Original or certified copies of Belize land documents register with the Lands Department in the Ministry of natural Resources are proof of ownership. Any land transaction in Belize will require proof of ownership. Oftentimes, these documents are misplaced or sometimes destroyed. A certified copy can be obtain from the Lands Department but relevant information must be provided for the document to be found. Over the years, the Lands Department has made great effort to computerize its systems and while this should have made data more readily available for the public, some experiences may dispute this.
At present the Department runs simultaneous systems. One for land in declared areas and another for those in undeclared areas. Declared area lands are registered in the Land Registry by the Registrar who issues a Title Certificate only after being satisfied with the evidence presented. The information is computerized and the system can issue a certified report showing particulars including owner if there was a First Registration. Without First Registration, land in a declared area do not have a Title Certicate and one is necessary for any land transaction in Belize. An Abstract of Title would be needed to veridfy ownership and one is required for the First Registration application. Replacement of a Title Certificate is costly and the original is requested for most Belize land matters, particularly land transfer.
The land title Unit is responsible for those properties that are located in undeclared areas. These are transfered with conveyances and deeds in a system that closely follows procedures that have been in place since the start of land distribution in Belize. A certified copy of any registered instrument can be purchase by providing details. Without specific information the Department cannot locate registered document.
With two systems in place, dealing with the Lands Department can sometimes be complicated. Oftentimes those who decide to help themselves in these mattersl make several trips to Belmopan where there is likely to be long lines especially on busy days. Identifying the property by its assigned parcel number in declared area is a starting point. The name if the owner, location and size are also important in trying to get copies of registered documents. The Mapping and Survey Unit along with the Land Information Center (LIC) provide maps that can be useful in identify properties and they also provide cadastral information. Mapping information is required for further research, development plans and building.
Officers at the Land Department service the public in several sections each usually having a line. Frontline officers accept documents to be registered with the Department after thourough checking and process pick up of registered originals. They also provide copies of requested registered documents and inform about the status of documents being processed. There is line for Debt Management where information about taxes can be obtained and a cashier line to pay taxes and fees. the Mapping Section also has a service line.
If you do not want to travel to Belmopan or waiting in line is not for you, then hiring someone to stand in would be helpful. Oficers are generally helpful but cannot help if proper information is not being presented.