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How to Find Iowa Marriage Records

Iowa marriage records are official documents detailing the unions between two people in domestic relationships. The registered documents are filed, administered, and managed at varying capacities by authorized state and county government offices. Where and how to obtain marriage records depend on the type of record and who is requesting them.

Are Iowa Marriage Records Public?

The availability status of marriage records in Iowa vary from one record type to another. Marriage records maintained by the Iowa Department of Health are deemed private and confidential. However, this office declares marriage records public after 75 years. At the county level, marriage records are managed and disseminated by the various County Recorder Offices. Marriage records generated at these offices are public records that can be accessed by any member of the public upon request.

Family Court records can include marriage records and divorce records. These records contain personal information of those involved and their maintenance is critical should anyone involved wish to make changes. Because of this both marriage and divorce records can be considered more difficult to locate and obtain than other public records, and may not be available through government sources or third party public record websites.

What are Iowa Marriage Records?

Iowa marriage records are vital records indicating that two people are lawfully married in accordance with the State’s Marriage Law. These records include marriage licenses, marriage certificates, and other marriage-related documents. Although they contain similar general information, these records serve different purposes. As such, a marriage license cannot be used as a substitute for a marriage certificate and vice versa.

Both government websites and organizations may offer divorce and marriage records. Similarly, third party public record websites can also provide these types of records. But because third party organizations are not operated or sponsored by the government, record availability may vary. Further, marriage and divorce records are considered highly private and are often sealed, meaning availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

What are Iowa Marriage Licenses?

An Iowa marriage license is a document that must be obtained by potential couples before formally getting married in the state. It features information such as the names of the two people involved, their places and dates of birth, places of residence, bride’s maiden name, as well as other information pertaining to the public notary. Without a marriage license in Iowa, a wedding is not sanctioned to proceed. Eligible persons include adults and minors between 16 and 17 years of age with parental consent and appropriate court orders.

How to Change Your Name After Marriage in Iowa

Newlyweds can apply for a name change after marriage in Iowa by obtaining a marriage certificate or court order. Then, parties must register their new name with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Registrants should contact any local SSA office with a copy of their marriage certificate and proof of identity to apply for a new social security card. They will also have to fill out a form-SS5. The SSN will issue a new card after two to three weeks of registration.

After marriage, a name change is incomplete without informing the Iowa Department of Transportation. Registrants should contact a local driver's licensing office to update this information. The requirements for completing this process include a copy of the applicant's marriage certificate and any other documents that could help verify their identity.

What are Iowa Marriage Certificates?

Marriage certificates in the State of Iowa are official documents issued after all marriage processes are completed. They are detailed documents providing such information as the names of the persons joined in matrimony, when and where marriage ceremonies occurred, and names of witnesses. These documents serve various purposes and are usually required by various institutions as proof of marriage. For instance, a couple’s marriage certificate must be provided when applying for a name change, when buying a home on a mortgage, when taking out loans together, and when creating joint bank accounts.

Iowa Formal Marriage Licenses

Formal marriage licenses are state-approved authorization documents that potential couples must obtain from County Recorder Offices of interest. Once applied for, these licenses take 4 working days to be available, after which they remain valid for a period of 6 months. Usually, persons qualified to apply include adults that are non-blood relatives as well as minors with court orders and parental consents. Other requirements such as blood tests and residency are not compulsory in Iowa.

Iowa Common Law Marriage Licenses

Common law marriages are legally recognized in Iowa. A common law marriage in the state is a marriage in which the people involved live together and hold each other out as a couple. In this form of marriage, the couple does not need to meet the formal prerequisites of solemnization and ceremony. Also, a marriage license is not required for this form of marriage to be valid. As such, the state’s vital records offices do not issue common law marriage licenses or any official documents indicating the parties are married.

How Do I Get a Marriage License in Iowa?

In Iowa, marriage licenses are primarily issued at the county level by the County Recorder Offices. To obtain these documents, qualified applicants must apply in person or by mail.

In Person:

Along with at least one witness, a prospective couple must visit the Recorder Office located in the county of interest. Applicants are expected to bring required fees and documents such as driver’s license or other government-issued identity cards. The standard processing fee charged for marriage licenses by these Iowa Record Offices is $35. Applicants should consider the time it takes to process these license applications and how it may affect their preferred wedding dates. There is a four-day waiting period before licenses are issued.

A minor between the ages of 16 and 17 years must obtain a special permission from a state judge as well as the consent from at least one parent before applying for a marriage license in Iowa. They will be required to complete a “Consent to Marriage of a Minor Form” along with the marriage license form.

By Mail:

Before making a marriage license request by mail, contact the County Recorder Office of interest to determine if it offers this service. Where available, this office can send the marriage license Application Form by email to a prospective couple. Alternatively, download the form from the marriage license order page of the respective County Clerk and Recorder website. Print and complete this form in front of a public notary and then send it along with proper IDs and fees to the office of interest.

How Do I Get a Marriage Certificate in Iowa?

To obtain a marriage certificate, visit or mail the County Recorder Office where the marriage license was issued. Alternatively, order the certificate from the Iowa Department of Health. The fee schedule and request methods are the same for both options.

To order a marriage certificate from the State Department of Health, visit the office and provide the required information. These include the names of the married couple, names of witnesses, county or city where the marriage occurred, and date of marriage. Bring along the fee for the number of marriage certificate copies needed. Each marriage certificate costs $15. This can be paid with cash, check, or money order. Bring these and submit your request to:

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

Alternatively, interested persons can order marriage certificates by mail. To utilize this service, download and print the Vital Records Application Form provided on the Vital Records Order page of the Iowa Department of Health website. Complete the marriage certificate section of this form and then send it along with applicable fees and appropriate documents to:

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

Each marriage certificate ordered by mail costs $15. This fee is payable by check and money order only.