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Right back in business on license plates

December 1, 2017
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Not too long ago the State of Iowa restricted what could be included on vehicle license plates.

The restriction, if recalled correctly, was, at least in part, in response to problems law enforcment was encountering in determining the license plate information while making a traffic stop.

Really, the two main purposes of license plates are to identify the vehicle ownership and, of course, to show you have paid your motor vehicle taxes.

Article Photos

Samples of some of the eight license plate stickers currently allowed in Iowa includes the Monticello schools logo, Waterloo Honor flight, VFW

Now, among those still allowed were plates supporting state universites, colleges, for Emergency Medical Service workers, plates recoginzing prisoners of war or plates with personalized letters, numbers or combinations.

With the approval of legislation which became effective Jan. 1, you can now get a decal to slap on your exsiting plate.

Tama County Treasurer Michelle Yuska provided some details on the license plates required to display the decals (See sidebar information) and noted her office has not had any requests yet for the decal plates.

Fact Box

Details of decals and plates

From Tama County Treasurer Michelle Yuska

What is the fee for decal plates, and when can a customer obtain them?

Customers may obtain a decal plate, at no charge, when they make an initial application for title and registration of a vehicle. They can also change their plate type to a decal plate at any time after a vehicle has been titled and the fee for that is $5. (The fee to replace a decal plate that is lost, damaged or stolen is also the customary $5.)

Are there eligibility requirements or fees for the decals themselves?

An approved organization may impose eligibility requirements or charge a fee for the decals that are approved to distribute, but that is at the election and control of the organization. The Iowa DOT will have no role in enforcing eligibility requirements or collecting fees for decals.

May decal plates be personalized? what is the cost for that?Decal plates may be personalized. The initial application fee for a personalized plate is $25, and $5 at the time of renewal.

Does a customer have to have a decal before they purchase a decal plate?

No. Customers can purchase decal plates whenever they wish and they can decide when and whether they obtain a decal and place it on their plate.

May a customer display a decal that is not approved?

No. Section 321.34(13) only allows customers to display decals that have been approved by the Iowa DOT. Displaying a decal that is not approved does not invalidate the vehicle's registrations, but it is a criminal violation and an officer that observes a plate that has been adorned with a decal not approved by the Iowa DOT may issue the owner a citation.

- J. Speer

Here's the details from the Iowa Department of Transportation:

Decal license plates

With the passage of HF617, non-profit organizations may apply to the Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services (OVMCS) for approval of a decal recognizing their organization or cause.

The application requesting a non-profit organization decal can be obtained by contacting the OVMCS at 515-237-3110 or by emailing If the decal is approved, the non-profit organization will be responsible for the production, administration, and issuance of the decals.

The non-profit organization may also charge a fee to individuals interested in displaying the approved decal on a decal license plate.



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