What is a Certificate of Title?

Sketch of imaginary certificate of title for land in AustraliaA certificate of title is a legal document used to accurately identify the location, borders and current owners of a specific lot of land. The document may also describe any encumbrances (such as caveats) that may exist and the most recent valuation of the land. The information on a certificate of title document is sourced from the Lands Register of the relevant state of Australia.

A certificate of title may include a diagram to aid in accurately identifying the lot of land. The diagram is known as a “survey plan” or “cadastral survey plan”.

A survey plan indicates the position of a specific lot of land relative to the surrounding environment. For this reason, the survey plan will usually include nearby streets, other lots of land and landmarks in the diagram.

To properly identify the specific lot of land, a survey plan will also include:

  • position of lot corners
  • dimensions (lengths) of boundary lines
  • compass bearings of boundary lines
  • area size of lot
  • dimensions, positions and descriptions of existing boundary structures (particularly if incorrectly placed)
  • position of any easements

A certificate of title and survey plan would be used by a builder to ensure that building work takes place on the correct lot. The documents would help to accurately identify the boundaries of the land and the location of the proposed structures. The certificate of title would also allow the builder to check that the client is authorised (as or by the land owner) to build on the lot.

Australian Land Title Search 


Certificate of Title, Lawyers Conveyancing (Part of Lawyers Real Estate Pty Ltd), Croydon, Victoria, viewed 08 March 2014, http://www.lawyersconveyancing.com.au/encyclopaedia/certificate-title/

Certificate of Title, Western Australian Land Information Authority (Landgate), Midland, Western Australia, viewed 08 March 2014, http://www.landgate.wa.gov.au/corporate.nsf/web/Certificate+of+Title

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, ‘Plan of Survey Checklist’, Land, Property & Titles, 2014, Government of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, viewed 8 March 2014, http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/land-property-titles/land-titles-office/plan-documentation/plan-of-survey-checklist

Land titles search, Government of Australia, Department of Finance, Parkes, Australian Capital Territory, viewed 13 March 2014, http://australia.gov.au/services/service-task/search/land-titles-search

TheFreeDictionary, Farlex Inc., Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, viewed 8 March 2014, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Cadastral

Transfer of Land Act 1958 (Vic) – ‘Section 27B Certificates of title’

What is a Cadastral Survey Plan?, Jurovich Surveying Pty Ltd, Como, Western Australia, viewed 8 March 2014, http://www.jurovichsurveying.com.au/faq/cadastral-survey-plan.php