Titles to land in Scotland are registered either on the “Sasine Register” or the “Land Register”. The “Sasine Register” is the oldest property register in the world and is a chronological list of title deeds. The “Land Register” was established in 1979, and is an OS map based public register of land. Voluntary Registration is one of the means by which a title can be transferred from the old Sasine Register to the new Land Register.

Until December 2014, the trigger for moving land from the old Sasine Register to the new map based Land Register was essentially the sale of land (i.e. excluding transfers where no money was exchanged, such as a gift or a transfer to a beneficiary following death).

Current Scottish Government policy is to accelerate the process of transferring land from the Sasine Register to the Land Register in order to increase transparency of land ownership in Scotland. Registers of Scotland has been asked by the Scottish Ministers to complete the Land Register by 2024 so that all titles to land in Scotland are by then included in that Register.

The thinking is that a Land Register title is easier to analyse than a Sasine Register title. A Land Register title consists of a “title sheet” which contains details of ownership and all rights and title conditions affecting the land, whereas a Sasine Register title is made up of a number of different deeds.

Since December 2014, the triggers for moving a title from the Sasine Register to the Land Register have increased. Any transfer of title will now trigger registration in the Land Register. Other transactional triggers include the grant of a lease for over 20 years and the grant of a standard security (typically granted in favour of a bank in connection with a mortgage).

A landowner does not need to wait for any of these transactional triggers to take place, and can apply to have their title moved from the Sasine Register to the Land Register at any time. This is known as “Voluntary Registration”.