 1

Contact your local police department to inquire if an abandoned vehicle left on public property for more than 24 hours is stolen. Locate the vehicle's VIN number and provide it to police. The VIN is usually located on the inside of the vehicle, on the inside of the driver's side door.

Step 2

Wait 30 to 60 days for an owner to claim the vehicle. After determining that the vehicle is abandoned, the police will post a public notice about the vehicle, giving the owner 30 to 60 days to make a claim for it. If unclaimed, request a notice from the police department listing the vehicle's VIN and declaring that the car is abandoned.

Step 3

Complete an application for Registration and Bonded Certificate of Title for a Vehicle form with the Iowa DMV to gain possession of the vehicle. Bonded certificate of titles are used when a person cannot provide proper title documents. Provide the notice of abandonment from the police department to the DMV.

Step 4

Wait as the DMV determines whether an active title exists on the vehicle and gives the owner 10 days to claim the vehicle. If unclaimed, you will receive a bond paper from the DMV. Sign the bond paper and return it to the Office of Vehicle Services.

Wait for the DMV to send a bond receipt and letter to the Dept. of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Enforcement authorizing the County Treasurer to issue a title and registration for the vehicle to you. Speak with an investigator who will contact you to verify the information on your application for title is correct. Within 30 days of meeting with the investigator, take the bond receipt and authorization letter to your county treasurer's office, apply for a certificate of title, pay appropriate fees and register your vehicle.

Items you will need

  • VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • Contact number for local police department
  • Application for Registration and Bonded Certificate of Title for a Vehicle

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