Legal Information: Iowa

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
April 5, 2019

What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

Before moving to Iowa, the state that issued your protective order may already have entered your order into the NCIC. If not, your order may be entered into the NCIC once your order is registered in IA.

All law enforcement officials have access to the NCIC database, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

How do I register my protection order in Iowa?

In general, to register your protective order in Iowa, you need to file a certified copy with the clerk of your local district court.1  If you don’t have a certified copy, the clerk may still be able to file your regular copy if you submit an affidavit (a written statement sworn under oath) that the order exists and is valid.2  When your order is registered, the clerk will give you a copy of your registered order.3

In addition, certain courts may require the following:

  • that you fill out an application to register a foreign order;
  • that your application go in front of a judge, who will decide whether to register it or not;
  • that you arrange to have papers served on (delivered to) the abuser, notifying him/her that the order has been registered, and that you pay for this service.

If you need help registering your protective order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Iowa for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our IA Advocates and Shelters page.

1 IA ST § 236.19(2)(a)
2 IA ST § 236.19(2)
3 IA ST § 236.19(2)(b)

Do I have to register my protection order in Iowa in order to get it enforced?

No. Iowa state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protective order as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order and the officer believes that it is a valid (real) order.1 It does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by an Iowa police officer, but the officer does need to believe that it is real.

1 IA ST § 236.19(4)(a)

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our IA Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

What if I don't register my protection order?  Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Maybe. While neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced, if your order is not entered into the state registry, it may be more difficult for an Iowa law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real. Meaning, it could take longer to get your order enforced.

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Iowa. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in IA, go to our IA Advocates and Shelters page.

Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There is no fee for registering your protective order in Iowa.1

1 IA ST § 236.19(5)