iowa dealer license

By law, if you are buying, selling, brokering, or dealing 5 or more vehicles in a 12-month period, you are considered a car dealer and you must obtain and Iowa Dealer’s License.

Not sure if you need a dealer license? Check out this post on  selling cars without a license.

Short on time? Read our Motor Vehicle Dealer License FAQ


How to get an Iowa Car Dealer License

To get an Iowa Dealer License, you’ll need to complete an application, purchase a surety bond, and establish a place of business that meets state/local requirements. The exact steps are listed below:

Step #1: Establish a Place of Business & Pass Zoning

Your business location must include a working landline telephone, a display facility, and a repair facility.

For a complete list of requirements, view the dealership location requirements.

You will need to provide written evidence from your local zoning authority that your dealership complies with all zoning ordinances for your area.

Step #2: Pass an On-site Inspection

Set up an appointment with Iowa DOT’s Office of Motor vehicle Enforcement Investigation section.

They will do an on-site inspection of your dealership location.

You must pass this inspection before you can get your Iowa Dealer’s License.

Step #3: Purchase an Iowa Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond

Get free Iowa Car Dealer Bond quote

An Iowa Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond is not insurance for you. It is insurance for your customers. Find out what happens if someone makes a claim on your bond.

Iowa has set the bond amount at $75,000. Depending on your credit, you might pay anywhere from $750 – $11,250 for your bond. This is a one-time payment.

Step #4: Complete Iowa Car Dealer License Application

You can get your Application for Motor vehicle or Travel Trailer Dealer License online.  

Step #5: Meet Final Requirements

Used Car Dealers:

New Car Dealers:

  • Establish a display facility measuring no less than 18 by 30 feet.
  • Provide a copy of the franchise agreement by the manufacturer or distributor you will be using.

Step #6: Submit Application

Send all of your paperwork and your original bond to the address below:

Office of Vehicle Services
Iowa Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 9278
Des Moines, IA 50306-9278

Iowa Car Dealer License Renewal

An Iowa Dealer’s License lasts up to 2 years. They expire on December 31st of even-numbered years.  

This means that if you got your license at the beginning of an even-numbered year, your license expires on December 31st of that year and is not valid for the entire 2 year time period.


Other Iowa Dealer Licenses You Might Need


  • Leasing License: If you plan on leasing vehicles for longer than 60 days, you will need to apply for a separate leasing license (Leasing License Application – Form 417034).
  • Vehicle Recycler: If you plan on selling used parts, rebuilding vehicles, or engaging in the business of vehicle salvage, you will need a separate vehicle recycler’s license (Vehicle Recycler Application – Form 411117)
  • Travel trailer dealer’s License: If you plan on selling travel trailers, you will need to apply for a travel trailer dealer’s license (Travel Trailer Dealer Application – Form 417008)   


View our FREE EBOOK: “The Ultimate Guide To Car Dealer Licensing”

Related links:

How To Get An Auto Dealer Bond

Motor Vehicle Dealer License FAQ

4 Easy Steps To Getting Your Car Dealer License

How Much Does An Auto Dealer Surety Bond Cost?

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