Practice Guide 11 – Inspection and application for official copies
Updated: December 2012
This edition of the guide replaces the April 2012 edition. Sections 6 and 11 have been amended as a result of the closure of Land Registry’s telephone services centres.
Scope of this guide
This guide gives details of the information held by Land Registry and how you may obtain it. It is aimed at conveyancers and other legal advisers and you should interpret references to ‘you’ accordingly. Land Registry staff will also refer to it.
1 Abbreviations used
In this guide:
‘FOIA 2000’ means the Freedom of Information Act 2000
‘LRA 2002’ means the Land Registration Act 2002
‘LRR 2003’ means the Land Registration Rules 2003.
This guide covers inspection of the register and how to make applications for official copies. The LRA 2002 made changes to rights to inspect and obtain copies of leases and charges referred to in the register and in respect of documents not referred to in the register.
A new service for obtaining copies of historical editions of the register has been introduced.
Where we refer to documents this does not only mean title deeds. The term also includes application forms, correspondence and items we have created or commissioned as part of our work, for example, the result of a survey of the land.
The same rights are generally available whether you wish to inspect in person or make an application for official copies. We will deal with common elements first and then with the different forms of application.
3 What is available as of right under the LRR 2003?
With some important exceptions referred to in section 4 Documents not available as of right, any person can apply to inspect or obtain official copies of the following as of right.
The register or caution register of an individual title.
Any title plan or caution plan of an individual title.
Any document referred to in the register.
Any document not referred to in the register which relates to an application.
NB: You cannot request this information under the FOIA 2000, as it is "reasonably accessible" to you within the meaning of s.21, FOIA 2000.
4 Documents not available as of right
There are some important exceptions to the general rights of inspection and copying. These are:
exempt information documents
an edited information document which has been replaced by another edited information document under rr.136(6) or 138(4), LRR 2003
form CIT and any form which has been attached to form CIT together with any documents or copy documents prepared or sent by the registrar in response to the application
correspondence and documents relating to indemnity claims
any document relating to an application for a network access agreement under paragraph 1(4) of Schedule 5, LRA 2002
any document within s.66(1)(c), LRA 2002 provided, prepared or obtained as evidence of identity of any person (such as an applicant, or an objector, for example)
any other document within s.66(1)(c), LRA 2002 which relates to the prevention or detection of crime – unless it is a document:
lodged as part of or in support of either an application to the registrar or an objection to an application, or
prepared by, or at the request of, the registrar as part of the process of considering an application or objection but which is not prepared principally in connection with the prevention or detection of crime.
See rr.133 and 135, LRR2003.
Applications for inspection or a copy of these documents should be made in writing including, in the case of the FOIA 2000, by email. There is no requirement under the FOIA 2000 for the applicant to give a reason for requiring the information, but it may assist in cases where the public interest test needs to be considered by Land Registry – see Public Guide 15 – Your rights under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Where a document has been designated as an exempt information document, an application for a full copy can be made using form EX2 in accordance with r.137, LRR 2003 – see Practice Guide 57 – Exempting documents from the general right to inspect and copy. You can also apply in writing in accordance with the FOIA 2000 – see Public Guide 15 – Your rights under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
NB: Please note that there may be some delay in dealing with these types of requests because we may need to serve notice on any interested parties.
We will, however, always bear in mind our obligation to provide information under the FOIA 2000 within 20 working days. If it seems likely that we are unable to meet this, we will inform you in advance and give you an estimate of the likely actual time it will take to deal with your request.
Schedule 5 applicants applying under r.140, LRR 2003 and using form CIT are entitled to all of the above documents as of right. (This rule applies to the police and certain other applicants. See Practice Guide 43 – Applications in connection with court proceedings, insolvency and tax liability for further information.)
