Recording Requirements

When a document is presented to our office for recording, it is only examined for “recording requirements” and not for its correctness or legal sufficiency. Although we would like to give you as much information as possible, under California law, we are prohibited from providing any legal advice (BPC 6125). This includes advising what document to record, providing any legal forms and assisting with the preparation of any legal documents.  It is recommended that you seek assistance from an attorney or authorized individual.

Each document presented for recording must conform to the following basic document requirements. Most documents have specific requirements that are not listed here.

  • Property must be located in the county where the document is presented for recording. (CC 1169)
  • Be authorized or required by law to be recorded. (GC 27201)
  • Meet statutory requirements for that document.
  • Be submitted with the proper fees and taxes. (GC 6301, 27201, 27361)
  • Be photographically reproducible by microphotographic process. (GC27201, 27361.6, 27361.7)
Basic Recording Requirements

Return Address (GC 27361.6)

The upper left-hand corner of each document is intended for use by the public to show the name and address to whom the document should be returned.

Name(s) of Person(s) Requesting Recording (GC 27361.6)

The upper left-hand corner of each document is intended for use by the public to show the person(s) requesting recording.

Legibility/Photographability (GC 27361.7)

 Whenever a document or portion of a document is not sufficiently legible to produce a readable photographic record, a legible copy may be attached and shall be certified by the party creating the copy to be a true copy of the original. Legible copy also pertains to notary seals, certificates and other appendages.

English Language Translation (GC 27293; AG OPINION 82 – 1209; CC 2923.3)

  • Whenever a document, or portion of a document, is in a foreign language, an English translation, certified by the County Clerk, must be attached thereto prior to its recordation.
  • If your document requires an English language translation, you must follow the protocol and obtain the necessary documents as outlined here.
  • A document which has a foreign language apostille attached and which has been executed outside of the United States may be recorded without a translation of the apostille.
  • Notices of Default and Notices of Trustee Sale may be recorded without translation if the summary is included and contains languages other than English.

Title of Document (GC 27324)

All instruments presented for recordation shall have a title or titles on the first page indicating the kind of document or documents the recording contains.

Names of Party(ies) to be Indexed (GC 27280.5)

Names of party(ies) to be indexed shall be legibly signed, typed or printed.

Signatures (GC 27201(B), 27280.5; CC 1213, 1218)

Signatures must be original, unless the document is a certified copy issued by the appropriate custodian of the public record. No alterations can be made to a certified copy. 

Acknowledgment or Verification (GC 27201 27289, 27282, 27285, 27287, 27288; CC 1189; CCP 2003, 2015.5)

Document must be properly acknowledged or verified, unless exempt.

Documents Containing Social Security Numbers (CC 1798.89)

Unless otherwise required to do so by a state or federal law, a document shall not be presented for recording if it displays more than the last four digits of a social security number.

Certified Copies

Certified copies, including certified copies of death, birth, and marriage certificates, cannot be amended or altered by any means, including redacting the social security numbers at submission.

Re-recorded Documents (GC 27201(C))

All re-recordings require the document to be re-signed and re-acknowledged except for those identified under GC 27201(c).

Modifying, Releasing or Cancelling Interest  (GC 27361.6)

Any document which modifies, releases or cancels the provisions of a previously recorded document shall state the names of all parties affected and the document number (or book and page) of the document being modified, released or cancelled.


Depending on the type of document, additional requirements apply.

Document Standard Guidelines

Document Size

Paper sheets 8 1/2″ x 11″ in size are the standard size for recordable documents. (Government Code Section 27361.5). Larger page sizes, up to a maximum of 8 1/2″ x 14″, may be recorded. If any portion of the document is not the standard size, an additional fee of $3 per page will be applied to every page of the document (GC 27361). Sheets larger than 8 1/2″ x 14″ cannot be recorded.

Paper Quality

White, 16 lb. bond paper is preferred. Heavier paper is acceptable.

Print Requirements

All print on white paper is preferred. Type on the first page must be a minimum of 10 points in size. On subsequent pages, 8-point type is preferred, except where other requirements are established by statute.

Top-of-Page Requirements

  • The right-hand 5” of the top 2 1/2″ of the first page must be kept clear for the Recorder’s use. (GC 27361.6)
  • The left-hand 3 1/2″ of the top 2 1/2″ of the first page is to be used by the public for the return mailing address and identification of the person requesting the recording. (GC 27361.6)
  • If the document does not comply with the foregoing top-of-page requirements, a separate coversheet  (Recording Cover Sheet) shall be attached to the front of the document.  This cover sheet is now considered the first page of the document. (GC 27361.6)


A page margin of at least 1/2″ wide on both sides of the page is required on all pages. (GC 27361.6)

Document Title

The document title shall appear on the first page, immediately below the spaces reserved for the return address and the Recorder. The space reserved for the return address and the Recorder’s use is an area 2 1/2″ deep extending the full width of the top of the page. (GC 27324)


Should be on separate pages and properly marked.

Additional First Page Information

The tax statement address goes on the bottom of the first page of deeds. (GC 27321.5)

You may record documents by mail, Fed-Ex or UPS.

If your document meets all of the requirements and you pay the proper fees, your document will be recorded while you wait. 

We will keep the document for processing as an image of the document is kept in the Recorder Division permanent record historical collection where it becomes part of the public record. We will mail the original back to the name and address shown on the upper left corner of the first page. The original recorded document will be returned to you in approximately four to six weeks.

If submitting documents by mail, please include a pre-printed check or money order for the amount of the appropriate recording fee. Checks should be made payable to: San Mateo County Recorder. 

Mail the document and payment to the:

San Mateo County Recorder
Recorder Division
555 County Center, 1st Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063-1665

When your document is examined, it will be either accepted or rejected for recordation. If it is rejected, your document (and payment) will be sent back unrecorded with an explanation of why it was rejected. Accepted documents will be processed as described above.

If you would like a conformed copy (proof of recording) sent back to you please include an exact copy of your document with a stamped self-addressed envelope.

To find the fee for your filing or copying, go to the Recorder’s Fee Schedule.

Before recording a document, use these linked pages for important information.

Possible Reasons Why Documents are Returned Recording Documents FAQs Documentary Transfer Tax Documentary Transfer Tax Affidavit FAQs