How to Find Iowa Death RecordsEdit This Page

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How to Find United States Deaths Gotoarrow.png Iowa Deaths

Statewide registration of deaths began in 1899 in Iowa; however, general compliance did not begin until 1917. Counties have copies of these records.

Next Step: When did the death occur?

Choose a time period to search for your ancestor's death record:

Learn more about U.S. Death Records

Deaths before 1880

Before 1880, no deaths were recorded by the county or state. You must search substitute records to locate your ancestor’s death date and place. Some cemetery records and obituaries have been indexed in Iowa, Deaths and Burials, 1850-1990 but the quantity is limited.

  Records that give death information:
Cemetery Records
Newspapers
Probate (wills, etc)
Tax Records
Church Records
Census
Bible Records
Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths between 1880 and 1936

Statewide registration started in 1880 which required deaths to be recorded at both the county and state levels.

STEP ONE: Find Death Information

For death that exist during this time period, try the following databases.

Iowa Death Databases - Includes Indexes Only
Try 1st:
1850-1990 - At FamilySearch.org Free; index to death and burial records from the state of Iowa. Microfilm copies of original records are available at the Family History Library and at Family History Centers
Try 2nd:
State Historical Society of Iowa
Free; index to death records from 1917-1935, depending on the county (in PDF form).
Can't find your ancestor in the online index? Tips for searching online indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information

STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate

There are three options:

  • FamilySearch.org - If the indexed information contained a GS microfilm number you can order the microfilm from the Family History Library.
  • State Historical Society of Iowa, Public Reference Services - Provides both information to order the certificate and information about local professionals for hire to copy the certificate.
  • You may also order the certificate, for a fee, from one of the two locations:
Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths after 1936

The state of Iowa began recording deaths in 1880.

STEP ONE: Find Death Information

For deaths that exist during this time period, try the following database.

NOTE: Very few of these deaths are indexed from death certificates. The information comes from burial, church, and other sources.

Iowa Death Databases - Includes Index Only
1850-1990 - At FamilySearch.org Free; index to death and burial records from the state of Iowa. Microfilm copies of original records are available at the Family History Library and at Family History Centers

STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate

To get an image of the certificate, you can order a copy of the death certificate for a fee from one of the following locations:

Death records are also maintained at the county level. County copies may be obtained at the Register of Deeds office in the county where the event occurred.


Restrictions for Obtaining a Certificate:
To obtain a copy of the death certificate, you must be:

  • The decedent's spouse, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, or sibling
  • Any person who provides documentation that he or she is acting on behalf of any of the previously mentioned persons.
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must provide notarized identification and signature

NOTE: A copy of the certificate cannot be obtained by anyone except those listed above until 75 years have passed from the date of death.

If you do not want to order the death record, there are other records with death information you can search.

Return to top: Choose another death year


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  • This page was last modified on 2 July 2013, at 18:17.
  • This page has been accessed 1,607 times.