Practice Guide 10 – Official searches of the index map
Updated: March 2014
This edition of the guide replaces the January 2014 edition. Section 2 has been amended to refer to MapSearch.
Scope of this guide
This guide gives details of the information held on the index map and advice on how to apply for an official search. It is aimed at conveyancers and members of the public and you should interpret references to ‘you’ accordingly. Land Registry staff will also refer to it.
1.1 Registered land
Not all the land in England and Wales is currently registered. When land is registered it is given a unique reference number, the title number. Any sale of registered land is based on the registered title, details of which are held in the register of that title. If the land is unregistered, any sale, gift or first mortgage of it will trigger first registration.
1.2 The index map
Land Registry keeps a computerised map based on the Ordnance Survey map. This computerised map provides an index of the land in every registered title and pending application for first registration (r.10(a), Land Registration Rules 2003).
Any person may apply, using form SIM, for an official search of the index map (r.145, Land Registration Rules 2003). The certificate of result will show whether or not the land searched is registered, the title numbers that affect and the type of registration that has been disclosed. Section 3 Types of registrations indexed on the index map lists the different types of registration that can be revealed on the result of an official search of the index map.
2 Search to ascertain whether the title is registered
An index map search is an essential part of the investigation of title on any transaction involving unregistered land for the following reasons.
The land, or part of it, may have been registered already.
A caution against first registration protecting some claim adverse to the title of the applicant may have been registered.
You should be aware that the official search of the index map service is quite separate from the official copy service through which you can obtain copy title plans and registers relating to land known to be registered.
If you do not require indemnity provisions in respect of an index map search you could consider using MapSearch. This service is available for Business e-services customers who have portal access.
The following is a summary of the differences between a Search of the Index Map and MapSearch.
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Search of the Index Map (SIM)
There is a fee (see the Land Registration Fee Order)
How to carry out a search
Self serve on a digital map
Submit an electronic or postal SIM application to Land Registry
How to obtain results
Instantly (self serve)
Once processed, Land Registry returns the results digitally or by post
Does the result have the benefit of indemnity provisions (Schedule 8, Land Registration Act 2002)?
3 Types of registrations indexed on the index map
The following types of registration are indexed on the index map.
Pending applications for first registration (other than of title to a relating franchise).
Pending applications for caution against first registration (other than where the subject of the caution is a relating franchise).
Registered estates in land.
Registered profits à prendre in gross.
Registered affecting franchises.
Cautions against first registration (other than where the subject of the caution is a relating franchise).
The following types of registration are not indexed on the index map.
These registrations are indexed in the index of relating franchises and manors which is an index of verbal descriptions arranged by county or unitary authority. You cannot search this index using form SIM. Practice Guide 13 – Official searches of the index of relating franchises and manors explains what information this index holds and how to obtain it.
4 Forms of application
You must apply for an official search of the index map using the prescribed form SIM (r.145(2), Land Registration Rules 2003) or through Land Registry Telephone Services, Business e-services or Business Gateway. We will reject any application for an official search of the index map not made on the prescribed form.
You can obtain form SIM from any law stationer or Customer Support (see Contact details). Alternatively, you can freely download the form from our website.
An application in form SIM is not required where you know the property is registered and has a postal address but do not know the title number and an application for official copies is about to be made. You should lodge form OC1 with the words ‘Please supply title number’ written boldly at the head of the form. Please note, however, that this procedure may cause some delay in the issue of the official copies and you should make every effort to supply the title number in the first instance. We will reject ‘Please supply title number’ form OC1 requests where either:
a plan accompanies the OC1, even if the property has a postal address, or
the number of title numbers revealed exceeds five.
Where these applications are rejected, we will request that you apply using form SIM.
5.1 Applications in form SIM
Please see the current Land Registration Fee Order for details of the fee payable.
5.2 Applications in form OC1
Please see the current Land Registration Fee Order for details of the fee payable.
5.3 Additional fees
We will inform you if your application attracts any additional fee under the current Land Registration Fee Order.
If you are paying using a Land Registry account we will contact you if the fee payable will exceed £25.
5.4 Methods of payment
5.4.1 Land Registry account
Where a fee is payable, payment by Land Registry account is the most convenient method. Facilities are available to any person or firm authorised to use an account. If you wish to obtain such facilities, please write to the Accounts Section, Land Registry, Seaton Court, 1 William Prance Road, Plymouth PL6 5WS for the necessary approval.
An applicant using Land Registry account facilities must enter the key number, and the other details required by Land Registry for debiting purposes, in panel 3 of the application form.
If you do not have an account or do not wish to use it in a particular instance, please pay by enclosing a cheque or postal order made payable to ‘Land Registry’ for the minimum fee of £4.
