Recording Services Frequently Asked Questions
We accept cash, check (made out to “Thurston County Auditor”), and credit cards for payment. We charge all cards a service fee of $2.00 or 2.35%, whichever is highest.
You can view our documents' indexed information through our Online Record Index. Due to privacy concerns, only certain documents can be viewed online. These documents include:
- Most Maps
- Declarations of Forfeiture
- Notice of Trustee Sale (NTS)
- Notice of Intent of Forfeits (NIF)
- Discontinuances of NTS and NIF
- Restrictive covenant modifications
- Sheriff Certificate of Sales
- Real Estate Contracts
- UCC Fixture Filing
- UCC Fixture Filing Miscellaneous
- UCC Termination of Fixture Filing
- Claims For Damages
- Land Corner Records
Our office can provide photo copies and certified copies of recorded documents.
If you would like to order copies, we accept credit cards (all card transactions are charged a $2.00 or 2.35% service fee) over the phone at 360.786.5405 and in-person or you can send a written request to:
Thurston County Auditor
Attn: Copy Request
3000 Pacific Avenue SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Please include the document's Auditor File Number, a return address and a check or money order made payable to the "Thurston County Auditor."
Photo copies cost $1.00 per page.
Certified copies of each document cost $3.00 for the first page and $1.00 for each additional page.
Finding an easement can be one of the more difficult document searches, and will most likely need to be researched by a Title Company. To complete an easement search in our office, follow these steps:
- Go to our Online Record Index.
- If you have an Auditor File Number:
- Enter it in the "Auditor File Number" field at top left of the search screen. The results will show the indexed information only. Would you like to request a copy of the full document? You can find out how to request a copy from our office by reading the answer to "How do I request copies of recorded documents?" (Question 5, above).
- If you don't have an Auditor File Number:
- You can search by party's name on the easement, if you have this information.
- Occasionally, deeds of the benefited or burdened properties will reference an easement. You can search deeds by name or parcel number, then request a copy of the full document. You can find out how to request a copy from our office by reading the answer to "How do I request copies of recorded documents?" (Question 5, above).
- Look for any recorded maps that create an easement or reference the easement by Auditor File Number. Request a copy of the full document of the referenced document. You can find out how to request a copy from our office by reading the answer to "How do I request copies of recorded documents?" (Question 5, above).
- If any of these options don't work, contact a title company directly.
You can view maps on our Online Record Index. Follow these steps to find a map or survey:
- If you have an Auditor File Number (or Volume and Page):
- Enter the Auditor File Number or Volume and Page (not both) into the correct field at the top of the search screen. The results of the search will give you the document type and indexed information. To view the map, select "view image" on the right hand side of the screen.
- If you don't have an Auditor File Number or Volume and Page:
- If the map is a named map (i.e. "Capital Place"), you can search by the Plat Name in the Grantor field.
- If the map is a numbered plat (Boundary Line Adjustment, Short Subdivision, Large Lot Subdivision or NPS), you can search the Map Case # field with the map number. For example, enter "SS15102347TC" in the field if you would like to search for Short Subdivision SS-15102347TC.
- If you would like to find a survey, search the person's name who requested the survey or search the section township and range for all surveys. You can narrow your search by selecting "survey" as the document type and entering the quarter or quarter/quarter if you know it.
You can find Notices of Trustee Sales on our website through our Public Record Index Online. From the online index, follow these steps to see Notices of Trustee Sales:
- Click "agree" on the disclaimer page.
- Click "Public Log In."
- Uncheck the box marked "All Types" and select "Notice of Trustee Sale" from the drop-down list.
- Notices of Trustee Sales are typically recorded 90 days before the sale takes place. Most customers choose to set their starting search date back 90 days with today's date as the end date.
- Click "search," once you've entered your search criteria. This will pull up a list of documents that match your search.
- When you see a record you would like to view, click on the recording number hyperlink.
- To view the document itself, click on the link to the left that says "view attachment."
- You can use the "find related documents" field to get indexed information for the original deed of trust or to see if a Discontinuance of Notice of Trustee Sale is on record.
- Within most Notice of Trustee Sale documents, you will find a phone number for the trustee. You can call this phone number with specific questions about the sale.
- If you still have questions, you can always contact our office by phone at 360.786.5405.
Customers occasionally search their genealogical history in our office's public records. Our staff can assist you on-site by teaching you how to search for records and provide guidance when needed. If we don't have a digital image of the document you're looking for, we will most likely have it on microfilm.
