DEFINITION of Recording Fee

A recording fee is a fee charged by a government agency for registering or recording a real estate purchase or sale so that it becomes a matter of public record. Recording fees are generally charged by the county (such as in the United States) since it maintains records of all property purchases and sales. The recording fee varies from county to county.


Apart from a title to a property, the county also records mortgages and other liens against the property. The recording fee therefore also depends on the type and complexity of the real estate transaction.

How Recording Fees Are Determined

Each agency may issue its own guidelines for submitting documents and set their own recording fees by document type. The recording fee for a deed might be $12 in one county and then $15 in another. Some agencies charge by the size of the document. For instance, a land record instrument might have a $60 fee for the first page, then $5 per page after that. Another agency might charge $84 for the first page and then $1 for each subsequent page. The fees may also change over time as the agency and county deem necessary.

When real estate is sold, a recording fee for the transaction might be paid as part of the closing costs by the buyer or seller of the property, depending on how the sale was structured. In many instances, the buyer might pay the recording fees for the new mortgage and deed to be entered into a legal record.

The types of documents that can incur recording fees include affidavits, leases, mortgages, corner certificates, uniform commercial code filings, changes of title, deeds, registration of trade names, boundary surveys, power of attorney, bills of sale, and other contracts. Depending on the jurisdiction and guidelines, transactions such as bank mergers may need to be documented with recording fees applied as well.

There may be a requirement that the documents must be submitted in person or mailed to the agency if electronic records are not accepted. Some agencies may also prefer payments of recording fees to be made by check and might charge additional fees for credit card payments.

Recording fees are used to cover the costs of the services provided by the clerk or recording agency that must maintain complete and accurate copies of official documents, which may be used for legal and transactional purposes, such as when title searches are conducted as part of a sale.