Jamaica

Registering Property in

Jamaica

Below is a detailed summary of the steps, time and cost involved in registering property in Jamaica. It assumes a standardized case of an entrepreneur who wants to purchase land and a building that is already registered and free of title dispute.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 189 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2015.

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  • Standard Property Transfer

  • Property value: JMD 27,967,426
  • City: Kingston
No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
1 Obtain a Search Certificate to show all encumbrances on the property at the National Land Agency
Agency: National Land Agency

Perform a caveat search and title search at the National Land Agency. This title search can be done electronically by the lawyer (for an additional fee) and the cost, by law, is born by the purchaser (Conveyancing Act).

The caveat search can now be done online at https://www.elandjamaica.gov.jm
Less than one day (online procedure; simultaneous with procedure 2) JMD 1,000
* 2 Verification that the Company is properly registered with the Registrar of Companies
Agency: Registrar of Companies

As of April 1, 2010 the attorney-at-law will submit to the Land Registry a sworn affidavit (standard form) that the company is property registered at the Company registry instead of submitting the Company registry certificate.
It is possible to verify if the company is active in http://www.orcjamaica.com/search/viewdocumentsplus.asp
Less than one day (online procedure; simultaneous with procedure 1) JMD 1,000
3 Obtain a certificate of payment of property taxes from the Inland Revenue Department
Agency: Inland Revenue Department

The parties need to submit a certificate of payment of property taxes to obtain the Stamp Commissioner’s certificate
1 day no cost
4 Assessment of tax and duties at the Government Stamp Office
Agency: Tax Administration Jamaica

A signed Agreement for Transfer (AFT) is sent for assessment of duties at the Tax Payer Audit & Assessment Department of the National Tax Authority. The documents must have a properly completed Stamping Requisition Form (Form1 – Regulation 3) and Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) for the applicant and all parties to the transaction.
7 days no cost
* 5 Obtain a Surveyor’s Identification Report
Agency: Commissioned Land Surveyor

The parties need to obtain a surveyor's identification report (SIR) from a commissioned land surveyor. The SIR is not mandated by law, but done in practice.
The SIR is carried out on a property to determine whether building encroachments have been made on a boundary or neighboring property. The SIR includes the following information about the property: the volume and folio numbers; the lot number and deposit plan number (if any); the physical address and name stated on the property title. The surveyor also states if the boundary is in general agreement with the registered boundary, if the restrictive covenants have been checked and if there are any breaches of these covenants.He also states if there is any evidence of an easement on the property as well as if there are buildings on the property. Mention id made as to the nature of the boundary, whether it is open or the type of fence around the perimeter. The report includes a sketch plan showing the property and what unit of measurement is used.
7 days JMD 70,000
6 Attorney witnesses the transfer instrument
Agency: Attorneys' Office

The transfer instrument needs to be witnessed, according to section 152 of the Registration of Title Act (Attestation of Instrument), by any of the following: the Governor-General, any of the Judges of the Supreme Court, or any Justice of the Peace, or the Registrar under this Act, or a Notary Public, or a Solicitor of the Supreme Court. The instrument of transfer must be witnessed prior to submitting the document to cross stamping, and before submitting for registration at the Land Registry. The Act lists several functionaries including the Justice of the Peace and Attorney of Law and Notary Public. The Notary Public charges a fee but the Justice of Peace does not charge a fee. A notary will charge around 50 USD for this operation. If a lawyer is involved in the entire process, he can act as a witness.
1 day 50 USD
7 Tax and duties are paid at the National Tax authority and the transfer instrument is crossed-stamp
Agency: National Tax Authority

Payments of Stamp Duty and Transfer Tax may be paid using Cash/Certified Manager’s Cheque/Debit or Credit Card/Letter of Undertaking or Bank Guarantee. Once all payments are made, the Transfer Instrument is prepared and witnessed, in accordance to Article 152 of the Registration of Title Act. This Transfer Instrument is then sent for cross-stamping at the Stamp Office. The stamped Agreement for Sale (AFS) needs to be attached as a proof of payment to the instrument of transfer. Cross stamping is important as the Titles office will not accept the Transfer Instrument unless it is cross stamped. For all document that must be stamped, a TRN number must be provided.
A Transfer Tax Certificate is obtained which must be sent to the Title Office.
http://www.jamaicatax.gov.jm/home_template.php?page=StampDutyAndTransferTax#Assess_Collect
5 days 5% of property price (Transfer Tax) + 4% of property price (Stamp Duty)
8 Apply for registration at the Registrar of Titles
Agency: Registrar of Titles/National Land Agency, Land Title Division

The buyer applies for registration of the title under his name at the Title Office, which falls under the National Land Agency. The registration fee is fixed by law at 0.5% of the property value and it is paid at the National Land Agency.
Once the transfer is completed then the utility companies must be advised of the change in owners so that they can enter into new contractual arrangements with the new owner. Letters for the National Water Commission (water) and Jamaica Public Service Ltd (electricity); the letter of possession; and the Tax Registration form are prepared by the parties who also share the cost equally. The purchaser at the end of the day is given all these letters along with his title to the property for him to deliver these letters at his leisure.
If the valuation number to the property is added to the transfer document then the tax roll is then amended automatically.
There is an expedited procedure to be completed in 48 hs for simple transfers of previously registered properties, when there are no mortgages attached.

