North Carolina Deed Requirements

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North Carolina law sets minimum standards for the information that deeds must contain and how they must be formatted and signed. The register of deeds office may decline to record a deed that does not satisfy North Carolina’s state or local rules.1

Formatting Requirements for North Carolina Deeds

A North Carolina deed should be formatted in accordance with the standards described below. North Carolina law allows a register of deeds to accept an incorrectly formatted deed and charge a $25.00 nonconforming document fee in addition to the regular recording fee.2


A North Carolina deed must be printed on white paper measuring 8½ x 11 inches (standard letter size) or 8½ x 14 inches (legal size).3


A deed’s text must be printed in black ink on only one side of each page.4 Any blanks filled in by hand or handwritten corrections must be completed in pen. Font must be legible and no smaller than 9 points.5 Some register of deeds offices ask for 10-point font or larger.


The top margin of a deed’s first page must include a 3-inch or larger blank area where the register of deeds can add the recording stamp. All other margins must be at least one-half (½) inch.6


A deed must have a title that identifies the type of instrument at the top of the first page.7 The title—such as Quitclaim Deed or Non-Warranty Deed—typically appears directly under the blank top margin or beneath only the “return to” and preparer address(es).

Information Requirements for North Carolina Deeds

North Carolina law requires all deeds to include at least the information listed below. Omitted information can result in rejection by the register of deeds, indexing errors, or an invalid transfer.

Current Owner and New Owner Name and Address

A deed must state the name and address for the current owner making the transfer (the grantor) and the new owner receiving the property (the grantee).8 A deed with more than one grantor or grantee must include the names and addresses of all parties. A deed should also state the marital status for any parties who are individuals. Including marital statuses helps avoid future title problems.9

Property Tax Address

A deed must state the new owner’s permanent mailing address for property tax statements.10 The assessor uses the new owner’s address if the deed does not give a separate permanent mailing address.

Return Address

North Carolina deeds should include a “return to” address where the register of deeds returns the document after recording.11 Deeds typically list the return address on the first page. Clerks request self-addressed stamped envelopes with deeds submitted by mail.

Granting Clause

Every deed must contain a granting clause—which is the language that indicates the current owner’s intention to transfer the property to the new owner.12 The wording for a deed’s granting clause—also called a vesting clause—depends on the type of deed and the warranty of title provided.

Property Description

A North Carolina deed must provide a legal description with enough detail to identify the property with certainty.13 A legal description can refer to another recorded document—such as a map or plat—that allows for identification of the property with certainty.

Derivation Clause

A derivation clause is a phrase in a deed that describes the prior deed or other recorded document through which the current owner took title. North Carolina deeds often include a derivation clause stating the prior deed’s book and page number and recording office, but North Carolina law does not require a derivation clauses.

Parcel Identification Number

The register of deeds in a county with a parcel identification system can require deeds to include the property’s parcel identification number—also called parcel identifier or PIN.14 The parcel identifier should be included on the deed’s first page and may be incorporated within the legal description.15

Residence Status

A deed must state whether the real estate includes the primary residence of any person who is transferring property.16


A statement of consideration identifies the value the new owner provided in exchange for the deed. North Carolina does not strictly require deeds to state consideration.17 Most North Carolina deeds recite nominal consideration or say only that the deed is given “for valuable consideration.”

Excise Tax

The amount of excise tax due should be stated on the deed’s first page.18 Exempt deeds typically list the tax amount as “$0.00” or include the word “exempt” or “not taxable.”19

Deed Preparer

A North Carolina deed’s first page must display the name of the individual or entity who drafted the document.20 Most deeds include the preparer’s name and address at the top of the page, near the title.

Signing Requirements for North Carolina Deeds

The owner who is transferring North Carolina real estate must sign the deed.21 A deed that transfers property owned by more than one person should include the signatures of every owner who is transferring a property interest.

Power of Attorney

An agent under under power of attorney (POA) can sign a North Carolina deed on behalf of the property owner.22 If an agent signed the deed, the power of attorney form signed by the property owner must be recorded in the county where the property is located.23

Entity Signatures

An entity transferring North Carolina real estate signs a deed through a representative with authority to act for the entity. Entities typically sign through the following agents:

  • Corporation. A corporation’s president, vice president, chairman, chief executive, or other high-ranking officer signs for the corporation.24
  • Limited liability company. An LLC’s member, manager, or authorized officer signs for the LLC.25
  • Trust. A trust’s trustee signs a deed on behalf of the trust.26

A corporation or LLC can also sign a North Carolina deed through an officer, employee, or other representative empowered to sign under an official authorization recorded in the county land records. The authorization must be approved by the corporation’s board of directors or the company’s members or managers.27

Spouse’s Signature

A deed that transfers real estate owned by a married individual should also include the nonowner spouse’s notarized signature in most cases. The nonowner spouse’s signature is needed to waive potential spousal rights in the property.28 Failure to waive the nonowner spouse’s rights in the property can cause a defect in the property’s chain of title.


Signatures within a North Carolina deed must be acknowledged before a notary or other officer empowered to take acknowledgments.29

Recording North Carolina Deeds

A North Carolina deed must be recorded—or registered—to include the deed within the official land records.30 An unrecorded deed is not binding on third parties, and a deed transferring property as a gift is void if not recorded within two years after signing.31

Recording Office

Each North Carolina county’s register of deeds maintains the county’s real estate records. A person who wishes to record a deed presents the deed to the register of deeds “in the county where the land lies” (i.e., the county where the property is located).32 Some counties require the county tax office’s certification of the property’s tax status before recording a deed.

