The closure of the Registers of Scotland application record to new applications for registration on 24 March 2020 prompted Registers of Scotland to begin developing, and testing, a digital system that would allow applications to be accepted, while its offices remain closed. This led to the launch of the new digital submission service on 27 April 2020.

Suitable applications

The new service is designed to accept applications to the Land Register. Registers of Scotland advises this will cover the majority of application types, including most commercial transactions.

As there is a backlog of applications due to the closure, the new service limits the applications it accepts at any one time to help manage workload. The acceptability of applications will depend on the date of the corresponding advance notice (a pre-registration notice that offers preference to a deed for a set period).

When the service launched, it opened for applications with advance notices up to and including 19 February 2020. Registers expected to release new dates for accepting applications on a daily basis but the backlog has been dealt with faster than expected so the date range for accepting applications has been extended. At the time of writing, the relevant date is 20 March.

Unsuitable applications

While Registers of Scotland advises itis working on further solutions, at this time the new service cannot accept the following application types:-

  1. Applications involving recording in the older deeds-based register, the General Register of Sasines, including Land Register applications that require dual registration in the General Register of Sasines (for example where a property is sold from an older Sasine-registered title and new title conditions are being imposed); and
  2. Applications to the Books of Council and Session, which is largely used as a register for preserving documents, and accepts deeds which cannot be registered in the Land Register or General Register of Sasines, including leases and licences.

In addition, some complex first registrations in the Land Register, including those relating to rural transactions, may not be suitable for the service. However, Registers of Scotland's customer service team can be contacted to seek confirmation on whether a specific application in this category will be accepted.

Alternative solution for other applications and extensions to advance notice protection periods

If an application does not fall within the specific date ranges being accepted, or is unsuitable and does not involve recording in the Sasines Register, Registers of Scotland's senior advisers continue to assist with urgent applications. An application may be deemed urgent if, for example, customers face serious personal or financial hardship if it cannot proceed or there are other reasons specific to the transaction.

In addition, the provisions on advance notices, introduced by Section 8 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 continue to apply. These provisions extend the protected period of an advance notice from the usual 35 days from registration to the longer of that period or the date falling 10 days after the application record opens to all application types. This allows transactions to complete, albeit registration of the deeds must wait until Registers fully re-opens.


Eilidh Paterson