Specialized Iowa license plates now available online

Officials expect higher demand with added convenience of service

By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES — Expect to see more personalized or specialty license plates on Iowa highways in the future.

Paul Trombino, director of the state Department of Transportation joined Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday to announce a new service which allows vehicle owners purchasing Iowa personalized or specialty registration plates to complete the process online.

In fiscal 2014, DOT officials processed 17,177 paper applications from Iowans willing to pay the extra fees for their choice from more than 70 specialty and personalized plates being offered to place on their vehicles.

With a quicker and more-convenient way to apply for the plates, Trombino said he expected to see a “significant increase” beyond the 2 percent of Iowa license plates that currently bear personalized messages, support various Iowa colleges or aid special causes.

“I would expect that we’re going to get lot of requests, especially as the football season begins,” Trombino said during the governor’s weekly news conference.

The new online system allows customers to apply for plates where and when it is convenient for them, rather than using the paper application that has been in place for many years, the DOT director said. The online process can be completed by customers in minutes, with typical application processing around one day, he added, rather than the paper application process, which can take up to 18 days.

One year ago, the department allowed Iowans to renew their driver’s licenses online, Trombino said, and more than 100,000 Iowans took advantage of that service, which he expects to grow in number again this year.

Vehicle owners with a valid Iowa driver’s license or non-driver identification who wish to obtain personalized plates can enter their personalization in the online system and immediately see if their desired combination is available. Plate fees vary depending on plate design and are shown in the system when a plate design is chosen, he noted.

“The process saves Iowans time, effort and money,” Trombino said.

It also helps the state by reducing staff time with the elimination of 14 paper processing steps and postage costs.

The plate production time of 21 days remains the same for paper and online processes, however. an applicant will receive notification once the new plates are available for pick up at their county treasurer’s office. Current plates on the vehicle must be returned when the new plates are picked up.

l Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@sourcemedia.net

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