Maryland Deed Requirements

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Maryland’s deed requirements are more intricate than most other states. Transfer requirements are set at the state level, but filing procedures and certain items needed for a recordable deed can vary by county.

Formatting Requirements for Maryland Deeds

Maryland’s deed-formatting standards are based largely on custom. When a state law applies, it is important to follow the rule, as the recording charge for a non-conforming deed is triple the ordinary charge.1 An improperly formatted deed must also be accompanied by an affidavit that set forth the type of instrument, date, parties’ names, property description, and any other relevant terms of the deed.2


A Maryland deed must be printed on white paper of sufficient quality to be easily readable.3 Recording clerks generally recommend at least 20-point weight. A deed’s pages cannot exceed 8½ × 14 inches (legal size).4 Recorded deeds customarily use legal-size or letter-size (8½ × 11-inch) paper.


The text within a Maryland deed must be printed in black ink using at least 8-point font.5 Clerks prefer 10-point font or larger. All text within a deed must be sufficiently clear and legible to allow production of readable copies and scanned images.


Maryland law does not set margin sizes for deeds. The top-right corner of a deed’s first page should leave sufficient clear space for the clerk’s stamp. A three-inch square is customary. Other margins should be at least one inch, and the deed should include enough space for any other endorsements that are needed.


Maryland does not require deeds to include a title. Deeds often include a title at the top of the first page written in larger font. A title that identifies the type of deed—such as Quitclaim Deed or Life Estate Deed—helps to ensure that the deed is properly indexed.

Information Requirements for Maryland Deeds

Maryland’s state real estate laws establish the minimum information that all deeds must include. The information requirements ensure that a deed fully describes the transfer and help the clerk’s office to update the land records.

Current Owner and New Owner Names and Address

A Maryland deed must identify the current owner (the grantor) and the new owner (the grantee) by name.6 A Maryland deed must not include the Social Security number or driver’s license of number of any party to the deed.7

The parties’ addresses are not strictly required for all Maryland deeds but promote accurate identification of parties.8

Attorney Practice Note: Maryland has a program to shield the identities and addresses of individuals from disclosure in public records.9 Identity shielding must be approved by the Maryland Secretary of State. An individual who has reason to shield identifying information within a deed should contact the secretary of state’s office.

Co-Ownership Form

A deed that transfers Maryland real estate to more than one new owner should state the form of co-ownership the new owners wish to use.10 Maryland recognizes tenancy in common, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and tenancy by the entirety.

Granting Clause

A deed must have a granting clause declaring that the current owner is transferring the property to the new owner. The granting clause often indicates the warranty of title (if any) that transferor is providing to the new owner. For example, a Maryland quitclaim deed form typically states that the current owner releases, remises, and quitclaims the property to the new owner.

The granting clause should identify the ownership interest in the property that the deed transfers.11 Maryland law assumes that a deed transfers complete ownership unless it says otherwise.12


A Maryland deed must have a statement of consideration that identifies the price the new owner paid or agreed to pay for the property.13 The exact consideration—which is used for transfer tax and recordation tax—must be identified either:

  • On the face of the deed within the recitals or acknowledgment; or
  • In an affidavit attached to the deed and signed by one of the deed parties.14

A deed must have a consideration statement even when the transfer is not a sale. Deeds that transfer property without payment customarily state consideration along the following lines:

  • For good and valuable non-monetary consideration;
  • For zero dollars ($0.00) and other good and valuable consideration; or
  • For no monetary consideration, but for other good and valuable consideration.

Property Description

A deed must contain a legal description that identifies the property with reasonable certainty.15 Maryland deeds typically describe real estate using a traditional metes-and-bounds description or by referencing its lot and block number on a subdivision plat recorded in the county.

The simplest way to locate a property’s legal description is to refer to the most recent deed in the property’s chain of title. A description may be placed on the face of the deed or within a separate page recorded as an attachment to the deed.

Attorney Practice Note: Maryland has adopted the Maryland Coordinate System for identifying precise locations on the land surface in Maryland. Property descriptions anywhere but Baltimore City can use the Maryland Coordinate System—though the system is not mandatory. A description that uses the Maryland Coordinate System must state as much.16

Derivation Clause

A derivation clause is a statement in a deed that identifies the source of the current owner’s title. Maryland deeds typically have derivation clauses, but they are not strictly required by Maryland law.

