Are Dirt Bikes Street Legal in Iowa? [Updated]

Dirt bikes are typically manufactured for tough terrains and an off-road experience. However, if you want to ride your dirt bike on the streets, public roads, and highways of Iowa, it is probably a good idea to first understand the dirt bike laws and if it is street legal in Iowa.

In order for a two-wheeler to be considered street legal in the state of Iowa, it has to comply with regulations governing safety, emission, and antitheft standards. Since dirt bikes are not manufactured to comply with any of those federal and state statutes, they are not considered street legal in the state of Iowa. That being said, there are some mechanical and non-mechanical procedures to make your dirt bike street legal in the state of Iowa. 

Each state in the US relies on its own regulations and guidelines to determine if a vehicle is safe to ride on the roads. However, if you’re a beginner rider, the regulations and guidelines may become a bit overwhelming at first. But don’t worry, I have compiled an extensive guide on making a dirt bike street legal in the state of Iowa.

Related: Are Dirt Bikes Street Legal in Missouri?

Is it Illegal to ride dirt bikes on Iowa roads?

Riding a dirt bike is a lot of fun. However, you can not ride your dirt bike anywhere you want in Iowa. There are state rules, regulations, and laws you’ll need to follow while riding your dirt bike in Iowa. Since dirt bikes in stock form are not street legal in the state of Iowa, it is illegal to ride them on Iowa roads, streets, and highways. Dirt bikes can be ridden on the public roads and streets of Iowa only if it is registered and plated. In order to register a dirt bike in Iowa, you’ll need to make it street legal in Iowa first. Ignoring the dirt bike laws and riding them on Iowa streets may likely lead to a citation(ticket). Moreover, your dirt bike may be towed and a small fine may be imposed.

Where can you ride your dirt bikes legally in Iowa?

If your dirt bike is not registered and plated, you can not legally ride it on public roads, streets, and highways of Iowa. Therefore, if your dirt bike is not street legal in Iowa, the best place to ride it is your own backyard. Although no one can stop you from riding a dirt bike on your private property, there are laws and regulations regarding pollution and noise violations in Iowa. Therefore, if your property is close to other homes, you might not be able to ride your dirt bike even on your private property. Since every city and county in Iowa has its own laws and regulations regarding pollution and noise violations, I would highly recommend taking some time to research and understand these local regulations before riding dirt bikes on private property.

The next best place to ride your dirt bike is the local state park trails or public dirt bike parks. However, make sure you glance at the park’s basic rules, as some parks or trails in Iowa only allow certain types of vehicles to be ridden and some may even require you to buy a permit.

How do you make a dirt bike street legal in Iowa?

Iowa is like most other states when it comes to making a dirt bike street legal. The state of Iowa has its own set of rules and regulations regarding the legalities of dirt bikes on its public roads and highways. The first and most important thing to remember while making your dirt bike street legal in Iowa is to make your dirt bike resemble more like a street bike or a motorcycle.

In Iowa, a motorcycle is defined as a motor vehicle having a saddle or seat for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground including a motor scooter but excluding a tractor, an autocycle, a low-speed electric bicycle, and a motorized bicycle.

The process of making your dirt bike street legal in Iowa includes some mechanical adjustments as well as some non-mechanical procedures.

Mechanical Additions to make a dirt bike street legal in Iowa

The first step to making your dirt bike street legal in the state of Iowa is making sure all the safety components of a motorcycle is present in your dirt bike. Knowing the parts you need in your dirt bike to make it street legal in Iowa may sound pretty simple. However, assembling all the required parts and modifying your bike can be an overwhelming process. Be at ease, though! I have linked exactly where you should go to purchase every part you require to legally ride your dirt bike on the public roads of Iowa.

Your dirt bike should have the following equipment:

  1. A working headlight (high and low beam) and a taillight,
  2. A working brake light,
  3. A functioning pair of front and back brakes,
  4. A functioning turn signal and a horn,
  5. Two Rearview Mirrors,
  6. DOT-approved Tires,
  7. A License Plate Bracket,
  8. Additional Components (Odometer, Kickstand, Charging System, Stator )

Keep in mind, Iowa restricts the sound that the dirt bike makes. Therefore, every motor vehicle must at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise and annoying smoke, and no person shall use a muffler cutout, bypass, or similar device upon a motor vehicle on a highway.

Non-mechanical procedures to make a dirt bike street legal in Iowa

Once you install all the safety components in your dirt bike and make it look more like a street bike, you’ll need to follow a few more steps in order to make your dirt bike street legal in Iowa.

1. Get an Iowa Motorcycle License

Iowa is one of the few states in the US which require an Iowa motorcycle license in order to register their bike. You must register and get Iowa license plates even if your old plates are still valid in your previous state.

If you just moved to Iowa from a different state and already have a motorcycle license, you can easily transfer your credentials by going to the local Motor Vehicle Division MVD) driver licensing office and providing proof of your SSN, Identity, and Iowa residence. You must also surrender your out-of-state motorcycle license and pass a written knowledge and vision test.

Dirt bikes registered in Iowa are not required to get safety or emissions inspections. However, you may be required to get a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection performed before you can register it for the first time.

