Vehicle: Salvage Title / Junking Certificate / Designations

Salvage or Wrecked Vehicle
Iowa Code Section 321.52, 321.73, 321.74 & 321.126(3)
Administrative Rules 761-405

A "wrecked or salvage vehicle" is a damaged motor vehicle that has repair costs exceeding 50 percent of its fair market value before it became damaged and had a fair market value of $500 or more before it became damaged. Since towable recreational vehicles and trailers do not have a motor, they do not fall under the salvage law. Iowa Salvage titles are $15.00.

  • Vehicle rebuilders and persons engaged in the business of buying, selling or exchanging vehicles of types that must be registered, upon acquiring a wrecked or salvage motor vehicle with a fair market value of $500 or more based on the value before the vehicle became wrecked or salvage, must obtain a salvage title.
  • Insurers of vehicles who obtain ownership of a motor vehicle as a result of a damage settlement shall obtain a salvage title. However, if the insurer certifies to the county treasurer that the insurance company has received one or more written estimates which states that the retail cost of repairs including labor, parts, and other materials of all damage to the vehicle is less than $3,000, the county treasurer shall issue to the insurance company the regular certificate of title and registration receipt without any prior salvage designation. The insurance certification is not transferable.
  • Insurers of vehicles who obtain ownership of a motor vehicle as a result of a theft settlement of an unrecovered stolen vehicle must obtain a salvage title, regardless of the value of the vehicle. When the ownership is transferred to the insurance company on a salvage title the discretionary edit on VRT will be approved by VMCS.


When an insurance company has obtained an Iowa salvage certificate of title in the company’s name, the insurance company may only assign the Iowa salvage title to:

  • an educational institution;
  • a new motor vehicle dealer, licensed under Iowa Code Chapter 322;
  • a person engaged in the business of purchasing bodies, parts of bodies, frames or component parts of vehicles for sale as scrap metal;
  • a salvage pool (means the business of selling at auction wrecked or salvage vehicles as defined in Iowa Code Chapter 321.52); or
  • an authorized recycler, licensed under Iowa Code Chapter 321H.

A salvage title may only be assigned or reassigned to any person by:

  • an authorized recycler licensed under Iowa Code Chapter 321H
  • a new motor vehicle dealer licensed under Iowa Code Chapter 322
  • If an individual purchases a salvage vehicle from a new car dealer or a recycler and decides not to repair the vehicle, that person’s options of selling that vehicle are only to the five types of business listed above in number one under Assignments/Reassignments.

Transfer (Salvage)

For an individual or an organization that has purchased a salvage vehicle, salvage titles are transferred in your county of residence. You must transfer the title within 30 days. To obtain regular (prior salvage) title without having to obtain a salvage title first, you have the vehicle repaired and inspected and transfer the title all within 30 days. For information on a vehicle title transfer follow link: . For additional information on Salvage and Salvage Theft Examinations, please follow this link to DOT’s website:

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Designations (Salvage/Junked - Iowa Code Sections 321.24 & 321.52
Administrative Rules 761-405.6 & 761-405.10)

Designations are carried forward from out-of-state titles. Only the most current designation or most severe designation for a vehicle shall be carried forward to all subsequent Iowa titles and registration receipts issued for the vehicle, unless otherwise specified:

  • Salvage - This designation supersedes any other designation except “junked.” When a vehicle is damaged it shall not be registered to be driven or moved upon a highway until it is no longer designated as salvage.
  • Prior Salvage - This designation means the vehicle was issued on an Iowa salvage title and passed a vehicle theft examination under Iowa salvage law on or after July 1, 1992. When a designation of "Prior Salvage" is required pursuant to Rule 405.7(321), it replaces any other designation. When a regular certificate of title is issued from an Iowa salvage title, and the vehicle is designated as prior salvage, the Iowa title and registration receipt shall be printed with the designation.
  • Rebuilt with two letter state designation - The vehicle was rebuilt prior to being titled in Iowa. When this designation is required pursuant to Sub rule 405.8(2), it replaces any other designation except “junked,” ”salvage” or a "prior salvage" designation.
  • Flood, fire, vandalism or theft - The most recent designation applies. The designation will appear on the title and registration.
  • Manufacturer/Lemon Buy Back - A manufacturer who accepts the return of a motor vehicle pursuant to a settlement, determination or decision under Chapter 322G.
  • Junked - This is the most severe brand. The vehicle is damaged or dismantled and is prohibited from ever again being driven upon a highway.

Junking Certificate

Effective January 1, 2016 legislation Amended Chapter 321 as follows:

  1. Allows an owner of a motor vehicle to dispose of a vehicle to a licensed vehicle recycler for scrap or junk without surrendering a certificate of title or a junking certificate IF:
    1. the motor vehicle is twelve model years old or older, and
    2. the motor vehicle is sold to the vehicle recycler for less than one thousand dollars
  2. Exempts a person from the requirement to obtain a certificate of title or junking certificate for a vehicle.

Iowa Code Section 321.52/Administrative Rule 761-400.23(321) & 761.405.1(321) An Iowa junking certificate is issued only on titled vehicles:

  1. When a vehicle is sold for junk or scrap, the purchaser must surrender the title to the county treasurer of the county of residence of the purchaser within 30 days and apply for a junking certificate.
  2. If the owner junks or dismantles a vehicle, the owner must surrender the title, registration, and license plates, unless the plates are retained for display on a replacement vehicle, and apply for a junking certificate using Iowa DOT’s Application for Junking Certificate (DOT form #411123).
  3. The prior title for a vehicle is a foreign title indicating that the vehicle was junked, regardless of any other designation on the title. The Iowa record for a vehicle with a foreign title indicates that the vehicle had previously been issued an Iowa junking certificate.
  4. When an abandoned vehicle has been sold for junk or demolished and sold for scrap. The Iowa record for a vehicle with a foreign title indicates that the vehicle had previously been issued an Iowa junking certificate.
  5. A newly purchased vehicle on a Regular or Salvage title or Abandoned Vehicle Sales Receipt, may be junked if transferred within 30 days of purchased by completing Iowa DOT’s Application for Junking Certificate (DOT form #411123).


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