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When a document is recorded it is given a unique identifier called the “recording number” (also called an instrument number or auditor's number). The recording number is not the same as the Assessor’s tax parcel number. The tax parcel number identifies a specific piece of land for property tax purposes; the recording number identifies a particular document. The Recorder’s Office has cross-referenced recordings to the tax parcel number only consistently since 2002, although you may be able to search by parcel number for some documents dating from the 1990's. If you are using the Recorder's Office search engine, you won’t be able to consistently use a tax parcel number to identify recordings prior to 2002.

1853-1971

During this period, recordings were numbered in a single sequence (1 to 6728719), with the text of the recordings transcribed or photographed into series of large volumes that were later microfilmed. Auditor's numbers are generally printed horizontally at the top of each document. After 1915, Auditor's numbers are 7 digits in length.

Finding a document from this period is a two-step process:

  1. Look up the number in the Auditor's Receiving Books, numerical indexes on microfilm that will give you the volume (by type; i.e. "Mortgages" or "Deeds") and page number in that volume.
  2. Then, find the microfilm roll for that volume and scroll to the page indicated in the index to find the actual recording, cross-referenced to the Auditor’s number.
Before 1915 - an extra step!

In the case of the earliest recordings up through ca. 1913, looking up the number in the Auditor's Receiving Books gives only the names of the grantor(s) and the grantee(s) - not the volume and page. Use either of these names respectively in the Grantor or Grantee microfilm indexes to find the volume and page of the actual recording.

After 1971

In 1971 King County began using a recording number that was composed of four elements: year, month, date, and a unique sequential identifier. For example, 19790801001 identifies the first document recorded on August 1, 1979. Microfilmed documents at the King County Archives between 1971 and 1991 are filed directly by this number, which is usually printed vertically on the left side of each page of the document. Imaged documents on the King County Recorder’s Office website (1991-present) can be searched using this “instrument number.”

Note: when recording numbers were transcribed, the "19" or "20" at the beginning of the number was sometimes left off. In order to retrieve the correct document, you will need the complete number. (Example: enter "19790801001" instead of "790801001".)

Please review our list of microfilm and hardcopy records available at the King County Archives.

A boundary line adjustment, also called a lot line adjustment, accommodates a transfer of land between adjacent separate lots. Boundary line adjustments are granted by local government authorities such as the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (for unincorporated King County only) and municipalities, such as the city of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.

These issuing authorities give each boundary line adjustment a unique numerical identifier. If and when the King County Recorder’s Office records the adjustment, the document also receives a recording number.

The easiest way to find and retrieve a recorded boundary or lot line adjustment record, either using the Recorder’s Office website (1976-present) or the microfilm at the King County Archives (1853-1975), is by using the long recording number.

Searching without a recording number

You cannot easily use the boundary or lot line adjustment number to look up the recording and It is not possible with the microfilm (pre-1976). Success in searching online (1976-present) depends on entering the boundary or lot line adjustment number in exactly the same way that the Recorder’s Office staff entered it into the database (select Maps under Land Records and then type your query in the Freeform field). There are many different formats in which documents were indexed over time, so multiple searches are more likely to cover these differences.

A better way of searching (online or microfilm) when you don’t have a recording number is by the name of one of the parties to the line adjustment, preferably connected with a date. With a name, you can search two places using the Recorder’s Office website by selecting Maps under Land Records. Both should be searched by name (and date if you know it) for best chance of best results:

Land Records Maps Document Type Boundary Line Adjustment

  • Index entries from 1979, images from October 1991.

Land Records Maps Document Type Boundary Line Adjustment – Mylar

  • Index entries and images from 1981.

Unrecorded boundary and lot line adjustments

Not all line adjustments have been recorded. In King County, the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review maintains a substantial number of unrecorded line adjustments dating from 1981 and later. Contact the department at DPERWebInquiries@kingcounty.gov for more information.

Your best chance of finding a complete list of all recorded documents that relate to your condominium, homeowner association, or planned unit development is to search online at the Recorder’s Office website for a recorded deed of a recent sale of one of the units in your development. The deed will often list the recording numbers (although not the title or subject) of the documents that govern your development. The easiest way to retrieve recorded documents is by the recording number.