Tax Account Identification Number

A deed must include the property’s tax account identification number.17 Counties use several different names for property identification numbers—such as

  • Parcel identifier;
  • Parcel ID;
  • Tax ID number; or
  • Property tax ID.

Street Address

A property’s street address is required in some—but not all—Maryland counties and cities. The requirement is more common in areas with higher populations.18 Most Maryland deeds now include the property address by custom.

Attorney Practice Note: Local Requirements: Some Maryland counties have their own county-specific deed requirements. For example:

  • A deed that transfers Prince George’s County real estate must identify the election district in which the property is located.19
  • Montgomery County deeds need to refer to the recorded plat that sets forth the property’s boundaries and must identify by name the title insurer (if any) that is insuring the deed.20
  • Talbot County requires deeds to list the names of every party to the deed and the nature of the deed on the back of the deed. The information must be written, typed, or printed so that it is readily visible when the deed is folded for filing.21

The best practice is to check with the clerk’s office in the county if there is any doubt about the county’s requirements.

Certificate of Preparation

Maryland requires all deeds to include a certificate of preparation—which is a signed statement that identifies the person responsible for preparing the deed. The certificate must have the name and signature of either (i) a Maryland attorney or (ii) a party to the deed.22

Return Address

Maryland law does not require a “return to” address where the clerk is directed to return the deed after recording. Deeds customarily include a name and return address in the top-left corner of the deed’s first page.

Signing Requirements for Maryland Deeds

The current owner who is transferring real estate must sign a Maryland deed.23 The typed or printed name of each signer must appear directly above or below the person’s signature.24

The new owner does not have to sign a Maryland deed. The new owner agrees to the deed’s terms and any obligations the deed imposes on the new owner by accepting the deed.25

Entity Signatures

An entity that is transferring real estate must sign the deed through a representative with authority to act for the entity. A trustee has authority to sign for a trust unless a recorded document expressly limits the trustee’s power.26

A business entity—like a corporation or LLC—signs through an officer, member, or manager.27 A deed from a business entity does not need a corporate seal if the deed is otherwise properly signed.28

Power of Attorney

An agent granted authority under a valid power-of-attorney (POA) form can sign a deed on behalf of the current owner making the transfer. An agent who signs under POA must sign the deed as the owner’s agent, and the deed must identify the signer as the owner’s agent.29

The POA form that empowers the agent must be signed by the owner, notarized, and recorded like a deed.30 It should be recorded before the deed is recorded or on the same day as the deed.31


Signatures of an owner who is transferring Maryland real estate must be acknowledged before a notary or another officer with authority to take acknowledgments.32 Maryland’s real estate laws include short-form notary certificates for deeds and for individuals signing in a representative capacity.33

Pre-Recording Certification

Maryland deeds need to be reviewed and endorsed by one or more other government offices before the deed is filed for recording in the land records. Endorsements should be requested in advance of filing to allow time for review and preparation of additional documents (if necessary).

Tax Certification

The county office responsible for tax collection must endorse a deed that changes the property’s ownership before it can be recorded in the county land records. The tax office—typically the county treasurer, assessor, or department of finance—certifies that all public taxes, assessments, and charges owed for the property are up-to-date.34 The certification requirement also applies to municipal tax collectors if the property is in a relevant area.

The original deed, an extra copy, and the intake sheet (discussed below) should be presented to the tax office when requesting certification. The tax collection office provides its endorsement by stamping or signing the deed. There may be a charge for the certification.

Utility Certifications

Clerks’ offices in some areas require certification of the status of utility charges associated with the property before recording. The office that provides the utility certification is often the same as the tax office, and the utility statement may be combined with the tax certification. Certification may be in the form of a stamp or endorsement on the deed or a separate document issued by the office.

Attorney Practice Note: Agricultural Transfers: A deed that transfers agricultural land may need to be reviewed and approved by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation or the Department of Agriculture before recording. Maryland has an Agricultural Transfer Tax that applies to transfers of agricultural land when the land will no longer be used for agricultural purposes.

