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Registering Property in

Zambia

Below is a detailed summary of the steps, time and cost involved in registering property in Zambia. 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 Zambia to 189 other economies.

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

    Lawyer drafts the sale agreement, which is exchanged between buyer and seller

    Agency: Lawyer

    In practice, both the seller and purchaser employ a lawyer for the transaction. The fees are negotiable, but cannot legally exceed 10%.

    3-7 days (simultaneous with Procedure 2) 1- 10% of the property value
    * 2

    The Seller requests a valuation report

    Agency: Land Valuer or Land Surveyor

    Properties that are valued over 500,000 kwacha must submit a valuation report to the Zambia Revenue Authority in order to settle the Property Transfer Tax. A copy of the title deed is needed in order to obtain the valuation report. During the inspection, the valuer or land surveyor would carry out a physical inspection of the property including, among others: (i) Measuring the space; (ii) Noting the types of finishes.

    They would then provide the current market value of the value of property in the report according to their inspection.

    4 days (1 day for the inspection, 3 days to prepare the report) ZMK 7,500 + VAT of 16% of the Property Value (Not included in the cost calculation)
    * 3

    Lawyer obtains a non-encumbrance certificate

    Agency: Registry of Lands and Deeds

    The search is conducted at the Registry of Land and Deeds. The interested parties can conduct an electronic search that provides basic information about the land, the owner of the lease, and the date of ownership of the lease. The most common search is to obtain a computer pint out of the registration file. This pint out includes the history of the property from the first day it was registered as a title deed, any sub-divisions, owners, transfers, if there are any liens or mortgages, if it has been discharged and the size, and if there are any caveats.

    In order to get more detailed information, a manual search needs to be conducted. For this search, the lawyer must go directly to the Ministry of Lands to search for the history of the plot and the relevant documents.

    1 day (simultaneous with Procedure 1) ZMW 41.70 (139 Fee Units x 0.3 Fee Unit Value)
    4

    The seller applies for the state’s consent to assign

    Agency: Commissioner of Lands

    The Commissioner of Lands will verify that the property can be transferred, by checking if ground rent has been paid, and who is buying. The land in Zambia belongs to the State, and can only be purchased by Zambians, Zambian companies, established residents or investors. This application is lodged with the Commissioner of Lands and if all ground rent has been settled and all application papers are in order, the Commissioner of Lands will issue the consent to assign. While the State’s consent to assign application is being processed, the buyer and seller can finalize the deed of assignment, but the sale price stated therein will be subject to the State’s consent for the sale at that price. The documentation shall include: (i) the consent application, (ii) consent fees, (iii) buyer’s details such as nationality, address, etc. to show he qualifies to purchase property.

    7-10 days ZMW 336.60 (1112 Fee units x 0.3 Fee Unit value)
    5

    The seller settles the Property Transfer Tax with the Zambian Revenue Authority (ZRA)

    Agency: Zambian Revenue Authority

    The Property Transfer Tax Act, CAP340, provides that whenever property is transferred, Property Transfer Tax (PTT) is charged upon and collected from, the person transferring the property (transferor) on the Realizable Value (i.e. Open Market Value or Contract Price, whichever is higher). The Property Transfer Tax (Amendment) Act, of 2015, has reduced the rate of the PTT to 5% of the Realizable Value, effective from January 1st, 2016.


    The Zambian Revenue Authority assesses if the value of the property is correctly stated in the deed of assignment and then it will produce a clearance certificate which is valid for 6 months. The tax is payable by the transferor. PTT filings require the following documentation:

    • NRC/Certificate of Incorporation of both the BUYER & SELLER;

    •State/Council CONSENT (obtained in Procedure 3);

    •Seller’s TPIN #;

    •Contract of Sale/Deed of Gift or Transfer (obtained in Procedure 1);

    •Lawyer’s STAMP (where dealing as an Advocate of EITHER party);

    •VALUATION REPORT (for ALL transactions above ZMW 500,000).


    Both a receipt for the payment of the Property Transfer Tax and the Tax Clearance Certificate are obtained in this step.

    7 days 5% of the consideration of the transaction or the value of the property, whichever is higher.
    6

    The purchaser lodges the assignment for registration at the Lands and Deeds Registry to complete the process

    Agency: Registry of Lands and Deeds

    The documentation shall include:

    Seller’s title deeds (Certificate of Title)

    Executed assignment in duplicate

    State’s consent to assign (obtain in Procedure 3)

    Receipt for payment of Property Transfer Tax (obtained in Procedure 4)

    Tax Clearance Certificate (obtained in Procedure 4)

    Form DR53 (gives brief details of the transaction, such as seller, buyer, consideration, property number, rentable value, etc.)

    Receipt for payment of transfer fees


    In June 2008, the Government of Zambia, following a survey done in 2007 to understand the reason of the backlog at the Lands Registry, implemented a Customer Service Relation Centre and also fully computerized the Land Registry.


    The Statutory Instrument No. 53 of 2013 on July 21st, 2013 established a maximum fee of ZMW 15,000 for the registration of assignments and transfers.

    25 days 1% of property value (registration fee) with a maximum of ZMW15,000 + ZMW 166.80 for the Deed of Assignment and an authentic copy (276 Fee Units x 0,3 Fee Unit Value x 2)

    * Takes place simultaneously with previous procedure.

  • Measure of quality
    Answer Score
    Quality of the land administration index (0-30) 7.5
    Reliability of infrastructure index (0-8) 0.0
    What is the institution in charge of immovable property registration? Lands and Deeds Registry (Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection)
    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)? Paper 0.0
    Is there an electronic database for checking for encumbrances (liens, mortgages, restrictions and the like)? No 0.0
    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)? Paper 0.0
    Is there an electronic database for recording boundaries, checking plans and providing cadastral information (geographic information system)? No 0.0
    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) 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: 320
    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) 6.0
    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)? No 0.0
    If yes, who is responsible for checking the legality of the documents? .
    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.
    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? The Lands Tribunal
    How long does it take on average to obtain a decision from the first-instance court for such a case (without appeal)? Less than a year 3.0
    Are there any statistics on the number of land disputes in the first instance? Yes 0.5
    Number of land disputes in the largest business city in 2015: 174
    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