Vital Records

All vital events occurring in the state such as birth, death, and marriage, and the bureau has an interstate exchange agreement with all of the other states. The bureau registers approximately 100,000 events and issues about 85,000 certified copies annually.

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 Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Statewide record searches are available from the state registrar.

Local registrars are located in county recorders offices and maintain records of birth, death and marriages that have occurred in that county.

County registrars do not have code authority to have the following on record:

  • Single-parent births prior to July 1, 1995;
  • Adoptions;
  • Birth records after a legal change of name through Iowa Code chapter 674;
  • Delayed records filed one year or more after the event;
  • Any record ordered seal by a court of law;
  • Birth, death, and marriage records between the years 1921 to 1941.

All applications for certified copies of vital record events must be in writing and completely identify the record, as well as satisfactorily establish entitlement to the record being requested.

Entitled persons include the person named on the record or that person’s spouse, children, legal parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or legal representative or guardian. Legal guardians, legal representatives, and siblings must also provide additional proof of entitlement.

Certified copies of birth, death, or marriage certificates may be obtained from the state office of vital records by telephone, in-person, or through a postal service.

Fees are payable by check or money order made out to the Iowa Department of Public Health. In-person requests may also be paid in cash. Checks must be drawn from the applicant's account; money orders must be in the name of the applicant. Fees must be paid at the time of the application.

Effective January 1, 2014, state and county fees will increase to $20.00 for searches and certified copies of vital records. This fee is for the search of the record and is non-refundable. No refunds will be made for overpayments of $5.00 or less.

Fees must be paid in U.S. funds to the issuing registrar's office. In some instances, the local county registrar (County Recorder) may only accept cash or money orders for in-person requests and money orders for mail-in requests. All applications must be accompanied by a valid, current government-issued photo I.D. (legible photocopy if applying by mail) and all applicants must satisfactorily prove entitlement.

Administrative processing fees at the state level also will increase to $20 as of January 1, 2014. This includes for amendments, delayed registrations, legal change of names, recision of paternity affidavit, paternity registry searches by adoption attorneys, revelation of county of adoption, private paternity establishment judgments, court orders, and any other action requiring an administrative processing fee.

The application fee for the Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry remains unchanged at $25.

For further information on Birth, Death, or Marriage Certificates:

  • Please call (515) 281-4944, or
  • Use the "Contact Us" page to submit questions online.