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In Iowa, registration of births, deaths and marriages began July 1, 1880. No records of events prior to July 1, 1880, are on file in this office.
 

How to Request a Certified Record

  In-Person
No addt'l. fee
UPS: Overnight
*VitalChek $33.00 addt'l. fee
UPS: 2-Day
*VitalChek $30.50 addt'l. fee
Regular Mail
No addt'l. fee
Regular Mail: Genealogical
No addt'l. fee
VitalChek* N/A 2 to 5 business days 5 to 10 business days Currently 4 to 6 weeks N/A
In-Person After 2 hours N/A N/A Currently 4 to 6 weeks 8 to 10 weeks
Regular Mail N/A N/A N/A Currently 4 to 6 weeks 8 to 10 weeks

*VitalChek additional service fee for processing/mail.
Average processing times listed.


Birth Certificate Exchange

Frequently Asked Questions

We have been receiving a lot of questions regarding the wallet certificate exchange in our News Release. Please see the frequently asked questions below.

Q: Are the small birth certificate wallet cards valid for Iowa driver's license purposes?
A: Iowa Department of Transportation is currently accepting the small birth certificate wallet cards for purposes of driver license issuance.

Q: What birth certificates are affected?
A: Any Iowa newborn birth certificate issued between May 1993 to October 2009, where the birth certificate is a small wallet-size card.

Q: Why is this exchange being offered?
A: The newborn birth certificate wallet cards issued during this time did not contain all vital record information to be used for identification purposes now, making them less useful for the purpose they were intended for. In general, the Department of State has accepted these wallet size cards as long as the parents appear on the record.

Q: Why did the state issue an incorrect/improper certificate?
A: At the time, this small-form certificate was accepted as proof of birth and identity. Over time, official agencies require more information for proof of identity.

Q: Does the wallet card have wrong information?
A: No; it just does not have ALL the information. At the time of issuance, these records were as accepted as identification and proof of birth.

Q: How do I exchange the affected birth certificates?
A: Download the Application for Certified Copy of Iowa Vital Record from the How to request a certified copy by mail section below.

  • Open Application for Copy of Birth Certificate link and print document;
  • Complete the application, including notarized signature;
  • Return application, copy of driver's license and original newborn birth certificate wallet card in person or by mail to IDPH Bureau of Health Statistics, 321 E. 12th Street, Lucas State Office Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.

Q: Is there a fee for exchanging the birth certificate?
A: No, if you were originally issued a small wallet birth certificate and are now requesting a replacement birth certificate, there will be no charge for the replaced certificate and no charge for standard mailing.

Q: What if I want to keep my wallet card certificate, but still get a full-sized certificate?
A: This would be the same process as ordering any other certificate; please follow the steps for applying for a certificate.  You may ONLY apply at the state vital records office if a small wallet birth certificate is not surrendered.

Q: Who can make the exchange?
A: An entitled person must exchange the record. An entitled person would be the person of record if they are 18 years of age, the person's parents as listed on the certificate, direct blood family members, or legal spouse.

Q: How many people are affected by this exchange?
A: The total number of individuals born from May 1993 to October 2009 was 634,665. It is unknown how many wallet size certificates will exist and may be replaced.


How to request a certified record by phone

  • Call VitalChek toll-free at (866) 809-0290 from 6:00 a.m. CST through 7:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, except holidays.
    • VitalChek is the only third-party vendor authorized by the Iowa Department of Public Health to accept orders for Iowa vital records.
  • Each copy of a certified record costs $20.00.
    • If the record is not located, the applicant shall receive a notification of the record search. The $20.00 fee will be retained for the search.
  • There is an additional fee to order over the phone using VitalChek; fees start at $9.00 per order.

How to request a certified record online

  • Order online at http://www.vitalchek.com.
    • VitalChek is the only third-party vendor authorized by the Iowa Department of Public Health to accept orders for Iowa Vital Records.
  • There is an additional fee to order online using VitalChek; fees start at $9.00 per order.

How to request a certified record by mail

  • Submit a completed Application for a Certified copy of an Iowa vital record.
    • All applications must be notarized
    • Submit a clear photocopy of the applicant's current government-issued photo identification.
  • Each copy of a certified record costs $20.00
    • If the record is not located, the applicant shall receive a notification of the record search. The $20.00 fee will be retained for the search.
    • Make check or money orders payable to the 'Iowa Department of Public Health'.

Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Health Statistics
Lucas State Office Building, 1st Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075


How to request a certified record in person at the State Vital Records Office

  • In-person requests are accepted at the state vital records office between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for state-observed holidays.
  • Requests received by 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday will be processed in 2 hours.
  • Written applications must be satisfactorily completed and signed in front of vital records staff.
  • Applicants must also provide valid, current government-issued photo identification.

Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Health Statistics
Lucas State Office Building, 1st Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075


The following records are available at County Registrar offices

  • County Recorders can issue certified copies of all births that occurred in 1990 to present.
  • County Recorders can issue certified copies of all deaths that occurred in 1954 to present.
  • County Recorders can issue certified copies of all marriages that occurred in 1954 to present.

For events that occur before these dates:

  • Certified copies of birth records may be ordered from the county in which the event occurred.
  • Certified copies of marriage records may be ordered from the county where the application occurred.
  • Certified copies of death records may be ordered from the county of residence or the county where the death occurred.

How to request a commemorative certificate

The Iowa Department of Public Health is pleased to offer commemorative certificates of birth and marriage records.

This parchment certificate features a gold foil border, image of the state capital of Iowa, and calligraphy print of the information contained on the vital record. Each certificate is signed by both the Governor of Iowa and the State Registrar. Its 8-1/2" x 11" size is suitable for framing.

Certificates are delivered in protective envelopes approximately 60 business days after application. All applicants must meet the same qualifying direct-and-tangible interest standards (i.e., immediate family) as for any certified birth or marriage certificate request.

To apply:

  1. Submit a completed Application for a Commemorative birth or marriage certificate.
  2. All applications must be notarized.
  3. Submit a clear photocopy of the applicant's current, government-issued photo identification.
  4. Each commemorative certificate costs $35.00.

Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Health Statistics
Lucas State Office Building, 1st Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075