Background Checks in Iowa

Table of Contents

What is a background check?

A background check is an investigation into an individual’s criminal record, employment history, driving record, education, finances, or other aspects of their personal history. 

Background checks are often performed by an organization or company in order to screen a subject before a significant financial or legal agreement. However, individuals regularly perform background checks on themselves to make sure that the public information on them matches their personal records.

For more general information on background checks, consult our Background Checks FAQS page.  

How do I run a criminal background check in Iowa?

Currently, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Investigation is in the process of developing a new Criminal History Record Check online search. However, as of April 2020, the online search is still unavailable.

Therefore, individuals must request criminal history information and arrest records through the mail or in-person. The fee is $15 for each request. If you are requesting the criminal history information of another person, you must obtain signed authorization, or the returned arrest and criminal history information will be limited to the past 18 months.  

If you choose to request a criminal history record by mail, you can pay with credit or debit, check, cash, or money order.  

How to request Iowa Criminal History Information through the mail

  1. Download and complete a Criminal History Request Form.
  2. Download and complete a Criminal History Billing Form. Only one form is needed, even if you are requesting multiple criminal histories. 
  3. Enclose the appropriate payment.
  4. Mail the Criminal History Request Form, Criminal History Billing Form, and payment to:

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation

Support Operations Bureau 1st Floor

215 E 7th St

Des Moines IA 50319

Alternatively, you may submit a request via fax to 515-725-6080.

How to request Iowa Criminal History Information in-person

In order to submit a criminal history information request in-person, you must bring a government-issued photo ID and visit the address below during business hours, which are Monday-Friday 8 AM – 4 PM. 

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation

Support Operations Bureau 1st Floor

215 E 7th St

Des Moines IA 50319

Immediate results are provided only if the request is made by the subject themself. 

What can I do if my Iowa criminal history record has incomplete or inaccurate information?

If your Iowa criminal history record contains inaccurate or incomplete information, you can challenge it by mailing a written request to the DCI headquarters at the address included in the above section or by appearing in person at the office to submit a challenge request.  

Before submitting a challenge, gather any supporting documents that serve as evidence of the inaccuracy, including arrest reports or court records. They may be included with the request or held until requested by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations

How do I search Iowa court records?

Iowa court records can be searched using the Iowa Courts Online Search tool. The tool includes a wide range of search options, as well as the option to make an online payment for a traffic violation or another legally-mandated financial obligation.

However, some court case information is only available to subscribers. Registered users must pay a $25 monthly subscription fee and are limited to 1000 searches per day. 

Click here to register an Iowa Courts Online Search account

The following types of searches are available using Iowa Courts Online Search. The search options are available to all users unless otherwise noted:

  • Appellate Court Case Search
  • Appellate Court Advanced Case Search
  • Trial Court Case Search
  • Trial Court Payment Search
  • Advanced Case Search (available to subscribers only)

If you need help using the Iowa Courts Online Search, contact the help desk at [email protected] or 515-281-5703 / 1-800-532-1174.

Where can I find Iowa driving records online? 

The Iowa Department of Transportation allows individuals to request and view a copy of a Non-Certified Driving Record free of charge through the myMVD website. The non-certified driving record is only for personal reference and is not eligible to be used for legal purposes.

In order to request your Iowa driving record online, you are required to submit the following information for verification of identity:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number or state ID number

Click here to visit the site and request your driving record. If you have any questions about the process, contact the Iowa DOT at [email protected] or 515-244-1052.

A certified driving record can also be ordered through myMVD for a $5.50 fee and an additional $1.50 service charge. 

How do I look up Iowa vital records such as birth certificates and marriage licenses?

Vital records are records of important life events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that are kept by government agencies and accessible upon request. 

Vital records are not public records that can be viewed by anyone, but the subject(s) of the record and authorized family members can view them in-person or order copies through a number of means. Additionally, one or more vital records may be required to complete a background check. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health Vital Records Office enlists the services of the third-party vendor Vital Chek to enable individuals to order copies of vital records online. The government-endorsed service offers vital records from 50 U.S. states and territories. 

Available vital records include: 

  • birth certificates
  • death certificates
  • marriage records
  • divorce records

Click here to place an order with Vital Chek

For more information, contact the Iowa Department of Public Health Vital Records Office at 515-281-4944 or ask a question using the Contact Us page.

How do I search for a person’s sex offender status in Iowa?

Those convicted of sex-related crimes or certain crimes against children in Iowa are required by law to register as sex offenders. Additionally, offenders in the registry are required to notify law enforcement as soon as possible in the case of a physical address change or email address change, or they will be labeled “non-compliant”.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation makes the Iowa Sex Offender Registry available online to the general public in the interest of public safety. Right now, there are around 6,000 offenders in the registry. Users may search by name, city, area, or email address/internet name. However, certain low-risk offenders may not be viewable in the online database.

Click here to perform a search of the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. It’s important to stay informed about potential threats in your neighborhood in order to take the necessary precautions. 

How do I perform a credit history background check in Iowa?

Performing a credit check in Iowa follows the same process as in other states. A federal law known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) grants every American one free annual credit report each from the three main U.S. credit bureaus:

In order to obtain your free credit report from one of these three bureaus, you must provide the following information:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date of birth 
  • Social security number