If you are looking for specific document types:

Condominium site plan and survey (also called “condominium plats”). Find online at the Recorder’s Office website by clicking Land Records and then Maps and searching for the "Condominiums" document type. The condominium was usually indexed under the name of the developer or the development company, with the condominium name appearing in the legal description. Online images are present back to 1964, the year after Washington State legislation established condominiums as a form of property ownership.

Condominium declarations (also called "conditions, covenants and restrictions," or CC&Rs). Because this text record is originally part of the initial establishing documents for a condominium, the Recorder’s Office usually has filed it along with the condominium site plan and survey (see above). Search on the Recorder's Office website by clicking Land Records and then Maps and then select the document type "Declaration of Condo" – even though it isn’t a map! Like the site plan and survey, the first declaration was probably filed under the name of the developer or the development company, but checking the condominium name as well is a good idea. If you do not find the original declaration here, continue your search on the Recorder's Office website using the Official Public Records search engine and do not specify a document type.

Condominium amended declarations: Amendments to the original declarations may be found in either of two places on the Recorder’s Office website:

  • Under the Land Records menu Maps Document Type Amended Declaration of Condo, or
  • Under the Official Public Records menu. Because the amendments may have been coded any number of ways (Amendment, Agreement, Covenant), when searching for amendments, it’s best to search using the name of the condominium without entering any document type.

Homeowners' associations (non-condominium) or planned unit development documents: Find text documents online on the Recorder's Office website via the Official Public Records menu. Search under the association name rather than document type as association records can also be filed in different ways.

Planned unit development site plans and surveys: Find online (1981 - present) at the Recorder’s search site via the Land Records menu under Maps Document Type Planned Unit Development.

Bylaws are not required to be recorded, although they frequently are. The word “bylaws” sometimes occurs in the “Legal Description” field of the Recorder’s search portal and can be searched by entering the word “bylaws” in the “Freeform” search box. Condominium declarations (see above) may also contain language about association procedures that would otherwise be found in bylaws.

Old plat covenants may appear in connection with (non-condominium) plat maps, usually dating from the first half of the twentieth century. These covenants were established by the developer when a plat was laid out. Many have since been determined to be unlawful and unenforceable. These kinds of covenants can be found in one of two ways: via the Recorder's Office Official Public Records menu (indexed back to 1976 only) or searching by name via the microfilm indexes at the King County Archives.

Sometimes plat covenants appear on the face of the plat map itself. Check the Recorder’s search portal using the Land Records menu Maps Document Type Plats.

Additional resources:

  • To locate your condominium unit using Parcel Viewer, find more information under Condominiums at the King County Property Research FAQ.

The DD-214 (Veteran’s Discharge Paper or Veteran’s Service Record) is a document issued by the United States Department of Defense upon a military service member’s retirement, separation or discharge from active-duty military. There are two locations where these records can generally be found:

  • at the Personnel Records Center in St. Louis Missouri and
  • recorded in the county of the veteran’s choice.

National Personnel Records Center

The standard repository for all DD-214 forms and other military service records is the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. They have records of most military personnel discharged since World War I. A veteran's DD-214 can be requested online or by mail, following the instructions provided on their website. The NPRC receives approximately 4,000-5,000 requests per day and responses can be delayed. There is no charge for discharges 1950-present, but discharges before 1950 are considered archival and are subject to fees.

In 1973, a fire at the NPRC destroyed approximately 16 million military personnel records. According to the website, the records destroyed were 80% of Army discharges between 1912 and 1960 and 75% of Air Force discharges between 1947 and 1964. If a particular record was destroyed, the NPRC can sometimes reconstruct discharge papers using alternate, surviving records. Reconstruction efforts can take much longer to respond to than an ordinary records request.

King County Archives

Veterans have always had the option of having their discharge papers recorded in a county of their choice (usually where they resided). They have often been encouraged to do so, to provide a more convenient option for retrieving copies. Veterans have not been required to record their DD-214 forms and there is no guarantee that a recorded document will be located. DD-214s can only be located by the date they were recorded and not the date of discharge.

The King County Archives provides access to all veterans discharge papers recorded in King County.

How to search for DD-214s at the Archives

1853-1975

DD-214s prior to 1976 are indexed by the Grantor/Grantee Indexes, which is accessible on microfilm at the King County Archives. The name of the veteran and the date that the discharge was recorded with the county are needed to locate the record; however, the date of discharge from the military is not necessarily representative of when the document was recorded. In the index, the name of the veteran is listed as the Grantee, while the Grantor is usually listed as the United States. The index will provide a volume and page number with which to locate the actual document.