The documentation shall include:
(i) Instrument of Transfer
(ii) Duplicate Certificate of Title

Please note that Jamaica has two registries: i) Registrar of Titles/National Land Title Division --deals with properties that are bought under the Registration of Titles Act. ii) The Registrar General Department deals with properties that do not have a registered title (NOT the DB case study).
7 days (regular) or 2 days (for simple transfers only-no mortgages attached, at no extra cost) 0.5% of property value (registration fee) + JMD 10,000 for the expediated next-day service
  * Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.
Answer Score
Quality of the land administration index (0-30) 14.0
Reliability of infrastructure index (0-8) 5.0
What is the institution in charge of immovable property registration? The National Land Agency of Jamaica
In what format are the majority of title or deed records kept in the largest business city—in a paper format or in a computerized format (scanned or fully digital)? Computer/Scanned 1.0
Is there an electronic database for checking for encumbrances (liens, mortgages, restrictions and the like)? Yes 1.0
Institution in charge of the plans showing legal boundaries in the largest business city: The surveying and mapping department
In what format are the majority of maps of land plots kept in the largest business city—in a paper format or in a computerized format (scanned or fully digital)? Computer/Fully digital 2.0
Is there an electronic database for recording boundaries, checking plans and providing cadastral information (geographic information system)? Yes 1.0
Is the information recorded by the immovable property registration agency and the cadastral or mapping agency kept in a single database, in different but linked databases or in separate databases? Separate databases 0.0
Do the immovable property registration agency and cadastral or mapping agency use the same identification number for properties? No 0.0
Transparency of information index (0–6) 5.5
Who is able to obtain information on land ownership at the agency in charge of immovable property registration in the largest business city? Anyone who pays the official fee 1.0
Is the list of documents that are required to complete any type of property transaction made publicly available–and if so, how? Yes, online 0.5
Link for online access: http://www.nla.gov.jm/forms_landtitles.asp
Is the applicable fee schedule for any property transaction at the agency in charge of immovable property registration in the largest business city made publicly available–and if so, how? Yes, online 0.5
Link for online access: http://www.nla.gov.jm/feecalculatorapp/feecalculator.asp
Does the agency in charge of immovable property registration commit to delivering a legally binding document that proves property ownership within a specific time frame–and if so, how does it communicate the service standard? Yes, online 0.5
Link for online access: http://www.nla.gov.jm/citizens_charter.asp
Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the agency in charge of immovable property registration? Yes 1.0
Contact information: - Customer service / hotline at 1-888-991-5263 - Manager of the customer service unit at 1-922-8535-7 - Senior director of the Standards and Monitoring Unit at the Cabinet office at 1-929-1423 - Office of the Public Defender at 1-922-7089/ 1-922-7090
Are there publicly available official statistics tracking the number of transactions at the immovable property registration agency? No 0.0
Number of property transfers in the largest business city in 2014:
Who is able to consult maps of land plots in the largest business city? Freely accessible by anyone 0.5
Is the applicable fee schedule for accessing maps of land plots made publicly available—and if so, how? Yes, online 0.5
Link for online access: http://www.nla.gov.jm/pricelist/mapsfees_03cad.asp
Does the cadastral or mapping agency commit to delivering an updated map within a specific time frame—and if so, how does it communicate the service standard? Yes, online 0.5
Link for online access: http://www.nla.gov.jm/citizens_charter.asp
Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the cadastral or mapping agency? Yes 0.5
Contact information: - Customer service / hotline at 1-888-991-5263 - Manager of the customer service unit at 1-922-8535-7 - Senior director of the Standards and Monitoring Unit at the Cabinet office at 1-929-1423 - Office of the Public Defender at 1-922-7089/ 1-922-7090
Geographic coverage index (0–8) 0.0
Are all privately held land plots in the economy formally registered at the immovable property registry? No 0.0
Are all privately held land plots in the largest business city formally registered at the immovable property registry? No 0.0
Are all privately held land plots in the economy mapped? No 0.0
Are all privately held land plots in the largest business city mapped? No 0.0
Land dispute resolution index (0–8) 3.5
Does the law require that all property sale transactions be registered at the immovable property registry to make them opposable to third parties? Yes 1.5
Is the system of immovable property registration subject to a state or private guarantee? Yes 0.5
Is there a specific compensation mechanism to cover for losses incurred by parties who engaged in good faith in a property transaction based on erroneous information certified by the immovable property registry? Yes 0.5
Does the legal system require a control of legality of the documents necessary for a property transaction (e.g., checking the compliance of contracts with requirements of the law)? Yes 0.5
If yes, who is responsible for checking the legality of the documents? Registrar; Lawyer.
Does the legal system require verification of the identity of the parties to a property transaction? Yes 0.5
If yes, who is responsible for verifying the identity of the parties? Registrar; Lawyer.
Is there a national database to verify the accuracy of identity documents? No 0.0
For a standard land dispute between two local businesses over tenure rights of a property worth 50 times gross national income (GNI) per capita and located in the largest business city, what court would be in charge of the case in the first instance? General court
How long does it take on average to obtain a decision from the first-instance court for such a case (without appeal)? More than 3 years 0.0
Are there any statistics on the number of land disputes in the first instance? No 0.0
Number of land disputes in the largest business city in 2014:

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