Vehicles may be renewed during a three-month window around your renewal month without penalty. This includes the month prior to your renewal month, your renewal month, and the month following your renewal month. If the last day of the three-month window falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, renewals can be completed on the first business day of the following month without penalty. You renew in the county in which you reside.
Following the three-month renewal window a penalty is assessed at the rate of 5% of the annual renewal fee, per vehicle, per month, rounded to the nearest dollar, with a minimum penalty of $5.00 per vehicle. When the last day of the month is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, renewals can be completed on the first business day of the following month without added penalty.
Vehicle owners receive an annual renewal notice sent from their County Treasurer. Failure to receive a notice is not a defense to the payment of the renewal amount and any penalty that has accrued.
On or before the "enforcement date", Iowa law requires the registration validation sticker, often called a tag, to be affixed to the lower left side of the rear plate for large plates. For small plates the tags should be affixed to the upper left corner. Law enforcement defines the enforcement date as the first day of the second month following the registration month. It is recommended that the renewal be processed and the sticker be affixed to the license plate on or before the enforcement date.
The County Treasurer is responsible for issuing vehicle titles, registration renewals, junking certificates, personalized and other special emblem plates; notating and releasing security interests; collecting one-time new registration fee (a.k.a. Use Tax); registration and document fees; processing credits and refunds on vehicle registration fees; and serving as an agent of the Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa Department of Revenue.