Recording Maryland Deeds

A deed that transfers Maryland real estate becomes fully effective only after it is recorded in the land records of the county where the real estate is located.35 Each county’s clerk of the circuit court maintains the county’s land records.36 Larger counties may have a separate land records division within the clerk’s office.

A party to a deed (or a party’s agent or attorney) submits a deed to the office of the clerk of the circuit court (the clerk’s office) for recording. The signed, notarized original deed should have the tax office’s certification before it is filed with the clerk’s office. The deed should be accompanied by the necessary additional forms and payment for the recording fees and transfer taxes due for recording. Additional forms and fees are discussed below.

Maryland deeds can be presented for recording in-person, by mail, or (in some counties) via electronic filing.37

Attorney Practice Note: Baltimore City maintains its own land records separate from Baltimore County. Maryland’s real estate laws treat Baltimore City as a county for land records purposes.38

Recording Fees

The person requesting recording must pay a recording fee to the clerk of the circuit court when filing a Maryland deed for recording. The total recording fee is typically $60.00 but is higher for some deeds. The amount consists of the deed-recording fee and a surcharge for all recorded instruments.

Maryland’s standard deed-recording fee is $20.00 for deeds that are fewer than ten pages or that involve solely a principal residence.39 The fee is increased to $75.00 for deeds that are ten or more pages and involve property other than a principal residence.40 Maryland’s $40.00 recording surcharge applies to all documents recorded in the county land records and is in addition to the deed-recording fee.

Maryland Transfer Tax

Maryland has two state-level taxes on deeds: transfer tax and recordation tax. Both taxes are assessed when a deed or other written instrument affecting real estate is recorded with the clerk of the circuit court.41 The combined amount due is payable to the clerk of the circuit court at the time of recording.42

The default rule is that the parties to a deed share the tax liability equally unless they agree otherwise.43 The exception is that the seller is solely responsible for payment if the deed qualifies for the discounted rate for sales of residential real estate to first-time Maryland home buyers.44

Maryland Transfer Tax and Recordation Tax Rates

Maryland transfer tax and recordation tax rates are based on the consideration the new owner gives for the property. Consideration includes the price paid, the principal amount of debt undertaken for the exchange, and the amount due under an existing mortgage or deed of trust assumed by the new owner.45 The amount of consideration must be set forth in the deed—either on the face of the deed in its recitals or acknowledgment or within a sworn, signed statement attached to the deed.46

The Maryland state transfer tax rate is 0.5 percent of consideration.47 The Maryland state recordation tax rate is a set dollar amount per each $500.00 (or fraction) of consideration. The governing body of each county (or Baltimore City) establishes the precise rate in that county, so recordation tax rates vary by county.48 Rates typically range from $2.50 per $500.00 (effectively 0.5 percent) to $7.00 per $500.00 (1.4 percent).

Discounted Rates for First-time Home Buyers

The State of Maryland authorizes a discounted transfer tax rate of 0.25 percent for a sale of improved residential real estate that will be the principal residence of a first-time Maryland home buyer—defined as an individual who has never owned Maryland real estate that was the buyer’s principal residence.49

Counties are permitted to offer recordation tax exemptions or discounts to first-time Maryland home buyers.50 Counties may also offer discounted recordation tax rates for sales of residential real estate that will be the buyer’s principal residence.51

If a buyer qualifies for a first-time home buyer exemption or principal-residence discount, the deed should include a statement signed by the new owner with the facts that entitle the new owner to the exemption or discount.52

Maryland Transfer Tax and Recordation Tax Exemptions

Maryland’s transfer tax and recordation tax laws include lists of deeds and other recorded documents that are exempt from the taxes.53 The transfer tax exemptions incorporate the recording tax exemption list, so the exemptions are mostly the same for both taxes. The transfer tax law adds exemptions for transfers to government entities and certain nonprofits engaged in agricultural preservation.54

Common deeds that are exempt from Maryland transfer tax and recordation tax include:

  • Deeds that transfer property to a spouse or former spouse (such as a deed under a divorce or separation agreement);
  • Deeds that transfer property to a trust for no consideration;
  • Deeds that supplement a previously recorded deed with no consideration;
  • Deeds that transfer property from a deceased person’s estate with no consideration; and
  • Deeds that transfer property from a dissolving or liquidating business entity to an owner or close family member.

