Recording

Auditor: Jeanne Youngquist

RECORDING DIVISION
Document Standards Guide

This page describes the standards that apply to all documents to be recorded by County Auditors' Offices throughout the State of Washington. Please be sure your document conforms to these requirements before bringing it in for recording.

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FORMAT. The first page of the document must have a three-inch margin at the top and a one-inch margin on the sides and bottom. Each additional page of the same document must have one-inch margins on all sides.

The document's first page must include the following key information:

  • Return address on left side (may be within the three-inch top margin)
  • Document title or titles
  • Reference numbers of document assigned or released (if applicable)
  • Names of the grantors and grantees with reference to pages where additional names can be found
  • Entire or abbreviated legal description
  • Assessor's property tax parcel number or account number

It is our preference that this information be included in the order listed above.

All documents will not contain all the above information. Please read the descriptions of each item found later in this guide to see if that particular item applies to the document you are preparing. Although the requirement is only that the above noted information appear somewhere on the first page, we especially appreciate having it immediately following the three-inch top margin.

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COVERSHEET. A coversheet is only required if the first page of the document does not include the required information listed above and a three-inch top margin. When a coversheet is used to fulfill the three-inch top margin and indexing information requirements, all other requirements must still be met or the document will be returned for compliance. When a coversheet is used, a one dollar charge will be added to the recording fee for the additional page on the document.

It is our preference that documents be reformatted to meet the requirements, thereby eliminating the need for an extra page. Coversheets will be provided in the Auditor's office. Although the coversheet must be completed by the customer, our staff will assist customers in identifying indexing type information (for example, explaining to a customer which name is the grantor and which the grantee). It is not acceptable to put "See attached" or "See page..." in place of including information on the form.

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MARGINS. As noted above in "Format", the first page of the document must have a three-inch margin at the top and a one-inch margin on the sides and bottom. Each additional page of the same document must have one-inch margins on all sides. Aside from the return address in the top three-inch margin of the first page, all margins must be clear. No additional addresses, bar codes, company logos, hole punches, line numbers, order numbers, page numbers, tracking numbers, headers, footers, notary or other seals, signatures, initials, etc., may be placed in any margin. You may place this information on the document, but keep it out of the required margins.

There is no penalty fee included in this legislation for documents that do not comply with margin requirements. Documents that do not comply will be returned for reformatting.

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ATTACHMENTS. No attachments may be affixed to documents presented for recording. For purposes of this standard, "attachments" refers to notary seals, sticky notes, or other items stapled, taped, etc., to the face of a document. "Attachment" does not refer to additional pages added to the end of a document, such as addenda, schedules, or an expanded legal description that may be referenced in the body of the document as "Attachment A" or "Appendix A," etc.

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FONTS. The font size must be 8 point type or larger. Smaller than that is very difficult to read and does not image or reproduce easily.

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PAGE SIZE. The maximum page size is 8.5" by 14". If your document is oversize you will need to reduce the original to fit on 8.5" by 14" or use multiple 8.5" by 14" pages. Some counties may accept maps on an 18" by 24" mylar. Please call the county in which you intend to record.

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LEGIBILITY. The paper must be of a weight and color capable of producing legible images. Watermarks in the body of documents produce unreadable images and are being returned for reformatting. Highlighting also causes problems: when documents have been highlighted in certain colors, the highlighted words are obliterated when scanned, copied, or filmed.

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TITLE. If using a coversheet, the title(s) on the coversheet must be the same as the title(s) on the document.

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RETURN ADDRESS. The return address should be placed within the three-inch top margin.

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REFERENCE NUMBER. The Auditor's File Number is the reference number of the document being assigned or released. Volume number and page number may also be used, especially on documents recorded in the past.

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GRANTOR. To find the appropriate party or parties to place in this field, please contact the Skagit County Auditor's Office, Recording Division, for the list titled "Summary of Recorded Documents".

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GRANTEE. See "Grantor".

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LEGAL DESCRIPTION. If a document has not historically included a legal description, this standard does not require customers to add one. If a legal description does appear on the document or coversheet, the Assessor's Tax Parcel Identification Number must also appear on the first page.

If your entire legal description is on the first page, there is no need or requirement to also abbreviate it on the first page. In cases where the entire legal does not appear on the first page, it must be abbreviated and placed on the first page of the document or coversheet with a reference to the location of the complete legal description. Appropriate abbreviations are:

  • Lot Block Subdivision, or...
  • Section-Township-Range quarter-quarter section (e.r. 32-17N-3W NE NE)

It is not acceptable to put "See attached..." or "Refer to Appendix..." in place of abbreviating the legal description.

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ASSESSOR'S TAX PARCEL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER. A Tax Parcel ID Number must appear on the first page of the document/coversheet if a legal description is included in the document. If there are too many numbers to fit on the first page, you must put what will fit and a reference to the page of the document where the remainder are located. Contact the Skagit County Assessor's Office if you need help locating the number. If the parcel number has not yet been assigned, put "Not Yet Assigned" in the space for parcel number. If a parcel number is on the document, the legal description must also be included.

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DOCUMENTS REQUIRING A PROPERLY COMPLETED COVERSHEET. The following document types must be accompanied by a properly completed coversheet (because they do not conform to margin requirements):

  • Anything signed or created prior to January 1, 1997
  • Birth Certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • Out of country documents
  • Certified copies of documents recorded or filed (court documents)
  • Judgments or other court documents formatted to meet court requirements
  • Marriage Certificates from out of county
  • DD214s

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DOCUMENTS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE COVERSHEETS. The following document types need not be accompanied by a coversheet:

  • IRS documents
  • Marriage Certificates from Skagit County
  • National UCC Form

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UCCs. Washington State UCC forms (form UCC-3) are designed by the Washington State Department of Licensing for use by their office for UCCs filed with that office. These forms are for their internal use, and they do not comply with the document standards defined herein. UCCs for use by the Auditor's Office (forms UCC-3 and UCC-5) have been redesigned to comply with the new requirements and are available from forms companies and are also accepted without additional fee or coversheet.

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COMMON PROBLEMS/REASONS FOR DOCUMENT REFUSAL. The following problems are the most frequently encountered reasons for documents being refused for recording. Such problems require that the document be reformatted before it is returned for recording. Please check your document to be sure that none of the following occur:

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