FAQs

Frequently the Recorder of Deeds Office will receive requests to help people find information that is contained in this office. While we can help people with such items as our recording fees, office hours, and location, and recording guidelines for instruments, we are not authorized to give legal advice or search the records in the office to determine information about a specific piece of property. We can however, give you a start in helping you find this information. Below is a list of commonly asked questions and requests for information received by this office. They are arranged by category. Click on the link to see the answer.

Topics
  1. General Office Information
  2. Recording and Filing Documents
  3. Deeds
  4. Mortgages
  5. Subdivision Plans
  6. Taxes
  7. Property & Building Information
  8. Historical Information
  9. Miscellaneous Information
1. General Office Information Return to Top

2. Recording & Filing Documents Return to Top

3. Deeds Return to Top

4. Mortgages Return to Top

5. Subdivision Plans Return to Top

6. Taxes Return to Top

7. Property & Building Information Return to Top

8. Historical Information Return to Top

9. Miscellaneous Information
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1. GENERAL OFFICE INFORMATION

WHAT ARE THE HOURS OF THE RECORDER OF DEEDS OFFICE?
The Recording Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30AM to 4:30p.m.. Please note: Same-day recording stops at 4p.m. each day. Same-day recording of plats/plans/maps stops at 3pm each day. The Search Library is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:15pm. Our office and library are closed on designated County holidays. All hours are weather permitting. See Hours & Address for more details.

HOW FAR BACK DO YOUR RECORDS GO?

Our records begin in 1688. If you are attempting to look up information filed prior to 1900, however, you will find it easier to do research at the Chester County Archives. Most of our records prior to that date are on microfilm, but because they are handwritten, they are sometimes difficult to read. The Chester County Archives contain most of these records in their original form and contain many other resources to supplement genealogical and other historic research. See the Recorder of Deeds Historical Information section of this website for additional resources.

CAN I GET INFORMATION OVER THE TELEPHONE?
Yes. General Recording Requirements and Recording Fees can be obtained by telephone. You can also access these from this website. Office employees are not permitted to perform search work. For information regarding previously recorded papers you must come to the office or hire an attorney.

CAN I GET INFORMATION OVER THE INTERNET?

Yes. Visit our Records Search Home Page. Follow the directions on this page. You will need to sign up, but there is no fee. We suggest that you keep your user name and password in a safe and convenient location.

HOW CAN I GET A COPY OF A DOCUMENT RECORDED IN YOUR OFFICE?
If the document was recorded after 1994, you can print it from our Website using Records Search.

The service is free.

If the document was recorded prior to 1994, you can come to our Search Library to lookup and print your document OR you can submit a written request to have a copy mailed to you. Using the Library and printing the document yourself is $0.50 per page for copies, $1.50 for certification if needed. If sending a written request, you must include the owner's name, the book and page number of the document, a self-addressed stamped envelope, and a check covering the fee. The current fee for this service is $5 per page, and $1.50 to certify the document, if needed.

You can have a copy faxed to you if you provide us with the book and page number. The fee for this service is $5 per page, plus a $1 fax charge. We are not able to certify copies sent by fax machine.

WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO CHECK A DEED OR MORTGAGE?

Our records are kept by the property owner's last name and by the book and page number assigned to every document recorded in our office. If you have the book and page number or know the name of the property owner, then you can search our database via the Records Search area of this website. See Can I get information over the Internet? Yes, you can also visit our Records Library. Our Library Staff can help you start your research either in microfilm, hard copy, or on our computer system. Our Staff is not permitted to conduct research for the public, but can give you assistance in starting your research and in using the various resources in the Library. If you do not have the book and page, you will need to refer to our indexes which list documents alphabetically by the last name of the party to a transaction.

HOW DO I FIND THE INFORMATION I NEED IN THE INDICES?
To use the indices you must have a name of one of the parties to the transaction. It is also better to know the year of the transaction since that will narrow down the set of indices you must use. One of our staff will instruct you in the use of the indices when you visit the Records Search Library.