6 Description of the property to be searched
It is essential that the fullest possible information is supplied so that we can accurately identify the property on the index map. Where insufficient information is supplied we may reject the application.
The index map is based on the Ordnance Survey map and local authorities notify Land Registry of changes in street names and numbers. Consequently, we normally have up-to-date information and are able to complete searches of properties on the basis of house numbers without the help of a plan. In all other cases you should supply a plan with the application (see section 7 Plan to be supplied by the applicant).
However, the mapping of new developments is not always immediately available and, therefore, we may require plans to identify such properties on the index map.
Where the search of the index map cannot be completed from the property description alone, failure to lodge a suitable plan will result in the application being rejected.
The application should contain as much of the following information as is possible.
Local authority serving the property. You must enter the authority to whom council tax or business rates would be paid for the property.
Postal number or description. Postal numbers are generally more reliable than house names. If the name or number has recently changed the former name or number should also be supplied. In the case of a flat or maisonette, include the floor level in the description.
Road name. In the case of new developments, give the estate name and plot number where possible.
Locality. This is essential where two roads of the same name exist within the same postal town.
Town. The town name required is the postal town. This is usually the town or city quoted in the property’s address.
Postcode. The postcode must always be completed where it is known. It provides us with a quick and accurate means of accessing our database.
Ordnance Survey map reference. In rural areas land and buildings may not always be easily located by a postal description and an Ordnance Survey map reference is then helpful.
Known title number. If you know the title number, it may not be necessary to apply for a search at all. If a search is needed to ascertain whether or not some other estate in the land is registered then you should disclose the known title number. This will assist in identification of the property.
7 Plan to be supplied by the applicant
You must lodge a plan where:
the land to be searched is not a property with a recognised postal description (for example, where the land searched is being described as ‘land at…’ or ‘land on…’)
there is any possible doubt regarding the identification of the extent of the property.
The plan must:
be drawn to scale
if the registrar so requires, be a copy of an extract from the Ordnance Survey map on the largest scale published (generally 1/1250 for urban properties and 1/2500 for rural properties), showing the land to which the application relates
indicate the scale and orientation
show the precise extent of the property by suitable colouring/edging, and
show the position of the land in relation to nearby roads and other relevant features.
Properties in new developments or in blocks of flats may also require a location plan. Plans of flats and maisonettes should indicate floor levels.
Where a plan is required, the failure to provide a suitable plan that can be related to the Ordnance Survey map will result in the application being rejected. This is not to say that a failure to comply with one or more of the guidelines above will always prevent an application from proceeding. It will not where Land Registry is confident that the land can still be identified on the Ordnance Survey map.
It is possible that a plan lodged with a substantive application may be the subject of requisition, or lead to cancellation of the application, despite the fact that it has been previously accepted for a search of the index map.
Please note that Land Registry cannot supply extracts of Ordnance Survey map data it holds, either generally or for conveyancing purposes. Maps of a house or property for planning permission and/or submission to Land Registry are not available directly from Ordnance Survey or Land Registry. Please visit Ordnance Survey’s website to find your nearest Ordnance Survey partner selling large scale maps for this purpose.
8 Certificate of result
Wherever possible, we will issue the certificate of result of the search electronically. The certificate of result will show whether the land searched is registered, subject to a pending application for first registration or subject to a pending application to register a caution against first registration. It will state the title numbers that affect and the type and tenure of registrations that have been disclosed.
Customers not using Business e-services or Business Gateway may ask in writing for the result to be despatched by fax. In that case, no postal copy will be sent as well. Search results which contain an illustrative plan cannot be sent by fax.
Under no circumstances can we provide the result of a SIM over the telephone or by email.
You should lodge the certificate of result of the search on any subsequent correspondence or application for first registration.
9 Plans issued with a result of a search of the index map
Where the result of the search reveals that part of the land searched is unregistered or is affected by more than one registered title, Land Registry may issue a plan illustrating the properties as shown on the index map. However, in order for the search service to operate efficiently, it is restricted to situations where:
the whole of the land searched is registered under two to five different title numbers and fits on a plan no larger than A3 at 1:1250, or
part of the land searched is unregistered and the remainder of the land searched is registered under one to five different title numbers and fits on a plan no larger than A3 at 1:1250.
The maximum size for a SIM plan is A3 at a scale of 1:2500.
We will not issue a plan where the land searched is wholly unregistered or wholly registered under a single title number or under co-extensive titles, for example co-extensive freehold and leasehold titles.
All SIM results revealing more than five different title numbers will be issued with a textual result only.
