Trinidad and Tobago

Registering Property in

Trinidad and Tobago

Below is a detailed summary of the steps, time and cost involved in registering property in Trinidad and Tobago. 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 2014.

This year, Doing Business has collected new data in 170 economies on the overall quality of land administration systems through a set of indicators on reliability, transparency, coverage and dispute resolution. The new data is available under the “Methodology Expansion” tab, below. The data are preliminary and do not have any impact on the Ease of Doing Business 2015 rankings. This data may differ from what will be published in Doing Business 2016.

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  • Standard Property Transfer

  • Property value: TTD 5,054,239.4
  • City: Port of Spain
No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
1 Conduct title search at the Land Registry
Agency: Land Registry Department

There are two systems of law under which land is held in Trinidad and Tobago: the old or Common Law system of conveyancing, and the Torrens system of registered conveyancing (The Real Property Act system - RPA). Most of land in Trinidad (about 70%) is still held under the old law system. The two systems exist side by side and it is not uncommon to find one property consisting of lands held under both systems. The registration system used is dependent on where the property is located. The deeds registartion system, established under the Common Law system, was the initial property registration system and then RPA was introduced and the property in the city of Port of Spain is predominantly still held under it. This is the reason why the calculations of the time and cost in the DB Report reflect the Common Law system. Under RPA, all dealings with land or property in endorsed on a document called a Certificate of Title, so it is also referred to as the Title system, and the Common Law system is referred to as the Deeds system. Title searches are carried out under both systems as a routine part of the property registration system. The search under RPA is quicker and less expensive as the certificate of title provides all the information on the previous owners on it. In the case of the Deeds registration, one is required to do a search for a minimum of 20 years. The search is done manually and entails longer time and higher costs. A search clerk conducts the title search at the Land Registry by examining the Index of Deeds and Country Books relating to parcel of land. The Land Registry created an online database which is in the testing stage and, thus, only grants access to search clerks. The fee for conducting a single index or a single deed search is TDD 10.
11 days (simultaneous with Procedures 2 and 3) • TDD 500-1,200 • search of a single document TDD 10,00 • copy of each page of document TDD 2,00 • certify each copy TDD 5,00 The search can be conducted at: http://www.legalaffairs.gov.tt/Land/FAQs.pdf
* 2 Obtain the Certificate of Assessment from the District Revenue Office
Agency: District Revenue Office / City Corporation / Borough Corporation

The application for Certificate of Assessment is to facilitate acquisition of WASA lines on properties in Procedure 4. The certificate is needed to verify that the applicant owns the property.
11 days (simultaneous with Procedures 1 and 2) TDD 10
* 3 Conduct companies search at the Companies' Registries
Agency: Company Registry

Searches should also be performed on the companies which are parties to the transaction. Lawyers will usually use two resources to conduct companies searches : (1) the online registry at https://rgd.legalaffairs.gov.tt/ and (2) the Companies’ Registry. Common practice is to consult a company’s online file and what is termed the physical file that is held at the Companies Registry. Downloading a company file from the online registry costs TT$20.00 while physical searches can cost anywhere around TT$500 - $1,000.00. A standard company’s search will usually take approximately one week. The company search is done by first downloading the Company's file from the Online Companies' Registry and, later, having a search clerk review the physical file at the Companies' Registry to ensure that the online file is accurate. Once the Company's file has been obtained, the attorney can confirm whether any charges exist which may affect the relevant property as well as, for the purposes of execution, the directors of the company can be identified.
Less than a day (online procedure; simultaneous with procedures 1 and 2) TDD 20 per download
4 Obtain the Clearance Certificate from the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA)
Agency: Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA)

The vendor requests the clearance certificate from WASA (the application form is obtained online at http://www.wasa.gov.tt/Forms/Clearance%20Certificate%20Form.pdf). This is to confirm that there are no outstanding rates due in respect of the property. The required documents are: - up to date Certificate of Assessment from the District Revenue Office (not older than three (3) months)- obtained in procedure 3; - a sketch showing clear directions to property; -WASA bill (if any); -The clearance fee (revised April 1st 2009) Commercial properties cost $862.50 (VAT inclusive) (B3, B4, C1, C2, C3, C4) - valid identification (ID card/Driver’s permit/Passport); - application form from any Customer Service Centre or download the Clearance Certificate application form. At this point, the purchaser’s attorney would also request up-to-date receipts from the vendor, showing that all land and building taxes have been paid.
7 business days TDD 862.5 (for commercial property) for WASA Clearance Certificate
5 Send the memorandum of the transfer to the Board of Inland Revenue for Stamp Duty assessment
Agency: Inland Revenue

The Memorandum of Transfer (PRO lands) or Deed (Common Law system) are sent to the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) along with the utility rates and land and building taxes and property valuation for assessment. The last payment collected for Lands and Buildings Taxes was for the year 2009, so the 2009 receipts are used for all transactions. The assessment of stamp duty is determined by the type of property. The amount due is written on the document and then paid to the Board of Inland Revenue in Procedure 7.
4 days no additional charge
6 After closing the deal, swear affidavits of witnesses
Agency: Commissioner of Affidavits

One of the witnesses to the execution of the memorandum of transfer signs before the Commissioner of Affidavits.
1 day TDD 5 per affidavit + TDD 2.50 exhibit fee
7 Present memorandum of transfer to be stamped at the Board of Inland Revenue
Agency: Inland Revenue

