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Iowa Public Records

In Iowa, public records are referred to as any records or information that are stored or preserved that belong to the state. Public fund investments are also part of public records in Iowa.  

How to Find Iowa Public Records

As an open records state, public records in Iowa are open to the public except for confidential documents like the following, to name a few: 

  • Student records
  • Medical records
  • Criminal files
  • Military records
  • Library records
  • Trade secrets


Chapter 22 of the state's Open Records Law has the complete list of exempted records in Iowa. However, private sources can also provide access when the records are available.

Are Iowa Public Records Available Online?

Public records in Iowa are available online unless exempted by law. Anybody can access a public record in Iowa via mail or in person. To be sure, requesters should go to the record custodian of the public records they need to get accurate information.

What Records are Not Available in Iowa?

All records in Iowa are open to the public for inspection and duplication except those exempted by state law like the following:

  • Personal information
  • Hospital and medical records
  • Trade secrets
  • Investigation reports
  • Appraisal information
  • Compensation claims
  • Financial statements

Types of Public Records Available in Iowa

Iowa is an open records state with the following records available to the public. 

Iowa Public Criminal Records

The Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Investigation has the Criminal History Record Dissemination Unit, where you can request criminal history record information using their record request forms in person, through email, or via mail. Phone requests are currently unavailable, and criminal record information is released only when the subject of the request signs a release authorization. 

Each criminal record check requires a fee of $15.00 per search, and you need to submit a government-issued ID like a driver's license or passport as proof of identification. 

Another way to find public criminal records in Iowa is to use their court case search online.

Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in Iowa :

Polk County Sheriff's Office5995 NE 14th Street, Des Moines, IA
Linn County Sheriff's Office310 2nd Avenue SW, Cedar Rapids, IA
Scott County Sheriff's Office400 W. 4th St., Davenport, IA
Johnson County Sheriff's Office511 S Capitol Street, Iowa City, IA
Woodbury County Sheriff's Office407 7th Street, Sioux City, IA
Dubuque County Sheriff's Office770 Iowa Street, Dubuque, IA
Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office1400 Big Lake Road, Council Bluffs, IA
Story County Sheriff's Office1315 South B Ave., Nevada, IA
Dallas County Sheriff's Office28985 Thin Blue Line Lane, Adel, IA
Clinton County Sheriff's Office241 Seventh Avenue North, Clinton, IA

Arrest Records and Warrants

Active warrants and arrest records in Iowa are available by county. Some counties like Polk, Scott, Linn, and Pottawattamie provide arrest records and warrants to the public. 

You may also use the Iowa courts' online search tool to look for active warrants. 

Inmate and Jail Records

Inmate and jail records in Iowa are available at the Department of Corrections through their search tool online. You can find inmate information by providing a name (First, Middle, and Last name), a birthdate range, inmate location, offense, or offender number.

Jails and Prisons in Iowa :

Polk County IA Juvenile Detention Center1548 Hull Avenue, Des Moines, IA
Iowa Correctional Institution for Women - Mitchellville420 Mill Street SW, Mitchellville, IA
Polk County IA Jail - New1985 NE 51st Place, Des Moines, IA
Linn County IA Correctional Center53 3rd Avenue Bridge, PO Box 608, Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County IA Juvenile Detention Center800 Walford Road Southwest, Cedar Rapids, IA
Scott County IA Juvenile Detention Center500 West 4th Street, Davenport, IA
Scott County IA Tremont Facility4715 Tremont Avenue, Davenport, IA
Scott County IA Jail400 West 4th Street, Davenport, IA
Iowa Medical and Classification Center - Oakdale2700 Coral Ridge Avenue, Coralville, IA
Johnson County IA Jail511 South Capital Street, Iowa City, IA

Iowa Background Checks

The Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Investigation holds and maintains all criminal record information of its state residents. 

Employers can request a background check on a prospective employee as long as they pay the fee for the record request. 

To perform a background check in Iowa, you need to provide the following information:

  • Name (last name, first name, and middle name, if available)
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Social security number
  • Set of fingerprints of the subject of the background check

All background check requests are only available via mail or in-person using these forms and cost $15.00 for every name you check. 

How to Find Sex Offenders in Iowa

Iowa has a sex offender registry available online where you can do a search using a last and first name, including aliases, advanced search, map search, or use emails, IDs, telephones, and even license plates to locate offenders. A nearby registrants map will also show you offenders within 1 to 5 miles. The state also has a registry of the most wanted sex offenders available to the public.

Iowa Public Vital Records 

The Iowa Department of Public Health is the primary repository of all public vital records available in the state, like birth, death, and marriage records from July 1, 1880, up to the present. 

