Frequent Asked Questions

Q. My Deed is lost – What do I do?

A. You can submit a request for copies either in person or by mail. In either case, you must know the name or names of the owner of the property, the approximate date of transfer, and the address. Of course, if you happen to have the recording information, please supply us with the book, page and date of recording. A written request must be accompanied by a check made out to the Essex County Register. Please check the fee page for the proper fee.

Q. How do I add or remove a name from my deed?

A. Removing or adding a name from a Deed is making a change in ownership or transferring title. We cannot remove or change a name for you. A new Deed must be presented for recording.

Q. Will the Office of the Register answer legal questions relating to the recording of a document?

A. No, always consult with a licensed New Jersey attorney whenever you are contemplating the recording of a document which affects real property ownership. The Essex County Register’s Office cannot provide legal advice.

Q. Is a Quitclaim Deed exempt from the Realty Transfer Fee?

A. First, be sure that it is a true quitclaim deed. A quitclaim deed conveys only that right, title or interest that the grantor has, or may have, in the property. It does not warrant that the grantor has any particular title or legal interest in the property. The deed must say “Quitclaim Deed” with specific language such as, “This deed is called a Quitclaim Deed. The Grantor makes no promises as to the ownership of title, but simply transfers whatever interest the Grantor has to the Grantee.” An attorney or title company cannot imply that a deed is a Quitclaim Deed. Attorneys often transfer freehold interest in Quitclaim Deed format. Those transfers are taxable transactions for Realty Transfer fee purposes.

Q. Can I state a $1.00 consideration in a deed when conveying real property from one legal entity to another legal entity?

A. There is no exemption conveying from one legal entity to another N.J.A.C. 18:16-6.1 states: “A deed transferring real property from one legal entity to another legal entity that has common ownership is subject to the realty transfer fee. The consideration that the realty transfer fee is calculated on includes the monetary value of stock transferred or contribution to capital by the grantor. When a value is indeterminable, the realty transfer fee is calculated on the assessed value of the property being conveyed on the date of the transfer adjusted to reflect the true value as determined by the Director’s Ratio established for that municipality for the current year.”

Q. My father directed in his will that his property be sold and the money divided between his children. Is such a sale exempt?

A. No. Bequests are treated as a gift of money, not devises of real estate. Triplett v. Ivins, 93 N.J. Eq. 202, 112 A. 509 (1921), affirmed N.J. Eq. 202, 115 A. 927.

Q. My mother is placing her property in trust for the exclusive benefit of her children. Is this transaction exempt from the Realty Transfer Fee?

A. No. N.J.A.C. 18:16-5.11(b) states: “A transfer of realty to a grantee in trust to hold the property for the benefit of other beneficiaries is subject to a realty transfer fee, since the grantor has divested himself or herself of the benefits of ownership.”

Q. My client, the bank, is taking back real estate so that we do not have to go to a sheriff’s sale. We will eventually cancel the mortgage once we sell the property and get our money back. The county recording officer refuses to record the deed without payment of the Realty Transfer Fee.

A. The county recording officer is correct. A Realty Transfer Fee must be paid on the remaining balance of the mortgage if the mortgage is not cancelled. You are seeking to protect your investment by taking the property back and avoiding a sheriff’s sale. You are further protecting yourself by holding the mortgage open to maintain a claim against the borrower. The Realty Transfer Fee laws were not meant to be a guide for business decisions. Unless there is a listed exemption from the Realty Transfer Fee, the fee must be paid.

Q. My client was divorced many years ago. He is deeding his one-half interest in the property to his former wife for $8,000 and an original mortgage of $200,000. Is this transaction exempt as “In specific performance of a final judgment”?

A. No. The mere incorporation of the terms of a separation agreement into a judgment of divorce does not alter the “essential consensual character” of the agreement (Carlson v. Carlsen, 72 N.J. 363, 371, 1977). Thus, for the purposes of the Realty Transfer fee law, “In specific performance of a final judgment” may not be used as an exemption. This exemption may be used when the judge orders that the transfer be made in accordance with his or her rulings. In this instance, the Realty Transfer Fee would be calculated on $8,000 plus one-half of the remaining balance of the mortgage.

Q. How can I obtain a copy of my deed?

A. At the time of purchase, your deed was recorded with our office. The original deed was then returned to the Attorney or Title Company that recorded your deed at your closing. You can come to our office to obtain a certified copy or you can submit a request for a certified copy of your deed, the fee is $8.00 for the first page and $2.00 for each additional page after.

Q. Will you be sending me my deed when I pay off my mortgage?

A. No- please see “how I can obtain a copy of my deed”. When you have paid off your mortgage, your lender should provide you with a copy of a “Cancellation or Discharge or Satisfaction of Mortgage”. That is proof the loan has been satisfied. We maintain a copy here, but we recommend you keep that record in a safe place for future reference.

Q. Does your office have a survey of my property of file?

A. No, our office does not maintain copies of surveys. You may want to check the content of your deed. If a survey was done it may be listed in the body of the deed. You may contact the Surveyor listed in the deed to see if a copy may be purchased. Otherwise, a new survey will need to be done.

Q. How can I find out if there are any liens or easements on my property?

A. You are welcome to visit our search room and do a search of your property during our public hours. However, we are neither licensed or insured to perform title searches and are unable to do much more than provide direction on how you can begin to search. It is strongly suggested if you are considering the purchase of a property, you obtain the services of a Professional Title Searcher. They are familiar with the records and will protect your interests.

Q. Where can I obtain a copy of my birth certificate?

A. You may obtain your birth certificate from the municipality where you were born.

Daniel’s Law Portal

In November 2020, Governor Murphy signed Daniel’s Law, which amended the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and other statutes protecting personal information for certain persons in public service. Specifically, Daniel’s Law is designed to expand protections from public exposure for personal information about active and retired judges, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors, and their immediate family members. Individuals protected under Daniel’s Law will need to register on the Daniel’s Law Portal through the New Jersey Office of Information Privacy