How to Request a Copy of a Birth Certificate in Des Moines, Iowa

by Christina Riopelle
All Iowa birth records remain in Des Moines.

All Iowa birth records remain in Des Moines.

Since July 1, 1880, the Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics maintains original records for all births occurring in the state of Iowa. Local registrars also maintain records for births in the respective county. However, records of babies born to single mothers prior to July 1, 1995, and all birth records for the years 1921 to 1941 are available only at the state level.

To request certificates for births in the city of Des Moines, or for a statewide search, apply to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The department accepts requests by mail, by phone or in person. Online requests are contracted through VitalChek.

In Person

Gather the required documents. The application requires a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state identification card. Bring a checkbook or credit card to pay any fees.

Visit the first floor of the Lucas State Office Building, located on Grand Avenue in Des Moines. For a landmark, the capitol building lies immediately west of the Lucas building. Arrive between 7:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. on business days.

Fill out and sign an Application for Copy of a Vital Record form and submit the completed form to the clerk.

Return to the office in two business days to pick up the certified copy of the birth certificate or wait to receive it in the mail.

By Phone

Locate your credit card before making the call.

Call the Health Department at 515-281-4944 between 7:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., Central Standard Time. Alternatively, call 866-809-0290 toll-free between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.

Listen to the recorded messages, issuing instructions on how to apply for a certified birth certificate copy. Choose the credit-card payment option to connect to an operator.

Give the operator your name, your parents’ names, and your place of birth, in addition to your current contact information. The records fee is $15. In addition, a $9 fee covers credit-card identity authentication when using the local line; this fee is $15 when calling the toll-free line.

Await the arrival of the birth certificate in the mail. Projected lead time is 7 to 21 days.

By Mail

Print an Application for Copy of a Vital Record from the Iowa Department of Public Health Web site.

Fill out the form completely, but do not sign it.

Take the form to a notary public. The notary will witness and verify your signature.

Enclose a check for $15 for each copy requested and a photocopy of your driver’s license or state ID. Make the check payable to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Mail the form, check and copy of your ID to:

Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Statistics Lucas State Office Building, 1st Floor Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075


Visit the VitalChek Web site and click on "Birth Certificate" or "Place an Order."

Follow the prompts. Fill in the name, date of birth, reason for request and birth state, as requested.

Review the fees and choose a shipping option. As of July 2010, the birth certificate fee matches the state fee of $15. VitalChek assesses an additional $13 express fee, plus shipping costs. Shipping options include complimentary United States Post Office delivery or UPS Air or UPS Second-Day Air for additional fees.

Enter your shipping address and credit-card information to complete the transaction.

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