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 2. RECORDING & FILING DOCUMENTS
IN ORDER TO RECORD A DOCUMENT DO I HAVE TO GO ANYWHERE ELSE?
Maybe. If you are recording a plan [subdivision, septic, etc.], you may need additional approvals prior to recording. Check with your municipality for details.

MAY I RECORD BY MAIL?
Yes. Make certain the document meets all legal requirements, our Document Standards and that you have proper checks enclosed, made payable to the Recorder of Deeds, for the correct amounts along with your stamped, self-addressed envelope(s) for the return of your original documents post recording, or for the return of unacceptable documents. See Recording Guidelines and Recording Fees for more information.

HOW CAN I GET THE UPI NUMBER?
Every parcel in the County is assigned a Uniform Parcel Identifier (UPI) number. The Bureau of Land Records (BLR) maintains the UPI numbers. BLR can give you the UPI number for your property. BLR can be reached at 610-344-4561/5968.

WHEN WILL RECORDED DOCUMENTS BE RETURNED?

It generally takes about four to six weeks.

WHY DOES IT TAKE FOUR TO SIX WEEKS?

We scan your document and enter information from your document into our recording system. From the scanned image microfilm is created by an outside vendor. The original recorded documents are retained until we verify the recording information is correct and that the microfilm record of each document is complete and legible. We are constantly examining ways to improve this turnaround time.

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3. DEEDS

DO ANY MUNICIPALITIES REQUIRE PRE-REGISTRATION OF DEEDS?
No.

CAN ANYONE LOOK AT MY DEED?
Yes. With the exception of Military Discharges, all documents recorded in this office are public information. This means anyone can look at your Deed, Mortgage, or any other documents filed in this office as they are part of the public record.

CAN I PREPARE MY OWN DEED?
Yes. However, it is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field to draft your Deed, such as an attorney. Employees of the Recorder of Deeds may not do this for you.

HOW DO I REPLACE A LOST DEED?

Physical possession of a Deed is not necessary to prove ownership to land once that Deed has been recorded in our office. Any documents filed in our office are there to provide public notice of the contents of those documents. You can obtain a copy of a Deed or any other document from this office a number of ways. See HOW CAN I GET A COPY OF A DOCUMENT RECORDED IN YOUR OFFICE?

HOW DO I CHANGE, ADD OR DELETE A NAME ON A DEED?

The Recorder of Deeds cannot alter any documents once they have gone on record. Changes can only be made by recording a new Deed showing the change. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field to draft your Deed such as an attorney. Employees of the Recorder of Deeds may not do this for you. See CAN I PREPARE MY OWN DEED?

IS IT NECESSARY TO DELETE A DECEASED SPOUSE'S NAME FROM A DEED?
No. The Recorder of Deeds cannot alter any documents once they have gone on record. If for some reason you wish to reflect that the property is no longer in the name of a deceased person, you will need to have a new Deed prepared and recorded in this office. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field to draft your new Deed such as an attorney.

IF A WOMAN MARRIES, MUST SHE CHANGE HER NAME ON HER DEED?

No. You cannot alter any documents once they have gone on record. If for some reason you wish to reflect that the property is now owned by the same people with different names you will need to have a new Deed prepared and recorded in this office. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field to draft your new Deed such as an attorney.

IF I SELL A PORTION OF MY LAND, DO I GET A DEED FOR THE REMAINDER?
No. The Recorder of Deeds is merely a repository for any Deeds that are recorded. If your current Deed has been recorded and you subsequently sell a piece of that land on another Deed which is then recorded, a title search will reveal these two transactions and allow a person to conclude that the amount of land you own has now changed. If for some reason you wish to reflect that the property's legal description is now different, you will need to have a new Deed prepared and recorded in this office. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field to draft your new Deed such as an attorney.

MUST I RECORD MY DEED?

Recording a Deed is not required in Pennsylvania, but it is necessary to record if you wish to avail yourself of the protection of Pennsylvania's recording laws. You should consult an attorney for a better explanation of the consequences of not recording a Deed.

