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Bureau of Health Statistics

Melissa R. Bird,
Bureau Chief
Lucas State Ofc. Bldg.
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-4944

Welcome to the Bureau of Health Statistics. Two essential functions of the department are performed within this bureau: Vital Records and Health Statistics. This section will change periodically with new announcements and reminders.

Please check back regularly for the most recent happenings within the bureau.


Genealogy Search Guidelines and Requirements

Fee Increase Notice Information

Effective January 1, 2014, all vital records fee transactions will increase to $20. Requests without the proper fee amount may be returned to sender.

The increase includes the following vital records transactions:

  • Searches for birth, death, marriage, foreign-born birth and fetal death certificates, which include a certified copy of the record if found.
  • Additional certified copies of the same record that was searched as stated above.
  • Newborn certified birth certificates issued to new parents by the State office after registration.
  • Administrative processing at the State level, including but not limited to:
    • Adoption
    • Amendment
    • Legal Change of Name
    • Delayed Certificate
    • Foreign-Born Birth
    • Court-Ordered Amendment
    • Court-Ordered Delayed Certificate
    • Court-Ordered Re-Establishment and/or Dis-Establishment
    • Court-Ordered actions
    • Search for supporting documents on file
    • Verification searches

Important Notice

Effective Monday, March 13, 2006, written requests for certified copies of birth, death, fetal death, and marriage records will not be accepted if they do not include:

  1. The applicant's current government-issued photo identification; except if by mail, a clear photocopy of the I.D.; and
  2. The applicant's signature signed in front of a notary public or in the presence of an Iowa Registrar of Vital Records.

Current turnaround time to process requests is next business day to 60 days, depending on the method of application.

If you are in the Des Moines area, you may apply for a copy in person. Application may be made in person in the Lucas State Office Building at our office in the front lobby from 7:00 AM to 4:45 PM. Certificates are “generally”*** ready for pick up the next business day after 2:00 PM or mailed by standard postal service to an entitled person. Mail turnaround time may take 5 to 7 additional days.
*** Exceptions may occur for inaccurate or incomplete applications, or if further verification is required for entitlement or locating records.

Requests may also be placed via phone by calling toll-free 1-866-809-0290 from 6:00 am CST through 7:00 pm CST, Monday through Friday, except for holidays, or at any time at Processing time is currently about two (2) weeks depending on the volume of requests in the office. UPS orders will be delivered within 7-10 business days after processing.

Requests may be sent by mail to the state vital records office using the appropriate application form, which can be downloaded from the link below. Anticipate mail to take an average of 5 to 7 business days to reach the Vital Records office, and 5 to 7 business days to be returned to you. Turnaround time may be 4 to 6 weeks, depending on seasonal demands. Genealogy requests are accepted by mail only and may require a minimum of 60 business days for processing, and will be mailed to the applicant by standard postal delivery only.


Vital Records

To see information on how to obtain a copy of a certified record click on the appropriate link below:

All vital events occurring in the state such as birth, death, and marriage, and the bureau has an interstate exchange agreement with all of the other states. The bureau registers approximately 100,000 events and issues about 85,000 certified copies annually.

In Iowa, official registration of births, deaths, and marriages began July 1, 1880. All original records that have been registered are on file with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Statewide record searches are available from the state registrar.

Local registrars are located in county recorders offices and maintain records of birth, death and marriages that have occurred in that county.

County registrars do not have code authority to have the following on record:

  • Single-parent births prior to July 1, 1995;
  • Adoptions;
  • Birth records after a legal change of name through Iowa Code chapter 674;
  • Delayed records filed one year or more after the event;
  • Any record ordered seal by a court of law;
  • Birth, death, and marriage records between the years 1921 to 1941.

All applications for certified copies of vital record events must be in writing and completely identify the record, as well as satisfactorily establish entitlement to the record being requested.

Entitled persons include the person named on the record or that person’s spouse, children, legal parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or legal representative or guardian. Legal guardians, legal representatives, and siblings must also provide additional proof of entitlement.

Certified copies of birth, death, or marriage certificates may be obtained from the state office of vital records by telephone, in-person, or through a postal service.

Fees are payable by check or money order made out to the Iowa Department of Public Health. In-person requests may also be paid in cash. Checks must be drawn from the applicant's account; money orders must be in the name of the applicant. Fees must be paid at the time of the application.

Effective January 1, 2014, state and county fees will increase to $20.00 for searches and certified copies of vital records. This fee is for the search of the record and is non-refundable. No refunds will be made for overpayments of $5.00 or less.

Fees must be paid in U.S. funds to the issuing registrar's office. In some instances, the local county registrar (County Recorder) may only accept cash or money orders for in-person requests and money orders for mail-in requests. All applications must be accompanied by a valid, current government-issued photo I.D. (legible photocopy if applying by mail) and all applicants must satisfactorily prove entitlement.

Administrative processing fees at the state level also will increase to $20 as of January 1, 2014. This includes for amendments, delayed registrations, legal change of names, recision of paternity affidavit, paternity registry searches by adoption attorneys, revelation of county of adoption, private paternity establishment judgments, court orders, and any other action requiring an administrative processing fee.

The application fee for the Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry remains unchanged at $25.

Health Statistics

Staff maintains a comprehensive data and surveillance system capable of monitoring progress on health objectives, identifying emerging health issues, and supporting policy development. The center regularly analyzes health data resident in the department, conducts research on health issues, provides access to health information for the state and public, and supports other health data activities as appropriate.

The center annually publishes Vital Statistics in Iowa, Vital Statistics in Brief, and the Iowa Health Indicator Tracking System, a software package of health status indicators. The center also publishes special studies on selected topics such as infant mortality, caesarean sections, county estimates of behavioral risk factors, and life expectancy tables.

Data and Publications:


Data labeled as a rate for Mothers under age 20 (or teens) should be labeled ratio in the Vital Statistics report.

Documents denoted by Adobe Acrobat Logo are available in Portable Document Format (.pdf).

Vital Statistics of Iowa in Brief

The Bureau of Health Statistics annually publishes the “Vital Statistics of Iowa, in Brief” in the fall of each year. This document is intended to serve as a “pocket guide” to the health status of Iowans. The data in this publication are final. For more information about health statistics call (515) 281-4945.

Presentations and Instructions


For further information on Birth, Death, or Marriage Certificates:

  • Please call (515) 281-4944, or
    Use the "Contact Us" page to submit questions online.

For Statistics and Data Requests:

  • Please call (515) 281-7221, or
    Use the "Contact Us" page to submit questions online.