See our Concealed Carry policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Iowa allows a person to carry a concealed firearm within city limits if the person has a concealed weapons permit.1 Iowa is a “shall issue” state, meaning that law enforcement must issue a concealed weapons permit to an applicant that is not prohibited under state criteria from obtaining a permit. In Iowa, any person not disqualified under the state eligibility requirements discussed below and who satisfies state training requirements shall be issued a “nonprofessional” permit to carry weapons.2 “Professional” permits are issued for persons employed in the following professions, if the person’s position in that profession reasonably justifies that person going armed: 1) private investigation business or private security business licensed under Iowa Code, Chapter 80A; 2) peace officer; 3) correctional officer; 4) security guard; 5) bank messenger; 6) person transporting property of a value requiring security; or 7) police work.3
No person will be issued a professional or nonprofessional permit to carry weapons in Iowa if the person:
- Is less than age 18 for a professional permit or less than age 21 for a nonprofessional permit;
- Is addicted to the use of alcohol;
- Probable cause exists to believe, based upon documented specific actions of the person, where at least one of the actions occurred within two years immediately preceding the date of the permit application, that the person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner as would endanger himself or herself or another person;
- Is subject to the firearm possession, receipt, transportation or control prohibitions of Iowa Code § 724.26; and
- Has, within the previous three years, been convicted of any serious or aggravated misdemeanor defined in Iowa Code Chapter 708 not involving the use of a firearm or explosive; or
- Is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a firearm.4
Iowa requires a person who is carrying a concealed firearm within city limits to also carry their concealed weapons permit and produce it for inspection at the request of a peace officer. A violation of this requirement is a misdemeanor, but Iowa law provides that a violation must be dismissed if prior to making a court appearance the person charged is able to produce a concealed weapons permit that was valid at the time of the alleged offense.5
Firearm Safety Training
All applicants for an initial nonprofessional permit to carry firearms must satisfy state training requirements.6 For renewals of permits issued after December 31, 2010, the below firearm safety training requirements do not apply.7 Applicants for an initial permit to carry firearms may demonstrate knowledge of firearm safety by any of the following:
- Completion of any National Rifle Association handgun safety training course;
- Completion of any handgun safety training course available to the general public offered by a law enforcement agency, community college, college, private or public institution or organization, or firearms training school, utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Iowa Department of Public Safety or another state’s department of public safety, state police department, or similar certifying body;
- Completion of any handgun safety training course offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division or subdivision of a law enforcement or security enforcement agency approved by the department of public safety;
- Completion of small arms training while serving with the armed forces of the United States;
- Completion of a law enforcement agency firearm safety training course that qualifies a peace officer to carry a firearm in the normal course of the peace officer’s duties; or
- Completion of a hunter education program approved by the natural resource commission, if the program includes handgun safety training and completion of the handgun safety training is included on the certificate of completion.8
The training described above may be conducted over the internet in a live or web-based format, if completion of the course is verified by the instructor or provider of the course.9 Satisfactory completion of safety training may be documented by:
- A photocopy of a certificate of completion or any similar document indicating completion of any course or class identified above that was completed within twenty-four months prior to the date of the application;
- An affidavit from the instructor, school, organization, or group that conducted or taught a course or class that was completed within twenty-four months prior to the date of the application attesting to the completion of the course or class by the applicant;
- For personnel released or retired from active duty in the armed forces of the United States, possession of an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions issued any time prior to the date of the application; or
- For personnel on active duty or serving in one of the national guard or reserve components of the armed forces of the United States, possession of a certificate of completion of basic training with a service record of successful completion of small arms training and qualification issued prior to the date of the application, or any other official documentation satisfactory to the issuing officer issued prior to the date of the application.10
Duration & Renewal
A nonprofessional permit shall be valid for five years.11
Disclosure or Use of Information
Iowa permits to carry concealed firearms “shall contain the name of the permittee and the effective date of the permit, but shall not contain the permittee’s social security number.”12 They also “shall not contain information about a particular weapon including the make, model, or serial number of the weapon, or any ammunition used in that weapon.”13
Iowa’s Commissioner of Public Safety maintains a permanent record of all valid permits to carry weapons and of current permit revocations.14 Pursuant to a 2017 law, the Commissioner and all issuing permit officers are required to keep confidential all “personally identifiable information of holders of professional or nonprofessional permits to carry weapons,” including but not limited to “name, social security number, date of birth, residential or business address, and driver’s license or other identification number.”15 The Commissioner and permit issuing officers may release confidential information pursuant to a court order or the consent of the permit-holder.16 The Commissioner and permit issuing officers are also allowed to release the following:
- “[S]tatistical information relating to the issuance, denial, revocation, or administration of professional or nonprofessional permits to carry weapons,” as long as disclosing such information “does not reveal the identity of any individual permit holder”;
- “[I]nformation to a criminal or juvenile justice agency…for the performance of any lawfully authorized duty or for conducting a lawfully authorized background investigation”; and
- Information relating to the validity of a professional permit to carry weapons to an employer that requires such information as a condition of employment.17
Iowa recognizes licenses issued by other states, so long as the license holder is not a resident of Iowa.18
Concealed weapons permit holders in Iowa are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice. For further information, see the Iowa Background Checks section.
- Iowa Code § 724.4(1), (4)(i). No permit is required to carry a concealed firearm outside city limits. Id.
- Iowa Code § 724.7(1).
- Iowa Code § 724.6(1)(a).
- Iowa Code § 724.8. Application requirements and the background check process are detailed under Iowa Code §§ 724.10 and 724.11. Permit suspension and revocation provisions are outlined under Iowa Code § 724.13 and § 724.21A. Additional information on the prohibited categories and applicant procedures for a permit is described under Iowa Admin. Code r. 661-91.4 and 661-91.3.
- Iowa Code § 724.5(1)-(2).
- Iowa Code § 724.9
- See Iowa Code § 724.9(6).
- Iowa Code § 724.9(1).
- Iowa Code § 724.9(2).
- Iowa Code § 724.9(4).
- Iowa Code § 724.7.
- Iowa Code § 724.11(5).
- Iowa Code § 724.23(1).
- Iowa Code § 724.23(2)(a).
- Iowa Code § 724.23(2)(e).
- Iowa Code § 724.23(2)(b)-(d).
- Iowa Code § 724.11A.