Navigating the Quirks of Filing UCCs in Washington, D.C.  

Posted by thinkitfirst
August 14, 2021

Filing UCCs in Washington, D.C. is a unique experience, different from doing so in states. Here’s what you need to know.

Ah, Washington, D.C.  Home to stunning monuments, The Smithsonian—and an entirely unique Uniform Commercial Code filing experience. 

Because Washington, DC is an independent city and not a state, its UCC process has a few—let’s call them—quirks. Knowing about and understanding them can help a filer in both the short and long term. 

But first, a refresh: What is a UCC filing? 

A UCC filing is essentially a public record of collateral. It is a public, searchable record that protects a creditor’s rights should the debtor default. This record is typically filed with the secretary of state, but since D.C. is not a state, it’s filed with The District’s Recorder of Deeds. (There’s quirk number one!) Ultimately, a UCC filing will help a creditor get repaid should the debtor file for bankruptcy. 


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Filing UCCs in Washington, D.C.: the quirks!

For starters, the Recorder of Deeds requires the 2011 industry standard form. It won’t accept older ones. Other states might. D.C. does not. 

In Washington, D.C., you cannot get a certified search. You either have to search yourself or… hire a services firm like Incserv. 

Let’s see… filing UCCs in Washington, D.C…. What else? Ah! A regular UCC form is called a UCC-1. There’s also a UCC-3 that is used for continuation, amendments, assignments or terminations of the UCC-1. In Washington, DC, all filings have a 10-digit file number that has to be entered on a UCC-3 in order for it to be associated with the UCC-1. Kind of unnerving right? It’s like relying on just your mortgage loan number without your name. Unlike most other states, the debtor name must also be on the UCC-3 in line number 10. Isn’t filing UCCs in Washington, D.C. fun?!

In the upper left hand corner of the UCC, there’s a field for a return address. Most states do not require it to be filed out. DC does. They actually send filed docs to the submitter via U.S. mail.

Specifically related to COVID-19, the Washington, D.C. Recorder of Deeds is closed for in-person visits (as of this writing, August 2022). While this is less of a quirk, it does make a strong case for tapping a services firm like Incserv to file or search a UCC in The District. We can do both electronically. 

The District is full of nuance, but filing UCCs in Washington, D.C. is an animal uniquely its own. Luckily, we’re here to help. Contact Incserv at or toll free: 800-346-4646.