Attorney Practice Note: Deeds that transfer Maryland real estate for no actual consideration do not require payment of transfer tax or recordation tax. This is because both taxes are calculated according to the consideration paid for the transfer. Maryland deeds for no consideration typically include the grantor’s certification that the deed involves zero consideration. The certification serves as written confirmation that no tax is required for the deed.

County Transfer Taxes

Maryland counties may also assess county transfer tax. County transfer tax is different than state recordation tax—which is a state tax collected at a rate set by the county. County transfer tax rates range from 0.5 percent to as high as 1.5 percent in Baltimore. Several Maryland counties charge no county transfer tax.

Maryland law also requires all property taxes due for the real estate to be current with the county before a deed is recorded.55 Recording offices may require payment in advance of some property taxes when recording a deed—depending on when in the state’s accounting year the deed is submitted.

Additional Forms Required with Maryland Deeds

There are several additional forms required when submitting Maryland deeds for recording. The precise procedure can vary by county, and some forms may not be required with all deeds.

Cover Letter

A deed that is submitted for recording by mail should include a cover letter requesting that the clerk of court record the deed.56 The cover letter must be signed by a party to the deed or an attorney. It is often a good idea to include a cover letter for a deed submitted in-person, though the cover letter is not strictly required in that scenario.

State of Maryland Land Instrument Intake Sheet

A completed State of Maryland Land Instrument Intake Sheet—usually just called the intake sheet—is required with all Maryland deeds that changes the property’s ownership.57 The intake sheet is a form published by the Administrative Office of the Courts and is available as an editable pdf on the State of Maryland’s website. The administrative office also publishes Intake Sheet Instructions for completing the form.

The intake sheet lists information about the property, the party names, the type of instrument, the consideration, the recording costs due including transfer and recordation taxes, any tax exemptions claimed, a mailing address for tax bills, and a “return to” address for the clerk to return the recorded deed. The county assessment office uses the intake sheet and a deed copy to update the property’s ownership records.

The administrative office designed the intake sheet form as a legal-size (8½ x 14-inch) document. The clerk of the circuit court may require legal-size printing to accept the form. An alternative to completing the intake sheet is to obtain the county assessment office’s endorsement before submitting the deed for recording.58 A filer must provide the information on the intake sheet to the assessment office to obtain the endorsement.59

Maryland Income Tax Form for Nonresident Sale of Real Estate

Maryland law requires estimated income tax payments for the income realized on a nonresident’s sale of Maryland real estate.60 A nonresident must make the income tax payment at the time of transfer if the deed results in a change of ownership in the county’s property tax records. The tax amount due is calculated using Maryland’s top marginal income tax rate, plus any applicable county income tax.61

There are several scenarios in which a transferor is not required to make an estimated income tax payment:62

  • The transferor is a Maryland resident;
  • The property is the transferor’s principal residence;
  • The deed includes a statement of consideration that indicates that the consideration payable is zero;
  • The transfer involves a foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure; or
  • The Maryland Comptroller certifies that no tax is owed.

The Maryland Comptroller publishes several forms associated with income tax withholding for sales of real estate by nonresidents. The appropriate form depends on whether the transferor lives in Maryland and must pay estimated income tax for the sale.63

Nonresident Liable for Estimated Income Tax

A nonresident who must pay estimated income tax must complete a Maryland Return of Income Tax Withholding for Nonresident Sale of Real Property (Form MW506NRS). Form MW506NRS calculates the tax due and must be accompanied by a check for the amount due payable to the clerk of the circuit court or the Department of Assessments and Taxation. The payment and Form MW506NRS are required if the taxpayer is a nonresident individual or an out-of-state business entity not authorized to transact business in Maryland. If there are multiple nonresident sellers, each must complete a separate form.

Maryland Resident

A transferor who is a Maryland resident completes an Affidavit of Residence (Form WH-AR). Form WH-AR certifies that income tax withholding is not required because the transferor is a Maryland resident. A resident transferor may certify his or her Maryland residence within the deed’s recitals or acknowledgement instead of completing Form WH-AR.64

Principal Residence

A transferor who is transferring a principal residence also uses Form WH-AR to certify that the property is the transferor’s principal residence.65 The transferor may certify that the property is a principal residence within the deed’s recitals or acknowledgement instead of completing Form WH-AR.66

Other Exemption.