North Carolina Recording Fee

The fee to register a North Carolina deed is $26.00 for deeds up to 15 pages and $4.00 per page for each page over 15.33 The additional fees below may be necessary for some deeds:

  • Extra names to be indexed. If a deed includes more than 20 names for indexing, there is a $2.00 fee for each name over 20.34
  • Multiple-instrument documents. If a single document presented for recording consists of more than one instrument, there is a $10.00 fee for each additional instrument.35
  • Nonconforming documents. If a deed does not meet North Carolina’s formatting standards, there is a $25.00 nonconforming document fee.36

North Carolina Transfer Tax

North Carolina charges an excise tax—which is like transfer taxes in other states—for recording deeds that transfer North Carolina real estate.37 The person transferring property must pay the tax to the register of deeds when presenting the deed for recording.38 After payment, the register of deeds stamps the deed to show the amount and date of payment.

Transfer Tax Rate

North Carolina’s excise tax rate for real estate transfers is $1.00 for each $500.00 of the consideration the new owner gives for the transfer.39 The person who requests recording notes the amount of excise tax due by including the amount at the top of the deed’s first page.40

Local Transfer Tax

North Carolina authorizes 7 counties to charge a local transfer tax in addition to the state excise tax. The rate for the local tax is 1.00 percent (or $1.00 per $100.00) of the property’s sale price or value. Counties with local transfer tax may require the person requesting recording to pay the local tax at the county tax office before the deed can be recorded. County transfer tax exemptions are similar to state exemptions.

The counties with authority to charge local transfer tax are:

  • Dare;
  • Camden;
  • Chowan;
  • Currituck;
  • Pasquotank;
  • Perquimans; and
  • Washington.

Transfer Tax Exemptions

North Carolina’s excise tax on real estate transfers does not apply to transfers that occur:

  • By operation of law;
  • Under a lease for a term of years;
  • Through or under the terms of a will;
  • Due to inheritance from an owner who left no will;
  • By gift;
  • For no consideration paid or to be paid by the new owner; or
  • By an instrument securing indebtedness such as a deed of trust.41

Additional Forms Required with North Carolina Deeds

North Carolina does not require a separate excise tax return when recording a deed. The person requesting recording of a deed that requires transfer tax may need to provide—at the register of deeds’ request—the sale contract or other documentation of the sale amount.

Counties that charge local transfer tax often require an affidavit or other form with the information needed to calculate the tax. The local transfer tax affidavit usually must be presented to the county tax office rather than the register of deeds. However, local transfer tax procedures vary by county.

Each deed created by our deed preparation service is attorney-designed to meet North Carolina recording requirements and comes with step-by-step instructions for filing with the office of the register of deeds.

  1. N.C.G.S. § 161-14(a).
  2. N.C.G.S. §§ 161-14(b); 161-10(a)(18a).
  3. N.C.G.S. § 161-14(b)(1).
  4. N.C.G.S. § 161-14(b)(3)-(4).
  5. N.C.G.S. § 161-14(b)(3).
  6. N.C.G.S. § 161-14(b)(2).
  7. N.C.G.S. § 161-14(b)(5).
  8. N.C.G.S. § 105-317.2(1).
  9. See N.C.G.S. § 29-30(a).
  10. N.C.G.S. § 161-30(a)(2).
  11. See N.C.G.S. § 161-30(a)(1).
  12. New Home Building Supply, Inc. v. Nations, 131 S.E.2d 425 (N.C. 1963).
  13. Overton v. Boyce, 221 S.E.2d 347 (N.C. 1976).
  14. N.C.G.S. § 161-22.2.
  15. N.C.G.S. § 161-30(b).
  16. N.C.G.S. § 105-317.2(2).
  17. See Smith v. Smith, 107 S.E.2d 530 (N.C. 1959).
  18. N.C.G.S. § 105-228.32.
  19. See N.C.G.S. § 105-228.29.
  20. N.C.G.S. § 47-17.1.
  21. See generally N.C.G.S., Ch. 39 – Conveyances; New Home Building Supply, Inc. v. Nations, 131 S.E.2d 425 (N.C. 1963).
  22. N.C.G.S. § 47-115.
  23. N.C.G.S. § 47-28(a)(1).
  24. N.C.G.S. § 47-18.3(a).
  25. N.C.G.S. § 47-18.3(e).
  26. N.C.G.S. § 39-6.7(d).
  27. N.C.G.S. § 47-18.3(e).
  28. See N.C.G.S. § 39-7(a).
  29. See N.C.G.S. §§ 47-38; 47-41.01 (suggested notary certificate for corporations).
  30. N.C.G.S. §§ 47-20(a); 47-18.
  31. N.C.G.S. § 47-26.
  32. N.C.G.S. § 47-20.1.
  33. N.C.G.S. § 161-10(a)(1).
  34. N.C.G.S. § 161-10(a)(1).
  35. N.C.G.S. § 161-10(a)(1).
  36. N.C.G.S. § 161-10(a)(18a).
  37. N.C.G.S. § 105-228.28.
  38. N.C.G.S. § 105-228.30(a).
  39. N.C.G.S. § 105-228.30(a).
  40. N.C.G.S. § 105-228.32.
  41. N.C.G.S. § 105-228.29(1)-(8).