5 Applications and format of official copies
Paper official copies will normally only be issued in response to paper-based applications. If you apply through Business e-services and Business Gateway you will receive electronic official copies where we have electronic versions of the documents requested. Applicants using the National Land Information Service can specify whether they wish their official copies to be delivered by post or electronically where electronic versions of the documents are available. See sections 5.2 Electronic official copies of a register or plan and 7.1.1 Electronic official copies of documents for more details. Customers not using Business e-services or Business Gateway may ask in writing for the results to be despatched by fax (if they are not more than six pages long and do not involve large plans).
5.1 Official copies of the current register and title plan
You must use form OC1 when lodging a paper application. There is no longer a separate form for caution titles, so the OC1 may be used.
Where the property is known to be registered and has a postal address (for instance 145 Green Road, Anytown) but the title number is not readily available, you may write, "please supply the title number" boldly at the head of the form or in panel 2. You must then state the nature of the title in which you are interested in the second part of panel 2.
We will reject 'please supply title number' applications with a non-postal address (for instance 'land on the west side of High Street, Anytown' or '33 Cannon Road and land adjoining, Anytown'). We will reject 'please supply title number' applications which are accompanied by a plan even if the property has a postal address. We will also reject such applications where the number of title numbers revealed exceeds five. Where we reject these applications, we will request that you apply for a search of the index map using form SIM.
Please complete all applicable panels so your application can be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Business e-services, Business Gateway and National Land Information Service applicants should select the equivalent option from the appropriate menu.
5.2 Electronic official copies of a register or plan
All Business e-services and Business Gateway applicants (and National Land Information Service applicants where applied for) will normally receive an electronic official copy of a register of title, title plan, caution register or caution plan, where Land Registry holds the original in electronic format. Please contact the service provider for further details – section 12 Enquiries and comments.
When an electronic official copy cannot be provided, such as where the document is larger than 10 megabytes or is not held electronically, a paper official copy will be issued by post or DX at no extra cost to the applicant.
Electronic official copies will be issued in the form of a PDF file. In our view a print from the PDF file will be an official copy, provided the PDF file has not been modified or corrupted since receipt. Also in our view, if the PDF file is forwarded it will, provided it has not been modified or corrupted, constitute an official copy and a print from such an unmodified and uncorrupted PDF file will be an official copy.
5.2.1 How can I satisfy myself that the document received is an electronic official copy or a print from an electronic official copy of a register or plan?
In much the same way as you would satisfy yourself that a traditional paper document is an official copy. Two considerations will help to make up your mind: what does the document look like and where did it come from?
As to what the document looks like, does it look like an official copy and are there any obvious discrepancies in the form and order the information is presented?
As to where the document came from, did it purport to come from Business e-services on Land Registry’s website, the National Land Information Service or, if forwarded by a third party, is the standing of that person such as to make it likely that it is an official copy?
5.3 Official copies generally
Official copies of registers and title plans are always timed and dated to show that they represent a true record of the entries in the register and the extent of the registered title at that specific time. Where there are pending substantive applications, the date and time will be backdated to before receipt of the earliest pending application. An official search based on the copy register can be made to provide details of the pending application(s).
Official copies of documents are not dated because, once registered, documents are not normally altered.
Official copies are admissible in evidence to the same extent as the original (s.67, Land Registration Act 2002).
For applications for official copies made in accordance with the LRR 2003, see the current Land Registration Fee Order for fees payable. Different considerations apply for requests for information made in accordance with the FOIA 2000. Please contact any Land Registry office for information.
6 The certificate in form CI option
A special procedure, based on the use of an officially approved estate layout plan, is available to simplify the task of buying and selling, or leasing plots on a developing title. It involves the use of recognised plot numbers and instead of applying for an official copy of a title plan, you can apply instead for a certificate of inspection. If you want a certificate, you should complete the certificate in form CI section of panel 7 when applying on form OC1 or provide the relevant information when lodging your application by other means, such as Business e-services, Business Gateway or the National Land Information Service. While form CI applications may be lodged electronically the results for this type of application can only be issued by post or DX.
The certificate will confirm that the plot is within the vendor’s title and will also reveal whether it is affected by any references shown on the vendor’s title plan. This can be useful where the vendor’s title plan is complicated.
