Land Registry Circular Memorandum No. 2/04
26 November 2004
Operation Details and Procedural Changes of
the Central Registration System to be Implemented
in February 2005
This circular gives advanced notice of changes that will soon be made to the Land Registry's organization and procedures and advises customers how they may be affected.
1. In order to give better services to customers, the Land Registry will soon be implementing the Central Registration System. The nine registries now operating will be merged into a single registration unit for the whole of Hong Kong. A customer centre (the Customer Centre) providing convenient search, deeds lodgement and Owners Corporation services will be set up on the 19th Floor of the Queensway Government Offices (QGO). Under the new system -
- Registration of all property transactions will be carried out at QGO. Separate registration offices will no longer be maintained in New Territories districts. All instruments will have to be delivered to the Customer Centre for registration.
- Search services will continue to be available at the Customer Centre as well as at seven New Territories Search Offices. Self-service terminals will be installed in these offices. Customers can obtain search services from the self-service terminals even during lunch break of our counter services. Search services will also be made available over the Internet. The existing Direct Access Services making use of a proprietary network will be discontinued.
- Applications for registration of Owners Corporations and search of Owners Corporation records for Hong Kong, Kowloon and Islands will be received at the Customer Centre and for other New Territories districts at their respective Search Offices.
- The Reports on Title and Owners Incorporation Office will be relocated from Marina House, Sai Wan Ho to QGO.
Please refer to Appendix 1 for the addresses of the Land Registry offices under the Central Registration System.
2. The Land Registration (Amendment) Ordinance, enacted in July 2002, provides the legal framework for the above changes. Commencement of the remaining parts of this legislation and implementation of the Central Registration System is dependent on replacement of the Land Registry's old IT systems. The Integrated Registration Information System (IRIS) is being developed for this purpose. IRIS has now completed development and is about to move into the final phase of preparation for service delivery.
3. A commencement notice setting out the date (the Commencement Date) on which it is intended to bring the remaining parts of the Land Registration (Amendment) Ordinance into effect is expected to be issued shortly. Subject to the Legislative Council's approval of the notice, IRIS will be put into service and the Central Registration System begins operating. The Commencement Date is expected to be 12th February 2005.
4. We will issue further circulars to confirm the Commencement Date and advise on associated arrangements nearer the time.
5. The following table sets out the specific changes to procedures and services that will be introduced when Central Registration System comes into operation and directs you to subsequent paragraphs that explain the changes in more detail.
|Procedural Changes relating to Central Registration System|
|6||Delivery of instruments for registration||All instruments to be delivered to the Customer Centre|
|7||Memorial Number||District code identifiers and format for new 14-digit memorial numbers|
|8||Payment of registration fees||One-stop collection procedure for registration fee and lodgement of instrument|
|9||Plan attached to an instrument||Attachment of duplicate plan to memorial no longer required except for plans larger than A3 size|
|10||Certificate of registration||Certificate of registration with machine-printed signature|
|11||Return of "Stopped Deed" to lodging party||"Stopped Deed" will be returned by courier service/post instead of personal collection|
|12||Solicitors Code||Customers will be advised on their new customer codes|
|13||New memorial form||Use of the new memorial form and exchange of the old form booklets|
|14||Property Reference Number (PRN)||Enquiry of PRN and specifying it in memorial form|
|15||Chinese property address||Completing the Chinese address in memorial form|
|16||Computerized land register||New format of land register to be printed on A4 paper; certified copy with machine-printed signature on security paper|
|17||Buildings standing on both Urban and Tsuen Wan lots||For each of the properties concerned, the existing registers will be transferred to a single new register|
|IRIS Online Services|
|18||Online Services||Online Services to be provided on the Internet|
|19||Transitional arrangement for Direct Access Services (DAS) subscribers||Transfer of the DAS accounts to the new IRIS Online Services accounts
|20||Search tickets||Sale of search tickets will cease|
6. Delivery of instruments for registration
6.1 At present, the Land Registry provides registration services through nine district-based registries which spread over Hong Kong. The service of each of the registries is confined to the registration of instruments relating to the land within its own district. Under the Central Registration System all instruments can be lodged at the Customer Centre for registration, irrespective of the property location. For an instrument affecting a number of properties located in different districts, the lodging party will only need to complete and deliver one memorial for registration.
