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Recording Division
Document Standardization Guide
128 N 2nd St, Room 117, Yakima, WA 98901
PO Box 12570, Yakima, WA 98909-2570

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Jennifer Richter, Recording Supervisor
Email:  jennifer.richter@co.yakima.wa.us
Phone: (509) 574-1330
Fax: (509) 574-1371
Hours:  9:00 a.m. 3:30 p.m. blinking star



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Effective January 1, 1997, all documents submitted for recording in Washington State must conform to standards set by RCW 36.18 and 65.04.  A cover sheet is required for documents where the first page does not contain the necessary indexing fields or the 3-inch top margin.  All pages must conform to formatting requirements for margins, page size, font size, color, legibility and attachments.  A cover sheet will not relieve the responsibility of meeting the formatting requirements for all subsequent pages.  Documents that do not meet the requirements will be returned for reformatting before being recorded.

Format
Cover Sheet
Margins
Nonstandard Documents - Additional Fee
Attachments
Font
Page Size
Legibility
Title
Return Address
Reference Number
Grantor
Grantee
Legal Description
Assessor's Tax Parcel ID Number
Documents that will be recorded with a properly completed cover sheet
Documents that are exempt from the requirements and do not require cover sheets
Common Problems for Documents Not Conforming to Standard Formatting

Format

The first page of the document must have a 3-inch margin at the top, and a 1-inch margin on the sides and bottom.  The first page must also include the following indexing information:

  • Return address on left side (should be within the 3-inch top margin)
  • Document title(s)
  • Reference numbers of documents assigned or released (if applicable)
  • Names of the grantors and grantees with references to pages where additional names can be found
  • Entire or abbreviated legal description
  • Assessor's property tax parcel number or account number

All documents will not have all of the above information (it depends on the type of document). (Back to Top)

Although the requirement is that the information appears on the first page, it is preferred to have the information in the same order as listed above, immediately following the 3-inch top margin.

Each additional page of the same document must have 1-inch margins on all sides and bottom.

Cover Sheet

A cover sheet is only required if the first page of the document does not include the required information listed above and a 3-inch top margin.  When a cover sheet is used to fulfill the 3-inch top margin and indexing information requirements, all other requirements must still be met or the document will be returned for reformatting.  Note:  when a cover sheet is used, $1.00 is added to the recording fee for the additional page of the document. Cover sheets are provided in the Auditor's Office.  Please note: it is not acceptable to put "See Attached" or "see page ___" in place of including the information on the form. (Back to Top)

Margins

Aside from the return address in the top 3 inch margin, all margins must be clear.  No additional addresses, bar codes, company logos, line numbers, order numbers, page numbers, tracking numbers, headers, footers, notary or other seals, signatures, initials, etc., may be placed in any margin.  This type of information may be within the document, but cannot be in the required margins. (Back to Top)

Nonstandard Documents - Additional Fee

Documents which must be recorded immediately and which do not meet margin and font size requirements may be recorded for an additional fee of $50.  Documents which do not meet legibility requirements must be recorded as a nonstandard recording. RCW 65.04.048

In addition to preparing a properly completed cover sheet, the person preparing the document for recording must sign a statement which is to be attached to the document stating:  "I am requesting an emergency nonstandard recording for an additional fee, as provided in RCW 36.18.010.  I understand that the recording processing requirements may cover up or otherwise obscure some part of the text of the original document." (Back to Top)

Attachments

No attachment may be affixed to documents presented for recording. Attachments refer to notary seals, stick notes, or other items stapled, taped, etc., on the face of the document.  Attachment does not refer to additional pages added to the end of a document such as addenda, schedules, or expanded legals which may be referred to in the body of the document as "Attachment A" or "Appendix A", etc. (Back to Top)

Font

The font size must be 8 point type or larger.  Smaller than this is very difficult to read and does not image or reproduce effectively. (Back to Top)

Page Size

The maximum page size is 8 ½" x 14".  If the document is oversized the original will need to be reduced to fit on an 8 ½" x 14" page, or use multiple 8 ½" x 14" pages. (Back to Top)

Legibility

The paper must be of a weight and color capable of producing legible images. Watermarks in the body of documents that produce unreadable images will be returned for reformatting.  Highlighter marks on a document in certain colors can obliterate text when scanned, copied or filmed. (Back to Top)

Title

If using a cover sheet, the title(s) on the cover sheet must be the same as the title(s) on the document. (Back to Top)

Return Address

The return address should be placed within the 3-inch top margin on the first page. (Back to Top)

Reference Number

A reference number is the Auditor's file number or volume and page (if used) of the document being assigned or released. (Back to Top)

Grantor

One who gives title or interest to real estate to another.  For recording purposes means the names of the parties involved in the transaction used to create the recording index.  There will always be at least one grantor for any document.  In some cases the grantor and grantee will be the same individual, or one of the parties may be the public. (Back to Top)

Grantee

One who receives title to or interest in real property.  For recording purposes means the names of the parties involved in the transaction used to create the recording index.   There will always be at least one grantee for any document.  In some cases the grantor and grantee will be the same individual, or one of the parties may be the public. (Back to Top)

Legal Description

If a document type is not normally required to include a legal description, the document standardization requirements do not require that a legal be added to such documents.  If a legal description does appear in the document or cover sheet, the assessor's tax parcel identification number must also appear on the first page.  If the entire legal description is on the first page, there is no 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 cover sheet, with a reference as to where the entire legal is located. It is not acceptable to put "See attached" or "refer to Appendix A" in place of abbreviating the legal.  Appropriate abbreviations are:

Lot Block Subdivision
or
Section-Township-Range quarter-quarter section
(example: 32-17N-3W NE NE)

(Back to Top)

Assessor's Tax Parcel ID Number

A tax parcel ID number must appear on the first page of the document or cover sheet if a legal is included in the document.  If there are too many numbers to fit on the first page, put in whatever will fit and a reference to the page of the document where the remainder are located. If you need help locating the number please contact the County Assessor's Office.  If the parcel number has not yet been assigned put "Not Yet Assigned" in the space for the parcel number.  If a parcel number is on the document, the legal must also be included.(Back to Top)

Documents that will be recorded with a properly completed cover sheet

Documents signed or created prior to January 1, 1997 (prior to the implementation of document standardization), birth certificates, death certificates, out of country documents, certified copies of documents recorded or filed (court documents), judgements or other court documents formatted to meet court requirements, marriage certificates from other counties, DD 214 forms.  (Back to Top)

Documents that are exempt from the standardization requirements and do not require cover sheets

Federal documents; in-county marriage certificates.  (Back to Top)

Common Problems for Document Refusal

Seals in the margin(s), signature or initials in the margin(s), missing parcel number, something other than the return address in the top 3-inch margin, 1-inch margins are not 1-inch.  (Back to Top)