About Vital Records

The Recorder/Registrar issues marriage licenses, and makes certified copies of births, deaths, and marriages.


In Iowa, official registration of births, deaths, and marriages began July 1, 1880. All original records that have been registered are on file with the Iowa Dept. of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Records. Statewide record searches are available from the state registrar. Local registrars are located in the County Recorder's offices and maintain records of births, deaths, and marriages that occurred in that county. County Recorders also maintain records of births for any county 1990 to present, deaths for any county 1954 to present, and marriages for any county 1954 to present. Marriage records are maintained in the county from which the license to marry was obtained. However, county registrars do not have code authority to have on record: single-parent births prior to July 1, 1995; adoptions; any record ordered sealed by court of law; or any births, deaths or marriages that occurred between the years 1921 to 1941.These records may be obtained at the Iowa Dept. of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Records,Lucas State Office Bldg., 1st Floor, 321 E. 12th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-0075 Ph: (515)281-4944.


Vital records maintained at the state level are closed to inspection and are not open to public review. To secure a copy of a record from the state, applicants must have direct and tangible entitlement. In other words, they must be the registrant, (person named on the record) or have a lineal relationship to the registrant, such as a legal parent, grandparent, spouse, brother, sister, child, legal guardian, or legal representative. Requests for a state record may be in writing or by telephone if using a credit card. The Iowa Dept. of Public Health is located in the Lucas State Office Building, Vital Records, First Floor, Des Moines, IA 50319-0075. The State of Iowa Department of Public Health, Vital Records, may be reached at: 515-281-4944.


To secure a certified copy of a county record, applicants must have the same direct and tangible entitlement as for a state record. All requests, or applications, for each certificate must be in writing and include the purpose for the certificate.


Certified copies are available for a fee of $20.00 each and can be acquired in person or through the mail. Uncertified copies are available at $5.00 each and must be requested in person, not through the mail. No information will be given over the telephone.



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