Iowa Birth, Death or
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
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 fee is required to search
for a record and includes one certified copy. Each additional copy of the same
record is also $20. If the record is not located, the applicant receives a
notification to that affect. The $20 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).
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.
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.
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 515-281-4944. An
additional $5.50 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.
At both the county and state level, a $15.00 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.
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