About the Recorder's Office


In Iowa, the purpose for recording instruments which relate to real estate is for "constructive notice." The Office of Recorder was created by the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa in 1839.

In 1860, the law provided that "each organized county shall elect a judge of the county court, a prosecuting attorney, a clerk of the district, a recorder, a sheriff, a surveyor, a coroner and a supervisor of roads." It also provided that the recorder shall be treasurer of the county. The law required the recorder to "keep books for entering deeds" and a deed was not to be considered lawfully recorded unless previously acknowledged (notarized) or proved as provided by law.

Today, examples of documents that are recorded are:

  • Affidavits
  • Assignments
  • Bills of sale
  • Condemnations
  • Contracts
  • Deeds
  • Financing statements
  • Land surveys
  • Leases
  • Military discharges
  • Mortgages
  • Releases
  • Section corner certificates
  • State and federal tax liens
  • Subdivision plats
  • Trade names

Recording fees are collected for all documents, except military discharges, and the money is paid into the county general fund quarterly.

The Office Today

Much has changed since that first recorder's office. The recorder's office still maintains real estate records, but we have also added several additional duties. On July 1, 1997, recorders became registrars of vital records (births, deaths, and marriages). In addition, we register and title boats, snowmobiles, ATVs, and ORVs, and accept passport applications.