Document Standards

In addition to all other statutory and locally adopted prerequisites, all documents executed on paper after July 1, 2002 and presented for registration after that date must meet the following requirements. You can also download the Document Standards (PDF).

Requirements ADD NCGS 161-14

  • Be presented on 8 ½ inches by 11 inches or 8 ½ inches by 14 inches paper
  • Contain blank margins of:
    • At least 3 inches at the top of the first page
    • At least ½ inches on all remaining sides of first page (left, right, and bottom)
    • At least ½ inches on all sides of subsequent pages (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Be typed or printed in black on white paper
  • Be in a legible font no smaller than 9 points
  • Blanks in an instrument may be completed in pen
  • Corrections to an instrument may be made in pen (preferably in black ink)
  • Text must be typed or printed on one side of a page only
  • State the type of instrument at the top of the first page (below the 3 inch blank margin)

Apply To

Formatting Standards apply to all documents for which a fee is collected under GS 161-10(a):

  • Instruments in General
  • Deeds of Trust and Mortgages (There is no fee for satisfaction documents of Deeds of Trust and Mortgages in North Carolina)
  • Uniform Commercial Code filings (National Standard forms are exempt)
  • Torrens Registration
  • Master Forms
  • Plats/maps attached to documents
  • Attachments - (if the attachments do not comply with the document standards, the $25 non-standard fee is collected in addition to the regular recording fee.) This section does not apply to trailer sheets attached to recorded documents by another register of deeds office.


If an instrument does not meet these requirements, the Register of Deeds will record the instrument after collecting the fee for non-standard documents ($25).


Exception to non-standard document fee:

  • Font Size - The register of deeds has the discretion to waive the non-standard fee if a font smaller than 9 points is used. In order to waive the non-standard fee for font size less than 9 point, the print must be legible and reproducible. To avoid problems, the use of a font size 9 point or greater is recommended.
  • Does not apply to any form of cancellation or to discharges. GS 161-14(d) states that the standards apply to instruments "for which a fee is collected under GS 161-10(a)." GS 45-37.2 specifically says, "No fee shall be charged for recording a satisfaction document, affidavit of satisfaction, or a trustee’s satisfaction.
  • Plats/maps presented for recording as separate documents are not required to meet the document recording standards and are governed by NCGS 47-30 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Plats/maps attached to documents must comply with the document standards.

Cover Sheet

The filing party may attach a cover sheet that contains:

  • The proper margins and document type
  • The name of the individual who prepared the document must be included on the cover sheet (if the document is a deed or deed of trust)

The non-standard fee would not apply if the remaining pages meet the required standards. The cover sheet is counted in the total page count of the document in determining the recording fee paid by the filer. The recording information and North Carolina excise tax information, if applicable, should be placed on the cover sheet, which now serves as the first page of the document. Documents prepared by local, state, and federal government agencies, out-of-state government agencies, and all other documents which do not meet the 3 inch margin first page requirement can avoid the non-standard fee with a properly prepared cover sheet.

Effective Date

Effective July 1, 2002 (revised 2011, 2019) (G.S. 161-14)