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Iowa Public Records

Iowa Public Records

Iowa is a Midwestern state of over 3 million residents that sits between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  Known for its rolling hills, corn fields, and picturesque landscape, the region is sometimes called the “American Heartland.”  Iowa has public records laws on its books to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels.

Iowa Public Records Laws

The first public records law in Iowa was enacted in 1967 and is covered under Iowa Code § 22 et seq.   There is no restriction on who may access public records in Iowa, and there is no limitation stated on the reason for access.   The public records law makes access available to “all records” of any county, city, township, school, corporation, political subdivision, and nonprofit corporation that is supported in whole or in part by property tax revenue.  There are no exemptions for the governor or the legislature.

There are some exemptions to this law. In fact, there are 64 categories of exemptions in the Act and they relate to such things as:

  • Medical records
  • Investigatory records
  • Personnel records
  • Trade secrets
  • Financial information


Iowa Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

 

Background checks in Iowa are administered by the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Criminal Record History Record Dissemination Unit.  The DCI has a website that allows for a limited, non-waiver, records check in which anyone can run a check on anyone else without their permission.   This will produce a background check that will not have current arrests if they haven’t yet had a final disposition.  A more complete criminal records check requires a signed consent and should be requested through the proper form.  The records that come back for either of these background checks are for Iowa only and do not include any other states.

Iowa Jail and Inmate Records

The Iowa Department of Corrections is the place to find out information related to offenders in the state, get help for victim’s assistance, and learn about the prison system.  If you want to locate an offender in the system, you can either search directly on their website or through their partner site, Vinelink.com.  Knowing as much about the offender as possible is helpful, such as First Name, Last Name, Date of Birth, and County where the offense took place.  You will be provided information on where they are being housed, their charges, and their estimated release date.



Iowa Court Records

Access to court records in Iowa is fairly simple if you know where to look.  All Iowa court information can be found through its Administrator of the Courts.  Request records on particular cases at the appropriate courthouse or you can search records online through the Iowa Courts Online Search.  This is also the place to find out a docket schedule and learn about such things a child support payment rulings and fines that are due to the court.  Cases that are older than 1991 may need to be researched directly at the courthouse.

Iowa Vital Records

 

In the state of Iowa, vital events such as birth, death, marriage and divorce are recorded by the Iowa Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.   Registration of births and deaths in Iowa began in 1880, and all original records are on file with the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Birth Certificates: Birth certificates can be obtained through the state or through the county recorder’s office.  However, county recorders cannot give out records for single-parent births before 1995, births between 1921-1941, or any record sealed by a court of law.

Death Certificates: Death certificates can be obtained through the state or the county recorder’s office.  However, county recorders cannot give out records for deaths between 1921-1941 or any record sealed by a court of law.

Marriage Certificates:  Marriage certificates can be obtained from the state agency or through the county in which the marriage occurred.  However, copies of marriage certificates cannot be issued where records have been sealed by the court or for marriages taking place between 1921-1941.

Death Certificates:  Death certificates can be obtained from the state agency or through the county in which the death occurred.  However, copies of death certificates cannot be issued where records have been sealed by the court or for deaths taking place between 1921-1941.

The persons requesting any of these records must show that they are entitled to them by being a person named on the record, or that person’s spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, legal representative or legal guardian. Legal guardians, legal representatives, and siblings must present additional proof of entitlement.

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