Recording Requirements


Documents must be legible and capable of being scanned into an electronic imaging system. All text within the document must be of sufficient color and clarity to ensure that when the text is imaged all text is readable. No attachments, except firmly attached bar code or address labels, may be affixed to the page. A document which does not meet legibility requirements will not be recorded.
  The 1st page of the document must include these 7 items (RCW 65.04.045 & 65.04.047):
  1. A 3 inch margin at the top and 1 inch margin on the bottom and sides of page one. All other pages require clear 1 inch margins on all sides. Margins must be clear with no stray marks or writings.
  2. Return address in the upper left corner, within the top 3 inch margin.
  3. Title(s) of the document must be placed immediately below the 3 inch margin.
  4. Reference number(s) (Original Auditor file number) of previously recorded documents pertaining to this document must be on the 1st page if applicable.
  5. Names of grantor(s) and grantee(s) must appear on the 1st page.
  6. The abbreviated or complete legal description must be on the first page. "See attached" is not acceptable. If using the abbreviated legal description on the first page you will need to reference on the first page where the full legal description is listed. (The abbreviated legal is: 1) Lot, Block and Plat; or 2) Quarter, Quarter, Section, Township and Range; or 3) Unit, Building, Phase and Condo Name). Anytime there is a legal description listed there must be an assessor's Geo Parcel number listed also.
  7. The assessor's 16-digit Geo Parcel number(s) must be on the 1st page. The assessor's Geo Parcel number can be obtained from your tax statement or from the Whatcom County Assessor's Office by calling 360-778-5050. Anytime there is a legal description listed there must be an assessor's Geo Parcel number listed also.


  • A Non-Standard Cover Sheet is used when a document must be recorded immediately and does not meet margin and font size requirements. The fee to record a non-standard document is $50 per RCW 65.04 in addition to regular recording fees. The non-standard cover sheet must be filled out completely and signed.
  • A Standard Cover Sheet is used when the document does not meet margin and indexing requirements.
  • An excise tax affidavit is required before recording any deed, real estate contract, easement or conveyance (with monetary consideration). This affidavit can be obtained through the Whatcom County Treasurer's Office located on the 1st floor of the County Courthouse. You may email or call the office (360-778-5160).
  • Sheets of paper must be no larger than 8 1/2 inches wide and 14 inches long. Font size must be 8 point or larger.
Documents which are exempt from format requirements and which may be recorded with a properly completed cover sheet include:
  • Any birth or death certificate
  • Any document, one of whose original signer is deceased or otherwise incapacitated
  • Certified copies of documents
  • Documents executed outside of the United States
  • Documents which were signed prior to January 1, 1997
  • Judgments or other documents formatted to meet court requirements
  • Marriage certificates from outside the State of Washington
  • Military separation documents