A transferor who is entitled to another full or partial exemption must complete an Application for Certificate of Full or Partial Exemption (Form MW506AE). The completed Form MW506AE and all required documentation must be received by the Maryland Comptroller at least 21 days before closing to allow enough time for processing. Upon approval, the comptroller issues a Certificate of Full or Partial Exemption—which is needed before closing or recording the deed.

Deed for No Consideration.

A transferor who is not required to pay estimated income tax because the deed involves no consideration need not complete an income tax withholding form. Instead, the deed must have a statement of consideration “indicating that the consideration payable is zero.”67

Other Forms

A deed may require other forms depending on the nature of the deed. For example, deeds are often recorded with signed power-of-attorney forms, certifications of trusts, and corporate resolutions.

In most cases, the person who requests recording also needs to provide at least one extra copy of the deed itself to the clerk’s office. The State of Maryland requires a deed copy for the Department of Assessments and Taxation, and local offices may need copies, also.68

Each deed created by our deed preparation service is attorney-designed to meet Maryland recording requirements and comes with step-by-step instructions for filing with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

  1. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(e)(1).
  2. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(e)(1).
  3. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(e)(1).
  4. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-601(a)(1).
  5. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(e)(1).
  6. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-101(a)(1).
  7. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-111.
  8. See, however, Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-501(b)(2)(v) (requiring the full names and addresses of all parties to a Montgomery County deed).
  9. See Md. Code, Real Prop. §§ 3-114, et. seq.
  10. See Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-117.
  11. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-101(a)(1).
  12. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-105.
  13. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. §§ 13-203; 12-103(a).
  14. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. §§ 13-204; 12-104.
  15. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-101(a)(1).
  16. See Md. Code, Real Prop. §§ 14-401, et. seq.
  17. See Md. Code, Real Prop. §§ 3-104(g)(3); 3-501.
  18. See Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-501(b)(2)(iv).
  19. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(f)(2).
  20. Md. Code, Real Prop. §§ 3-501(b)(2)(iii) and (vi).
  21. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(f)(3).
  22. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(f)(1)(ii).
  23. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-101(a)(1).
  24. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(d).
  25. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-102.
  26. Md. Code, Real Prop. §§ 2-122(b); 14-112(b).
  27. See Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-204.
  28. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-101(b).
  29. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-107(c).
  30. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-107.
  31. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-107(b).
  32. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-101(a)(1).
  33. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-204; Md. Code, State Govt. § 18-216.
  34. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(a)(i).
  35. Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. §§ 3-101(a); 3-103.
  36. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-301.
  37. See Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. §§ 3-701 to 3-707.
  38. Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. § 1-101(b).
  39. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-601(a)(2)(ii).
  40. Md. Code, Real Prop. §§ 3-601(a)(2)(iii)-(iv).
  41. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. §§ 13-202; 12-102.
  42. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. §§ 13-208; 12-109(a).
  43. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 14-104(b).
  44. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 14-104(c).
  45. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. §§ 13-203; 12-103.
  46. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. §§ 13-204; 12-104.
  47. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. § 13-203.
  48. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. § 12-103(b).
  49. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. § 13-203(b).
  50. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. § 12-103(b)(2).
  51. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. § 12-103(b)(3).
  52. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. § 12-103(b)(3).
  53. Md. Code, Tax-Prop. §§ 12-108(a – hh); 13-207(a)(1 – 26).
  54. See Md. Code, Tax-Prop. §§ 13-207(b)-(c).
  55. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(b).
  56. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-110(a).
  57. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(g)(2)(i).
  58. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(a)(1).
  59. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(g)(8).
  60. Md. Code, Tax–General § 10-912.
  61. Md. Code, Tax–General § 10-912(c).
  62. Md. Code, Tax–General §§ 10-912(d)(1)-(6).
  63. Md. Code, Tax–General § 10-912(b).
  64. Md. Code, Tax–General § 10-912(d)(1).
  65. Md. Code, Tax–General § 10-912(d)(5).
  66. Md. Code, Tax–General § 10-912(d)(1).
  67. Md. Code, Tax–General § 10-912(d)(6).
  68. Md. Code, Real Prop. § 3-104(a)(1)(iii).