7. Memorial Number
7.1 On the Commencement Date, the memorial numbers of memorials delivered before the implementation of the Central Registration System will be prefixed with the following set of district code identifiers for identification and retrieval purposes:
|District Code Identifier||Memorial Numbers relating to|
|UB||Urban Land Registry|
|IS||Islands New Territories Land Registry|
|N||North New Territories Land Registry|
|SK||Sai Kung New Territories Land Registry|
|ST||Sha Tin New Territories Land Registry|
|TM||Tuen Mun New Territories Land Registry|
|TP||Tai Po New Territories Land Registry|
|TW||Tsuen Wan New Territories Land Registry|
|YL||Yuen Long New Territories Land Registry|
7.2 Each of the district code identifiers represents one of the existing nine registries and indicates the district in which the memorial was delivered. It will be shown on the Land Register together with the memorial number. For example, ST123456 denotes the memorial numbered 123456, delivered to the Sha Tin New Territories Land Registry before the Commencement Date.
7.3 The Land Registry will number the memorials received on or after the Commencement Date using a new series of numbers. Each memorial will be given a unique 14-digit memorial number. The 14-digit number is made up of four groups of number (e.g. AAAAAABBBBCCCX). The first three groups, consisting of thirteen digits record the exact order of receipt of each memorial. Each group defines a particular detail of the receipt order for a specific memorial. The meanings are as follows:
(a) The first six digits (i.e., AAAAAA) stand for the date of receipt of the memorial presented in numerical format (in term of YYMMDD, i.e., Year, Month and Day respectively; each with two digits).
(b) The next four digits (from the 7th to 10th digit inclusive, i.e., BBBB) record the order of receipt of each batch of memorials received on that date.
(c) The succeeding three digits (from the 11th to 13th digit inclusive, i.e., CCC) represent the order of memorials within each batch of memorials received.
The 14th digit (i.e., X) is a check digit for control purpose and does not relate to the order of receipt. There will be no space or dashes between these digits.
7.4 For example, in memorial number 05120100010019, "051201" stands for the date of receipt in the respective order of Year (YY), Month (MM) and Day (DD). All memorials received on 1st December 2005 are given memorial numbers starting with "051201". The order of receipt of each batch of memorials received on each day is shown in the four digits that follow. In the example, "0001" means that the subject memorial belongs to the first batch of memorials received on 1st December 2005. The next three digits further identify the sequence of memorials within each batch of memorials. Hence, "001", as in the example, is assigned to the first memorial of the batch received. The last digit, i.e., "9" in the example, is the check digit that may vary from memorial number to memorial number.
8. Payment of registration fees and payment forms
8.1 When the Central Registration System begins, we will streamline the deeds receipt and payment activities by providing a one-stop counter service at the Customer Centre. Upon presenting a memorial for registration, the registration fee will be collected at the service counter in accordance with the amount indicated by the customer on the memorial form. Customers will not need to make prior payment at a separate shroff counter. An official receipt will be issued showing the amount of fee collected, the serial number pre-printed on the memorial form and the memorial number of the memorial delivered. As a result of the procedural changes, the use of the payment forms currently used by Urban Land Registry and New Territories Land Registries for payment of registration fees will cease. To avoid the deeds being taken out of order by accident before they reach the service counter, lodging parties should prepare a list showing the proper order of lodgement for reference.
9. Plan attached to an instrument
9.1 At present, a copy of any plan mentioned in and attached to or endorsed on an instrument delivered for registration must be attached to the memorial accompanying the instrument. Upon implementation of Central Registration System, it will no longer be necessary to submit a duplicate copy of the plan in A3 or smaller size. Only a copy of any plan that is larger than A3 size must still be attached to the memorial. Customers are particularly reminded that, according to Regulation 8 of the Land Registration Regulations, a plan attached to or endorsed on an instrument shall be of A4 size unless otherwise permitted by the Land Registry. To obtain the best quality of electronic imaging, I would like to seek your assistance in delivering paper plans instead of plastic/linen ones for our processing.