1976-present

DD-214s from 1976 to the present are searchable using the online index on the Recorder’s Office website. Search under Official Public Records and select Document Type Veteran Separation. Entries and recording numbers are indexed, but images of discharge papers are not available online.

How to get copies of DD-214s from the Archives

For the veteran

The veteran can request recorded copies of their discharge papers directly from the King County Archives. There is no charge for copies of the discharge papers, but the veteran must show identification to Archives staff showing that he or she is the person listed on the recorded DD-214.

For a relative or representative of the veteran

Any relative or representative of the veteran must fill out the Request for Access form (PDF) and have it recorded with the King County Recorder’s Office. Once the person has the recorded form, he or she can take it to the King County Archives to acquire copies of the DD-214s.

Easements can exist in different forms (as a separately recorded document, as text that's included in or attached to a deed, as a figure drawn on a recorded plat map...) and because they serve different purposes (access, drainage, utilities, slope, etc.).

One search strategy is to:

  1. Collect as many recording numbers (also called instrument numbers or Auditor's numbers) that relate to your property,
  2. Then review documents recorded under those numbers to see how the records may apply to your property.

Sources of recording numbers

  • Legal description of your property
    This can be located on the Assessor's eReal Property site or via the King County Parcel Viewer. The legal description might (or might not) state if the property is subject to easement. If it does, the recording number of the easement(s) might also be stated.
  • Purchase deed for your property
    The deed should state, either on its face or as attachments, if the property was subject to any easements at the time of sale and list relevant recording numbers. [Note: you cannot count on such a list being either current or complete.]
    If you don't have your deed, and you purchased your property in 1991 or later, you can search for an image of the deed through the Recorder's search portal. If you purchased your property between 1976 and 1991, you can search for information about your deed through the Recorder, but viewing the deed or obtaining a copy can only be done at the King County Archives.)
    To trace deeds to a property before 1976, both the year of the transaction (as close as can be determined) and the names of at least one party; in other words, to create an ownership history. You 'll be looking for references to earlier easements that might have been stated on the deeds.
  • PUD or Condominium records
    For residential or planned unit developments, and condominium developments which might have easements, try to locate recent deeds for unit sales within your development. These can be researched at the Recorder's Office. On the Main Menu, select Official Public Records. Using a unit owner's name is easier, if known, but entering the name of the development in the Freeform field may also yield results. Look at the deed(s) and see what easements, if any, are referenced by recording number on the face of the deed.
  • Searching for easements at the Recorder's Office
    Under Main Menu, click Official Public Records, then search using a name, a date, or elements of the legal description. Note that only easements specifically recorded as a separate document will be returned when limiting a search to Document Type Easement.

Retrieving and viewing deeds and separately recorded easements

August 1, 1991 and later

Indexes and images online on the Recorder's Office website

1976 to July 31, 1991

Indexes only online on the Recorder's Office website. Documents available for review (via microfilm) and printing or scanning at King County Archives.

1853 to 1975

Indexes (by name and recording number) and images of documents, available for research on microfilm at the King County Archives


Other sources of easement information

For land platted by a developer, some condominium developments, and planned unit developments, easements may be shown on the recorded maps for these types of subdividions. Map images can be viewed online on the Recorder's Office website. To retrieve these documents:

  1. Click Maps under Land Records on the Recorder's search page.
  2. Select the Document Type Plat, Condominium, or Planned Unit Development.
  3. Enter book (volume) and page number. These numbers are usually referenced on the deed.

A small number of easement maps - mostly drainage easements - can be found online in the Road Services Division's Map Vault.

Grantor ("Direct") and Grantee ("Indirect" or "Inverted") general indexes are the main indexes to King County recordings between 1853 and 1975. Microfilmed indexes are available in the microfilm research room at the King County Archives. (The original volumes, 1853-1971, are at the Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue). Indexes from 1853 to 1971 are handwritten and indexes between 1971 and 1975 are typed. At this time the Grantor/Grantee Indexes do not exist in a digital or online version but recorded documents 1976-present are indexed and searchable on the Recorder's Office website.

