The Decatur County Recorders Office does not provide legal services, does not prepare legal documents and does not accept credit cards. The Office of the County Recorder was created by the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa in 1839 and is responsible for recording and maintaining official records affecting title to real estate. Every real estate transaction that takes place in the county starts in the Recorder’s Office. 



In order to comply with national standards, Iowa has adopted Document Formatting Standards.  Senate File 371, which took effect July 1, 2005, states that all documents presented for recording (except those listed below*) MUST meet the following requirements:
  •      All documents shall consist of one or more individual pages not permanently bound or in a continuous form.  A page means a writing, printing, or drawing, other than a plat or survey or a drawing related to a plat or survey, occurring on one side only, and not larger than eight and one-half inches in width and fourteen inches in length.  The document shall not have any attachment stapled or otherwise affixed to any page except as necessary to comply with statutory requirements.  However, individual pages of a document may be stapled for presentation for recording.  Labels that are firmly attached are acceptable.
  •     The first page of each document shall have a top margin of at least three (3) inches of vertical space from left to right which shall be reserved for the recorder's use.  All other margins on the document shall be a minimum of three-fourths of one inch.  Nonessential information such as page numbers or customer notations may be placed in a margin except the top margin.
  •     All preprinted text shall be at least eight point in size and no more than twenty characters and spaces per inch.  All other text typed or computer generated, including but not limited to all names of parties to an agreement, shall be at least ten point in size and no more than sixteen characters and spaces per inch.
  •     Each document shall be of sufficient legibility to produce a clear reproduction.
  •     Each document shall be on white paper of not less than twenty-pound weight without watermarks or other visible inclusions.
  •     All signatures on a document shall be in black or dark blue ink and of sufficient color and clarity to ensure that the signatures are readable when the document is reproduced.  All names shall be typed, printed or stamped beneath the original signature.
  •     Embossed or inked stamps shall not cover or otherwise materially interfere with any part of the document.
  •     Each document that is presented for recording shall have the following information on the first page below the three-inch margin:


  • The name, address and telephone number of the individual who prepared the document 
  • The name of the taxpayer and a complete mailing address for any document or instrument of conveyance
  • A return address
  • The title of the document
  • All grantors' names
  • All grantees' names
  • Any address required by statute
  • The legal description of the property and parcel identification number, if required.
                 If insufficient space exists on the first page for all of the information previously described, the page reference of the document where the information is located shall be noted on the first page.


On or after July 1, 2005, except as provided in 331.606B(1c), a document or instrument that does not conform to the format standards specified in subsections 1 through 3 shall not be recorded except upon payment of an additional recording fee of ten dollars per document or instrument.  The requirement applies only to documents or instruments dated on or after July 1, 2005, and does not apply to those documents or instruments specifically exempted in subsection 4.


*The following documents are exempt from document formatting requirements:

  • A document that was signed before July 1, 2005
  • A military separation document
  • A document that was executed outside of the United States
  • A certified copy of a document issued by a governmental agency, including a vital record
  • A document where one of the original parties is deceased or otherwise incapacitated
  • A document formatted to meet court requirements
  • A federal tax lien
  • A filing under the uniform commercial code, chapter 554
  • A plat or survey or a drawing related to a plat or survey


Responsibilities of the Decatur County Iowa Recorder

 Land and Records Management
  • Deeds
  • Contracts
  • Mortgages
  • Assignments, Releases
  • Federal and State Tax Liens
  • Affidavits
  • Plats and Surveys
  • Section Corner Certificates
  • Military Service Records
  • Easements
  • Condemnations
  • Trade Names
  • Leases
  • 28 E & Drainage Agreements
  • Bills of Sale
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Financing Statements
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Many Other Miscellaneous Documents
Licenses and Registrations
  • Boat Registrations/Titles/Liens
  • Snowmobile Registrations/Titles/Liens
  • ATV Registrations/Titles/Liens
  • Hunting Fishing Licensing
  • Fur Harvester Licenses
  • Habitat, Duck and Trout Fees
  • Deer and Wild Turkey Licenses and Tags
  • Landowner/Tenant Gun & Archery Licenses and Tags
  • Federal Waterfowl Stamps
 Vital Records
  • Marriage Application Instructions
  • Marriage Application
  • Birth, Certified Copy Request Information
  • Death, Certified Copy Request Information
  • Marriage, Certified Copy Request
  • Information
  • Certification of Vital Records

Other Responsibilities
  • Collect real estate transfer tax on conveyances of property
  • Perform federal and state tax lien searches and research of current records for the public
  • Collect and report auditor’s fee on transfer of property
  • Certify recorder’s records
  • Make records available for genealogy research
  • File detailed reports monthly and annually to county and state agencies