Vehicle registration plates of Iowa

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Since 1911, the U.S. state of Iowa has issued license plates for vehicles registered there.

Passenger plates 1913 to present[edit]

In 1956, the U.S. states and Canadian provinces came to an agreement with the Automobile Manufacturers Association that standardized the size for license plates for vehicles, except those for motorcycles, at six inches in height by twelve inches in width, with standardized mounting holes. The 1955 (dated 1956) issue was the first Iowa license plate that complied with these standards

Image First issued Description Slogan Serial format Serials issued Notes
Iowa 1913 65764.jpg 1913 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1915 151168.jpg 1915 Black lettering on yellow base none
Iowa 1919 86047.jpg 1919 White lettering on brown base none
Iowa 1920 184015.jpg 1920 Black lettering on light green base none
Iowa 1921 419160.jpg 1921 Silver lettering on black base none
Iowa 1922 7 - 680.jpg 1922 Black lettering on silver base none
Iowa 1923 45-3179.jpg 1923 Yellow-orange lettering on black base none
Iowa 1924 74-49.jpg 1924 White lettering on black base none
Iowa 1925 74-49.jpg 1925 Black lettering on gray base none
Iowa 1926 2 -3752.jpg 1926 White lettering on maroon base none
Iowa 1927 1-546.jpg 1927 Orange lettering on dark blue base none
Iowa 1928 56-8472.jpg 1928 Black lettering on white base none Prefix letters used to avoid 7-digit plates
Iowa 1929 B-5354.jpg 1929 Black lettering on dark green base none Prefix letters used to avoid 7-digit plates
Iowa 1930 77-37837.jpg 1930 White lettering on dark blue base none
Iowa 1932 85-3891.jpg 1932 White lettering on maroon base none
Image-1933 IA passenger plate.jpg 1933 White embossed lettering and border on navy background none Coded by county of issuance (e.g., "1" for Adair County)
12-3456
?
Iowa 1934 7- 8883.jpg 1934 Yellow lettering on dark blue base none
Iowa 1935 68-2222.jpg 1935 White lettering on dark blue base none
Iowa 1936 77-14435.jpg 1936 Dark blue lettering on white base none
Iowa 1937 25 - 23.jpg 1937 White lettering on dark blue base none
Iowa 1940 15-865.jpg 1940 Dark blue lettering on orange base none
Iowa 1941 57-9767.jpg 1941 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1946 54-1687.jpg 1946 White lettering on black base none
Iowa 1947 77-2469.jpg 1947 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1948 23-1487.jpg 1948 Yellow on silver tab used on 1947 base none
1949 IA passenger plate.jpg 1949 White embossed lettering and border on black background none Coded by county of issuance
12-3456
? Aluminum with "waffle" pattern hatching texture for strength
Iowa 1950 86-534.jpg 1950 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1951 91-6667.jpg 1951 Red on silver tab on 1950 base none
Iowa 1952 61-2518.jpg 1952 White lettering on black base none
Iowa 1953 57-43049.jpg 1953 Black lettering on white base The Corn State First year a motto of any kind appeared on the plate. Rather than use the official nickname of "The Hawkeye State", they chose the unofficial nickname of "The Corn State".
Iowa 1955 55-9861.jpg 1955 Orange on silver tab on 1953 base The Corn State
Iowa 1956 50-3990.jpg 1956 White lettering on black base none
Iowa 1957 29-3551.jpg 1957 Black on silver tab on 1956 base none
Iowa 1958 9 -5361.jpg 1958 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1959 6-3388.jpg 1959 Black lettering on yellow base none
Iowa 1960 42 6361.jpg 1960 Black lettering on light gray base none
Iowa 1961 91 4454.jpg 1961 Black lettering on yellow base none
Iowa 1962 77 14405.jpg 1962 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1963 78 534.jpg 1963 White lettering on black base none
Iowa 1964 42 5258.jpg 1964 White lettering on green base none
Iowa 1965 42 5344.jpg 1965 White lettering on dark blue base none
Iowa 1966 77-29519.jpg 1966 White lettering on red base none
Iowa 1967 5 -3761.jpg 1967 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1968 91 8896.jpg 1968 Red lettering on white base none
Iowa 1969 50 7981.jpg 1969 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1970 50-5807.jpg 1970 Red lettering on white base none
Iowa 1971 25 8740.jpg 1971 Black lettering on white base none
Iowa 1972 77 107471.jpg 1972 Black lettering on yellow base none
Iowa 1973 25 4420.jpg 1973 Green and white sticker on 1972 base none
Iowa 1974 77-167439.jpg 1974 Red and white sticker on 1972 base none
Iowa 1975 57DNW595.jpg 1975 black on white none Coded by county of issuance:
  • 0ABC123
  • 00ABC123
? This would be the last time that the numbered county codes would appear on the standard issue plates, the codes would still be used on the tags that would appear on plates at certain points when a new plate was not issued. It was also the first year that a three position letter arrangement would appear on the plates.
Iowa 1980 BGN 804.jpg 1979 embossed white on green county name ABC 123 AAA 000 through GHZ 000 Letter serials depended on county of issuance
Iowa 1979 GMC 569.jpg debossed white on green county name GMA 000 through KZZ 000 Letter serials depended on county of issuance, first plates issued in Iowa that did not have county number codes since 1921
Iowa 1994 LWH 698.jpg 1986 white on blue county name ABC 123 LAA 000 through Z series Letter serials depended on county of issuance
Iowa license plate.gif 1996 blue on reflective white farm scene graphic county name 123 ABC 001 AAA to present, excluding 000 SAA through 999 SHG, U series, and V series. First issuance of these plates had the numbers embossed, while later versions had the numbers either silkscreened, or painted on.
IowaLicensePlate2011.gif 2011 black on reflective white farm scene graphic[1] county name 123 ABC

