Unlike many other states, Iowa death records are considered private and confidential regardless of how much time has passed since the date of death. This means that if you are searching for records, there will be no point at which they have become easily accessible public record.
The restrictions surrounding Iowa's vital records are pretty tight compared to other states, to the point where your application form has to have your notarized signature in order to be processed. You will also have to prove your relationship to the deceased, which is limited to parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings or spouses. Documentation will have to be included, such as birth or marriage certificates as well as your own identification.
If you have a legal need to have an Iowa death record then he time frame is either a few days if you drop it off, or up to a month if you choose to mail in your forms. Any requests that are simply genealogical in nature can take closer to two months. You will have to indicate on the form what the purpose is, and provide documentation for any reason that is not family research.
The necessary forms are available online (http://www.idph.state.ia.us/apl/common/pdf/vital_records/death_application.pdf) and all the current rules are outlined on them. Once printed out and completed, you can either drop them off personally or mail them to the Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Statistics, Lucas State Office Building Floor #1, 321 E 12th Street, Des Moines Iowa, 50319-0075 USA.
Alternatively, you can also file your request directly to a county registrar's office which will require all the same fees and paperwork. The time frame may be quicker, but not necessarily. One benefit would be that you can access some earlier Iowa death records at the county level. The state office will have records going back to mid 1880s whereas some counties began recording deaths into the 1870s.
The fee for a records search is $15 USD, and that pays for the search rather than the record itself. So if they are unable to locate the death record you need, you don't get a refund. Make any checks or money orders out to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The main office does not take cash, even at the counter but some of the smaller county offices may only accept cash.
Depending on what county the death occurred in, the record you find can contain the name of the deceased, their age at death (or birth date), the time and possible cause of death, their parent's names and reference to a burial location.
If you are unable to research an Iowa death record due to the regulations, you can turn to less official sources instead. Many old newspaper archives will have obituaries included, and church records can also be a great assistance when trying to locate death information about an ancestor.
How to request Iowa death certificates by mail:
If you would like to request an Iowa death certificate by mail, you will need to complete the downloadable Iowa Death Certificate form.
You will also need to obtain a copy of a current, government-issued photo ID and have your signature on the form notarized.
Once you have gathered the necessary paperwork, you will need to mail it to the Bureau of Health Statistics, along with a check or money order for $15. Keep in mind that it will take 30-40 days to process your request, and genealogy requests take even longer.
For more information on Iowa death records, you can contact the Iowa Department of Public Health:
Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Health Statistics
Lucas State Office Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075
Ordering Iowa Death Records
Iowa death records may be needed after a loved one's passing for insurance and other purposes, and they are also often used in genealogical studies. If you need to request Iowa death records, then you will need to contact the Iowa Department of Public Health..
Methods You Can Use For Ordering
The Iowa Department of Public Health offers multiple ordering method options for your convenience. You can order Iowa death records online, in person, by mail, and by phone. Extra fees may apply for certain ordering methods.
Limitations To Record Access
Iowa death records are considered confidential and will only be made available to immediate family members or their legal representatives. To request a record, you will need to provide proof of your relationship to the deceased.