You can also find records at the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department. Customers can order copies of all Washington State birth and death records from July 1907 to present.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Center for Health Statistics has marriage, divorce, birth and death records for the following time periods:
- Marriage & Divorce: 1968 to present
- Birth & Death: 1907 to present
- Please contact DOH for more information.
If you don't know the county where the birth, death or marriage application was filed or recorded, you will need to contact each county directly if the event took place before the state has records.
Deeds and Titles
The Auditor's Office can't offer legal advice. If you would like to add, change or remove names from your deed and are unfamiliar with the necessary steps to take, you can contact a real estate attorney or title company. If you are looking for blank forms, you can try an office supply store or title company.
When you pay off your home, you don't get the title for it like you do with a car. Instead, each time you pay off a loan, whether at the end of a 30-year mortgage or when refinancing your home, your bank will record a type of Reconveyance. A Reconveyance shows you have satisfied a specific loan. If your bank doesn't provide you with a Reconveyance, we can get you a copy. You can find out how to request a copy from our office by reading the answer to "How do I request copies of recorded documents?" (Document Searches section, Question 2).
If your spouse or someone on your deed has passed away, please contact an attorney to find out if you need to make any changes to your deed. If they tell you to record documents with our office, please get clear direction on what they want you to record and make sure you have completed documents prior to coming to our office for recording.
In 2018, Washington State amended its law against discrimination to provide property owners a new way to strike racially restrictive covenants from documents affecting the title of their properties. If your property had a racially restrictive covenant recorded in the past, you can now record a modification document with the county auditor where your property is located.
What are racially restrictive covenants?
In the first half of the twentieth century, restrictive covenants were recorded on some properties in Washington which included racially restrictive provisions. These racially restrictive covenants sometimes singled out specific races that were excluded from owning or occupying the property. Other versions would limit ownership or use to one particular race. Sometimes the restrictive covenants limited ownership or use by members of certain religions.
Are racially restrictive covenants valid and enforceable?
No. In 1948 the United States Supreme Court ruled that racially restrictive covenants could not be enforced. In 1968 the federal Fair Housing Act banned covenants discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. A Washington state law passed in 1969 provides that such covenants are void, meaning that they have no legal effect. That law, Section 49.60.224 of the Revised Code of Washington, says that it is an unfair practice to attempt to honor a racially restrictive covenant in the chain of title. The chain of title includes all the recorded documents that affect title to a property, back to the original conveyance by the United States.
How can I find out if the land title records for my property contain a racially restrictive covenant?
Two sources can help you determine if a racially restrictive covenant is related to your property. The first source is the land title records maintained by county auditors. These records are public so you can search them for free. This can be a complex process and fees are charged for copies.
The second source is your owner’s title insurance policy, which is typically issued at the same time the property is purchased. A title insurance policy identifies documents appearing in the public records that affect title to the property. Your policy may reference deeds recorded decades ago, or covenant documents affecting an entire subdivision. You may be able to request copies from the title company that issued your title policy, although a fee may be charged. You may also use the recording information in your title policy to get copies from the county auditor.
What will filing a modification document do?
The modification document will refer to the original recorded document that contained the racially restrictive covenant and contain the following statement required by law:
The referenced original written instrument contains discriminatory provisions that are void and unenforceable under RCW 49.60.224 and federal law. This document strikes from the referenced original instrument all provisions that are void and unenforceable under law.
Recording a modification document will provide notice in the land title records that the racially restrictive covenant is void and unenforceable. It will not delete the historic record. The modification document legally strikes, but does not physically erase, the void and illegal discriminatory provisions from the original document.
Do I need to file a modification document to protect my rights in my property?
No. Racially restrictive covenants have been void in Washington since 1969. The attempt by any person to enforce such a covenant against your property would be a violation of state and federal law. Your rights are protected by existing law and do not require that you record a modification document.
How to prepare and record a restrictive covenant modification document:
If you have verified that a document recorded with the county auditor in the chain of title to your property contains a racially restrictive covenant and you have decided to record a modification document, here are the steps to follow.
1. Obtain the following necessary information about your property from your deed or your title insurance policy.
- Recording number (often referred to as the “auditor’s file number”) of the original document containing the racially restrictive covenant that is void under RCW 49.60.224. It is not necessary to obtain the recording number for any later document repeating the terms of the original document or referencing its recording number.
- Recording date of the original document containing the racially restrictive covenant.
- The names of all current owners of the property (ex: you and your co-owners, if any).
- Legal description (both full and abbreviated) of your property, AND
- Tax parcel number for your property.
