Aircraft registration in Iowa

Unless specifically exempted, a certificate of registration is required to operate an aircraft in Iowa (in addition to being registered with the FAA). Aircraft registration laws are defined in Iowa Code Chapter 328. A general summary follows:

  • Iowa residents and businesses must register an aircraft unless it is continuously located and operated beyond the boundaries of the state.

  • Nonresident owners of aircraft providing the intrastate transportation of persons or property for compensation, the furnishing of services for compensation, or intrastate transportation of merchandise in Iowa, must register aircraft with the Iowa DOT prior to conducting those operations. Other visitors are exempt from registering aircraft in Iowa as long as their aircraft are not operated or controlled in the state for more than 30 days a year.
Annual registration fees are based on aircraft age, original manufactured list price, and its type of use (personal or business). A one-time 6 percent use tax on the purchase price of the aircraft is collected at the time of registration.

Aircraft registration fees (and aviation fuel taxes) are deposited into a State Aviation Fund to help fund aviation programs in Iowa, such as airport development projects, the automated weather observing system (AWOS), runway markings, and windsocks.

Aircraft registration application form

To register an aircraft, complete the aircraft registration form (PDF) and return it, with payment, to the Iowa DOT’s Office of Aviation. Upon receipt and approval of an application, an Aircraft Registration Certificate will be issued. Owners of airworthy aircraft will then receive annual renewal notices.

Aircraft Registration Application Form (PDF) , Form #300038 (two pages)

When completed, forward this application form to:
Iowa Department of Transportation
Office of Aviation
Attn: Aircraft Registration
800 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA  50010

Phone: 515-239-1691
Email: aircraftregistration@dot.iowa.gov

FAQs

1. If I register my aircraft with the FAA, do I still need to register it in Iowa?

Registering your aircraft with the FAA does not meet your obligation to register it in Iowa.

2. Do I have to pay use tax on my aircraft?

A 6 percent use tax on the purchase price of an aircraft must be paid when the aircraft is registered. Payment should be sent with the Application for Aircraft Registration, along with a copy of a bill of sale, and fees for annual registration.

Purchase price is the total consideration, including cash, credit, property and services for which an aircraft is sold.

When an aircraft is traded-in on another aircraft, whether new or used, tax is due only on the difference between the purchase price and the trade-in allowance. It does not matter whether the transaction is between individuals or with a dealer.

Questions regarding claims for use tax exemption should be directed to the Iowa Department of Revenue. Applications claiming use tax exemption must include evidence of exemption and will be forwarded to the Iowa Department of Revenue for review. If you have questions regarding use tax exemption, contact Iowa Department of Revenues taxpayer services at 515-281-3114.

3. Who is exempt from registration requirements?

  1. Aircraft registered in a foreign country.
  2. Aircraft owned by an Iowa resident that is continually located and operated beyond the boundaries of the state.
  3. Aircraft owned by a government entity.
  4. Aircraft that is lighter than air and not engine driven (i.e., hot air balloon).
  5. Aircraft that is displayed in a museum.

4. What happens if the aircraft is not registered at the appropriate time?

A monthly penalty of 5 percent of the registration fees will begin to accrue on the first day of the month following a 30-day penalty free period.

5. How are registration fees determined?

When an aircraft other than a new aircraft is registered in Iowa, the registration fee shall be based upon the model year of the aircraft.

The fees are determined by the aircraft’s use as listed below.
  • For all aircraft used for business and for aircraft less than 30 years old used for personal use only, the following schedule applies (rounded to the nearest whole dollar with a minimum registration fee of $35).
    • Manufacturers list price X 1% = first year’s fee not to exceed $5,000.
    • Manufacturers list X .75% = second year’s fee.
    • Manufacturers list X .50% = third year’s fee.
    • Manufacturers list X .25% = fourth year and older.
    If list price information is not available for the aircraft, contact the Iowa DOT's Office of Aviation and provide the year, make and model of the aircraft to determine an average manufacturer's list price.

    Aircraft shall not be registered for a fee of less than $35 or more than $5,000.

    For an aircraft that was assembled and no established manufacturer's list price exists, the cost of the aircraft kit, engine, propeller, avionics, instruments and other any additional parts will be used to determine the list price. The fee schedule shown above will be used to determine the registration fee for home-built aircraft.

  • Aircraft that is 30 years old or older and is for personal use - $35.
  • A helicopter used exclusively as an air ambulance service - $1,000.
  • Fixed-base operator under an agreement with a public-owned airport's governing body to provide general public service - $100.
  • Scheduled airline used for interstate operation - $100.

6. What should I do if I buy or sell an aircraft that is already registered in Iowa?

Sellers of aircraft registered in Iowa should complete the Notice of Transfer of Ownership on the aircraft registration certificate. If the aircraft is sold out of state, return the Notice of Transfer of Ownership to the Iowa DOT's Office of Aviation.

If the aircraft is sold in state, the Notice of Transfer of Ownership should be given it to the new owner for them to submit with a new aircraft registration application. A purchaser of an aircraft already registered in Iowa shall then provide the following to the Iowa DOT's Office of Aviation within 30 days of the purchase date.
  • The Notice of Transfer of Ownership.
  • A fully completed aircraft registration application.
  • Six percent use tax with a copy of a bill of sale.
If the aircraft is currently registered, the fees shall transfer to the purchaser of the aircraft. The notice of transfer of ownership must be submitted within 30 days from the date of purchase to avoid a $5 penalty. Any delinquent registration fees and penalties must be paid at the time of transfer.

7. Do I receive a refund when I sell an aircraft?

If an aircraft is sold to a person in Iowa, the fees will transfer to the new owner and no refund will be given. If an aircraft, other than a nonresident aircraft used for the application of herbicides and pesticides is destroyed, dismantled or removed from the state, you must return the certificate of registration to the Iowa DOT within 10 days and request a refund for the unexpired portion of the registration fees. No refunds of less than $35 are allowed.

8. Do I have to register an aircraft that is not airworthy?

Yes. Use taxes on the purchase price of the aircraft must be made with the application, however, there are no registration fees due on an aircraft that is unairworthy. Once registered, you will receive an unairworthy certificate that stays with the aircraft. You will need to contact the Iowa DOT's Office of Aviation and pay registration fees when the aircraft becomes airworthy and before it returns to flight.

9. More information on aircraft registration?

Registration applications and other information are available at your local airport, on the Office of Aviation website, or by contacting the Office of Aviation. Questions regarding aircraft registration in Iowa can be directed to the Office of Aviation at 515-239-1691 or by email.

10. What is the contact information for aircraft registration?

Iowa Department of Transportation
Office of Aviation
Attn: Aircraft Registration
800 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA  50010

Phone: 515-239-1691
Fax: 515-233-7983
Email: aircraftregistration@dot.iowa.gov

Weatherview
Iowa DOT Office of Aviation | 800 Lincoln Way | Ames, IA 50010
515-239-1691 | Fax:515-233-7983