What’s the Difference Between a Parcel Number and Legal Description for a Deed?

The short answer is one is just numbers (or numbers and a couple of letters), the other is a more descriptive ‘sentence’.

A permanent parcel number is generally assigned by the county auditor to a particular parcel of property to identify it for tax purposes. Most times, a permanent parcel number will be a 6 to 9 digit number, often times containing a letter or other identifying characteristics (for example, 19 B – 23 – 5721).

A legal description, on the other hand, tends to be a more fully developed or larger description of the property. Legal descriptions can be a few sentences or several paragraphs long. Sometimes, the language contains length, acreage, degrees, and directional references.

More likely than not, a reference to something like “Lot 7029 of Marley Park Parcel 7” would be a legal description, not a parcel number.

Note, however, county recorders or auditors may list on their website shorthand references for a legal description. The shorthand references are not the full legal description that must be listed on the Deed.

ALWAYS refer to the existing deed for the parcel of property in question (the one that is recorded with the county recorder) when obtaining the legal description. The exact language of that legal description must be used on any subsequent deed that will transfer property to a new owner.

To easily transfer property from one person or group of persons to another, use Standard Legal’s Quitclaim Deeds legal form software.