IF I BUILD ON MY LOT, DO I GET A NEW DEED FOR THE HOUSE?

This is currently not typical business practice in Pennsylvania. You should consult an attorney for a better explanation of whether or not it is a good idea to have a new Deed prepared after you have built upon a lot.

IF I FIND A MISTAKE IN MY DEED, HOW DO I CORRECT IT?
You cannot alter any documents once they have gone on record. In order to replace the current Deed for your property to reflect changes or corrections, you will need to have a new Deed prepared and recorded in this office. This is usually referred to as a Deed of Correction. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field to draft your new Deed.

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4. MORTGAGES

CAN ANYONE LOOK AT MY MORTGAGE?
Yes. With the exception of Military Discharges, all documents recorded in this office are public information. This means anyone can look at your Deed, Mortgage, or any other documents filed in this office as they are part of the public record.

WHO SATISFIES MY MORTGAGE ?

The mortgagee (lender) upon receiving all money due under the terms of a loan should draft a Satisfaction Piece. The mortgagee (lender) may send the Satisfaction Piece to the Recorder of Deeds to be recorded or send the Satisfaction Piece directly to the mortgagor (borrower). By sending the satisfaction to the mortgagor (borrower), the mortgagee (lender) places the responsibility of recording on the mortgagor (borrower). Ascertain at time of settlement how your lender plans to proceed.

HOW IS A MORTGAGE SATISFIED?
The satisfaction document, a check for the proper recording fee, and a self-addressed stamped envelope should be mailed or taken to the Recorder of Deeds Office. The original document will be returned in approximately four to six weeks. See WHY DOES IT TAKE FOUR TO SIX WEEKS?

WHAT IF THE ORIGINAL MORTGAGE WAS LOST?

This office no longer requires that an original mortgage be produced along with a satisfaction piece. If you still wish to see a copy of a mortgage that has been lost, please see HOW CAN I GET A COPY OF A DOCUMENT RECORDED IN YOUR OFFICE?

MUST A MORTGAGE BE SATISFIED?

According to the Pennsylvania Mortgage Satisfaction Act of 2002 [21 P.S. Section 721-6], a lender is required to satisfy a mortgage within 60 days after receiving payment of the entire mortgage obligation and all required satisfaction and recording costs. An attorney can assist you with any questions related to this matter.

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5. SUBDIVISION PLANS
ARE THERE SPECIAL RULES FOR SUBDIVISION PLANS?

Subdivision plans are to be between 17" x 22" and 34" x 44". The print contrast must be suitable for microfilming black on white. Three copies are required. We do not accept Linen or Mylar originals. The plans must be signed by the Chester County Planning Commission and proper municipal authorities. If a plan has signatures dated prior to the 90-day limit, the plan may either be re-signed and re-dated by the proper municipal authorities, or a letter from the municipality's solicitor may be attached to the plan. This letter must state that the solicitor is waiving the 90-day recording period on behalf of the municipality. This letter is then recorded with the plan and is counted as a page in determining the recording costs.

ARE SUBDIVISION PLANS REQUIRED?

Your municipality may have ordinances that require approval and recordation of any subdivision plans. Check with your local officials.

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6. TAXES
WHAT IS THE REAL ESTATE TRANSFER TAX?
There is a State Tax and a Municipal Tax each amounting to 1% of the fair market value of the property or interest being conveyed. For property located in the City of Coatesville, the Municipal Tax is 2%, for property in Tredyffrin Township, it is 1.5%. The fair market value of the property is not necessarily the sale price.

WHO PAYS THE TRANSFER TAX?

The state and local governments do not care who pays it, as long as it is paid. The Recorder of Deeds Office will not accept a Deed unless the tax is paid at the time of recording, or a PA Statement of Value is included detailing the reason for the tax exemption. In many sales agreements, the seller and the buyer split the tax. However, the new owner is responsible if there is any question over the amount of tax paid.

