The state of Iowa offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the past, or are current active military members.

Disabled veteran registration fee waiver and reduced registration fees

Disabled veterans are eligible for one Disabled Veteran license plate free of charge for a vehicle which is provided by the Veterans Administration. You must provide certification from the VA to the county treasurer’s office in order to qualify for a free DV plate.

Military veterans in Iowa are eligible for a reduced vehicle registration fee of $60 for a vehicle under 10,000 that is equipped with permanently installed assistive equipment intended to assist a disabled person in operating or entering or exiting the vehicle. The owner or lessee of the vehicle (or a household member of the owner) must be permanently disabled according to Iowa Code 321L.

Driver’s license veteran designation

Iowa veterans are eligible for a veteran designation on a driver license or state ID card. In order to qualify, you must submit a completed Iowa DOT application form certified by the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs or a County Veterans Affairs Office. You can then bring this form to your local driver license office to have the military designation added to your license or ID. When adding the designation during a normal renewal, the regular fees will apply. If you’d like to update a current license or ID with veteran status prior to the renewal due date, there will be a fee of $10.

Military honor plates

Iowa offers a wide variety of distinguished military honor license plates commemorating the different military branches, service medals, specific campaigns, and individual battles. Eligibility for each of these plates requires certain criteria be met, including proof of current or past military service (honorable discharge), proof of having participated in a specific battle, or discharge papers or U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs documentation of the award received.

Plates are available for the following:

  • Armed Forces branches (Army, Navy, Air Force)
  • Retired Military (Air Force, Army, Marine, Navy, Coast Guard)
  • Iowa National Guard
  • Ex-Prisoner of War
  • Gold Star
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Legion of Merit
  • Air Force Cross Medal
  • Airmen’s Medal
  • Service Cross Medal
  • Navy/Marine Corps Medal
  • Navy Cross Medal
  • Soldier’s Medal
  • Silver Star
  • Veteran
  • Disabled Veteran
  • Purple Heart

Aside from the Disabled Veteran plate, most Iowa military plates require regular registration fees, and most also come with an additional $5 annual renewal fee. You can see the full list here. You can access the application for special license plates here.

Military skills test waiver

As of 2011 you can take advantage of the heavy vehicle operation experience you’ve accumulated in the course of military service in order to avoid taking the skills test for your CDL. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made this possible through their Commercial Learner’s Permit rule, and Iowa as well as every other U.S. state now honors the waiver created by this rule. You do have to meet some requirements – two years of experience driving commercial military vehicles, and the experience has to have been within 12 months prior to application (if still active in the military) or within 12 months prior to discharge. There are also requirements with regard to prior motor vehicle offenses, detailed on the waiver form.

The government has provided a standardized waiver here. Applicants must still take the written CDL examination.

Military Commercial Driver’s License Act of 2012

This law was enacted in an effort to make it easier for active military personnel to become CDL holders even if they are stationed outside of their home state. The legislation gives states power to issue a CDL to active military members who are serving in any of the branches, even the Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard.

Driver license renewal while deployed

Military personnel who cannot renew their driver license online may apply for an extension that lasts until six months after active duty concludes. You must submit the form Extension for Military Service either by mail or fax, to:

Office of Driver Services
Iowa Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 9204
Des Moines, Iowa 50306-9204
Telephone: 515-244-8725
Fax: 515-239-1837

This extension is also available to dependents of military personnel stationed away from home.

Military personnel need to abide by normal vehicle registration procedures. You can check to see if you’re eligible for online renewal here.

Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration

Iowa honors out-of-state driver’s licenses and vehicle registration for non-resident military stationed within the state.

Active or veteran military personnel can read more at the state’s motor vehicle division website here.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Iowa and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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