Salvage theft examinations

Iowa law requires all vehicles designated "salvage" or vehicles that have a "salvage" title to be physically examined by a peace officer who has been certified by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy to conduct inspections prior to issuance of an Iowa vehicle registration. The applicant must present to the officer an Iowa salvage title in the applicant's name, or a properly assigned title is acceptable. The fee for the salvage theft examination is $50.

The purpose of the salvage theft examination is to physically verify that no stolen parts were used to rebuild a vehicle and to authenticate the vehicle being rebuilt. A typical salvage theft examination takes approximately 45 minutes, but may take several hours if the vehicle identification numbers are not easily accessible or there are problems with the ownership documents. It’s important to maintain all receipts, invoices, and documentation for parts used to rebuild the vehicle and to bring these to the inspection as the officer will need to verify this information.

Please note, if during the repair of the salvage vehicle the cab or frame was changed, or if the public VIN was damaged or removed, you will need to contact the Iowa Department of Transportation, Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection to schedule an appointment at or 515-237-3050.

Salvage vehicle theft examination process

Once the vehicle has been repaired and is ready for inspection, you will need to complete electronically the Affidavit of Salvage Vehicle Repairs form. This form also includes payment for the inspection. To schedule a salvage vehicle inspection, contact a certified law enforcement agency nearest you.

A permit to drive the vehicle to the inspection site is included online when you have completed the affidavit of repairs and made payment. This permit allows you to drive the vehicle to and from the inspection site only on the day of inspection.

The applicant must present to the examining officer an Iowa salvage title in the applicant's name along with all receipts, invoices, and documentation for parts used to rebuild the vehicle.

The $50 exam fee must be paid online by credit card to complete the approval process prior to inspection.

Salvage vehicle inspection frequently asked questions

What information do I need to complete the electronic salvage inspection?

Since the affidavit of repairs web page will lock after 3-5 minutes of no activity, it is critical before starting the exam to have all relevant information readily available, such as vehicle title, bill of sale, part receipts, and credit card for payment. If the affidavit page locks prior to completion, you will need to open the program again and start over.

Can I improve the speed at which the salvage inspection website operates?

The speed is dependent upon the user's operating system and browser. For maximum speed, we recommend using Google Chrome and making sure no other computer programs are running.

Why does a dealer/recycler have to enter their FEIN or an individual have to enter their social security number into this system?

This is required for the system to find the correct dealer/recycler or individual connected to the title record. For businesses, if the FEIN you are entering is causing an error it may be due to the DOT having an incorrect FEIN on file. To correct the FEIN, contact the Iowa DOT’s Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services via email at

Why is the fee for new registration based off of the fair market vehicle value, not what I actually paid for the vehicle?

This is required by Iowa law 321.105A(2c)(17). A salvage title vehicle is not eligible to be driven on the highway, therefore, no fee for new registration is due. When the salvage title vehicle is repaired and passes inspection, it becomes eligible for highway operation when registered properly. Therefore, the fee for new registration is based off of the vehicle value when the vehicle becomes eligible for highway operation.

What is the proper fair market value for a salvage title vehicle going to a regular title?

To determine the fair market value for a salvage vehicle that has been repaired, use the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) consumer site. Locate the correct year, make, and model for the vehicle and include all applicable options and mileage. The proper fair market value is LOW RETAIL or ROUGH TRADE. The fair market value calculation may be reduced for parts, frames, chassis, auto bodies, and supplies used to rebuild the vehicle for which sales tax was already paid. No deduction for labor is allowed per Iowa law. If you would like to dispute the fair market vehicle value and subsequent amount of fee for new registration you paid, you may file a claim for refund with the Iowa Department of Revenue, citing the reasons for your disputed claim of vehicle value using this form.

Why does a hail damaged car or a car with minimal damage have to be repaired before it can be inspected?

The purpose of the inspection is to properly identify the vehicle and replaced parts in an effort to deter and detect vehicle and vehicle part theft. To properly identify the replaced parts, the vehicle needs to be completely repaired prior to inspection. Iowa Administrative Code 761-405.15 states; A salvage title vehicle shall not be examined until it has been completely repaired except for minor body parts such as trim, body markings, and paint.

Do airbags need to be replaced prior to the vehicle theft inspection?

No, Iowa law allows a vehicle to be sold without the airbags replaced as long as the seller discloses this information to the buyer Iowa Code section 321.69.

How do I pay for a salvage vehicle theft exam if I don’t have a credit card?

If you don’t have a credit card you will need to purchase a prepaid credit card at a local retailer.

How does a person without a home computer complete the online Affidavit of Repairs?

There are resources available that provide internet service such as a local library or a community center.

What if I forgot to list all the repaired or replaced parts on the Affidavit of Repairs?

Tell the officer at time of the exam of the additional parts/repairs that were completed; the officer will record this in the approval area.

If I forgot to print the permit to drive or lost it, how do I obtain another one to drive to the inspection location?

The permit to drive is included online when you complete the affidavit of repairs and make payment for the exam. If you need another permit, you will find one at the bottom of this form.


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