Land Titles Office

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Land Titles Office

National Electronic Conveyancing System

Australia's joint government and industry initiative to create an efficient and convenient way of completing property based transactions and lodging land title dealings for registration.


The statutory requirement to maintain a register of land is provided by the Office of the Registrar-General. The Land Titles Office is a section within the Registrar-General's Office and is responsible for maintaining a secure system of Torrens Title including search facilities, land information and general registry services. The Office also meets statutory requirements with respect to unit title, condominium and estate developments.

Role | History

Role of the Land Titles Office

The main function of the Office is to keep a Register, which contains title to all land under the Land Title Act, and to provide public access to the Register.

Registered dealings are part of the title which is guaranteed by the Crown and open to public search. Some examples of dealings are mortgages, transfers, leases, discharge of mortgages and applications to replace lost certificates as to title. A fee for these services applies, see Fees Schedule.

History of the Land Titles Office

Registration of Deeds | Register Books | The Torrens System | Form of title | Legislation

The system of title by registration has only been in existence for a relatively short time. Originally, a Land Grant was written on parchment and handed to the proprietor. This was the only copy of ownership, and remained in possession of the owner of the land. Details of ownership were not recorded and therefore were not open to public search.

Title to land was transferred by deed, which was handed over to the new owner, together with the title. Since the title itself was not noted, every deed formed part of the chain of documentation proving ownership back to the original Land Grant. If any of the deeds became lost, ownership could no longer be established with certainty.

Registration of Deeds

In 1841 an office was established in Adelaide, South Australia, for the purpose of registration of deeds. For the first time the public had an opportunity to examine deeds claiming title to land.

In 1857 (Sir) Robert Torrens introduced his Bill to the South Australian Parliament which was to become the Real Property Act. The system embodied in the Act has been picked up in other Australian jurisdictions and forms the basis of the new Northern Territory Land Title Act.

Register Books

Upon introduction of the Torrens system, the Register Books containing title to Northern Territory land were kept in Adelaide. At Federation the registration books were transferred to the Department of Home Affairs in South Australia, and from 1911 to 1927 were maintained in Melbourne. In 1927 the Department of the Interior moved the Register books to Darwin. During World War II the Books were kept in Alice Springs, and returned to Darwin after the end of the war.

The Torrens System

The Torrens system creates interests in land by the official act of registration of the instrument in the Register, and the interest of the owner is guaranteed by the Crown subject to certain limited exceptions. All registered land in the Northern Territory is under Torrens Title.

The Torrens system of land registration provided for each certificate as to title to be in duplicate, with the original being part of the Register and open to search by the public. Since 1 December 2000 the Land Titles Office no longer automatically issues duplicate certificates. The original is held in electronic format and no paper titles are issued unless the owner (with the consent of the mortgagee) requests a title to be issued. The purpose of this is to enable the facilitation of electronic lodgement in the Land Titles Office.

An instrument such as a Transfer of Land, which is presented for registration at the Land Titles Office, together with the duplicate copy of title (if issued) and the prescribed fees, results in a change in status of a title.

Form of Title

The form of title depends on the nature of the estate, which may be freehold, leasehold or Crown leasehold. The original land grants, after being cancelled as a result of the registration of a dealing, are replaced by a certificate as to title issued by the Registrar-General.

Leases are subject to certain conditions and covenants. The term of a Crown Lease may vary from a short number of years to a lease in perpetuity. Since January 1981 most urban Crown leases and some rural Crown leases became freehold by operation of law and the Registrar-General progressively replaced those titles.


The manner of registration, the form of the various instruments, and the fees payable for searches and registration are all prescribed by Regulation. The current legislation applicable is the Land Title Act, Registration Act and for general property law, the Law of Property Act, together with the Regulations associated with those Acts.