Images of the grantor index (by name of seller/conveyor) from 1909-1921 and the grantee index (by name of buyer) from 1853-1921 have been digitized and are available online on Familysearch.org (external link). More images will added to that site as they become available.

The Grantor-Grantee indexes are primarily for property records. They do not provide information to locate marriage records, records such as plats or surveys, birth or death records, or anything that was not recorded.

Grantors and Grantees

A "grantor" gives or conveys something to another party. Examples include:

  • The seller or giver of property
  • The person taking out a deed of trust or a mortgage on a property
  • Original name of a person changing his or her name

A "grantee" receives something given or conveyed. Examples include:

  • The buyer or receiver of property
  • The person or financial institution holding a deed of trust or a mortgage on a property
  • The new name of a person changing his or her name
  • The recipient of a military discharge document (DD-214)
  • The recipient of a boundary or lot line adjustment from a local government agency.

Index Arrangement

Index arrangement is by date (month, day, year), then by personal surname or corporate name. The indexes do not cumulate! For transactions over a long time period, or when the transaction date is unknown, indexes for each year or time period will have to be consulted.

In any given year between 1853 and 1971, personal surnames will be in semi-alphabetical order. So, for example, all names starting with ABE (Abell, Abelman, Abert...) will be listed together roughly chronologically and you must review the entire ABE section to find all the Abells. First names and spouses' first names also appear in front of the surname, alphabetized similarly. Common family names such as Johnson or Smith have their own index sections.

Corporate names that begin with each letter are entered in their own section after the personal surnames starting with the same letter; they are then arranged in approximate alphabetical order by the second element of the corporate name. So Puget Sound Gravel Company (on a page headed P - S) will come before Pacific Timber Company (P - T). Governments (United States, King County, Seattle) have their own index sections after the corporate names.

Exceptions

For many years a few corporate groups were intermixed, in correct alphabetical order, in the personal surnames sections: cemeteries, churches, lodges (fraternal organizations), and sheriff (for sheriff's sales); otherwise, these groups were indexed in their own sections (i.e. "Cemeteries," "Sheriff," etc.). If an entry is not found in its respective corporate group section, check the personal surnames section - and vice versa. These entries are arranged by date only.

Separate sections were also kept for Chinese and Native American grantors or grantees in some years, titled "Chinamen" or "Chinese" or "Indians," respectively.

All indexes from 1971 to 1975 are arranged alphabetically by personal and corporate name.

Understanding Index Entries

Each entry in both the Grantor and Grantee indexes gives the following information:

  • Filing date
    Month, Day, Year (rarely the same as the date of the record itself)
  • Names of grantor and grantee
  • Location of recorded document
    Write down each of these to locate the record
    • Document type
    • Volume name (Deeds, Judgments, Mortgages, etc.)
    • Volume number
    • Page number in volume
  • Remarks
    Satisfied liens and mortgages are noted here, as are references to other recording numbers
  • Description of property
    Information varies but you might find here:
    • For platted properties: block, lot and plat name
    • For unplatted properties: section-township-range coordinates
    • For complex property transactions, or for recordings that might not involve specific parcels of property: a reference saying, "See record" or "See document."

Please note that no cross-references exist to King County parcel numbers.

To find the text of a recorded document, note the volume name or type, volume number, and page number. This will allow you to retrieve most deeds from microfilm holdings in the area adjacent to the public research area at the King County Archives. The microfilm (reels and fiche) are arranged by volume number. Scroll through the microfilm of that volume to find a specific page or pages.

With the volume name, volume number, and page number that you have identified, Archives staff can help you retrieve pre-1976 property recordings other than deeds.

Certified copies of marriage certificates for all years are available from the King County Archives. The fee is $3.00 for each certified copy.

Search in the online indexes (1853-1989 and 1990-present) before you submit your request to be sure King County has your marriage record. If you cannot locate your certificate in King County, try searching in other Washington counties.

1855 - Present King County Archives

By mail
  • Check or money order only (payable to the King County Treasury) - $3.00 per copy

    Please fill out our copy request form (PDF) and mail it with the correct fee ($3.00 per certified copy) to the King County Archives. When we receive your request, we will process it within 2 business days and mail your copies to you.

