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In Iowa, laws regulating bounty hunters can be found in Title III, Sub Title 1, Chapter 80A of the Iowa Code.  Pursuant to Iowa Code § 80A.1, bail enforcement agent means a person engaged in the bail enforcement business, including licensees and persons engaged in the bail enforcement business whose principal place of business is in a state other than Iowa.

In Iowa, a person must not operate a bail enforcement business, private investigation business, or private security business, or otherwise employ persons in the operation of such a business located within the state unless the person is licensed.[i]

In Iowa an applicant for license to practice as a bounty hunter in the state must[ii]:

  • be eighteen years of age or older;
  • not a peace officer;
  • never been convicted of a felony or aggravated misdemeanor;
  • not addicted to the use of alcohol or a controlled substance;
  • not have a history of repeated acts of violence;
  • be of good moral character and has not been judged guilty of a crime involving moral turpitude;
  • not been convicted of a crime;
  • not been convicted of illegally using, carrying, or possessing a dangerous weapon;
  • not been convicted of fraud;
  • provides fingerprints to the department;
  • comply with other qualifications and requirements the commissioner adopts by rule.


Pursuant to Iowa Code § 80A.4, all employees of an applicant or licensee shall possess the above qualifications.  The fingerprints required must be submitted by the department to the federal bureau of investigation through the state criminal history repository for the purpose of a national criminal history check[iii].

Pursuant to Iowa Code § 80A.7, the department issues to each licensee and to each employee of the licensee an identification card in a form approved by the commissioner.

A person other than a defendant who is injured in person or property by the actions of a bail enforcement agent in taking or attempting to take a defendant into custody can bring a civil action for damages against such agent and the bail enforcement business for breach of any applicable standard of care.[iv]

[i] Iowa Code § 80A.3.

[ii] Iowa Code § 80A.4.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Iowa Code § 80A.16A.

Inside Iowa