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 first page of the document must include these seven (7) items (RCW 65.04.045 & 65.04.047):
- 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.
- Return address in the upper left corner, within the top 3 inch margin.
- Title(s) of the document must be placed immediately below the 3 inch margin.
- Reference number(s) (Original Auditor file number) of previously recorded documents pertaining to this document must be on the first page if applicable.
- Names of grantor(s) and grantee(s) must appear on the first page.
- 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 & Plat; OR 2) Quarter, Quarter, Section, Township & Range; OR 3) Unit, Building, Phase & Condo Name). Anytime there is a legal description listed there must be an assessor's geo-parcel number listed also.
- The assessor's 16-digit geo-parcel number(s) must be on the first page. The assessor's geo-parcel number can be obtained from your tax statement or from the Whatcom County Assessor's Office (360-676-6790). Anytime there is a legal description listed there must be an assessor's geo-parcel number listed also.
- 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 first floor of the County Courthouse (firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (360) 676-6774).
- 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.
- A Standard Cover Sheet is used when the document does not meet margin and indexing requirements.
- A Non-Standard Coversheet 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 $50.00 per RCW 65.04 in addition to regular recording fees. The non-standard cover sheet must be filled out completely and signed.
Documents which are exempt from format requirements and which may be recorded with a properly completed cover sheet include: Documents which were signed prior to January 1, 1997; military separation documents; documents executed outside of the United States; certified copies of documents; any birth or death certificate; marriage certificates from outside the state of Washington; any document, one of whose original signer is deceased or otherwise incapacitated; and judgments or other documents formatted to meet court requirements.