ARE ANY TRANSACTIONS EXEMPT?
Yes. Though most transactions are taxable, some are tax exempt. Conveyances between husband and wife, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, and brothers and sisters are generally exempt from transfer tax. There are some other exemptions allowed in certain situations. Non-profits are not automatically exempt. Consult and attorney or contact the PA Department of Revenue with questions on exemptions.

WHEN IS A STATEMENT OF VALUE (SOV) REQUIRED?
Anytime the transfer tax is not paid or anytime the true value of the land is not shown on the Deed (such as in a $1 consideration). State investigators review each Deed to see if the value is as stated or if the reason given for exemption is valid. Please contact the PA Department of Revenue with any questions about the SOV. Please note: When a Statement of Value is submitted to our office, it is recorded with the Deed, and should be included in the page count when determining the recording fee.

WHY IS ADDITIONAL TRANSFER TAX SOMETIMES DUE?

This happens when the state investigator determines the property being sold is worth more than stated or if the reason for exemption is not valid. The PA Department of Revenue would collect any additional taxes owed to the Commonwealth, or a municipality, along with any interest or penalties owed.

IS A TRANSFER BETWEEN DIVORCED PARTIES EXEMPT?

A Deed that was recorded with husband and wife holding title can be transferred to either ex-spouse and is exempt from the tax. However, if the ex-spouse has remarried and you are transferring to your ex-spouse and his/her new spouse there will be a 1% state transfer tax and a municipal tax of 1% (except for properties located in Tredyffrin - 1.5% or the City of Coatesville - 2%) on a 25% interest of the value of the property if it is transferred within one year of the decree. Contact the PA Department of Revenue with any questions.

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7. PROPERTY & BUILDING INFORMATION
HOW CAN I DETERMINE THE OWNER OF A PROPERTY?

Our records are organized by property owner name, not by property location. In order to determine the name of an owner based on a property's location, you will 1st need to contact Chester County Office of Assessment at 610-344-6105 or the Bureau of Land Records at 610-344-4561-5968. They can help you to determine the owner(s) of the property if you provide the property address.

HOW DO I CHECK EASEMENTS ON MY GROUND?

Easements on property can come from a variety of sources, including government condemnations, federal legislation, and by agreements recorded in your name those of your predecessors in title. Our office contains some of this information, but even this information can only be discovered by doing a title search of your property. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field help you determine any restrictions on your property.

HOW DO I CHECK DEED RESTRICTIONS ON MY GROUND?

Restrictions on property can come from a variety of sources, including government regulations, declarations by a homeowners' association, and by restrictions placed directly on your Deed or those of your predecessors in title. Our office contains some of this information, but even this information can only be discovered by doing a title search of your property. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field help you determine any restrictions on your property.

WHAT IS THE ELEVATION OF MY PROPERTY?

This can be checked on a United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Map of your area. These can be found several places, including the Chester County Planning Commission and Chester County Geographic Information Systems.

HOW CAN I DETERMINE THE LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE OF MY GROUND?

This can be checked on a United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Map of your area. These can be found several places, including the Chester County Planning Commission and Chester County Geographic Information Systems.

HOW CAN I DETERMINE MY PROPERTY LINE?
Your Deed will give you the legal description, but a surveyor is needed to use this information to actually locate your property lines and place stakes or other markers to indicate them. In some cases surveyors can locate markers that were placed when the lot was originally surveyed. There may be conflicts in the information in your Deed, and your neighbors' Deeds, as well as other interests in your land. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field help you determine the boundary lines of your property.

DO YOU HAVE PLANS SHOWING THE LOCATION OF MY BUILDING ON MY LOT?

Maybe. The location of buildings might be on plans recorded in our office, but they are generally the proposed locations of buildings, not where they may actually have been built. The actual location may be shown on documents filed with your municipality for zoning or permit purposes.

DO YOU RECORD DEEDS FOR CEMETERY LOTS?
Generally, no. A Deed to a cemetery lot usually only gives you permission to use the ground. The cemetery still retains title to the ground. Such "Deeds" or "Titles" are maintained in the offices of the cemetery company. If a Deed for a cemetery lot did in fact convey title, than it could be recorded in this office.

