The Office of the Recorder was created by the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa in 1839 for the purpose of recording instruments that relate to real estate. Shelby County's real estate records date back to 1854. Today, the Recorder/Registrar maintains real estate records, issues marriage licenses and certified copies of birth, death, and marriage records, boat, snowmobile, and ATV titles and registrations, and sells fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses and stamps, including statewide and landowner/tenant deer and turkey licenses.
Recorded documents include deeds, contracts, mortgages, assignments, releases, state and federal tax liens, affidavits, land surveys, subdivision plats, section corner certificates, condemnations, leases, trade names, bills of sale, financing statements, and military discharges. Access to real estate indexes and images may be obtained through Iowa Land Records (free of charge). Recording fees are collected for all documents, except military discharges; the money is paid into the county general fund.
Specific recording requirements have been placed on all documents to be recorded. There are also document formatting standards in order to comply with national standards.