To complement the textual result, we offer an Illustrative Plans service. This provides a pictorial representation of how titles piece together using the latest Ordnance Survey detail. The service does not extend the certificate of guarantee afforded to a SIM result but uses the result as the basis to illustrate the titles revealed. If you would like to discuss our Illustrative Plans service, please contact our Add Value Team at Birkenhead Office on 0300 006 0478 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All plans issued with the result of a search of the index map are for illustrative purposes only and do not define the extent of the land in any individual title. They are prepared for the sole purpose of showing the area in respect of which an official search has been made. They should not be re-used on a subsequent application for registration. If you require Ordnance Survey large scale mapping, extracts may be purchased from an Ordnance Survey Mapping and Data Centre www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/pam.
Land Registry index map plans are not provided as part of the statutory service and are not a substitute for official copies.
You can obtain an official copy of a title plan and register for further information about a registered title, including its extent. Official copies of title plans have the following note about general boundaries:
‘This title plan shows the general position, not the exact line, of the boundaries. It may be subject to distortions in scale. Measurements scaled from this plan may not match measurements between the same points on the ground’.
Practice Guide 11 – Inspection and application for official copies explains how to obtain official copies of registers and title plans.
10 Correspondence on boundary or title problems
The system of issuing certificates of an official search of the index map is a service provided mainly to enable a prospective purchaser to establish whether or not a registered title exists for a property so a transaction can be completed speedily and effectively. For the service to operate efficiently, it is important to ensure that correspondence or enquiries relating to registered land are submitted separately from any application for an index map search.
You should make enquiries relating to boundaries or title to land the subject of separate correspondence after having made an official search of the index map.
11 Large or complex applications
Where searches affect a large area or an area of complex registrations, it would be helpful if you first contact the customer service manager at the appropriate Land Registry office. You should do this before lodging the searches so we can make arrangements to discuss your requirements and our procedures and services with you. This may offer benefits to both parties.
12 Address of the Land Registry office to which an application is to be sent
- If you have a customer team agreement you should send your paper applications to your customer team.
- If you are a business customer and do not have a customer team agreement we recommend you send your paper applications to a particular office, depending on the administrative area in which your business address is situated. Please refer to Office Finder or Practice Guide 51 – Where to send paper applications available to view or download from our website www.landregistry.gov.uk or contact Customer Support (see Contact details).
- If you are a member of the public lodging an application on your own behalf, please send your application to:
Land Registry Wales Office
Tŷ Cwm Tawe
If you have a particular concern that is not covered by this guide, please contact Land Registry in advance of any search – see Contact details. If the problem is particularly complex, it may be better if you make your enquiry in writing at the Land Registry office that will process your application.
13 Enquiries and comments
If you have any comments or suggestions about any of our guides, please send them to:
Central Operations Group
1 Bedford Park
(DX 8888 Croydon 3)
You can obtain further copies of this and of all our guides free of charge from Customer Support (see Contact details) or you can download them from our website www.landregistry.gov.uk
Land Registry advisory policy
We offer advice to our customers through our publications and Customer Support information and through the day-to-day handling of applications.
We provide factual information including official copies of registers, title plans and documents, searches and details of our forms and fees.
We provide procedural advice to explain how the land registration system works and how to make applications correctly. This includes:
- advice in advance of an application, where this is requested
- where an application is defective, advice as to the nature of the problem and what options, if any, are available to put it right
- an approval service for estate layout plans and certain other land registration documents.
There are limits to the advice that we will provide. We will not provide legal advice.
This means that:
- we will not approve the evidence to be produced in support of a registration application before we receive the application
- apart from procedural advice, we will not advise on what action to take
- we will not recommend a professional adviser but can explain how to find one.
We provide advice only about real cases, not about theoretical circumstances. We will not express a view on questions where the law is complex or unclear except where the question arises on a live registration application.
In providing this factual information and procedural advice we will:
- be impartial
- recognise that others may be affected by what we say
- avoid any conflict of interest.
For customer enquiries and to request this publication in an alternative format please contact Customer Support.
Information in this guide
The information in this publication is for the purpose of providing general guidance about Land Registry's procedures and policies. It is intended only as a guide and does not cover every situation that may arise. It also does not limit Land Registry's ability to use its discretion when appropriate to do so, within the land registration legislation.
Have you used the correct form?
Have you given as full a description of the property as possible, including postcode?
If necessary, have you enclosed a plan?
Is your plan to scale and based on the Ordnance Survey map?
Where the search is against a flat or maisonette, have you given the floor level?
Where you are searching against a property on a new development, have you given the estate name and plot number?
Have you checked which Land Registry office to send your application to?
Please note that Land Registry may be unable to process applications that are incomplete or defective.
Chief Land Registrar
© Crown copyright 2014 Land Registry
Not to be reproduced without permission from The Forms Unit, Land Registry (under the delegated authority from the Controller of HMSO), Trafalgar House, 1 Bedford Park, Croydon CR0 2AQ