In person
  • Cash, credit card (+ $1.49 processing fee), or check or money order (payable to the King County Treasury) - $3.00 per copy

    Visit us at the King County Archives with the correct fee ($3.00 per certified copy) and we can have your copies ready for you the same day. We are located in the First Hill area of Seattle and have free parking available.

    Additionally, you can order copies in person at the King County Recorder's Office in downtown Seattle or at any of the seven Community Service Centers throughout King County.

1855-1989 Washington State Digital Archives

  • Credit card - $4.00 per copy

    Search for and locate your record on the Washington State Digital Archives (external link), then order using a credit card. Service only available for certificates from 1855-1989.

1968 - Present VitalChek

  • Credit card - $31.50 per copy

    Certified marriage certificates between 1968 and the present can be ordered online, using a credit card, from VitalChek (external link), via the Washington Center for Health Statistics. They provide the state version of the marriage certificate, which is slightly different than the county version. The cost for ordering from them with a credit card is currently $31.50 per certified copy.

County procedures for name changes have varied over time. Finding and retrieving name change records depends on the policies and procedures in place at the time of the change.

July 1991 - Present

Since July 1991, name changed have been handled by the King County District Courts. The District Court has automatically recorded name change orders with the King County Recorder's Office since 1992. Name change orders dated 1992 and later are searchable online on the Recorder's Office website.

  1. At the Recorder's search portal, click "Search" next to Official Public Records.
  2. Enter either name (last name first) in the "Party Name" field.
  3. Select the Document Type in the drop-down box; for most recorded name changes, this is ORDER CHANGING NAME.

In order to find the District Court case file (which should be the same as the recorded name change):

  1. First find the case file number by using the Washington Courts site to search by name. The results will provide the case file number and the name of the district court.
  2. Then, to retrieve the case file, contact the appropriate district court directly, as each district court manages its own case files. (Note that it's sometimes easier to contact the district courts by e-mail than by the general telephone number, 206-296-9200.) The King County Archives does not hold District Court records.

Before July 1991

Prior to July 1991, name changes were handled by the King County Superior Court, which can be contacted at 206-296-9300 (dial "9" to speak to a person) or clerksofficecustomerservice@kingcounty.gov. Indexes to name change case file numbers from 1940-1979 are available on their website.

Name changes from 1979-present are also searchable on the Washington Courts site, which will direct you to the court that holds the record. Corresponding Superior Court civil case files (1853-1972) are physically kept at the Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue, who you can contact at 425-564-3940 or PSBranchArchives@sos.wa.gov.

Before 1992, name change orders were not automatically recorded with the King County Recorder's Office. They were infrequently recorded, though, if an individual thought it was necessary. Name changes that might have been recorded between 1976 and 1991 are able to be searched on the Recorder's Office website. The best way to search is by name, without specifying a document type. Once the recording number is known, microfilmed copies of the recorded orders can be retrieved at the King County Archives on a self-service, walk-in basis. Microfilm name indexes prior to 1976 are also available for searching at the Archives in the self-service area.

Online indexes

1992 - Present Recorder's Office website
Click "Search" next to Official Public Records on the search page and search by Document Type ORDER CHANGING NAME.
Name changes were not consistently recorded until 1992. Before that year they were occasionally recorded and/or were recorded under different document types. You can download images of recorded name changes online at the Recorder (1991 - Present) or order copies (all years) from the King County Archives.
1979 - Present Washington Courts website (external link)

Search by name in all courts in Washington state to locate name change case file numbers. Order copies directly from the court of record.
1975-1979 Civil index on Superior Court Clerk website

Browse through digitized microfiche of the civil index, which includes name changes, to locate case file numbers. Order copies directly from the Superior Court Clerk.
1940-1975 Name change index on Superior Court Clerk website

Browse through digitized microfiche of the name change index to locate case file numbers. Order copies directly from the Superior Court Clerk.

Getting your name changed?

The Name Change Research Guide (external link)

Helpful information from the King County Law Library regarding changing your name in Washington State


Name Change After Marriage

Information from King County Marriage Licensing regarding changing your name after marriage

An ownership history is a compilation of property ownership changes through time, listing names and dates associated with each transfer. Generally, this information will be compiled by locating deeds or other vesting documents. There is not a one-stop search to research this, but there are several methods and resources you can utilize to compile this information. It is easiest to move backward in time, starting with the year that the current owner purchased the property. When you locate the name of the last person to sell the property (as the grantor), you will then search backward until you find when they bought the property (as the grantee), and so on.