2. Register your dirt bike with the County Treasurer’s Office in Iowa

The registration of your dirt bike in Iowa depends on where you purchase your dirt bike from. When you plan to take the trip to County Treasurer’s Office in Iowa, you must provide some crucial documents to complete the registration.

  • A copy of the title or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin
  • Bill of Sale
  • A dealer’s affidavit if the motorcycle was bought in another state
  • Proof of Insurance
  • VIN inspection Report
  • Bike’s Odometer Statement
  • A completed Application for Certificate of Title/Registration
  • Receipts of all the paid fees and taxes

You’ll need to pay some fees for registration and title ($10 – $20) at the County Treasurer’s Office in Iowa for your dirt bike. Keep in mind, local county taxes and surcharges(varies by county) may also apply.

If you purchased your dirt bike from the dealer and the dirt bike’s certificate of Origin doesn’t mention your dirt bike being off-road only, you don’t need to do anything. The dealer will submit your documents to the County Treasurer’s Office in Iowa. You’ll receive copies of the documents sent for your records.

However,  if you bought a dirt bike, which already has a title, from a private seller, it is your and the seller’s responsibility to register the motorcycle at the County Treasurer’s Office in Iowa. The titling can be done at the same time. To register your dirt bike:

  • You and the seller must sign the title
  • Provide proof of insurance
  • Present the current registration
  • Present the proof of ownership (MSO, title, or Bill of Sale)
  • Pay all the applicable fees

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making your dirt bike street legal in Iowa yourself, DirtLegal provides a dirt bike legal service for just $299. After you complete your order, they’ll be getting the paperwork ready for you and send you within 24 hours.

Do dirt bikes have titles in Iowa?

Yes, it is possible to title a dirt bike in Iowa. However, you will need either the Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO) or a Bill of Sale that meets the DMV requirements.

In case you don’t have the MSO, you can contact your dealer or the manufacturer to obtain this information. If you bought the dirt bike from someone else and the dirt bike is not yet titled, you may ask them for the certificate of origin. Furthermore, even if the previous owner doesn’t have the certificate of origin, you can use the VIN number to find out who the first owner is. This way you can contact them and ask them if they have the MSO of your dirt bike.

In order to register your dirt bike in Iowa, the MSO of your bike must state that the bike meets or exceeds all federal emissions, safety, and anti-theft standards. If this statement is not present in y our dirt bike’s MSO, it is usually considered for “off-road” purposes only and thus will be very difficult to get registered in Iowa. 

How to get a title for a dirt bike in Iowa?

The process of getting a title for a dirt bike in Iowa is very similar to getting a title for a motorcycle, car, or truck. The most important document you’ll need in order to get a title and registration in Iowa is the proof of ownership. Proof of ownership can typically be provided with one of the following documents:

  1. Title from the previous owner that has been filled out and signed,
  2. Bill of sale,
  3. Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin from the dealership(MSO),
  4. Documents that demonstrate the full chain of ownership.

If you purchased your dirt bike in another state and want to title and register it in Iowa, you’ll also typically need to complete a VIN verification and inspection. 

Once all the documents are ready, visit the County Treasurer’s office in Iowa and:

  1. Provide all the proof of ownership documentation,
  2. Photo ID,
  3. Complete  an Application for Iowa Certificate of Title or Registration (Form 411007),
  4. Pay the $25 application fee.

If you’re buying a used dirt bike and the previous owner doesn’t have the title, or the state doesn’t issue titles to dirt bikes, a bill of sale will often suffice. To register/title a dirt bike in Iowa with just a bill of sale, you’ll need to be sure that it meets the DMV’s bill of sale requirements, which typically include:

  1. Full name, address, and signature of the seller,
  2. Full name, address, and signature of the buyer,
  3. Details of the dirt bike including year, make, model, and VIN,
  4. Details of the sale including date, sale price, and any other details.

Iowa also requires you to notarize the signatures on the bill of sale. Alternatively, you can also request that the seller applies for a duplicate title before proceeding with the sale.

How to register your dirt bike with no title in Iowa?

Registering your dirt bike in Iowa does not require a title. However, if you do not title the dirt bike, your registration will be non-transferable. You will not be able to sell the dirt bike with a non-transferable registration. Therefore, if you are not interested to sell your dirt bike in the near future, I would recommend you to not worry about titling your dirt bike.

Do you need a license and insurance to ride a dirt bike in Iowa?

You don’t need a license or insurance if you plan to ride your dirt bike strictly off-road or even on your private property in Iowa. However, if you plan to link trails by roads or want to experience riding your dirt bikes on public streets and roads or highways of Iowa, you’ll first need to register it with County Treasurer’s Office in Iowa and get your dirt bike plated. Furthermore, you should also apply for an Iowa motorcycle license(Class-M) and have insurance in place. And lastly, always carry your license, title, and insurance papers with you while taking your dirt bike on Iowa roads.

John Webler a writer for Offroadbible
John Webler

Hi there, I'm John Webler, the owner and a writer for Offroadbible, a website that covers everything related to ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs. As a lifelong off-roading enthusiast, I have a deep passion for exploring the great outdoors on two and four wheels. I have spent countless hours tinkering with engines, navigating rough terrain, and pushing the limits of what these machines are capable of.

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