The General Register of Deeds commenced on 16 November 1825 with the introduction of the Registration of Deeds Act 1825. It was established to keep a record of deeds for all registered common law (now known as old system) land transactions. Each deed was (and still is) identified by a unique Book and Number reference with each book containing 1000 deeds. Initially, an index known as the Vendors Index was set up to record vendor and purchaser names, deed type, book and number and a summary of the land transaction details.
On 1 July 1896 a second index called the Purchasers Index was introduced. Until 1 November 1992 both indexes were bound in books numbered in chronological order and separately grouped so they could be searched alphabetically under a vendor or purchasers last name. The indexes, together with all deeds up to Book 3887 No 941, are still filed and available for manual searching at the LPI Queens Square.
With the introduction of the Conveyancing Act 1919 which commenced on 1 July 1920 the Registrar General was authorised to establish additional registers of deeds, all of which are now included within the General Register of Deeds. These include:
- Miscellaneous Register (established 1920 to record any instrument whatsoever, whether affecting or relating to land or not. This register was discontinued on 30 June 1976 and is not available electronically)
- Register of Causes, Writs and Orders (established 1920)
- Bills of Sale (from 1925)
- Stock Mortgages (from 1898)
- Wool and Crop Liens (from 1898)
- Register of Resumptions (from 1930)
- Powers of Attorney (from 1920)
- Change of Name - the index for this register was kept in separately bound books from 1875 to 1967. From 1967 to 1996 the deeds were recorded in the Vendors index. Records from 1992 to 1996 must be searched through Deeds Name Search. From April 1996 to date all change of name records have been kept by and must be searched through the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.
Since 2 November 1992 indexes to the General Register of Deeds have been maintained electronically. All items entered since that date are available through the LPI Online portal or the public terminals at LPI Queens Square.
Public terminals at Queens Square can be used for the following free index searches:
- Deeds Name Search
- Deeds Number Search
- Vendors/Purchasers (Deeds Name Search)
- Resumptions (Deeds Name Search)
- Unregistered Deposited Deeds (Deposited Deed Packet Inquiry).
Paid searches can be conducted through authorised information brokers, or over the counter for:
- Causes Writs and Orders
- Security Interest in Goods (SIGA)
The Security Interests in Goods Act 2005 repealed the Bills of Sale Act 1898 and Liens on Crops and Wool and Stock Mortgages Act 1898. A Security Interest Index Search includes details relating to Security Interests, Bills of Sale, Stock Mortgages and Crop and Wool liens registered after November 1992 and agricultural goods and aquaculture fish mortgages registered after March 2006.
The Act was repealed with the commencement of the Commonwealth Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) which commenced Monday 30 January 2012. The PPSR replaces existing State registers including LPI’s Security Interests in Goods Register (SIGR), where bills of sale and agricultural goods mortgages relating to crops, stock, wool and aquaculture fish were previously registered.
SIGR continues to be available for search online, and images of SIGR deeds are available through authorised information brokers.
Copies of deeds from Book 4192 No 1 onwards can be obtained over the counter at Queens Square Sydney or from authorised information brokers.
Copies of earlier deeds, stored as paper or microfilm records, can be purchased over the counter at Document Delivery Services, ground floor, or Off-Line Property Information Services, West wing, Queens Square office.
A Grants Register is also held for manual searching in the Queens Square office. The grants index is a chronological record, in alphabetical order of the surnames or company names of those who received grants of land from the Crown from 1792 up to and including 31 December 1862. Grants are identified by serial (book number) and page number e.g. Serial 1 Page 500. The Grants Register is not considered to be part of the General Register of Deeds.