2. Fill in the Restrictive Covenant Modification Document with the information above but do not sign it.
3. Take the document and government-issued identification to a licensed notary public and sign in the presence of the notary. There may be a charge to have the document notarized.
4. Take the document to our office for recording. You can bring the document in person or mail it to the county auditor in the county in which the property is located. There is no charge to record the document.
Restrictive Covenant Modification Documents
What is recording fraud?
Recording fraud is rare and there have been no reported cases in Thurston County. Unfortunately, criminals can perpetrate fraud by taking advantage of the legal systems set up to record land ownership. Transactions involving land rights can be manipulated to violate the legal and legitimate rights of land owners, lenders and buyers.
Examples of land fraud:
- Illegally selling real estate using fraudulent ownership documents;
- Acquiring under-secured loans through falsified documents;
- Theft from owners and lenders through counterfeit mortgages
Can the County Auditor prevent land record fraud?
The role of the County Auditor is limited, which makes it difficult to prevent land fraud. Real property records such as deeds, real estate, contracts and liens are presented to the Auditor. They are then placed in the public record to serve as an official notice to all interested parties. It is the responsibility of each County Auditor to:
- Record properly submitted documents
- To make records available for public inspection.
According to a State Attorney General opinion, the duty of the county auditor is “ministerial.” This means Auditors are legally bound to record documents without discretion. Furthermore, County Auditors and their staff, as recording officers, “are not granted authority to refuse to record an instrument or determine the substantive validity of an instrument offered for recording.” The Auditor’s Office is also prohibited from providing legal advice or opinion.
Identification is also not required for individuals to file and record documents.
How can I check to see if there are transactions made against my property?
anyone can search our Online Record Index for a name or parcel number. Many documents are available to be viewed online including deeds. All public records are viewable by visiting our office.
There are other steps you can take to protect your private property:
- If your property is not occupied, you should check often to make sure it is not occupied illegally.
- Ask someone you trust to look after your house if you are going to be away for a long period of time.
- Do not let mail pile up if you are going out of town.
- If you suspect any kind of deed fraud, please contact the Auditor’s Office Recording division immediately.
Where can I read more about the recording role of County Auditors?
For more information about this topic, you may wish to contact a title or escrow company, real estate attorney, or the Office of the Attorney General.
The following laws pertain to recording:
This document from the Washington Association of County Officials has more information on the Auditor and document recording.
Document Recording Requirements
You can learn about the requirements here.
If one or both parties to the marriage cannot apply in-person at the Auditor's Office, see steps 3 and 4 in the "Marriage Application Steps" on our Marriage License page.
State law requires three days between the date our office records a marriage application and when you get married (RCW 26.04.180). For example, if you apply on Wednesday, you can get married on Saturday.
State law (RCW 26.04.070) requires the people getting married to say they will take each other as spouses in the presence of:
- An official with any religious organization OR a judicial officer; and
- At least two attending witnesses.
State law (RCW 26.04.050) says who can perform marriage ceremonies. The following people, active or retired, can perform marriage ceremonies:
- Judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Superior Court, District Court, Municipal Court and other courts of limited jurisdiction (RCW 3.02.020).
- Commissioners of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Superior Court.
- Licensed or ordained official of any religious organization.
Washington State does not license officials of any religious organization. Officials of religious organizations from any state may perform ceremonies. Couples may not officiate their own wedding.
All marriage records are public records. The one exception is if one or both people are enrolled in the Washington State Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). If you are enrolled in ACP, please contact our office to schedule a time to apply for your marriage application.
Once we record a marriage application or certificate, it cannot be removed from our records.
Reserve a Map Name
Property owners assigning a name to subdivided property must reserve a name for the property with the Auditor's Office. State law (RCW 65.04.050) requires this so no two subdivisions have the same or similar name.
Our office must approve the subdivision name even if the city or county has approved the name, since subdivisions may not have the same name within a county, not just a single city or town. You can check on the availability of the name you want by visiting our Public Record Index Online to see if any maps have been recorded using your desired name.
To reserve a map name, fill out the Plat Name Reservation Form (PDF/Word). Return the completed form by fax, 360.786.5223, or mail or deliver it to:
Thurston County Auditor
Attn: Plat Name Reservation
3000 Pacific Avenue SE
Olympia, WA 98501
After you submit the form, our office will evaluate the name. Once we approve your name, our office will issue a Plat Name Reservation Certificate. The certificate is valid for one year from the approval date and you must include it with the map when submitting for recording. Please allow two weeks for the approval process. If your project extends beyond the expiration date, please renew your name to get a new certificate. If we don't approve your name, we will contact you with an explanation and to go over your options.