Whether you’re new to owning a firearm or have had a gun for home defense for years, getting a concealed carry permit may seem daunting. It doesn’t have to be. There are many reasons and ways to carry a concealed weapon, but the first step is knowing the laws. Applying for a CCW varies by state. Read about the process for getting an Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons (PCW) below.

Similar to permit requirements, states vary greatly in their processes for how an applicant obtains a concealed handgun permit, what their permits/licenses are called, whether licenses include photographs, whether fingerprinting is required, license duration, license costs and turnaround times. Some states allow an applicant to complete an application online, while others require an in-person visit to the office of the respective issuing authority. There are even states that require the applicant to provide a list of non-related character references.

Concealed Carry Permit Basics

Iowa is a shall-issue, permitless carry state. Shall-issue means licensing authorities are compelled to issue a license as long as an applicant meets the basic requirements set out by state law. As of July 1, 2021, anyone at least 21 years old and legally allowed to carry a firearm can do so without a permit.

There are two types of permits available: professional and non-professional. Professional permits are issued to individuals at least 18 years of age that are employed in a capacity that reasonably justifies that person going armed. Non-professional permits are issued to individuals at least 21 years of age that meet permit requirements, including training. An Iowa nonprofessional permit to carry weapons allows a permit holder to carry handguns, rifles and shotguns — concealed or open — but excludes those classified by Iowa law as offensive weapons.

Nonprofessional permit to carry weapons applications must be filed with the sheriff of the county of residence. Only non-resident professional permit applications and professional permit applications for a state employee whose need to be armed is employment-based should be filed with the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Non-resident permits are available, and the application is the same as for residents. Professional permit applications for non-residents must be made to the Commissioner of Public Safety. Renewals are the responsibility of the permittee. A person wishing to renew a PCW must apply within the 30 days before or 30 days after the permit expires, otherwise, the higher new permit fee must be charged.

Federally Prohibited Persons

The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 make it illegal for a person who fits into any of the prohibited categories to ship, transport, receive or possess firearms or ammunition. These laws prevent a state from issuing a concealed handgun permit/license as it would be illegal for people who fit in these categories, by federal law, to own or possess a gun.

What Are the License Requirements in Iowa?

An applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age for a professional permit
  • Be at least 21 yeas of age for a non-professional permit
  • Complete a firearms training course
  • Not be “addicted to the use of alcohol” per Iowa Admin. Code r. 661-91.1
  • Have no pending charges
  • Have no felony convictions
  • Have no outstanding arrest warrants
  • Not be subject to the firearm possession, receipt, transportation or control prohibitions
  • Not have been convicted within the previous three years in any court of a serious or aggravated misdemeanor not involving a firearm or explosives for which the court could have imprisoned him or her for more than one year, even if he or she received a shorter sentence, including probation
  • Not bear probable cause to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner as would endanger the person’s self or others based on prior actions in the last two years

Do I Need Firearms Training in Iowa?

Yes, an applicant shall demonstrate knowledge of firearms safety by completing any of the following in a live or web-based form completed within 24 months prior to the date of the application:

  • Any National Rifle Association handgun safety training course or a handgun safety training course offered by an instructor certified by an organization approved by the Department of Public Safety
  • Any handgun safety training course available to the 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 an organization approved by the Department of Public Safety pursuant to section 724.9A or another state’s Department of Public Safety, state police department or similar certifying body
  • Any handgun safety training course offered for security personnel approved by the Department of Public Safety
  • Small-arms training while serving with the Armed Forces of the United States
  • Law enforcement agency firearms training course
  • Hunter education program approved by the Iowa Natural Resource Commission, if the program includes handgun safety training

A Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals Class from the USCCA meets permitting requirements in Iowa. Find a class near you!

How Do I Get a Concealed Handgun Permit in Iowa?

Step 1: Complete a firearms training course, if required, within 24 months prior to the date of the application.

Step 2: Download the application or pick up from your sheriff’s office. Professional permit applications for non-residents must be made to the Commissioner of Public Safety.

Step 3: Apply in person at your local county sheriff’s office or the Commissioner of Public Safety. You will need the following documents:

  • Photocopy of firearms training certificate
  • Driver license
  • Completed application form

Pay the fee.

You will be notified if your application has been approved.


For more information, visit the USCCA Iowa gun laws page now…