The district is at the Lower Saxon border, north of Münster. The Ems river runs through the district from south to north. The highest point in Steinfurt is the Westerbecker Berg with 234m, the lowest point is the Bentlage castle at 32m.
In late medieval times Steinfurt became an independent earldom. At first it was a part of the earldom of Bentheim, before it became independent in 1454. 1804 Steinfurt was joined back with Bentheim, before it became a part of the Prussianprovince of Westphalia in 1815. The new government in 1816 made the districts Steinfurt and Tecklenburg.
In 1975 the old district Steinfurt was merged with the district Tecklenburg, and together with Greven and Saerbeck from the old district Münster the current district was made.
The coat of arms combines elements from the coat of arms of the former districts Steinfurt, Tecklenburg and Münster. The swan in the middle comes from the earldom Steinfurt, the center of the district. The red bar around the swan symbolizes the clerical state Münster, which lay around the dukedom Steinfurt. The red water lily leaves were symbol of the dukes of Tecklenburg.