Online resources

King County Parcel Viewer website
Accessed by parcel number or address
Mid-1980s to present

With the address or parcel number, you can use King County Parcel Viewer to locate your Property Detail Report. At the bottom of the Property Detail Report under Sales History, there may be a list of deeds, with names and dates, showing when the property has changed ownership. The sales histories range from the mid-1980s to present for most properties.


King County Recorder's Office website
Accessed by name(s) and dates
1976 to present

The King County Recorder's Office website has an online index of all recorded documents (including deeds) from 1976 to present. Images of most documents (including vesting deeds) are available online from August 1, 1991, to present. To search for recorded documents online, conduct multiple searches by name, parcel number, section-township-range, or other criteria to ensure more relevant results. The Recorder's Office did not consistently use the parcel number in indexing until about 2002. For best results, type in as little information as possible while still trying to use enough unique information to retrieve manageable search results.


Hardcopy resources at the King County Archives

General Recordings Index
Accessed by name(s) and dates only
1853-1975

The King County Archives provides access to the General Recordings Index (Grantor/Grantee Indexes) from 1853 to 1975 in our microfilm research room. Recorded documents for this time period are only indexed by name or recording number. Each microfilm reel only covers one or two years of recorded documents. Bringing an approximate date or date range to narrow down your research will help locate recordings more efficiently; the broader the date range, the more rolls of microfilm that may have to be searched. Although the grantor/grantee indexes are the most comprehensive and direct method of locating deeds, the resources below can help narrow down your search.

  • Sales Histories
    Accessed byparcel number
    1973-1981

    The King County Archives has Sales Histories (1973-1981) on microfilm, which index excise tax affidavits by the parcel number. The excise tax affidavit, if located, can be used to help track down the deed, or it might be sufficient itself for compiling an ownership history. Copies of the Sales Histories are also available for research at the King County Department of Assessments.

  • Excise Tax Index
    Accessed by legal description
    1961-1997

    The King County Archives has Excise Tax Indexes (1961-1997). They must be accessed by legal description. The indexes will provide an excise tax number, which can then be used to locate the excise tax affidavit and then the corresponding deed. Since the volumes contain only numbers (no names), they can take time to research, especially for large plats or for unplatted properties.


Hardcopy resources at other locations

Property Record Cards and Tax Assessment Rolls
Accessed by parcel number or legal description
1891-1972

For research without names and dates, the Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link) in Bellevue has Property Record Cards (1937-1972) for all parcels in King County which sometimes include incomplete lists of property owners or purchasers between 1937 and 1972. Property record cards can only be accessed by parcel number or legal description.

The Puget Sound Regional Archives also has older Tax Assessment Rolls (1891-1941), which can only be accessed using the legal description of the property. Although they do not specify when or to whom a property was sold, they could help narrow your search by indicating who the taxpayer was for the property during a given year.

Property Abstracts
Accessed by legal description
1907-1990
Properties within the city of Seattle only

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (external link) has microfilmed property abstracts (called "Title Abstracts" or "Abstract Books") for properties within Seattle's city limits. They are organized by legal description and apparently show all ownership changes up to 1990 with names, dates, and recording numbers.

A plat is actually a map of a developer's proposal, subject to King County approval, for subdividing a large piece of property into parcels, blocks, lots, streets, etc. A plat may or may not actually be built as mapped, proposed, and approved. If the property was never part of a developer's plat, the parcel's legal description will identify it in relation to its section-township-range coordinates.

The legal description on the deed or on the Parcel Viewer record for the property in question should state the name of the plat, and the plat book and page on which the plat map can be found. All King County plat maps that have been recorded can be viewed online on the King County Recorder's Office website. To search for and view the plat map:

  1. Select Maps under the Land Records menu.
  2. Once the search window loads, you can then select Document Type Plat.
  3. Then enter the book and page number as 3-digit numbers (for example, Book 3 would be entered as 003).

Some plats were never recorded and the King County Department of Assessments maintains these records. Please contact the King County Archives for assistance in identifying and accessing unrecorded plat maps.

