How to Find a Birth Record in Iowa?

What Are Birth Records in Iowa?

An Iowa birth record is the official documentation of the birth of an individual stating vital birth-related information and verifying that the individual's birth occurred in Iowa. Birth records may be maintained for legal and administrative use, such as for use in formulating health policies and efficient resource allocation. A birth record provides the foundation for the recognition of the child as a citizen of Iowa and the United States.

Established in 1880, the Iowa State Board of Health in its first meeting created an Iowa Vital Records system to maintain birth records and other vital records. Due to the poor definition of responsibilities and roles within the system, general birth record-keeping was poor at the beginning. Today, the system is more robust with birth information being recorded from births occurring at the hospitals, at home, and even births carried out with the help of midwives.

A birth record is required to obtain a social security number, gain employment, enroll in school, or apply for insurance or government benefits. It is an important document without which an individual does not exist in the eyes of the law.

An Iowa birth record contains:

  • Date of birth
  • Time of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Child's full name
  • Mother's name
  • Father's name
  • Child's gender
  • Type of birth
  • Mother's marital status
  • Birth registration number

How To Find and Request Birth Records Online In Iowa?

Iowa birth records do not fall under the scope of the Iowa Open Records Law. Hence, the state makes no provisions for the public to look up Iowa birth records online. However, for convenience, the state has partnered with an independent company to allow requesters to obtain birth records by placing orders online. This partnership represents Iowa's only authorized online route to obtaining birth records. The third-party company charges an additional fee for processing each order.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

How To Get Birth Records In Iowa?

Birth registrations did not officially begin in Iowa until July 1, 1880. Iowa birth records are closed to public inspection at the State Vital Records Office. However, under Section 22 of the Iowa Code, birth records may be inspected as of right when in the custody of the county registrar. County recorders are authorized to issue certified copies of all birth records that were filed in 1988 to the present. For births that occurred before 1988, certified copies of birth records may be ordered from the county in which the birth occurred.

An Iowa birth record can be obtained in person or by mail from the State Vital Records Office or the county registrars. Regardless of the official entity providing access to a birth record, each request must include the appropriate fee and acceptable identification.

Before the State Vital Records Office notarizes a signature on a birth record application, a requester must present an unexpired identification issued by a U.S. government office. Commonly accepted forms of identification are:

  • Driver’s license
  • State photo ID
  • Work photo ID
  • School photo ID (current school year only)
  • Military ID
  • Passport or Visa
  • Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551)
  • Employment Authorization Card (Form I-766)

If a requester cannot present any of the above-named forms of identification, the State Vital Records Office will accept two to three forms of documents listed below for identification purposes. The names and current addresses listed on the documents must match. The documents are:

  • Expired driver’s license, plus one other document in the same name
  • Non-US passport, plus one other document in the same name
  • Matricula Consular card, plus one other documents in the same name
  • International driver’s license, plus one other documents in the same name
  • Foreign-issued voter’s registration or identity card, plus two other documents in the same name
  • Non-government issued identity card, plus two other documents in the same name
  • Income tax return
  • Rent or mortgage receipts
  • Car title or registration
  • Court documents
  • Criminal record
  • Insurance policy
  • Banking documents – credit or debit card with photo
  • Utility bill – current and same mailing address
  • Medicare or Medicaid card
  • Medical card
  • Hospital bill

Note that when submitting notarized documents, the photocopy of the requester's identity documentation is required. Only include the reverse side of the ID if the requestEr's signature is on the reverse side and not the front.

Requesters interested in obtaining a commemorative birth certificate can get such through the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). A commemorative certificate is a parchment certificate featuring a gold foil border, an image of the state capital of Iowa, and a calligraphy print of the information contained on a birth record. The certificate is signed by the Governor of Iowa and the State Registrar and is ideal for framing. Note that a requester must fulfill the same eligibility conditions set for obtaining a certified birth record.

To obtain a commemorative birth certificate:

  • Complete an Application for a Commemorative Certificate Form
  • Notarize the application
  • Submit a clear photocopy of the requester's current, government-issued photo identification
  • Pay appropriate fee
  • Submit the complete application to:

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

How To Get Iowa Birth Records in Person?

To obtain an Iowa birth record in person, visit the State Vital Records Office at:

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

Walk-in requests are accepted at the Office between 7:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for state-observed holidays. The State Vital Records Office requires that all written applications must be satisfactorily completed and signed in front of Vital Records staff. Walk-in requests are also accepted at the county recorder offices in Iowa. Note that requesters will be required to present acceptable identification and pay correct fees.