ABC 123 (Started in December 2012)

Current non-passenger and optional types[edit]

Non-passenger types[edit]

Image Type First issued Serial format Notes
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Apportioned Power Unit PA 1234 Plate color is green on white, issued to semis, or commercial vehicles only
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Apportioned Trailer TA 1234 plate is green on white. Issued to semi trailers only.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Dealer D1
D12
D123
D1234
Plus one- to three-digit suffix that ascends for each dealer. Plate color is red and blue on white.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Motorcycle 1234 AB With the exception of the size (1/4 that of a standard plate), and that only one plate is issued, there is no difference in the motorcycle plate, and the standard issue license plate.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Official 123456 All official plates are black on white.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg State Patrol 123 or 1234 State trooper's plates are official plates that are colored black on yellow, with two red stars on either side of the plate number. The plate number of each car is also the badge number for that trooper, excluding post 16, who drive pool cars assigned numbers which are currently not being used by another trooper.. The sequence is never below 2 numbers, and never higher than 3 numbers. These are placed on marked units only. Unmarked units have regular issued State of Iowa plates.
Iowa 1986 Off County 36946.jpg Official County 12345 County plates appear the same as the standard official plates.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg County Sheriff's Department S00-1234 Plates are forest green on white, with the symbol of the Sheriff's star on the far left side of the plate. A two number prefix with an S in front of it and to the left of the hyphen refers to the county to which the car is attached (i.e. the prefix S29 would be a deputy from Des Moines County while a prefix of S56 would denote a deputy from Lee County), the numbers appearing to the right of the hyphen correspond to the badge number of the deputy that is driving. These are placed on marked units only.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Special 123 SAB (000 SAA to 999 SHG) "Special" screened vertically to left of serial.
Iowa 2003 Trailer 4744 KL.jpg Trailer 1234 AB

Optional types[edit]

Iowa offers its motorists a number of optional issue designs that are available upon the payment of an additional fee.

Plates of all types other than the university types are available for both automobiles and motorcycles, the latter using a smaller overall plate size. University Plates are the only plates not colored the same as the standard issue plate, the color scheme is a yellow base, with the university's main sports team color on both the numbers, and a header denoting the school (i.e. red for Iowa State University, black for University of Iowa, purple for UNI, et cetera).