10. Certificate of registration
10.1 At present the Land Registrar is required to sign a certificate of registration to complete the registration of an instrument. To enhance service quality and security, under the new system the Land Registrar will be issuing a certificate with a printed signature. The certificate will be printed on a security label with a Land Registry logo in colour.
11. Return and re-delivery of instruments withheld from registration
11.1 Upon implementation of the Central Registration System, instruments withheld from registration will no longer be collected by the lodging parties at the Land Registry. They will be returned by courier service or post to the lodging parties concerned, in accordance with the solicitors codes specified in the memorials. On special request by a lodging party, personal collection of a particular document can be arranged.
11.2 A dedicated counter will be set up at the Customer Centre for the receipt of re-delivered "Stopped Deeds" and miscellaneous services.
12. Solicitors Code
12.1 A new set of customer codes for use in memorial forms will be assigned to replace the existing solicitors codes. Customers will be notified of their new codes individually.
13. New Form of Memorial to be prescribed by the Land Registrar
13.1 A new form of memorial has been designed to improve the quality of services we provide. This will be an integral part of the new one-stop deeds receipt service. Notes of guidance on completing the new form will be published and also available online from the Land Registry's website about a month before the Commencement Date. A copy of the new form and explanatory note is attached at Appendix 2 for reference.
13.2 The new form will be specified by the Land Registrar under Regulation 5(1) of the Land Registration Regulations and published in the Hong Kong Government Gazette before the Commencement Date. The new form should be used for lodging instruments for registration with effect from the Commencement Date. All existing memorial forms will become obsolete on the same date.
13.3 Attention is particularly drawn to the statutory requirement of the Land Registration (Amendment) Ordinance that the forms of memorial to be used have to be provided by the Land Registry. Each sheet of the form is serial-numbered to enable logging of the proper order of receipt. Lodging parties should not print or photocopy their own forms for use. Memorial forms not provided by the Land Registry will not be accepted and the instrument will be withheld from registration. The Land Registry has arranged for the printing of this new form. It will be available for sale on 19th Floor QGO and any of the New Territories Land Registries before the Commencement Date. The price is HK$15 for each book of 100 sheets. A notice advising the sale of the new form will be issued later.
13.4 Customers are advised not to over-stock with the existing forms. After the Commencement Date, the Land Registry will exchange complete booklets of old forms supplied by the Land Registry for booklets of the new forms. Refund for loose sheets of the old form will not be arranged.
14 Property Reference Number to be used in memorial form
14.1 When the Central Registration System comes into operation, the Land Registry will assign a unique 8-digit identification number, the Property Reference Number (PRN), to each and every land register. The PRN will be shown on the land register to facilitate easy identification and quick retrieval of the land records. Customers will be able to obtain the PRN of any property without charge from the electronic directory available from our Information Counter in the Customer Centre. These will be available on the Commencement Date.
14.2 In a memorial delivered for registration under the new procedures, the lodging party is required to specify the PRN of the property in the "Property Reference Number" box in the memorial. As PRNs are not available from the existing land records, the lodging party will have difficulty in completing the memorial in this respect in the initial stage of IRIS operation. A grace period of two months with effect from the Commencement Date will be allowed. During the grace period, the Land Registry will not withhold from registration a memorial where the PRN of the property is known but has not been inserted in the memorial, provided that the memorial is properly completed in all other respects. After the grace period, memorials without the PRN number will be withheld from registration.
14.3 Under IRIS when customers conduct searches over the Internet or self-service terminals, the PRN can be used as an alternative search key. Using the PRN to search for a register simplifies and speeds up the search process.
15. Chinese property addresses to be specified in memorials
15.1 The Land Registration (Amendment) Ordinance enables the Chinese address to be specified in memorial forms. The land register will then be updated with the Chinese address. To help lodging parties to complete the Chinese address in memorial forms, a guideline has been prepared and is available on the Land Registry website (http://www.landreg.gov.hk). As a general rule, the Rate Demand issued by the Commissioner of Rating and Valuation is an authoritative reference point for the Chinese address of a property.
