Iowa Vital Records

Iowa Vital Records

The Office of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining all state-level vital records created, administered and maintained by the state of Iowa regarding a person’s most important life events. These records include such documents as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates and are compiled and stored in a permanent central registry state entities uses to develop statistical analysis of its population.

Birth Records

A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document certifying the birth or to a certified copy or representation of the original document. A few counties in Iowa began to registervital statistics during the 1870s, but most county records began in 1880 when a state law took effect requiring counties to register birth records. This law was generally complied with by 1924. In the 1940s, many people applied for delayed birth certificates in order to be eligible for Social Security benefits. The state has copies of birth records beginning in July 1880. The birth records are kept and collected by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Death Records

A death record is most likely a copy of the information contained in a person’s death certificate. The state of Iowa did not record any statewide registration of death records, but from the early time, the death records were recorded by the clerk’s offices and county offices. These records are kept now at the Iowa Family Search. The state has copies of death records beginning in January 1891. The records are kept by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Marriage/Divorce Records

A marriage/divorce record is issued by a government official only after civil registration of the marriage/divorce occurs. Iowa county marriage records have been kept since about 1835. These marriage records may provide names, ages, races, residences, occupations, birthplaces, maiden name of wife, marriage date and place, parents’ names, and the name of the person who performed the marriage. Some certificates give the number of times the groom has been married. For more information about marriage records see the United States Marriage Records. Many marriage records have been transcribed and published by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Iowa divorce records have been kept since about 1834 when the first Iowa county was formed. Early divorce records are in the district court of each county, and beginning in 1906, transcribed copies of divorce records were sent to the state.

Why Vital Records are Available to the Public?

In 1967, the Iowa State Legislature passed a law named the Iowa Open Records Act. This law was enabled with the last changes through the following years enabling all public records to be released to the public. It aims to offer the public openly any information about people’s conduct and government bodies’ activities: Iowa FOIA Laws. Every person throughout the state can request access to access all public records through the assigned specialized offices within its determined terms.

What Does Vital Records Access mean to You?

The law is similar to the Iowa Open Meetings Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted at the Iowa Open Records Act intent is that all records maintained by state and local government entities be available for public access and copying.


Iowa State Archives

State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

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Iowa Des Moines Courthouse and Post Office 1901

Iowa Des Moines Courthouse and Post Office 1901

  • State Archives hold over 700 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of Courts: trial and appellate.
  • Iowa District Courts are the state trial courts of general jurisdiction in the state of Iowa.
  • There are 8 judicial districts, each encompassing five or more of Iowa's 99 counties.
  • The highest Court in Iowa is Iowa Supreme Court.
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