Document Recording

The Recorder's Office is prohibited by law from providing you with legal advice. We can only provide you with the recording requirements for a recordable document. We recommend you contact a legal advisor for assistance when preparing documents to be recorded.

Click on the expandable list below for information about:
  • Basic Recording Requirements
  • Change in Ownership – Legal Advice Notice
  • Re-Recording a Document
  • Documentary Transfer Tax
  • Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR)
  • How to Record a Document

Basic Recording Requirements

Each document presented for recording MUST include or comply with the following general requirements.

The property must be located in Santa Barbara County. ( Civil Code 1169 ).
The document must be authorized or required by law to be recorded. ( Govt. Code 27201 ) Documents affecting title to real property generally include grant deeds, deeds of trust, mechanic's liens, tax liens, abstract of judgment, reconveyances', assignments of deeds of trust, etc.
Documents must be clearly legible in order to produce a readable and reproducible photographic record. This pertains to the document text, notary seals, certificates and other attachments, such as legal descriptions. ( Govt. Code 27361.7 ).
Standard page size is 8-1/2" by 11"; other page sizes incur additional recording fees page should be no larger than 8-1/2" x 14".

As for spacing or margin requirements, the first page of the document must reserve a minimum of 2-1/2" down from the top of the page, of which the left 3-1/2" across is used by the person preparing the document to identify who is requesting the recording and the name and address to which the document is to be returned following recording. The remainder of this space is reserved for use by the Clerk-Recorder to enter the official recording information. With regard to the vertical sides of the page, a minimum of 1/2" must be left blank on each side of the document.

If the first page of a document does not comply with these legal requirements, attach a separate page to the front of the document which meets the space and margin criteria, includes the name of the party requesting recording, the name and address which the document is to be returned following recording and which includes the title or titles of the document. For your convenience we have two coversheets available:

( Govt. Code 27361.6 , Govt. Code 27324 )

Every document presented for recording must indicate the title or titles on the first page directly below the space provided for recording (2.5" at top of first page). Only those titles appearing there will be indexed by the Recorder. ( Govt. Code Section 27324 ).
Include the name of the party requesting the recording and a name and address where the document can be returned in the upper left corner of document. ( Govt Code 27361.6 ).
The Assessor's Parcel Number is required on all Deeds and Notices of Completion by local Ordinance. ( Govt. Code section 27297.6 ).
Signatures must be original unless the document is a certified copy issued by the appropriate custodian of the public record. (Govt Code 27201(b), 27279, Evidence Code 1530)
The document must be properly acknowledged, unless exempt. Since January 2008, acknowledgments taken in California require the "all-purpose acknowledgement." (Govt. Code 27201, 27289 , 27285 , 27287 , 27288 , Civil Code 1189)
CALIFORNIA ONLY: Effective January 1, 2015, pursuant to Senate Bill 1050, Sections 1189 and 1195 of the Civil Code, and Section 8202 of the Government Code, relating to notaries public, are amended to require that a statutory notice be added to the required format of all notary certifications. This bill requires a legible notice at the top of the certificate of acknowledgment in an enclosed box, stating that the acknowledgment, proof of execution or jurat verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document, to which the acknowledgment, proof of execution or jurat is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of the document.
When recording documents affecting a change in the ownership of real property, include a completed Preliminary Change of Ownership Report or pay a $20.00 surcharge. When recording Deeds in which no transfer tax is being paid, include a completed and signed (under penalty of perjury) Documentary Transfer Tax Affidavit. Both of these forms are available on our website.

Include the recording fees and any additional surcharges and taxes. Payment can be made by cash, personal check, cashier's check, money order or credit card.

Note: Although credit cards are accepted for fees, we do not accept credit cards for payment of taxes, such as Documentary Transfer Tax.

Make checks payable to: Santa Barbara County Clerk Recorder.

View comprehensive Fee Schedule

Conveyances of title to real property are commonly evidenced by the recording of an instrument. Additions of spouses, transfers of property into or out of trusts, and removal of persons from title are examples of changes in title that can be accomplished by the preparation, execution, and recording of a document reflecting the change.

Common types of recordable documents effecting title changes are deeds and court orders.

It is highly recommended that you consult an attorney or professional document preparation service if you are contemplating making any change in title to real property. Without the advice of a professional, you cannot really be sure that the document you create will work the way you want it to.

Please note that changes to title may result in the reassessment of the property for property tax purposes. Additionally, many transfers are subject to Documentary Transfer Tax and some may trigger an I.R.S. gift tax or other legal consequences. It is important to weigh these considerations before effecting the change.

If you choose to prepare the document yourself, it is your responsibility to determine the appropriate form(s) and course of action that best suit your particular needs. Pursuant to Government Code 24004 and Business and Professions Code 6125, members of the Recorder's Office are prohibited from providing legal advice. This prohibition includes offering any guidance as to what processes must be undertaken, how to complete the forms, or determining what forms are required in order to make any changes in the title to real property.

Re-recording a document

Effective January 1, 2017 each instrument, paper, or notice that is rerecorded shall be executed and acknowledged or verified as a new document pursuant to Govt. Code 27201 (c) (1) through (C) (2) .

Documentary Transfer Tax

Documentary Transfer Tax is due on all taxable conveyances in excess of $100 at a rate of $.55 per $500 or fractional portion of real property value, excluding any liens or encumbrances already of record. Transfer tax is collected at the time of recording and a tax declaration stating the amount of Transfer Tax being paid or 0.00 if you are claiming an exemption.

A Documentary Transfer Tax Affidavit is required on all "exempt" property transfers or when no consideration is paid

Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR)

Pursuant to section 480.3 (a)(b) of the Revenue and Taxation code a PCOR must be filed with each conveyance. If a PCOR is required, but not completed, signed and submitted at the time of recording, an additional $20.00 will be due. Note: The Assessor's office will contact you at a later date for the PCOR information.

How to Record a Document

In Person

Present the document to either one of the Clerk-Recorder's offices during normal business hours. Our offices are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays. We do not close for the lunch hour. Please arrive no later than 4:00 p.m. when conducting your business; same day service is not guaranteed. Please visit the Contact Us page for office locations and directions.

If your document meets all recording requirements and the proper fees are paid, your document will usually be recorded while you wait. The Clerk-Recorder will retain the document for scanning and indexing. The original will be mailed back to the name and address shown on the upper left corner of the first page. Documents are usually mailed back within 15 business days of recording.

By Mail

Mail your document and payment to the address below. When your document is examined, it will be either accepted for recordation or returned for correction. If it is returned, your document (and payment) will be sent back unrecorded with an explanation of why it was rejected. Accepted documents will be processed and returned as described above. If you require a conformed copy for immediate return, include a copy of the document and a self-addressed stamped envelope.
First Class Mail
Santa Barbara Clerk-Recorder
PO Box 159
Santa Barbara, CA 93102

Express Mail (FedEx, UPS, or courier):
Santa Barbara Clerk-Recorder
1100 Anacapa Street
Hall of Records
Santa Barbara, CA 93101