16. Copy of computerized register to be provided by IRIS
16.1 IRIS will produce an enhanced format of the land register. The unique PRN identifier will be shown on each register. Where known, the address and party names in Chinese will be entered on the register. A dash will be shown in the relevant fields if the owner name in Chinese and the Chinese address are not yet available and vice versa for the English name and address. A specimen of the new format is attached at Appendix 3 for reference.
16.2 Each copy of a register supplied by the Land Registry will be printed on loose sheets of A4 size plain paper, as opposed to the continuous sheet of computer printout of 11 inches x 15 inches currently in use. Features, including print control number, page control, PRN and printing date shown on each page, will provide better security control.
16.3 Certified copies of the register will be printed on loose sheets of A4 size paper with security background. A certifying clause containing a printed signature will be machine-printed on the front page of the certified copy.
17. Buildings affecting registers kept in both Urban Land Registry and Tsuen Wan New Territories Land Registry
17.1 There are several buildings that stand on both Urban and Tsuen Wan lots. For these buildings, the Urban Land Registry and the Tsuen Wan New Territories Land Registry keep their own registers at present. A searcher may need to obtain both sets of land registers to have a complete land record of the property concerned. The addresses and names of these buildings are set out in Appendix 4. On implementation of the new system, for each of these buildings, the Land Registry will open a new set of registers. The original sets of registers kept in the two registries will be closed. The new register will contain all the memorials transferred from the two old registers concerning the same property. In the new registers, the memorials will be arranged by the district in which they were registered, rather than by date of receipt. Remarks explaining the changes will be added to the registers concerned.
IRIS Online Services
18. Online Services to be provided by IRIS
18.1 IRIS will provide remote search services to our customers in place of the Direct Access Services (DAS). The IRIS Online Services will be delivered on the Internet. Anyone subscribing to Internet services through an Internet Service Provider will be able to access the IRIS Online Services. Government users can access the services through the government network. Customers can access the online services directly at http://www.iris.gov.hk or through a hyperlink from the Land Registry's website (http://www.landreg.gov.hk).
18.2 The IRIS Online Services will be available in two forms, namely, (i) on subscription basis and (ii) on an ad hoc basis (i.e. on a need basis). The IRIS subscription service is provided to assist frequent users. It will offer monthly billing arrangements, monthly transaction listing by account and other special features. For ad hoc online users, online payment of service fees by VISA, MASTERCARD and PPS will be accepted to enable searches to be completed at home or at the office. The service hours for remote search services will be extended to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week (08:30 to 00:30 everyday including Sundays and public holidays).
18.3 A step-by-step demonstration and tutorial of the IRIS Online Services will be available from the Land Registry's website. A CD-ROM of the e-kit will also be provided to subscribers for reference and training purposes. Classroom training on fee-paying basis will be organized by the Contractor. Invitation to enrolment will be issued later. The Land Registry will continue to provide a Telephone Help Desk services to our online customers after the rollout of IRIS.
19. Transition arrangement for subscribers to the Direct Access Services
19.1 The Land Registry will issue a letter with new terms and conditions to each DAS subscriber before IRIS goes live inviting them to transfer their accounts to the IRIS Online Services. Subject to the subscriber's agreement, the Land Registry will transfer their DAS accounts to the new online accounts. A new set of Login IDs and passwords will be assigned to the subscribers under IRIS. Subscribers will be advised individually on the transitional arrangement later. For government users, the connectivity arrangement has been advised separately.
Search Services at Land Registry
20. Search Tickets
20.1 Under IRIS, counter search customers will not be required to buy search tickets for placing orders for computerized registers or other land records. Payment by cash, cheque, EPS, VISA and MASTERCARD will be accepted at the service counters. Customers are encouraged not to stock up on search tickets in the coming months. Existing value-bearing search tickets will not be sold or accepted after the Commencement Date. The refund arrangement for previously sold tickets will be announced later.
21. For enquiries, please contact our Customer Service Manager, Mrs Cindy LAM (now changed to Ms Eva LAU), at 2867 2882 (now change to 3105 0000) or e-mail to us at email@example.com.
(Mrs Alice Lee)