To see a current map outline of a property with its boundaries marked and dimensions noted, search the Department of Assessments quarter-section maps online. Just enter the parcel number and click "Submit." This map is also linked from the "Property Detail" page of the Parcel Viewer record for a given property.

If you need to accurately measure these dimensions against the actual property, or to determine where the property line is on the ground, it is usually necessary to hire a licensed surveyor.

You can begin a property search using the King County Parcel Viewer. After starting the Parcel Viewer app:

  1. Search for a parcel by entering an address, parcel number, or street intersection.
  2. Once the parcel information is displayed, showing owner information and property data, click Property Report at the bottom of the parcel summary window.
  3. In the property report, click Property Detail to obtain detailed property information.

To understand the fields on the property report, view the Assessor's glossary which has definitions for many of the fields in the Property Report (which is compiled from Assessor data tables). Some sales history of your parcel (generally from the mid-1980's to present) and some links to recorded documents can be found in the Sales History section of the Property Detail report.

For a map of the quarter-section, you can find a link in the Parcel Data section at the top of the Property Detail report.

The Excise Tax Affidavit is generally the only document that provides the purchase price for each real estate transaction.

August 1, 1991 - Present

Excise tax affidavits after August 1991 are available to view or print online on the Recorder's Office website. On the Main Menu, click Excise Tax under Land Records.

1961 - July 31, 1991

Excise tax affidavits between January 1, 1961 and July 31, 1991 are on microfilm and are available from the King County Archives. Either the King County recording number of the deed or the year of the purchase are needed to locate affidavits from this period.

Prior to 1961

King County did not keep Excise Tax Affidavits before 1961. However, the Archives does have Excise Tax Affidavits between May 1951 and February 1952. Additionally, the property record cards at the Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link) sometimes, but infrequently, include purchase prices for transactions between between 1937 and 1961.

For transactions between 1935 and 1960, it is usually possible to extrapolate the purchase price using the conveyance or excise tax stamps on the face of the deed.

Otherwise, it may be possible to use alternate documentation to establish an approximate purchase price for purchases before 1961. One option is to locate the initial mortgage on the property and use that figure. Another option would be to utilize an assessment value from a year around the time of the sale. Please contact a tax advisor for more in-depth assistance.

Maps and engineering drawings associated with county roads in unincorporated or formerly-unincorporated King County can frequently be found in the Road Services Division Map Vault, an online repository maintained by the Division's Map and Records Center. The Vault also includes aerial photographs and the entire series of road establishment files and survey packets. Survey field books and vacation files are also available in the Vault and continue to be added as staffing and resources allow.

General information about this resource and how to access the images is provided online. For more assistance or to answer specific research questions, contact the Map and Records Center.

Stormwater drainage plans can often be found by selecting "Drainage" from the Map Type drop-down menu, in combination with a development name, short plat number, nearby street name, and/or section-township-range coordinates.

Road surveys for county roads can be found by entering the street or road name in the Project/Map Name field or the Road Name field. Searching by all of the road's historical names will provide more complete results, and if you know the County Road Number, you can access the road's history file or survey packet by searching "rdno[number]" in the Map Number field, with no other search terms (and replacing [number] with the road's number). In the search results, surveys are identified as such in the Project/Map Name field, as part of the Map Number field, or by an entry in the Survey Number field.

Limiting searches by section-township-range coordinates can be very helpful. The search results list can also be sorted in ascending or descending order by clicking on column headers like Map Year. This database is not searchable by parcel number.

Pre-1961

Information relating to the division of a property into 2-4 parcels between 1937 and 1972 can sometimes be found on the King County Assessor's property record cards, held at the Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link) and accessed by tax parcel number.

1961-1972

King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) has short plats on microfilm from 1961 to 1982. Please contact the DPER Records Center at 206-296-6696 or DPERInquiries@kingcounty.gov.

Note: the short plats held by DPER are only for properties within unincorporated King County. Original short plats from incorporated areas should be held by the corresponding municipalities.

1972 and later

Beginning in September 1972, short plats were recorded with the King County Recorder's Office. All recorded short plats (1972-present) are available from the King County Archives and are filed and indexed by the recording number. They were also given a short plat number.

Short plats are indexed online from 1976-present on the Recorder's Office website. Click Maps under the Land Records menu. The majority of short plats are Document Type Short Plat, but some of them are under Short Plat - Mylar.

