Obtain a Title Search Certificate that shows all encumbrances on the property and a copy of the Title at the National Land Agency
Agency: National Land Agency
The lawyer carries out a title search and obtains a copy at the National Land Agency (costs JMD 500). Furthermore it is a common practice to request a Title Search Certificate to verify all encumbrances, liens or caveats registered or attached to the title (costs JMD 1,000). It is best practice to request both a copy title and search certificate.
The 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
However, the Title Search Certificate cannot be obtained online, as it must be duly stamped by the National Land Agency. The certificate provides more legal security as it provides comprehensive information of all registered encumbrances that affect the property which are guaranteed by the National Land Agency at the moment of expedition of the certificate. It takes between 2 and 5 days to obtain the certificate. The National Land Agency does not notify when the certificate has been issued so users have to follow up on a regular basis to retrieve the certificate.
Time and cost: 2 days, JMD 1,500 (Title Search Certificate = JMD 1000 & Copy of Land Title JMD 500)
Verification that the Company is properly registered with the Registrar of Companies
Agency: Registrar of Companies
The attorney-at-law submits to the Registrar of Titles a sworn affidavit (standard form) that the company is properly registered at the Company registry. Since 2014, the Registrar of Titles does the verification and no longer requires the certificate’s submission. However, it is still common practice for attorneys to obtain and submit the document.
It is possible to verify if the company is active in http://www.orcjamaica.com
Time and cost: Less than one day (online), JMD 1,000
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.
A statement showing the property taxes payable/ that no taxes are payable is available online at https://www.jamaicatax.gov.jm. However, the Stamp Office does not accept this statement for the purposes of assessing the Agreement for taxes payable on the sale and requires the above-mentioned certificate.
Time and cost: 1 day, no charge
Assessment of tax and duties at the Government Stamp Office
Agency: Tax Administration Jamaica
A signed Agreement for Sale (AFS) 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.
Turn around time for the assessment of taxes payable on the sale can range from a short 7 days to as long as 30 days in some instances. Longer periods normally happen when the Stamp Office sends inspectors to conduct a site visit to determine whether the purchase price payable in the sale is above or below market value.
Time and cost: 7 days, no charge
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 for due diligence purposes.
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 is 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.
Preparing the report generally also attracts General Consumption Tax of 16.5% (not included when calculating the costs of this procedure).
Time and cost: 7 days, JMD 80,000
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.
Time and cost: 1 day, no cost if the attorney or the justice of peace witness the transfer. USD 50 if a notary public witnesses the transfer
Tax and duties are paid at the National Tax authority and the transfer instrument is crossed-stamped
Agency: Tax Administration Jamaica
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 Registrar of Titles 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 submitted to the Registrar of Titles.
It is required by law that the Vendor pay the transfer tax on the sale in its entirety. It is customary that the Vendor and Purchaser each pay a half of the stamp duty which will work out to be 2% each.
Time and cost: 5 days, JMD 667,358.54 (2% of property value (Transfer Tax) + 5000 flat fee (Stamp Duty))
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 Registrar of Titles, which is a division 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. The registration fee of 0.5% is customarily shared equally between the Vendor and Purchaser.
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:
- Instrument of Transfer
- 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 applicable to the Doing Business case study).
Time and cost: 2 days, JMD 175,589.63 (0.5% of property value (registration fee) + JMD 10,000 for the expediated next-day service)