Document Specifications

Document Formatting Standards


Documents cannot exceed 8.5” x 14”, except for plats or survey, which cannot exceed 11” x 17”.

All conveyances of real estate must be accompanied by a Declaration of Value form (8.5” x 14” sheet approved by IDRF ONLY), unless exempt pursuant to Chapter 428A of the Code of Iowa and exemption is stated on the instrument. In addition, all conveyances that require a Declaration of Value need a Groundwater Hazard Statement and Time of Transfer Reports as necessary (see form instructions).

Please include a self addressed stamped envelope for return of documents. The County Recorders office will not be responsible for instruments lost through any type of postal system.

Please contact the Recorders office if you have further questions regarding document specifications.


- In order to comply with national standards, Iowa has adopted Document Formatting Standards.  Effective July 1, 2009, states that all documents presented for recording (except those listed below) MUST meet the following requirements:

- All documents shall consist of one or more individual pages not permanently bound or in a continuous form. A page means a writing, printing, or drawing, other than a plat or survey or a drawing related to a plat or survey, occurring on one side only, and not larger than eight and one-half inches in width and fourteen inches in length. The document shall not have any attachment stapled or otherwise affixed to any pages except as necessary to comply with statutory requirements. However, individual pages of a document may be stapled for presentation for recording. Labels that are firmly attached are acceptable.

- The first page of each document shall have a top margin of at least three (3) inches of vertical space from left to right which shall be reserved for the recorder’s use. All other margins on the document shall be a minimum of three-fourths of one inch. Nonessential information such as page numbers or customer notations may be placed in a margin except the top margin.

- All preprinted text shall be at least eight point in size and no more than twenty characters and spaces per inch. All other text typed or computer generated, including but not limited to all names of parties to an agreement, shall be at least ten point in size and no more than sixteen characters and spaces per inch.

- Each document shall be of sufficient legibility to produce a clear reproduction.

- Each document shall be on white paper of not less than twenty-pound weight without watermarks or other visible inclusions.

- All signatures on a document shall be in black or dark blue ink and of sufficient color and clarity to ensure that the signatures are readable when the document is reproduced. All names shall be typed, printed, or stamped beneath the original signature.

- Embossed or inked stamps shall not cover or otherwise materially interfere with any part of the document.

- Each document that is presented for recording shall have the following information on the first page below the three-inch margin: 

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the individual who prepared the document
  • The name of the taxpayer and a complete mailing address for any document or instrument of conveyance
  • A return address
  • The title of the document
  • All grantors’ names
  • All grantees’ names
  • Any address required by statute
  • The legal description of the property and parcel identification number, if required

If insufficient space exists on the first page for all of the information previously described, the page reference of the document where the information is located shall be on the first page.

Documents dated on or after July 1, 2007, may NOT include any personally identifiable information.  Personally identifiable information is defined as an individual's Social Security number, bank account numbers, credit accounty numbers, or debit accounty numbers. 

The following documents are exempt from document formatting requirements:

  • A document that was signed before July 1, 2005
  • A military separation document
  • A document that was executed outside of the United States
  • A certified copy of a document issued by a governmental agency, including a vital record
  • A document where one of the original parties is deceased or otherwise incapacitated
  • A document formatted to meet court requirements
  • A federal tax lien
  • A filing under the uniform commercial code, chapter 554
  • A plat or survey or drawing related to a plat or survey
On or after July 1, 2005, a document that does not conform to the document formatting standards shall not be recorded except upon payment of an additional recording fee of ten dollars ($10.00) per document or instrument.  However, the non-standard fee may not be applied to 1) the legibility requirements; 2) the requirement to include the name of the taxpayer and a complete mailing address for any document or instrument of conveyance; and 3) the requirement that all documents have original signatures in black or dark blue ink and the names of the parties typed below their signatures.

View the State of Iowa's document formatting standards (PDF).