Official State of Iowa Website

How can I access ordinances? 

Unfortunately, there is no one place you can go to access all local ordinances in Iowa. Some local governments (cities, towns, and counties) post their ordinances online, but not all do. Checking your local government's website is a good way to figure out if your local government posts its ordinances online. If your local government does not post its ordinances online, contact the office to find out where to go to access the code.   

Information iconIf your local government does put its ordinances online, the ordinances might be posted directly on the local government’s website or the ordinances might be posted through a website that is specially designed to host local ordinances. Drake Law Library has a great research guide on Iowa Municipal and County Law that links out to municipal (city) codes and county ordinances online.  

When you are looking at online ordinances, make sure to check the date the ordinances were last updated. It may be that your local government has made changes that are not yet reflected in the online materials. When you are reading ordinances organized together as a code, make sure to look at each individual ordinance as part of the larger collection of ordinances. Review the list of contents and look for sections that include definitions.  

Icon of two people, one who is looking at a document and the other who is talkingKeep in mind that local ordinances might also do something called “incorporating by reference.” To incorporate something by reference means to say in the ordinance that you are making some other resource part of the ordinance, without including all the language from the other resource in the ordinance itself. For example, many city fire codes will incorporate parts of the International Fire Code by reference. If an ordinance that applies to you incorporates something by reference, it may not be freely available online. If this is the case, reach out to your local government to ask for access, or to your local public library, which may also have a copy.