The amount of stamp duty is a percentage of the value of the property. Stamp duty rate may be found at : url: http://www.ird.gov.tt/load_page.asp?ID=46
1 day Stamp Duty paid according to the following scale for non-residential properties: Property value: Stamp Duty • Less than TTD 300,000: Stamp Duty is 2% • Between TTD 300,000 – 400,000: Stamp Duty is 5% • Greater than TTD 400,000: Stamp Duty is 7%
8 Submit the Deed or the Memorandum of the Transfer for the registration and endorsement with the Land Registry
Agency: Land Registry Department

For the RPA property, the Memorandum of Transfer and the original duplicate certificate of title are submitted to the Land Registry and for property under the Common Law system, the Deed is submitted. The Memorandum or Deed is given a unique barcode number upon registration. With respect to the Memorandum, the volume and folio number where the transaction can be found are provided. The registration/endorsement of the Instrument (Memorandum or Deed) may take 2-3 months in the case of RPA and less time unser the Common Law System.
28 days Registration fee: • Memorandum of Transfer and Certificate of Title (RPA): TDD $50 • Deed (Common Law): TDD $100 + TDD 2 per page (copy of title deed)
9 Registry prepares the return of the ownership form, showing the change in ownership for the purpose of property taxes
Agency: Land Registry Department

Property under the old law system A certified copy of the Deed is obtained from The Registrar General's Department at TTD 2 per page and TTD 5 certify/binding. Time is usually 1-2 months. The certified copy of the Deed or Memorandum is then submitted to the Port of Spain City Corporation and the purchaser's representaive will fill out a form. Property under the RPA system A certified copy of the Memorandum is obtained from The Registrar General's Department as mentioned above and The Registrar General prepares the Return of Ownership Form which is free and process takes 2-4 months and this form is taken by the Purchaser's representative to the Port of Spain City Corporation and the return is then done.
14 days TTD 2 per page and TTD 5 to certify Deed/Binding for Certified Deed
  * Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.
Answer
Reliability/Land Registry
Are the records held in a paper format or in a computerized format? If they are computerized, are they scanned documents or fully digital documents? Computer/Scanned
Is there an electronic database for checking for encumbrances (liens, mortgages, etc.)? No
Reliability/Cadastre
Are the maps held in a paper format or in a computerized format? If they are computerized, are they scanned documents or fully digital documents? Computer/Scanned
Is there an electronic database to record property boundaries, check maps and provide cadastral information (Geographic Information System)? Yes
Reliability/Interconnection
Are the land registration agency and cadastre unified in one system under one agency, or is there a dual system of separate land registry and cadastre agency? If the latter, are the land registration agency and cadastre linked? Dual system/Not linked
Do the land registration agency and cadastre use the same identification number to search for properties? No
Transparency/Land Registry
Who is able to consult titles/deeds at the land registration agency? Please select all that apply Anyone
How can they be accessed? Please select all that apply In person;Online;
If online, please provide the link http://www.legalaffairs.gov.tt/
Is the list of documents required to complete any type of property transaction made publicly available? Please select all that apply In person;Online
If online, please provide the link www.legalaffairs.gov.tt
Is the applicable fee schedule for any property transaction at the land registration agency made publicly available? Please select all that apply Online
If online, please provide the link https://www.ttconnect.gov.tt/gortt/portal/ttconnect/CitizenDetail/?WCM_GLO...
Does the land registration agency provide service standards for any property transaction (e.g. 5 working days for a transfer)?Please select all that apply No
If online, please provide the link
Are there official statistics tracking the number of transactions at the land registration agency? No
If yes, are they made available to the public?
What is the source of these statistics?
Is there a complaints mechanism through a hotline, address, e-mail or other means? No
Please provide the contact information
Transparency/Cadastre
Who is able to consult maps/surveys? Please select all that apply Anyone
How can they be accessed? Please select all that apply In person;Online
If online, please provide the link http://www.legalaffairs.gov.tt/land/PIMS_main.html
Is the applicable fee schedule to get access to maps and surveys made publicly available? Please select all that apply No
If online, please provide the link
Is there a complaints mechanism through a hotline, address, e-mail or other means? No
Please provide the contact information
Coverage/Land Registry
Is every privately-owned land plot in the country formally registered at the land registry? No
Is every privately-owned land plot in the biggest business city formally registered at the land registry? Yes
Coverage/Cadastre
Is every privately-owned land plot in the country mapped? No
Is every privately-owned land plot in the biggest business city mapped? Yes
Disputes/Legal Background
Does the law require that all property sale transactions be registered at the land registry to make them opposable to third parties? No
What is the legal basis?
Is the system of property transfer and land registration guaranteed by the state? Yes
What is the legal basis? Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, Ch 56:01 Real Property Act, Ch 56:02
Is there any 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 land registry? Yes
What is the legal basis? There is a compensation mechanism under the Real Property Act which applies only to property which is governed and registered under that Act.
Who is held responsible for verifying the identity of the parties to a property transfer? Please select all that apply Notary;Lawyer
What is the legal basis? The Proceeds of Crime Act, Ch 11:27 imposes a duty on 'listed businesses' to conduct due diligence on clients/customers in compliance with certain anti-moneylaundering practices. Persons in the real-estate business and attorneys-at-law are included in the legislation as 'listed businesses' and are therefore required to comply with the due diligence requirements.
Dispute Resolution
Does the law provide for specific mediation procedures for land disputes? No
If yes, what is the legal basis?
Does the law provide for any specific land dispute resolution mechanisms? No
If yes, what is the legal basis?
How long does it take on average to obtain a decision in a standard land dispute over a property transfer between two domestic businesses in the first instance? 3 years +
Are there any statistics on the number of land disputes in the first instance? No
What is the source of these statistics?

  Please send any comments and inputs on the data above to rru@worldbank.org

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