How To Submit A Background Check

by | Nov 1, 2019 | Getting Licensed

We encourage you to start your licensing process by submitting your required background check. Even though it may not seem complicated – this can often take the longest as the search combs through the Iowa Divison of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Iowa Courts Online. It also includes the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. All information obtained for these resources is kept confidential and protected. The process is initiated by you. You must complete an online application and fingerprint card, then submit it to the Iowa Real Estate Commission.  


Depending on the time of year, the background check process can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks, sometimes longer. Applicants should begin the background process as soon as they decide to pursue the real estate license. The background check process can happen independently of the pre-license classes and is encouraged to be initiated at or around the time the applicant begins classes. 

It is important to keep an eye on timelines, however. Once a background check is completed, it is valid for 210 days. Additionally, there are expiration dates for pre-license course certificates and exam pass notices. According to the Iowa Real Estate Commission, these deadlines are absolute and cannot be waived or extended.


To begin, applicants must create an account on the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau’s website. It is best to use a Google Chrome browser (Microsoft Explorer v11 is not supported).

1. Sign Up For An Account

Go to and click “Login to my Iowa PLB” and then “New User?”. Create your account using an email address you check regularly. The PLB will continue to be your portal later when you are ready to apply for your real estate license. Be sure to keep your chosen username and password in a safe place for later. You will need it. 

2. Select Application/Renew

Once you are logged in to your PLB portal – click on the left menu item “Select Application/Renew.” You will then be prompted to either add or update your information. 

3. Select General Background Packet Request

Select the Real Estate Commission as the licensing board. Then select “General – Background Packet Request”

4. Complete Packet Checklist

Once in the application, you simply need to complete the checklist (which entails entering your name and mailing address to send the fingerprint packet to) and click “Submit Application.

Your process is complete when your status changes from “Pending” to “Application Submitted!” You will receive an email notification 


There is a $51 fee for the background check. Fees will be paid after the staff reviews the application. You will receive a separate email with a link to pay this. Paying online will speed up the process. Alternatively, you may choose to send a personal check or money order with your fingerprint packet.  Once the fingerprint cards have been delivered to the DCI and the FBI, staff cannot check on the status of an individual’s background check. Applicants will be notified via email when their background check results have been received. 


Once you receive your packet in the mail, schedule an appointment with an authorized fingerprinting service (any sheriff’s office or police department). Be aware that these facilities may charge their own fee. Included in your packet will be the fingerprint card, a one-page state waiver, and a three-page federal waiver. You must disclose any criminal history on the federal waiver. In addition, you will be required to disclose that same history once again in the Salesperson License Application. 

Complete all of the required information on the fingerprint card in black ink or typed. Do not fold, staple, bend, tape, highlight, stamp, make extraneous marks, or modify the card. Make a copy of the completed documents in the packet for your records. 

Send or deliver the completed fingerprint card and both signed waivers to:

Iowa Real Estate Commission

200 E Grand St, STE 350

Des Moines, IA 50309


Any serious misdemeanor conviction, aggravated misdemeanor conviction or felony conviction (a conviction of operating while intoxicated MUST be disclosed). A “conviction” includes a guilty plea, a deferred judgment prior to discharge, and a finding of guilt by a judge or jury. All convictions must be disclosed regardless of the date when entered or whether the criminal record has been expunged. 

Criminal activity that took place while a minor is situational. Most rulings for minors are referred to as “adjudication” rather than “conviction”. This is technically outside of the commission’s inquiry. But in some cases, jurisdiction is transferred by the juvenile court and minors are charged and convicted as adults. If in doubt, it is a best practice to disclose. 



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