Iowa Public Records

Iowa’s Sunshine Laws are found in Iowa Code Chapters 21 and 22, which govern open meeting and open records. Chapter 22 covers open records and provides that public records are all records, in any form, of or belonging to a government body or official. It not only includes records created by a government body or official to carry out public business, but also records used by a government body or official in the course of that public business. Every person has a right to examine, copy, and disseminate non-exempt public records. Exemptions are found in Iowa Code Chapter. 22.7 and in other laws. Each public body or official should have a designated record custodian responsible for responding to public information requests. Those public information requests can be made in person, by writing, electronically, or by phone. Government bodies are permitted to charge reasonable fees for fulfilling public information requests, but those fees cannot exceed the actual costs associated with fulfilling those requests.

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Public & Vital Records for Counties in Iowa

More About Iowa

Iowa is the 30th-largest state in terms of population and the 26th-largest in terms of area. It is a state in the Midwest part of the United States. It is bordered by three rivers: the Mississippi River, the Missouri River, and the Big Sioux River. It is also bordered by six states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Initially an agricultural state, it has made an economic transition and now boasts a diversified economy that is based on agriculture, manufacturing, financial services, biotechnology, information technology, processing, and green energy production. Its capital city is Des Moines. Iowa is considered one of the safest states to live, but its shared borders and economic strength mean that it has a relatively fluctuating population. If you are running a background check on someone who lives in Iowa, you may need to check other states as well.


Public Records in IA

Iowa’s Sunshine Laws guarantee access to non-exempt state public records, but Iowa does not maintain all of its public records in one place. Instead, public records are held and maintained by the agency that creates or uses those records in the course of normal business. There are three main types of public records in Iowa: criminal records, property records, and vital statistics.

Property Records

Like many states, Iowa classifies property records in multiple ways. Each of the various type of land records will give information about property ownership and dates of ownership, but some records will contain other types of information. Land-grant records refer to records transferring ownership of property from the states or other governmental entity to a private owner. Deed records refer to records of private land ownership and can include conveyances like deeds, as well as encumbrances, such as mortgages and liens. Property tax records generally refer to the tax associated with certain parcels of real property and may include a description of the property, assessment rates, tax assessed, and tax due, if any.

Land Records

Iowa differs from many states in that it has a statewide website for real estate documents in the state of Iowa, https://iowalandrecords.org/portal/. The site is official and sponsored by Iowa’s elected county officials. At this website, you can select a county or counties to search. Once you have selected counties, you can enter a date range, grantor or grantee names, and type of document to search for land records.

Property Tax Records

Iowa has a system of county level tax assessors. In addition to assessing taxes for property located in the county, Iowa’s county tax assessors are responsible for maintaining property tax records. To locate those records, you need to contact the tax assessor in charge of the county where the property is located.

Deed Records

In addition to maintaining deeds locally, Iowa makes deeds and other land records available in a statewide database, which you can access at https://iowalandrecords.org/portal. This site, which is sponsored by Iowa’s elected county officials, allows you to search for deeds and other land records for property located anywhere in Iowa, using a variety of different search terms and parameters.


IA Vital Records

The Iowa Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics is responsible for maintaining information about all vital events occurring in the state. Vital events include births, deaths, and marriages. The state registrar of vital statistics can handle statewide searches, and local registrars can handle searches for births, deaths, and marriages that have occurred in that county. County registrars do not have the following types of physical records in their custody: adoptions; single-parent births occurring before July 1, 1995; birth records after a legal name change pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 674; delayed records filed one year or more after the event; any records that were ordered sealed by a court of law; or birth, death, and marriage records from the years 1921 to 1941.

Birth Records

The state vital records office and the local registrar in the county of birth have access to most birth records. You may get a birth record by going to the local county registrar in the county where the birth occurred, ordering in person at the state registrar’s office, ordering by mail, or ordering online through VitalChek.

Death Records

Like birth records, death records are maintained at both the state and local level. You may get death records at the local registrar of vital statistics. You may also order certified death records from the state in person, by email, or online using VitalChek.

Marriage Records

Iowa keeps marriage records at both the state and local level. Local marriage records are kept in the county where the marriage occurred. You can order them from the state in person, online, or by mail.

Divorce Records

Iowa does not consider divorce to be a vital statistic and does not keep divorce records at its state vital records office. You can obtain divorce records from the court which granted the divorce.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States


Learn about Iowa criminal records or read about public records in another state from the list below: