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Iowa Birth, Death or Marriage Records
Requesting a Search
Obtaining a Certified Copy

In Iowa, official registration of births, deaths, and marriages began July 1, 1880. Original records that were registered are on file with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Records. Statewide record searches are available from the state registrar. Local vital records registrars are located in county recorders offices, where records of births and deaths that have occurred in that county are maintained. Marriage records are maintained in the county where the license to marry was obtained. County registrars are not authorized by law to have records of single-parent births prior to July 1, 1995; adoptions; delayed registrations; legal changes of name; fetal deaths (stillborns); any record ordered sealed by a court of law; or birth, death, and marriages between the years 1921 to 1941. Per Iowa law, information about a specific record is not available over the telephone or by prepared lists. Iowa law provides for public viewing in the county where the record is maintained, or certified copies issued to entitled persons.

Applications to search for a vital record event for the purpose of obtaining a certified copy must be in writing, completely identify the record, satisfactorily establish entitlement to the record being requested, and be accompanied by satisfactory photo identification. Entitled persons include the person named on the record or that persons spouse, children, legal parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or legal representative or guardian. Legal guardians and representatives must also provide additional proof of guardianship or representation. Applicants must be 18 or older.

A $20.00 fee is required to search for a record and includes one certified copy. Each additional copy of the same record is also $20.00. If the record is not located, the applicant receives a notification to that affect. The $20.00 search fee is not refundable. Fees are payable in U.S. funds by check or money order to the issuing registrars office (i.e., Iowa Department of Public Health for state-certified, county recorders office for county-certified).

GENERAL INFORMATION

The Iowa State Board of Health was established on July 1, 1880. During that first meeting, they created an Iowa Vital Records system of birth, death, and marriage record keeping. At the time, registration responsibilities were not well defined, resulting in poor record keeping in some areas of the state. A few events, primarily marriages, were recorded in some counties prior to the 1880 date; however, little information is included on those records. 

Per Iowa law, information about a specific record is not available over the telephone or by prepared lists. Iowa law provides for public viewing in the county where the record is maintained, or certified copies applied for in writing with the appropriate fee payment by entitled applicants and issued to entitled persons.

AVAILABILITY OF RECORDS

County Records
Local registrars are located in county recorders offices, where records of births and deaths that have occurred in that county are maintained. Marriage records are maintained in the county where the license to marry was obtained. County registrars are not authorized by law to have records of single-parent births prior to July 1, 1995; fetal deaths (stillborns); delayed registrations, legal changes of name; any record ordered sealed by a court of law; or births, deaths, and marriages between the years 1921 to 1941. Vital records in the custody of the county registrar and not sealed are open to the public for inspection. County offices may charge a fee to inspect the records.

State Records
The original vital record is in the custody of the state registrar and is closed to inspection and public review. Certified copies are issued to only entitled applicants who have satisfactorily demonstrated direct and tangible entitlement to the copy. Entitled applicants may submit requests by postal service or in person at the Vital Records office located just off the north lobby on the first floor of the Lucas State Office Building, 312 E. 12th Street, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319-0075. Entitled applicants may also make requests by telephone using a card if the credit card is in their own name, the request is not for family history, and the applicant is not calling from the Des Moines area. Genealogical requests take at least 60 days to fulfill due to the intensive search process. Other timelines vary depending on seasonal demands and whether the request is by mail, the credit card line, or in person. To order a certified copy by telephone, using a credit card, call 866-809-0290. An additional $13.00 fee is charged for the expedited process of credit card usage. The state vital records operator lines are available from 7:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for state-observed holidays.

Fees
At both the county and state level, a $20.00 fee is charged upon application for each record search conducted, with a copy issued if one is found. If the record is not found, a record search letter, also called a no-record letter, will be provided. The $20.00 fee is not refundable. 

Entitlement
All applications for certified copies of vital record events must be in writing and must completely identify the record, as well as satisfactorily establish entitlement to the record being requested. To secure a copy of a record, applicants must have a direct and tangible interest in the record. In other words, you must be the registrant (person named on record) or have a lineal blood relationship to the registrant, such as legal parent, grandparent, current spouse, brother, sister, child, legal guardian, or legal representative. Legal guardians and representatives must also provide additional proof of current guardianship or representation. Applicants must be at least 18 years old. In addition, the requester must enclose a photocopy of his/her current drivers license or other government-issued photo identification. Certified copies marked for genealogical purposes may be obtained by persons of direct blood lineage to the registrant (i.e. aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, first and second cousins). At the county level only, records may be viewed by the general public.

 

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