This glossary defines vocabulary and terms used on this website.

Defect

A defect is a reason why an application for the registration of an interest in land cannot be registered, as determined by an Examiner of Title. The term is also used to describe the state of an application that has been the subject of a Notice Declining to Register (i.e., being “in defect”). 

Document

A document refers to any of the land title forms or supporting material (including survey plans) which are submitted as part of an application to register an interest in land within British Columbia. Examples include: title transfers, mortgages andeasements. 

Duplicate Certificate of Title

A duplicate of the official certificate of title maintained in the land title register. The issuance of any duplicate certificate of title operates to prevent certain types of transactions on title (e.g., a transfer) from occurring until the duplicate certificate of title is surrendered back to the land title office.

Easement

A limited right attached to land (the dominant tenement) for the benefit of the owner of dominant tenement to use land of the owner of servient tenement. An example of an easement would be a driveway crossing one owner's land (the servient tenement) to provide access to another owner's land (the dominant tenement).

Encumbrance

A judgment, mortgage, lien, Crown debt or other claim to or on land created or given for any purpose registered against a title. See also Charge. 

Estate in land

The two main types of estate are:

  • Freehold estate: Results in ownership and possession of land for an indeterminable period of time. The most common freehold estate is fee simple, absolute ownership limited only by Crown rights and encumbrances noted on the title. A life estate is another form of freehold that entails possession of the land for the duration of a person's life.
  • Charge: An estate or interest in land that is less than fee simple, such as a lease, which is the possession of land for a specific period of time, as defined in the lease.

Examination

The process of determining the registrability of a document or plan (or package of documents / applications). To put it in general terms, the examination determines whether a proposed transaction is acceptable. 

Examiner of Title

LTSA employees authorized to conduct examination, registration and/or filing of documents and plans and update of records in the land title register. Liaison examiners are examiners of title who work in the Customer Service Centre. Prior to becoming examiners of title, employees must successfully complete an internal land title examination course and pass a series of exams.

Fee Simple

Fee Simple is the form of ownership of real property (real estate) in which the owner has the right to control and transfer the property at will.

Form

An instrument prescribed under legislative or regulatory authority, including land title forms established by the Director of Land Titles. A form may be used as an application, instrument, or supporting document. An electronic form of instrument is the electronic equivalent of, and has the same legal effect as, a traditional paper instrument. Forms are also prescribed by the Surveyor General. All major forms have electronic and manual versions available online.

Indefeasible Title

The title granted to a person as a registered owner under the Land Title Act; an indefeasible title is conclusive evidence, as against the Crown and all other persons, that the person named in the title is indefeasibly entitled to an estate in fee simple to the land described in the title, subject only to certain exceptions set out in s. 23(2) of the Land Title Act.

Index Books

Index books are part of the LTSA's collection of historical records. They are hardcopy ledgers and registers that contain references, notations and entries about land title interests and surveys for individual parcels.

Various index books were created throughout the years to fulfill record keeping, create cross-referencing capability, meet document retrieval needs and facilitate historical record preservation. Some continue to be used for historical and legal research.

Interest in Land

The most general term used to indicate a right, title or estate in land ranging from fee simple to lesser rights or estates such as leases, easements, mortgages or liens. See also Charge.

Joint Tenancy

A form of co-ownership of interests in land in which the ownership is acquired at the same time and where each owner has an equal interest and equal rights to possess the land. Under the Land Title Act, neither consent of, nor notice to, other owners in joint tenancy is required for disposition of each owner’s interest. Upon the death of one owner, the interest of the deceased joint tenant passes to the surviving joint tenant(s).

Judgment

A court order or decree by the Federal Court of Canada, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court or Provincial Court or a judge of those courts by which usually money is payable to any person which entitles that person to register the order in the land title office.

Land Act

An enactment that provides the statutory framework for the administration of Crown land, establishes the responsibilities of government Ministers regarding the administration of Crown land and provides for the delegation of certain authorities. Many powers have been delegated to the Surveyor General with respect to Crown land definition and disposition.

View the Land Act.

Land Survey Act

An enactment that establishes the general guidelines for the conduct of legal surveys in the province and includes specific authorities of the Surveyor General with respect to certain survey practices.

View the Land Survey Act.

Land Title Act

A comprehensive 400-section statute that prescribes the legal program under which the land title system operates, the Land Title Act designates:

  • The Director of Land Titles to regulate land title practice.
  • The Registrar(s) of Land Titles as the primary statutory decision maker(s) in the administration of the land title system.

The Land Title Act establishes the land title register and requirements respecting its operation and records.

View the Land Title Act.

Land Title and Survey Authority Act

The enactment that establishes the LTSA as a not-for-profit corporation, governed by a Board of Directors for the purpose of managing, operating and maintaining the land title and survey systems of BC, facilitating the execution of Crown grants, and carrying on other necessary or advisable activities; additionally, the LTSA is established the operate a land title system for a First Nation under a FNCIDA agreement.

Under the Act, the Board is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction and governance of the LTSA, and is authorized to appoint the Chief Executive Officer who in turn is authorized to appoint the Director of Land Titles, the Surveyor General and the Deputy Surveyor General(s). 