Image Type First issued Serial format Notes
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Air Force Cross Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued. Issuance is strictly regulated by the Iowa Department of Transportation, and the Iowa Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Airman's Medal Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued. Plate issuance is strictly regulated by the Iowa Department of Transportation, and the Iowa Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Breast Cancer Awareness 123BA
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Bronze Star Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued. As with all plates denoting high issue military medals, the issuance of this plate is strictly regulated by the Iowa Department of Transportation, and the Iowa Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Cattlemen Care CA123
123CA
123CI
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Congressional Medal of Honor—Air Force the plate number is the number of issuance of the medal plate is light blue on white, with the words "Medal of Honor" in place of county name. Plate is issued by the state Veterans Administration.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Congressional Medal of Honor—Army plate number is medal issuance number county name replaced with the words "Medal of Honor." Plate is light blue on white. Plate is issued by state Veterans Administration. Must provide Military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal, as well as a copy of the medal certificate. Medal of Honor plates issued for all branches of service are strictly regulated.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Congressional Medal of Honor—Navy Plate number is medal issuance number county name replaced with the words "Medal of Honor." Plate is light blue on white. Plate is issued by state Veterans Administration
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Distinguished Service Cross DSC123
DSC1234
Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Education Must show NEA membership card and hold credentials as a schoolteacher to be issued.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Emergency Medical Services 123EM
123EN
You need your signature and your director's signature notarized proving that you are indeed a member of a paid or volunteer EMS service in Iowa
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Masons Must provide membership in an area Freemasons Lodge to be issued this plate
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Ex-Prisoner of War POW123
POW1234
Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of the POW medal before issuance.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Firefighter FF123
123FF
FD123
123FD
1234F
F1234
Must have Firefighter's Identification before issuance. Plate is red on white, with nationally recognized firefighter's insignia in far left side, and reads "Firefighter," in place of county name.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg God Bless America US123
123US
123UA
123UD
123UE
123UK
123UP
123UQ
123UR
123UT
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Gold Star Mothers/Wives Must have proof of membership within Gold Star Mother's, or Gold Star Wives in order to be issued this plate
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Iowa Heritage
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Iowa State University ISU1234
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Legion of Merit Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Love Our Kids K1234
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Motorcycle Rider
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg National Guard N1234 Must have Military Identification denoting member of National Guard in order to be issued this plate.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Natural Resources – Bald Eagle AB 123
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Natural Resources – Goldfinch/Wild Rose AB123
AB 123
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Natural Resources – Pheasant AB 123
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Navy and Marine Corps Medal Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Navy Cross NC123
NC1234
Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness U1234
1234U
Must provide proof as an organ, or tissue donor (usually found on drivers license), to be issued this plate
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Pearl Harbor Survivor Must have proof to be issued this plate. Proof would consist of Military form DD-214, denoting that applicant was stationed on any one of the eight Battleships moored at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, or any smaller vessel that was documented to be at Pearl Harbor during the attack. In place of county name, the plate reads Pearl Harbor Survivor. Can have ships hull number placed as plate number for no extra charge, provided the sequence is not already taken by another motorist.
IADisabled.JPG Persons with Disabilities C1234
1234C
J1234
1234J
Y1234
1234Y
1234Z,
Z1234
Must have proof of disability, as well as the signature of a board certified doctor before plate is issued. Nobody can be issued this plate without the approval of the Iowa Department of Transportation. The plate is marked with the universal handicapped symbol on the far left hand side, with the serial number following, the one letter four number combination can either be with the letter first, or last in sequence.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Purple Heart P1234 Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Retired Air Force R1234 Must present Military Identification Card denoting retirement to be issued.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Retired Army R1234 Must have military identification card denoting retirement to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Retired Coast Guard R1234 Must present Coast Guard identification card showing retirement to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Retired Marines R1234 Must have military identification card denoting retirement to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Retired Navy R1234 Must have military identification card denoting retirement to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Share the Road SR123 (passenger)
123SU (motorcycle)
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Shriners ZA123
ZB123
Must present a Shriners membership card to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Silver Star Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Soldier's Medal Must present military form DD-214 showing receipt of medal to be issued
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg University of Iowa UI 1234
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg University of Northern Iowa UNI1234
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Veteran V1234 Plate appears as standard plate, with an American flag to the far left, with the word "Veteran" above, plate is issued by the state Veteran's Administration, all applying must have copy of Military form DD-214 denoting Honorable Discharge in order to receive the Veterans plate.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Police Department 1234567 Plate is white on dark blue, with a police officer's badge from the corresponding city on the left side, along with a seven digit number, and at the bottom, the City Police Department of issuance. These are issued only by the local police departments within the state, and placed on marked units only upon receipt of vehicle. They are illegal to be displayed by non-police officers.

Previous non-passenger and optional types[edit]

Optional types[edit]

Image Type First issued Design Serial format Notes
Iowa 1992 Sesqui S082488.jpg Sesquicentennial of statehood 1992 red on reflective white with blue and red graphics S123456 Plate is outdated, and no longer used.
Blank License Plate Shape.jpg Sesquicentennial of statehood 1992 red on reflective multicolored background 123456S Plate is outdated, and no longer used.

References[edit]

External links[edit]