HOW CAN I CHECK FOR LIENS AGAINST MY PROPERTY?

This is a complicated process that includes searches in several other County offices, including, potentially, the Recorder of Deeds, Prothonotary, Tax Claim Bureau, Register of Wills, and others. It is generally best to hire someone with a degree of expertise in this field.

HOW CAN I DETERMINE THE LOCATION OF OLD WELLS OR WATER & SEWER LINES?

This information is not recorded in our office. Records in the municipality in which your property is located may give you this information. If they do not have it, you may be able to have a plumber trace your lines.
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8. HISTORICAL INFORMATION

HOW CAN I TRACE OWNERSHIP OF MY PROPERTY?

Most Deeds contain a section after the legal description of a property called the recital. These clauses typically summarizes how the current owner obtained title including the book and page number of any prior Deeds. Once you have found your Deed, find the same information of the preceding transaction involving your property. Follow this process repeatedly and you can develop what is commonly referred to as a "Chain of Title." Recitals are not always correct and occasionally a Chain of Title can be very complicated. It is generally best to have someone with some degree of expertise in this field trace the ownership of your property.

HOW CAN I TELL THE AGE OF MY HOUSE?
It is difficult to determine this by checking deeds, since a Deed is typically intended to describe land and not buildings. It is possible that the township may have this information on file, depending on the age of the house. You can also check with the Chester County Historical Society since they may have information that will be useful in your search. In addition, the Chester County Office of Assessment may also be helpful for information concerning more recent buildings.

HOW DO I DETERMINE IF RELATIVES LIVED HERE YEARS AGO?

By checking the index books to see if their name appears in either the Deed or Mortgage books back over the years. Contact or visit the Chester County Historical Society for more information.

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9. MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION
WHY ARE MICROFILM COPIES MADE?
Microfilm is the mandated archival record for Recorder of Deeds' in Pennsylvania. A microfilm copy of each record is kept in our office for use by the public. Duplicates of the film are stored in an atomic-proof underground vault located in Western Pennsylvania. This is a safeguard against any catastrophic circumstance in our area. All records can be duplicated in the event the originals are damaged or destroyed.

WHAT DOCUMENTS DO YOU HANDLE?
We handle as many as twenty-five different kinds of documents in addition to deeds and mortgages. Some of them include Notary Commissions, Power of Attorneys, Veteran Discharges, and filings under the Uniform Commercial Code.

CAN I RECORD MY MILITARY DISCHARGE?

Yes. It is a good idea to record it in the event of loss. Contact the Department of Veterans' Affairs at 610-344-6375. They are located in Room 385 of the Government Services Building on Westtown Road and will ensure that your military discharge is recorded. We can provide you with a certified copy in the event you need it for various veteran benefits. There is no charge for this since the fee is paid by the county. No one but the veteran, his family or a veteran organization official is permitted to look at these records.

HOW CAN I RECORD MY SEPTIC OR SEWER PLAN?
Prior to recording a septic plan, you will need to have approval from other County agencies. Please contact the Chester County Health Department for information on the approval process for septic systems. The CCHD is located in the Government Services Center in Suite 290 at 601 Westtown Road 610-344-6225. After your plan is approved, you will submit your paperwork to the Bureau of Land Records for UPI# verification, and then to our office for recording. Please remember that our office does not accept personal checks or credit cards.

HOW DO I FIND OR VERIFY MY UPI NUMBER?
In Chester County, the Uniform Parcel Identifier (UPI) number and the Parcel ID Number are NOT the same number. To obtain a valid, correctly formatted UPI number, please call the Bureau of Land Records at 610-344-4561/5968 for assistance.

HOW DO I BECOME A NOTARY PUBLIC?
Contact your PA State Senator or obtain information from the PA Department of State or the Pennsylvania Association of Notaries.

HOW DO I FIND OUT ABOUT ELECTRONIC RECORDING?

For information on E-Recording [electronic recording] in Chester County, visit the E-Recording section of this website. Return to Top