View the Land Title and Survey Authority Act.

Land Title Electronic Forms Guidebook

Provides authorized forms as established by the Director of Land Titles and includes step-by-step instructions on completion and submission of applications to the land title office. The Guide is available for purchase from the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC. Commonly referred to as the Green Book it has the effect of being a regulation.

Land Title Practice Manual

A reference book for land title staff, conveyancing professionals and all others who make applications to the LTSA.

Land Title Register

That part of the records of the land title office, including electronic records, where information respecting registered indefeasible titles is stored. It is independently maintained by the LTSA under the statutory authority of the registrars of land titles and in accordance with the requirements of the Land Title Act respecting permanent records retention.

Land Title Vault

Physical repository of land title records and other related documents. Direct access to original land title and survey records is limited to LTSA employees and those with direct access privileges including land surveyors, historical researchers and registry agents.

Legal Description

A unique identifier for each parcel of land in the province. It is a text description that may include lot number, plan number, survey system identifiers (Range, Block, Township, District Lot, District, etc.) and other text. 

Legal Notations

Information recorded against a title to land following the receipt of an application concerning matters other than ownership of interests in land, such as statutory restrictions on use (such as the application of a heritage designation bylaw) or rights relating to other land (such as the existence of an appurtenant easement on the title of adjacent land).

Legal Surveys

A survey of land carried out by a land surveyor for the purpose of establishing legally enforceable boundaries. High quality cadastral surveys complement the integrity of the Province’s land title system and are also critical in defining other important boundaries that the Surveyor General is responsible for overseeing; including mine sites, oil and gas well-sites, public roads, pipeline and utility corridors, protected areas and First Nation treaty settlement areas. 

Lien

An interest in land claimed to secure the payment of a debt or the performance of some other obligation. Examples include Claim of Builders Lien for payment of debt related to labour or materials, Certificate of Lien for payment of strata fees, or Tax Act Liens for payment of various taxes.

Mark Up

The act of recording a pending land title application against an affected parcel(s) in the land title register to record the time, date and nature of the application(s) and to provide notice of the pending application(s).

Mortgage

An interest in land granted by the registered owner (the mortgagor) to a lender (the mortgagee) as security for a debt.

Parcel

A lot, block or other area in which land is held or into which land is subdivided.

Parcel Identifier (PID)

A nine-digit number that uniquely identifies a parcel in the land title register of in British Columbia. The registrar assigns PID numbers to parcels for which a title is being entered in the computer register as a registered title. The Land Title Act refers to the PID as the permanent parcel identifier.

Pending Applications

An application that has been received by a land title office, time and date stamped and is awaiting registration or filing. 

Plan (Survey) - Land Title Act

A graphical representation of a survey conducted by a BC land surveyor which shows the spatial extent, area, corner monuments and generally the geographic location of a specific area of land for the purpose of:

  • Establishing the boundaries of a new parcel of titled land; e.g. Subdivision Plan, Strata Plan, Reference plan pursuant to Section 99(1)(c), (f), (g) and (h).
  • Defining an area of land that is being dedicated to the public or to close an area that has been so dedicated, e.g. road, park or land returned to Crown.
    Re-establishing a corner or angle of an existing parcel of titled land, e.g. posting plan.
    Registering a charge against title to land affecting a portion of land within a title, e.g. Easement, Covenant, Lease, and Statutory Right of Way.

Land title examiners examine survey plans affecting all privately-held land under the Land Title Act.

Plan (Survey) - Surveyor General Division

A graphical representation of a survey conducted by a BC land surveyor that shows the extent, area, corner monuments and generally the geographic location of an area of untitled land, more specifically being:

  • A parcel as defined pursuant to the Land Act
  • An interest pursuant to the Mineral Tenure Act
  • An interest pursuant to the Coal Act
  • A wellsite location pursuant to the Oil & Gas Activities Act
  • The reposting of a corner of any of the above

Additionally a plan may be a graphical description of a Park or Protected area which is not based upon a survey by a BC land surveyor, and finally, the boundaries of a park or protected area as surveyed by a BC land surveyor.

Privately-Held Land

Land that has been granted and is owned by private individuals or corporations and is registered in the land title register.

Property Transfer Tax

A tax paid when one purchases or gains an interest in property that is registered at the land title office. The provincial Ministry of Finance is responsible for administering the Property Transfer Tax (PTT). If you require assistance or a copy of the form, please contact the Ministry of Finance, Property Transfer Tax Section. Consult the Ministry's webpage.

Registered Owner

A registered owner is the person who owns an interest in land, either in terms of ownership of title in fee simple, or ownership of a charge. A registered owner is recorded in the land title register upon registration. 

Registration

The act of recording the ownership of, or interests in, land in the land title register.

Release

The cancellation of a charge or legal notation on title. For example, when a mortgage has been paid off, the mortgage endorsement is released from title. Also known as a discharge.

Right of Way

A right to have access to land for a specific use, often granted to a municipality or utility company in order to provide and maintain services to parcels of land (such as underground cables or pipelines).