Where we have approved an estate plan, you simply need to give the plot number.
Where we have not approved an estate plan, you must lodge an accurate plan in duplicate (at 1/2500 scale or greater) showing, in relation to the detail shown on the title plan, the precise position and extent of the land you are interested in.
For a more detailed description of this procedure, see Practice Guide 41 – Developing estates – registration services.
7 Official copies of documents
If you are applying in writing for copies of documents that are available as of right under r.135, LRR 2003 you must apply in form OC2.
You cannot request this under the FOIA 2000, as it is "reasonably accessible" to you within the meaning of s.21, FOIA 2000. If you are applying under the FOIA 2000 for copies of documents that are not available as of right, you must apply in writing, but this can be by email.
If you apply through Business e-services, Business Gateway or the National Land Information Service you can also apply for an electronic official copy of a document referred to in the register, where Land Registry holds the original in electronic format. See section 7.1.1 Electronic official copies of documents for more details.
For applications for official copies made in accordance with the LRR 2003, see the current Land Registration Fee Order for fees payable. Different considerations apply for requests for information made in accordance with the FOIA 2000. Please contact any Land Registry office for further information.
7.1 Documents referred to in the register
Specify the document you require and its date. If the register entry states that the document is filed under another title number please state this in your application, as it will assist in the processing of your application.
Please note that applications requesting 'all' or 'any' documents will be rejected.
7.1.1 Electronic official copies of documents
All Business e-services and Business Gateway applicants (and National Land Information Service applicants where applied for) will receive an electronic official copy of a document referred to in the register, where:
Land Registry holds the original in electronic format
document is one that is not referred to in section 4 Documents not available as of right.
Please contact the service provider for further details. See section 12 Enquiries and comments.
Where an electronic official copy cannot be provided, such as where the document is not held electronically or the file size is in excess of 10 megabytes, a paper official copy will be issued by post or DX at no extra cost to the applicant.
The electronic official copy will be issued in the form of a PDF file, which will include a lead page that forms part of the official copy. In our view a print from the PDF file which includes the lead and all subsequent pages will be an official copy, provided the PDF file has not been modified or corrupted since receipt. Also in our view, if the PDF file is forwarded it will, provided it has not been modified or corrupted, constitute an official copy and a print from such an unmodified and uncorrupted PDF file will be an official copy.
7.1.2 How can I satisfy myself that the document received is an electronic official copy or a print from an electronic official copy of a document?
If you need to satisfy yourself that a document is an official copy, two considerations will help.
Does the document appear to be complete; are there any obvious discrepancies?
Did the document purport to come from Business e-services, Business Gateway, the National Land Information Service or, if forwarded by a third party, is the standing of that person such as to make it likely that it is an official copy?
7.2 Documents not referred to in the register
If you know the details of the document you require please specify them in your application. If you do not know the exact details, please provide as much information as you can, eg 'the transfer to Mr and Mrs Dawkins in 1985'. Please avoid applications for ‘all’ or ‘any’ documents where possible. The word 'document' covers a wide range of papers as well as deeds, such as correspondence, application forms and surveys. If we were to copy all the documents in our files for a specific title the fee could be quite substantial.
'Document' also includes electronic documents that we may have prepared as part of the process of creating or making changes to the register. We will not supply copies of these electronic documents unless you specifically request them as, in most instances, they would add little to the overall picture and merely increase your costs.
We may need to contact you by telephone in the first instance to establish exactly what copy documents you require, if you do not make it clear in your application.
8 Historical copies of the register or title plan held in electronic form
S.69, LRA 2002 allows the registrar to provide information about the history of a registered title. Under r.144, LRR 2003 you may apply for copies of earlier editions of the register or title plan of any title where they are held in electronic form.
If you wish to apply for a copy of the register or title plan containing historical information, you must do so on form HC1. See the current Land Registration Fee Order for fees payable.
8.1 What information is available?
Not all the information we hold is available in electronic format.
