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Registering Property in

Samoa

Below is a detailed summary of the steps, time and cost involved in registering property in Samoa. 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 190 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2016.

Compare Samoa to 189 other economies.

  • Measure of efficiency
    No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
    1

    Conduct a search of title at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Meteorology

    Agency: Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment

    A search of title is conducted at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment in order to establish the vendor's title to ownership and to check for encumbrances on the property. It is common practice that the buyer's solicitor conducts a search at the land registry.The title search is done by volume and folio reference as well as parcel number (but registered chronologically). With the new computerized system, a property title search now provides all information regarding the rightful owner of the property, and shows if any charges against that property.
    1 day Included in Procedure 2 if done by a lawyer
    2

    A lawyer prepares the sale and purchase agreement and notarizes the deed of transfer

    Agency: Law Office

    A sale purchase agreement is prepared by a lawyer. The participation of a lawyer is mandatory. The same lawyer/notary will notarize the deed of transfer between the seller and the buyer. The private practitioners in Samoa are entitled to notarize as well.
    1-5 days About WST 2,300
    3

    An abstract for the stamp duty is prepared at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment

    Agency: Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment

    An abstract for payment of stamp duty is prepared at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment, determining the valuation of the property.
    About 7 days no cost
    4

    Payment of stamp duty at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment

    Agency: Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment

    As of the Stamp Duty Amendment Act of 2012 on 26th January 2012, effective on April 2012, the stamp duty rate varies according to the property value as follows:

    Less than WST 50,000 - 1% of the property value
    Equal to WST 50,000 or less than WST 100,000 - WST 500 + 2% of the excess above WST 50,000
    Equal to WST 100,000 or less than WST 200,000 - WST 1,500 + 3% of the excess above WST 100,000
    Equal to or more than WST 200,000 - WST 4,500 + 4% of the excess above WST 200,000

    The stamp duty is paid at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment. If there is a mortgage (in this case there is not) this has to be discharged first, taking about 5 days. The discharged is signed by the mortgagee, usually a bank. It is then stamped. The stamp duty is WST 2 for the original and WST 5 for the copy payable to the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment. It can take 5 days or more. The discharge is then registered with the Lands Registry at the Ministry of Natural Resources.
    1 day WST 4,500 + 4% of the excess property value above WST 200,000 (stamp duty) + WST 5 for a copy

    5

    Registration at the Land, Survey, and Environment Department

    Agency: Land Management Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

    Registration of new title: The land registry in Samoa has been fully computerized, and the property transfer process has been sped up significantly. The Land Titles Registration Act 2008 implemented on March 2nd, 2009 has changed the registration system in Samoa from a Deed to a Title system (Torrens system). The project started in June 2005. At the same time, the land registry was being fully computerized and free-form deed documents were replaced by Form A4, thus facilitating registration. The Land registry has also issued a flat fee of WST 100 for conducting a search of the property title and for lodging the deed of conveyance for registration. Article 22 stipulates that a corporation may affix its seal in lieu of signing the instrument of transfer and it will be considered as signed by the Registrar.
    3 days WST 100 (registration fee)

  • Measure of quality
    Answer Score
    Quality of the land administration index (0-30) 12.5
    Reliability of infrastructure index (0-8) 6.0
    What is the institution in charge of immovable property registration? Land Management Division
    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
    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/Scanned 1.0
    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? Single database 1.0
    Do the immovable property registration agency and cadastral or mapping agency use the same identification number for properties? Yes 1.0
    Transparency of information index (0–6) 1.5
    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, in person 0.0
    Link for online access:
    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, in person 0.0
    Link for online access:
    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? No 0.0
    Link for online access:
    Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the agency in charge of immovable property registration? No 0.0
    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 2015:
    Who is able to consult maps of land plots in the largest business city? Anyone who pays the official fee 0.5
    Is the applicable fee schedule for accessing maps of land plots made publicly available—and if so, how? Yes, in person 0.0
    Link for online access:
    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? No 0.0
    Link for online access:
    Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the cadastral or mapping agency? No 0.0
    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) 5.0
    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? No 0.0
    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? 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? Lawyer.
    Is there a national database to verify the accuracy of identity documents? Yes 1.0
    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? Land and title division of Samoa High Court
    How long does it take on average to obtain a decision from the first-instance court for such a case (without appeal)? Between 2 and 3 years 1.0
    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 2015:
    Equal access to property rights index (-2–0) 0.0
    Do unmarried men and unmarried women have equal ownership rights to property? Yes 0.0
    Do married men and married women have equal ownership rights to property? Yes 0.0