April 18, 2024

What Is A Certificate of Title, and Where Can I Find Mine?

A certificate of title, sometimes called a title deed or land title, is a document that shows the details of a specific property, including a description of the property, the owners, and registered interests over the property.

What is the Difference Between A Certificate of Title and A Title Search?

The terms ‘certificate of title’, ‘title search’ and ‘title deed’ are often used interchangeably.

Confusion arises because the old system required owners to have a physical document to prove their ownership of the property.

With the introduction of the Torrens Title system, this is no longer the case, and property ownership is tracked digitally.

A title search is simply the name of the search that reveals information about the title of the property. Title searches can be ordered through the relevant state or territory titles office.

What Appears on a Property Title Search?


Description of the Property

The land description is a lot and plan number which is a reference to the property in the Torrens Title system. 

Property Ownership

The title search will also show the name of the owner(s) of the property, and how the property is owned, for example, as joint tenants or tenants in common.

Registered Interests over the Property

The title search will also show registered interests affecting the land, for example, any registered mortgage, easement or caveat.

The most common registered interests are;


When you borrow money to buy property, the bank will take an interest in your property, and they will be listed as mortgagee on the property title.

The Seller will have to arrange to discharge the mortgage prior to settlement so that the property may be transferred to the buyer free of that encumbrance.


Broadly, an easement is a part of the land which belongs to one person, but another person may access it.

Registered easements will appear on the title search.


A caveat is an interest in property that prevents dealings with the property. Coming from the Latin word which means ‘beware’, it puts the buyer on notice that there is an interest in or claim on the property from a third party.

While the law of caveats varies between the states and territories of Australia, caveats will generally appear on the certificate of title.

What Happened to Title Deeds?

If you were thinking that a certificate of title was more like a huge old document you might keep in a safe and use to prove ownership of your property, your information about how proof of property ownership works may be a little out of date!

The old system of proof of property ownership was complicated and open to fraudulent claims. There was no centralised database, and a chain of deeds would have to be provided showing all the previous owners of the property in order to transfer the land.

With the introduction of the Torrens Title System in the nineteenth century, a centralised database of property ownership was created in each state and territory of Australia. A paper certificate of title was issued to owners of property, but these have been phased out in favour of a fully digital system in most states.

More Questions

If you have any questions about title searches, or any other aspect of conveyancing, reach out to our friendly, expert conveyancing lawyers today.

The above is not legal advice and is general information only.