You may request public vital records in Iowa online through VitalChek, the only third-party vendor authorized by the state to accept requests for vital records. 

Each certified copy of a birth, death, or marriage record costs $15.00. However, VitalChek charges an additional fee of $13.00 per order for shipping costs. 

There are four ways to obtain a public vital record in Iowa:

  1. Order online via VitalChek and have the record shipped to your current address.
  2. Order online via VitalChek and pick up the record in the DPH office in Des Moines. 
  3. Request a public vital record via mail by completing the following:
    1. Application for Copy of Vital Record Certificate
    2. Identity Documents for Notarization
    3. Proof of Entitlement Addendum
  4. You may also request a certified copy of any public vital record in Iowa in person from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., from Monday to Friday unless it's a state holiday. Requests received on or before 2:00 p.m. will be processed on the same day for at least two hours. 

For divorce records, you may visit the state's clerk of court per county, where the divorce decree was finalized. 

Iowa Court Records 

The Iowa Judicial Branch allows you to search for court records online including civil and some criminal cases. With their online service, you can do an advanced case search available to all users, an advanced case search for registered users, or a payment search in case you need to make a payment for a particular case.

Otherwise, you should visit the county court to request court records in person.

State Court System in Iowa

Iowa has two different levels of courts: the federal district courts and the trial courts. 

The federal district courts are composed of the Supreme Court, the highest court, and the Court of Appeals, the intermediate appellate court that hears and reviews state appeals from the trial courts. 

The trial courts with both limited and general jurisdiction are also known as the district courts, which handle probate, juvenile, civil, and some criminal matters in Iowa.

Courts in Iowa :

Iowa Supreme Court1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA
Iowa Court of Appeals1112 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA
District 5 Polk County Courthouse500 Mulberry St., Des Moines, IA
District 6 Linn County Courthouse51 3rd Ave Bridge, Cedar Rapids, IA
District 7 Scott County Courthouse400 West Fourth Street, Davenport, IA
District 3 Woodbury County Courthouse620 Douglas Street, Sioux City, IA
District 2 Webster County Courthouse701 Central Avenue, Fort Dodge, IA
District 8 Wapello County Courthouse101 W 4th St, Ottumwa, IA
District 4 Shelby County Courthouse612 Court St., Harlan, IA
District 1 Black Hawk County Courthouse316 East 5th St., Waterloo, IA

Driving Records

The Iowa Department of Transportation has an online service where you can get a certified copy of your driving records for legal purposes. The following charges apply for certified driving records:

  • Record fee - $5.50
  • Additional charge - $3.00
  • Online service fee - $1.50
  • Credit card processing fee - $1.50

Uncertified driving records are free and can be accessed through the myMVD portal that requires you to log in. 

Businesses or organizations can also check for driving records provided that they are permitted and follow the state laws governing the access of someone else's driving records. 

Civil Driving Infractions

Civil driving infractions in Iowa are assigned points to determine if a driver's license will be canceled, suspended, or revoked. 

Habitual offenses include the following with their corresponding points:

  • Perjury - 2 points
  • Driving while under license denial, suspension, or revocation - 2 points
  • Driving while under a DUI or drug-related revocation - 3 points
  • Driving while barred - 4 points
  • DUI - 4 points
  • Felony - 5 points
  • Failure to stop and leave information or render aid at an accident site - 5 points
  • Eluding or attempting to elude law enforcement - 5 points
  • Causing serious motor injury - 5 points
  • Manslaughter - 6 points

Iowa License Plate Lookup

The state of Iowa allows you to look up your license plate number by completing a request form. However, you must include another person's written consent if you're requesting on their behalf per the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act. Each record request costs $5.00 whether there is or no available information. 

Iowa Property and Asset Records Online 

Iowa has both land records and asset inventory available online that allows you to search for land, property, and asset information across 99 counties of the state. 

Iowa Unclaimed Property and Assets

You may also search for unclaimed property and assets through the state treasurer, including but not limited to funds from savings and checking accounts, stocks and bonds, uncashed checks, utility security funds, insurance benefits, and also valuables from safe deposit boxes. You may file a claim for free by uploading the necessary documentation to prove your ownership. 

Important Government Agencies in Iowa

The following government agencies can help you find public records in Iowa.

  1. Secretary of State
  2. Governor’s Office
  3. Legislative Office
  4. Judicial Branch
  5. Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Investigation
  6. Department of Corrections
  7. Department of Public Health
  8. Department of Transportation
  9. State Treasurer
  10. Court Directory

Counties in Iowa

Other Records in Iowa