Key points

  • Land Registry will no longer require sight of original documents from 30 June onwards
  • Any originals received by Land Registry after this time will be destroyed
  • Original documents should therefore be retained and not sent to Land Registry after the change in policy
  • Certified copies of the relevant documents should be sent instead

Current position

At the moment, when a paper (as opposed to electronic) application is sent to Land Registry (for example, to register a change of ownership, or the grant of a new lease), the applicant must send the original conveyancing documents (e.g. the transfer or lease).  A certified copy (as defined below) must also be sent if the applicant wishes to get its original documents back at the end of the registration process.  Provided this is done, Land Registry will retain the certified copy and return the original.

What's changing?

When processing paper applications received on or after Monday 30 June 2014, the Land Registry will no longer require sight of original documents. Instead of sending both the original document and a certified copy, only the certified copy need be sent.

Importantly, if an applicant does send an original document to Land Registry, it will be destroyed and not returned to the applicant.  It is therefore important to ensure that original documents are not sent to the Land Registry once the change in policy applies.

Why is Land Registry changing its rules?

To ensure consistency between applications made online and those made in hard copy. When made online, the conveyancer uploads a scanned copy of the document and gives an electronic certificate to the effect that it is a true copy of the original. Land Registry therefore does not see original documents in connection with online applications.

Are there any exceptions?

Original documents will still be required where land is unregistered and is being registered for the first time.

What is a certified copy?

A certified copy is a photocopy of the original document which has been certified to be a true copy of the original.  Details of the certification that the Land Registry will require are on its website (link below).  Because the certified copy must be an exact copy of the original, this means for example that any plans in the original document must be photocopied to scale and in colour.

Where can I get more information?

More information is available on the Land Registry website.

Things to consider

If possible, try to avoid sending applications to Land Registry around the time of the changeover.  In order to avoid being inadvertently caught out by the new policy, applications should reach Land Registry by Friday 27 June. Otherwise, delays in the postal system could mean that original documents enclosed with an application which was meant to arrive before this time are destroyed.