State of Title Certificate

A formal statutory certificate issued upon request, certifying the current state of a title. The State of Title Certificate is a document that is issued by the land title office giving evidence of ownership of title and all particulars concerning registered interests in that title as at the date and time of its issuance. The State of Title Certificate is issued electronically or as a hardcopy document.

Strata Lot (Bare Land)

A lot created under the Strata Property Act not comprised of part of a building but with an interest in common property.

Strata Lot (Building)

A lot comprised of part of a building with an interest in common property. Commonly known as a condominium or townhouse.

Subdivision

The division of land into two or more parcels, generally by deposit of a subdivision plan.

Subscriber

An individual who is authorized to electronically sign electronic applications, electronic instruments, electronic instruments, electronic plan applications or property transfer tax returns.

Surveyor General Vault

Physical repository of plans, field Notes, Crown grants and other related documents for the province of BC. It holds hard copies of Crown grants, E&N Railway Plans, Oil and Gas Activities Act Well Site Plans, Dominion Township Plans, Land Act Plans, Railway Plans, Indian Reserve Plans, Mineral Tenure Plans, etc.

Title

Depending on the context in which it is used title means, on the one hand the right of ownership of land and, on the other, the instruments or evidence of such right. In the register, title to land evidences fee simple ownership of land in one or more Registered Owner(s). Also referred to as land title and indefeasible title. A title may also refer to the ownership of interests in land less than fee simple, such as a mortgage or easement.

Title Search

A record issued by the land title office setting out the particulars of a title to land generated from information contained in the register at a specific point in time.

Transfer

The voluntary act of a registered owner of an interest in land transferring that interest to another person, typically as a consequence of a sale or gift of the land to that person. The term includes a conveyance, a grant and an assignment. 

Transmission

A change of ownership of land consequent on death, sale under execution, order of court or other act of law, or on any testamentary settlement or legal succession in the case of intestacy.

Withdrawal

The act of withdrawing an application before it is registered, either voluntarily or in response to having received a Notice Declining to Register.

Air Space Parcel

A volumetric, three-dimensional parcel that has upper and lower limits in addition to horizontal (side) limits contained within a single land parcel. May or may not be occupied in whole or in part by a building or other structure. May exist on, above, or below the surface and have any sort of shape as long as sufficiently described in an air space plan and complies with General Survey Instruction Rules (GSIR).

Applicant

The person named on a land title form as the person acquiring an interest in land. The person named as applicant in the application section is the person with whom land title staff is authorized to communicate with regarding an application.

Application

A request submitted to the land title office for the registrar to discharge a statutory duty, including: registration of a transfer, charge, or lien; cancellation of a registered interest in land; and issuance of a certificate.

Assurance Fund

Either of the two funds established under Part 19.1 (LTSA Assurance Fund) or Part 20 (Government Assurance Fund) of the Land Title Act, from which claimants suffering loss, damage or deprivation of an estate or interest in land as set out in these Parts is compensated.

The LTSA Assurance Fund is maintained and administered by the LTSA and covers claims relating to losses occurring after the creation of the LTSA; the Government Assurance Fund is maintained and administered by the Province of BC and covers claims relating to losses incurred prior to the creation of the LTSA.

Cadastral Fabric

Includes information such as property boundaries, survey monuments, legal documents, maps and regulations that support registration of lands.

Charge

An interest in land (less than the fee simple estate) or encumbrance that is registered on the title by the LTSA's land title office. Charges typically fall into these categories:

  • Mortgages
  • Statutory rights of way
  • Easements
  • Covenants
  • Judgments filed in support of debt/tax collection
  • Certificates of pending litigation affecting the title
  • Claims of Builders Lien

Common Property

That part of the land and buildings shown on a strata plan that is not part of a strata lot. Each strata lot includes ownership of a fractional share of the common property within the strata property, proportional to the ratio of the area of that strata lot to the total area of all strata lots. 

Conveyance

A transfer of an estate or interest in land (other than by will) to a new owner through sale, lease, or other means. A transfer of title is the conveyance of an estate or interest in land in exchange for some financial consideration, typically a sale.

Crown Grant

A legal instrument by which Crown lands are transferred to private registered owners in fee simple. The Crown grant document contains a sketch and usually refers to a plan showing the location and extent of the parcel granted. The Crown grant includes description of the terms and conditions of the land grant. When a Crown grant is issued, an initial title for the property is registered in the land title register in the name of the person receiving the grant. The LTSA has a copy of most Crown land grant dispositions issued by the various Crown agencies. Almost all BC Crown land grants are available online in electronic form. The LTSA also retains other types of Crown grants, including mineral Crown grants, Taxation Act grants and timber grants.

Crown Land

Land owned and administered by a government, either federal or provincial. In British Columbia, Federal (Canadian) Crown land includes National Parks, Indian Reserves, federal ports and military bases. Provincial Crown land includes provincial parks and all ungranted land (wilderness) within the provincial boundaries. Most of British Columbia is Crown land.

Crown Land Registry

A registry that records all lands administered by the government of British Columbia and records the purchase and sale of those lands and interests in them.