The easiest method for searching for a short plat is by entering the recording number.

If you only have the short plat number, try entering it in the Freeform box using one of these formulas:

  • short_plat_ [number]
  • sh_plat_[number]
  • sh_pl_[number]
  • kc_sp_[number]

The abbreviated legal description found on the Assessor’s King County Parcel Viewer search engine often contains the short plat number and/or the recording number. The Assessor's quarter-section map often provides the short plat or recording number as well.

Maps and drawings of county engineering projects associated with plat developments in unincorporated or formerly-unincorporated King County can frequently be found in the Map Vault, an online repository created and maintained by the King County Road Services Division. Engineering projects for a particular short plat can often be found through the Project/Map Name field. Enter data in one of these forms:

  • Short Plat No [number]
  • Short Plat No S[number]
  • [Last name of owner, developer, or name of development] Short Plat

Prior to 1973

There is no repository of private surveys prior to 1973, but the King County Archives holds a few private surveys from the early twentieth century in its historical collections.

If your property was ever affected by a county road or other county project, historical right-of-way or other surveys may exist. For this kind of survey, check the King County Road Services Map Vault online or contact the Road Services Division Map and Records Center at (206) 477-3633 or map.roads@kingcounty.gov.

1973 and later

The King County Recorder’s Office began recording private property surveys in 1973. All surveys dating from that time have been scanned and indexed and are available online.

The simplest way to check for a recorded survey is probably through King County Parcel Viewer.

  1. Search for a parcel by entering an address, parcel number, or street intersection.
  2. Once the parcel information is displayed, showing owner information and property data, click Property Report at the bottom of the parcel summary window.
  3. When the property report opens in a new window, note the legal description of the property and return to the Parcel Viewer search window.
  4. In Parcel Viewer, click Districts Report at the bottom of the parcel summary window.
  5. When the districts report opens in a new window, scroll to the bottom and click "Scanned images of surveys and other map documents." It will return a list of results from the Recorder's Office. The results are not just for the property in Parcel Viewer, but rather for all properties in that quarter-section. Check the list against the legal description from the property report to see if a survey was ever recorded for the property. There may be several pages of results.

Alternatively, search directly from the Recorder's Office website to find a recorded survey. Under Land Records click Maps. Then, on the Map Survey search page, select Document Type Survey and search by entering any criteria including the Volume and Page of the survey, the name of the person who had the survey done, the section-township-range coordinates or the name of the plat. These surveys cannot be searched by the parcel number or address.

The outline dimensions of a property can be determined through the King County Assessor's quarter-section maps online. Just enter theparcel number and click on “Submit.” This map is also linked to the “Property Detail” page of the record for your property found through King County Parcel Viewer.

If you need to accurately measure these dimensions against the actual property, or to determine where the property line is on the ground, it is usually necessary to hire a licensed surveyor.

Unlike automobile ownership, there is not one single document stating that someone has "title” to a piece of property. In actuality, you may need several documents to show this:

  • The document showing that you legally acquired the property from someone else at the time of the original purchase or acquisition - most frequently a warranty deed, quitclaim deed, or real estate contract.
  • Documents showing that any mortgages (usually called deeds of trust) have been satisfied (in other words, that no one has a financial claim to the property). These are usually recorded as a “full reconveyance” or "satisfaction of mortgage." (Note that it's your lender's responsibility to send you the reconveyance and to record it with the King County Recorder’s Office.)

You can search for and download images of these documents (dated August 1, 1991 and later) using the Recorder's Office search engine; this site is also indexed (with no images) for documents recorded between 1976 and July 31, 1991. To search for documents prior to 1976 or retrieve images of documents prior to August 1, 1991, please research them at the King County Archives.

For a fee, various companies should be able to search for and provide you with the set of documents establishing that you “have title” to your property. In order to research and locate these title documents, it is necessary to know the approximate date the property was purchased and the approximate date that all mortgages were satisfied.

To take someone “off title” or put someone "on title" you may need to file a new conveyance document or deed. The King County Recorder’s Office FAQ (“How can I change a name on my property title?”) provides more information. Consult an attorney for legal advice, or a title company for more information.

1215 E Fir Street, Seattle, Washington 98122 | Hours: 9am-4pm M-F | Phone: (206) 263-2480 | Email: archives@kingcounty.gov