How To Get Iowa Birth Records By Mail?

To obtain an Iowa birth record by mail:

  • Complete an Application for a Certified Copy of an Iowa Vital Record
  • Notarize the application
  • Enclose a clear photocopy of the applicant's current government-issued photo identification in the application
  • Include the appropriate fee
  • Send completed application, acceptable ID, and correct fee to:

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

Where Can I Find Birth Records In Iowa?

The Iowa Department of Public Health through its Vital Record Office maintains and issues certified copies of birth certificates statewide in Iowa. The Office has birth registered on or after July 1, 1880, on file. At the county level, records for births that occurred in each county can be inspected and obtained from the county recorder in the county office. County registrars do not have the following records in their physical custody:

Single-parent births that occurred before July 1, 1995

  • Adoptions
  • Birth records after a legal name change through Iowa Code Chapter 674
  • Delayed records filed one year or more after the birth occurred
  • Any record sealed by a court order
  • Birth records between 1921 and 1941

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Birth Certificate in Iowa?

Iowa requires that anyone requesting a birth record in the state must be able to demonstrate a direct and tangible interest in the record. Entitled persons include:

  • The person named on the record
  • The spouse of the person named on the record
  • The children or grandchildren of the person named on the record
  • The legal parents, grandparents, grandchildren, or siblings of the person named on the record
  • The legal representative or guardian of the person named on the record

Additional proof of entitlement is required of legal guardians and legal representatives before birth records can be obtained. For genealogical purposes, anyone may be allowed to obtain or view birth records older than 75 years without having to prove a direct relationship to the person named on the record.

How Much Does a Birth Certificate Cost in Iowa?

Each copy of an Iowa birth certificate costs $15. Although a requester will receive a notification of the record search if a requested record cannot be located, the $15 fee will not be refunded. Each additional copy of the same record costs $15. Orders placed by mail can be paid by check or money order made payable to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The third-party vendor authorized by the IDPH to accept online orders charges an additional fee for using their services. Fees start at $9 per order. UPS overnight shipping for online orders costs about $33, while UPS 2-day shipping costs $30.50. The vendor accepts all major credit cards including American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa.

An Iowa commemorative birth certificate costs $35.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Birth Certificate In Iowa?

Walk-in orders placed at the State Vital Records Office before 2:00 p.m. are processed within 2 hours. Requests placed after 2:00 p.m. are usually ready for pick up the next business day. Mail orders take about 4-6 weeks to complete.

Online orders placed rerun in 5-10 business days when regular UPS shipping service is selected. For UPS Overnight orders, online orders are returned in 2-5 business days. Regular mail returns for online orders take 2-3 weeks to complete

Genealogy requests require at least 60 days for processing and are mailed to applicants by standard postal delivery only.

How To Expunge Your Birth Records In Iowa?

An expungement refers to the permanent removal of a record. It usually applies to criminal records. Iowa does not allow expunging birth records.

How To Seal Your Birth Records In Iowa?

A birth parent cannot decide to seal a birth record without an acceptable reason. Sealing a birth record is permitted in Iowa when adopting parents have adopted a child and after all adoption proceedings. At the finalization of adoption proceedings, the original birth certificate and other adoption-related information are automatically sealed in a docket file. The county registrar of vital records in the county of birth will be ordered to seal the original birth record filed in their office, making the record unavailable for issuance or public viewing at the local level.

The contents of the docket cannot be referred to except by the state registrar for administrative purposes or as ordered from the judicial court in the county of adoption. A new birth certificate is issued stating the adopting parents as the legal parents of the adoptee. The biological parents are no longer viewed as legal family members and no longer have entitlement to the adoptee's birth certificate.

How To Unseal Your Birth Records In Iowa?

Iowa does not allow adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates unless by a court order. The court may release the names of birth parents or the original birth certificate only if an adoptee petitions the court and shows “good cause” for the release of information. However, a birth parent may file an affidavit with the court to reveal or not reveal the parent's identity.

Pursuant to Chapter 600 of the Iowa Code, "good cause" to reveal the identity of a birth parent is not required for an adoption finalized before July 4, 1941. However, any affidavit filed by a birth parent will still be considered by the court in determining whether the court will release the original birth certificate or other identifying information. "Good cause" may be related to inheritance rights, medical necessities, or other requirements of state or federal law.