Department of Records - City of Philadelphia
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RECORDS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

 

DEEDS

How do I change ownership of a property?

To make changes to an existing deed, a new deed must be prepared and recorded. If your spouse dies, and your name is on the deed, you do not have to change it.  If you elect to change it, a new deed must be prepared and recorded.

 

How do I prepare a deed?

A certified professional should prepare a Deed.  Contact a Real Estate Lawyer or a Realtor.

 

How can title be obtained if the owners are deceased?

Go to the Register of Wills Office located in Room 180 City Hall.  The closest relative must become the administrator/administratrix of the decedent’s estate.

 

Do I have to pay transfer tax?

Yes, unless you are transferring to a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, father-in-law, step children or step parents.  Proof of relationship is required such as birth, death or marriage certificate.

 

How can I obtain information about liens and judgments?

Prothonotary Department 2nd floor City Hall, room 262.  215-686-6656

 

Where can I obtain property tax information?

You can obtain tax information from the Office of Property Assessment (OPA) 601 Walnut Street www.phila.gov/OPA or the Department of Revenue located in the Municipal Services Building., 1401 JFK Blvd, concourse level. 

 

What is the recording fee and what form of payment is accepted?

Recording fees visit our website at https://www.phila.gov/records/DocumentRecording. Acceptable forms of payment are cash, business checks and money order.  No personal checks or credit/debit cards.

 

How can I obtain information on a property/copy of my deed?

You may research or request a copy of a property in our public Reference Room located in City Hall, Room 154. Copies of deeds are $2.00 per page.

 

 

Once I pay my mortgage off, when can I expect to receive a new deed?

Once recorded, you should receive your satisfaction or release of mortgage from your financial institution.

 

How can I obtain a list of City owned properties?

The Sheriff’s Department, LandBank or Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is where you can obtain these lists.  You can dial 311 for additional information. 

 

The name on my water and tax bills is not mine.  What should I do to have this corrected?

Provide the Water Department and Tax Revenue Department with your recorded deed information and ask them to update their records.  For additional information, dial 311.

 

ARCHIVES

How do I obtain a copy of a birth certificate?

The City Archives has Philadelphia birth records for the period from July 1860 to June 1915.  For Philadelphia birth records after June 1915, contact the Division of Vital Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 844-228-3516.  The division’s Philadelphia office is located at 110 N. 8th Street.  To apply for a certificate online, visit the following website:  http://www.health.pay.gov/myrecords/certificates.pages/philadelphia.aspx

 

How do I obtain a copy of a death certificate?

The City Archives has Philadelphia death records for the period from 1803 to June 1915. The records from 1803 to June 1960 however are only unofficial cemetery reports of burials and death certificates are not issued for them.

 

How can I find out if a relative is still alive?

You can perform a search on the worldwide web or contact the Free Library of Philadelphia 215-686-5396.  The main branch of the Free Library, located at 1901 Vine Street, has past and present Philadelphia obituaries and telephone books.  Hiring a private detective is another alternative.

 

How do I obtain a copy of a deed? Find out who owned my home before I did?

The City Archives has Philadelphia deed records for the years 1683 to 1955.

If the home was purchased after 1955, contact the Records Department Reference Room 154 City Hall, 215-686-2292

 

 

How can I find out when my house was built?

Building permits before 1889 no longer exist. The building permit index covering the years 1889 to 1905 cannot be located.  The City Archives has Philadelphia building permits for the years from 1889 to 1986.   For Philadelphia building permits after 1986, dial 311.

 

How can I obtain a copy of a marriage certificate?

The City Archives has original Philadelphia marriage records for the period from July 1860 to December 1885.  For walk-in patrons of the City Archives, microfilmed copies of Philadelphia marriage records from October 1885 to December 1915 can be printed and purchased.  To request copies of original Philadelphia marriage records for the period October 1885 to present, contact the Marriage License Bureau of the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court located in Room 415 of City Hall, 215-686-2234.  Two types of Philadelphia marriage record forms existed in the final quarter of 1885.  The older forms are kept by the City Archives and the newer forms are kept by the Orphans’ court.

 

How do I receive a copy of a divorce record?

The City Archives has Philadelphia divorce records prior to 1914 in its Court of Common Pleas docket books.  For certified copies of divorce decrees filed in Philadelphia from 1885 to the present, contact the Office of Judicial Records Civil Filing Unit at 215-686-4252.  The office is in Room 296 City Hall.

 

How can I obtain a copy of my ancestor’s naturalization record?

Naturalization records are filed in city, county, state and federal courts.

 

The City Archives has naturalization records filed in Philadelphia’s city and county courts for the period from 1793 to 1930.  Among the Philadelphia City and County courts where naturalizations were filed were the Court of Common Pleas, the Court of Quarter Sessions, the County District Court and the Mayor’s Court.  After 1930, naturalizations were filed only in federal courts.  Also, women were not naturalized until after September 22, 1922.

 

For Philadelphia naturalization records filed at the state level in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, contact the Pennsylvania State Archives at 717-783-3281.

 

For Philadelphia naturalization records filed at the federal level in either the United States Circuit Court or the United States District Court, contact the Philadelphia branch of the National Archives at 215-305-2044.  The email address of the Philadelphia branch is Philadelphia.archives@nara.gov  

 

MAPPING UNIT

How can I see a map of my property lines?

Plats can be obtained in City Hall, Room 170.  The fee is .50 for 8 x 11, $1.00 for 11x17, $10.00 for the entire plat.

 

Alleys, driveways and retaining walls – Your rights and Obligations

Alleys, driveways, and/or retaining walls are private property.  They belong to you, the property owner.  The City does not own or maintain them.  It is the responsibility of the owners to maintain them in a safe and sanitary condition.

 

The owners of all abutting properties, generally, have the right to use the entire length of an alley way or driveway (this is written in your deed)

 

All costs for repairs, reconstruction to an alleyway or driveway are shared by those property owners having deeds rights and otherwise for the use of alleyways, driveways and retaining walls.   Even if only parts of an alley, driveway or retaining wall need repair, all responsible property owners must share the cost of the repair.

 

POLICE REPORTS UNIT

What is a district control number?

The number that assigned to your police report.

 

How much is a traffic accident or incident report?

$25.00

 

How much is a Fire/EMS report?

Fire report is a $20.00.  This fee is non-refundable.  A copy of the application is forwarded to the Fire Department for processing.  Your report will be prepared and mailed directly to you by the Fire Department.  Please allow 6 to 8 weeks to receive a copy of report or notice of report not found.

 

EMS report is $6.50.  This is a non-refundable fee.  All inquiries after submission of the application please contact EMS at 215-686-4222 and refer to the application number on the form.

 

How much is a background check/letter of good conduct?

$40.00

 

What methods of payment are acceptable?

Cash, business check or money order.

 

What are the office hours?

Monday through Friday, 8am to 2pm