Differences between Cadastre and Land Registry in Spain

Written by: Pelayo de Salvador Morell.

22/01/2021 | Individuals and non-residents

In this entry we analyse the main legal differences between the Cadastre and the Land Registry, paying special attention to the differences in surface areas that usually reflect on the same property.

Reading time: 4 minutes

Differences between Cadastre and Land Registry in Spain

As lawyers working with real estate, we are used to work with information from different sources and to analyse the legal situation of a property with information that is sometimes contradictory.

In order to do our work, it is important to know how the sources of information available to us work. If we find any inconsistencies between different data, we can quickly find out the possible causes of an inconsistency.

Two examples:

1) If when analysing a property in the Land Registry a surface area of 120 m2 appears and in the Cadastre of 130 m2, it is possible that the difference is due to the existence of porches.

2) On the other hand, if the surface area in the Land Registry is 120 m2 and in the Cadastre it is 180 m2, it is possible that an illegal extension has been carried out.

Real estate cadastre

What is the cadastre?

The Cadastre is an administrative register.

It is constituted as a real estate register, in which rustic, urban and special properties are described.

The cadastral description includes a summary of the physical (location, surface area, use, crops, etc.), economic (cadastral value, market reference value) and legal (owner for cadastral purposes, together with his NIF and NIE) characteristics.

In addition, when the property is coordinated with the Land Registry, it is expressly indicated together with the CRU (Unique Registry Code) of the property.

Who does it depend of?

It depends on the Ministry of Finance and Public Administrations for the whole of Spain, except in the provinces of the Basque Country and Navarre, as each of them has its own Cadastre, derived from the foral fiscal competences.

What is its purpose?

Its purpose is fiscal, and to this end it collects the description of all properties in the country and their owners, even if they are not registered in the Land Registry.

The Cadastre provides information necessary for the management, collection and control of various taxes by the State, Autonomous Community and local administrations.

How is data incorporated?

The incorporation of data in the Cadastre is obligatory and free of charge, and is provided both by declarations made by those administered, and by obligatory communications made by Town Councils, notaries, Land registrars, etc.

Likewise, the Cadastre can carry out ex officio regularisations, carrying out control and updating actions on the properties it describes.

What documents can be accessed?

Cadastral titleholders can communicate the relevant alterations by means of a cadastral declaration (form 900N), but the Cadastre also receives a series of communications from all types of organisations: Notaries, Land Registrars, Town Councils, AEAT, Ministry of Agriculture, etc.

Land Registry

What is the Land Registry?

The Land Registry is a legal register, constituted as a register of rights, that is, a register of the ownership and encumbrances that exist over real estate.

The registered rights are protected by the Courts, so that no one can be deprived of them except in an adversarial judicial procedure, in which the registered owner is a party.

For the purposes of a better understanding of the object on which the right falls, it incorporates a description of the property, but this description is always based on the documentation provided by the parties and not on a direct verification of the reality.

Since 2015, it has been possible to supplement the registry information with a graphic base (georeferenced plan) that clearly defines the property.

Who does it depend of?

The Land Registers are under the responsibility of a Land Registrar, who is a civil servant attached to the General Directorate of Legal Security and Public Faith (formerly "of the Registers and Notaries"), which is attached to the Ministry of Justice.

What is its purpose?

Its purpose is to provide legal certainty and publicity of property rights in relation to third parties.

The Land Registry is a key element when acquiring a property, as the principles of registration provide broad protection to those who contract under the protection of registry information.

How is it registered?

Registration in the Land Registry is voluntary, based on the principle of rogation, and has an associated cost.

Registration only takes place after passing the registry qualification, which is the validation of the legal correctness of the act to be registered, carried out by the Land Registrar.

What documents can access?

The Land Register can be accessed, by means of the registry qualification, data from public documents (deeds, judicial or administrative documents).

To a lesser extent, and for certain actions, it is possible to register acts by means of a private request addressed to the Land Registry.

Which surface area is valid?

Although this is an obvious question, the answer is not. Which of the three areas of a property (physical, registry or cadastral) is valid is a question that depends very much on the circumstances of the property.

Therefore, we recommend you to read this post, in which we analyse which surface may be correct.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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