Copies of the historical registered title may not provide a complete record of all transactions made. A single application containing more than one transaction or a number of applications processed at the same time may result in the register reflecting the final transaction only.
Register history information may be available for dates after 4 May 1993.
Title plan information may be available for dates after 13 October 2003. Limited information is held about title plans before this date.
8.2 Completing form HC1
You should complete form HC1 indicating whether you require either:
a copy of the last edition of the register or title plan that existed on a specified date, or
a copy of all editions of the register or title plan that existed on a specified date.
We may reject your application unless you supply a full date containing:
8.3 What if the information I want is not available in electronic form?
If we do not hold the information you require in electronic form, we may hold paper copies of earlier editions of the register or title plan and we may be able to assist you and provide you with copies if you apply in writing under the FOIA 2000.
If you are unsure as to the exact nature of the information to apply for we recommend you make your initial enquiry by letter and that you provide:
as much information as possible about your enquiry
the reason why you require the information.
This will enable us to determine if we are able to provide the information you require.
9 Personal inspection at a Land Registry office
You can make a personal application at any of our offices. If you are making a request under the LRR 2003 for information available "as of right", see section 3 What is available as of right under the LRR 2003? The request must be made in form PIC. For all other requests, see Public Guide 15 – Your rights under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
If you need to visit us in person our customer information centres are open between 8.30am and 6pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays). You must make an appointment, giving at least 24 hours' notice. To make an appointment you can either:
use the 'Appointment Request' form in the Contact us section of our website, or
telephone Customer Support on 0844 892 1111.
Although we hold many documents in electronic form that can be seen at any of our offices, we also have millions of paper files that are held at different locations around the country. Making an appointment will allow us to obtain any of these files that are needed so that you are not disappointed when you visit.
Land Registry offices are open to the public from 8.30am to 6pm Mondays to Fridays (excluding public holidays), during which time any person may apply to make a personal inspection of the register.
Inspection and copying must take place in the presence of Land Registry staff.
10 How to get our forms and other guides
All Land Registry application forms are obtainable from law stationers. Alternatively, you can download them from our website.
You can obtain copies of all our guides free from Customer Support (see Contact details) or you can download them from our website.
For official copy applications made in accordance with the LRR 2003, see the current Land Registration Fee Order for fees payable. Different considerations apply for requests for information made in accordance with the FOIA 2000. Please contact any Land Registry office for further information. The following are the methods of payment.
Credit account – The most convenient method of payment of fees for regular customers is by a credit account. Credit facilities are available to any person or firm authorised to use a credit account. Any person or firm wishing to obtain such facilities should write to the Accounts Section, Land Charges Department, Seaton Court, 2 William Prance Road, Plymouth PL6 5WS for the necessary approval. All Land Registry application forms contain fee panels for use by applicants with credit account facilities.
Cheque – An applicant who has no credit account should pay by enclosing a cheque or postal order made payable to 'Land Registry'.
Direct debit – Land Registry’s direct debit payment scheme allows applicants to pay their fees electronically for all Land Registry services. Payment by direct debit can be used for any application lodged by post. Payment must be made by direct debit for applications lodged through Business e-services and Business Gateway. Further details on direct debit can be found on our website.
Personal customers can pay by cheque, postal order, cash, credit or debit card or by credit account.
Applications lodged without a fee or without the appropriate debit instructions will be rejected.
12 Enquiries and comments
If you have a particular concern which is not covered by this guide, please contact Land Registry in advance of the transaction – see Contact details. If the transaction is particularly complex, it may be better if you make your enquiry in writing at the Land Registry office which will process your application.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0844 892 1111, or 0844 892 1122 for a Welsh-speaking service, from Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm. Calls cost 3p a minute on a BT standard tariff, in addition to the current set up/connection charge. Calls from other tariffs, service providers and mobile phones may cost more. We do not receive any revenue from these calls.
To obtain copies of this and all our other guides, free of charge:
- view/download guides in English and Welsh at www.landregistry.gov.uk
- 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.
Chief Land Registrar
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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