Format of Title Numbers

Jeremy Hilton made this Freedom of Information request to Land Registry

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The request was successful.

Dear Land Registry,

I have a number of questions about the format and significance of the unique title numbers that are used to identity land / properties in the title register. (I understand that an example of a title number would be: "TGL312172".)

Given that there is very little publicly available information about this matter, I have had to carefully word my request (in some detail) to make sure I get the information I want. However if you have a document (or a number of documents) which amongst other things explains the format and significance of title numbers, and which I could use to get the answer to my questions (as listed below), then by all means please just provide that document. I don't mind reading through it, even if it's rather long or technically worded.

The information I want is as follows:

1. What is the minimum possible length (i.e. the total number of characters) of a title number?

2. What is the maximum possible length of a title number?

3. If there is no maximum possible length (that is, if a valid title number could theoretically have an unlimited length)—what is the actual length of the longest title number so far issued?

4. What restrictions are there (if any) on the possible letters / digits that can make up each character of the title number? (E.g. that the first three characters can be only letters from A-Z, etc.)

5. Is it the case that all title numbers are in the format "[prefix][number]"?—that is, where:
• "[prefix]" is a sequence of at least one letter from A-Z
• "[number]" is a sequence of at least one number from 0-9

6. If there are title numbers which are not in this format, could you explain what the other possible formats are, and when and why the different formats are (or were) issued?

7. With respect to title numbers that have an alphabetical prefix (e.g. as in the format "[prefix][number]") could you provide:
• a list of the alphabetical prefixes that have so far been used in issuing title numbers
• a list of the alphabetical prefixes that are scheduled to be used for issuing title numbers in the future

And for each prefix could you state:
• whether or not the prefix has been used yet to issue title numbers
• whether it is still being used to issue new title numbers
• what meaning / significance there is (if any) for the prefix (e.g. that it is used for property in a certain part of the country, or that it is used for certain types of properties, or that it corresponds to a certain year, etc.)

Ideally, could you provide this list in spreadsheet format (e.g. Excel / CSV).

8. Are any of the characters of the title number a "check digit"?

And if so—

9. Which character is the check digit?

10. What is the formula for calculating the check digit from the other characters of the title number?

Yours faithfully,

Jeremy Hilton

Customer Support, Land Registry

1 Attachment

LR Reference 131001-003507

Response By E-mail (Adam Hookway) (02/10/2013 08.48)
Dear Mr Hilton
Thank you for your email enquiry. There is no document to provide so I
shall do my best to cover your questions in the order presented.
1. A title number can be a single character
2 and 3. The maximum length is 9 characters
4. There are no restrictions but our current policy is to create a title
number in two parts, namely a two or three letterprefix, which generally
denotes the area in which the land lies; and a number, which is allotted
automatically by the Land Registry’s computerised database.
5 and 6. Originally title numbers had no prefix (we refer to these as
“plain numbers”).  Later we used the LN prefix for London and Z (later P)
for Provincial title numbers.  County and county borough prefixes started
appearing from the 1920s, but the P prefix did not disappear until 1963.
 7. Over the years, we have issued title numbers in various series ranging
from the plain numbers 1-20000 to those with lettered prefixes. The later
prefixes reflect the administrative and metropolitan counties set up in
the early 70s, or unitary authorities created under in the early 90s. The
current lettered prefixes provide a more ready means of identifying the
general area in which a title falls and may also assist in indicating the
local office having responsibility for the title without having to view
the register. It is our policy to replace earlier non-definitive title
numbers with new title numbers in the current series but we may sometimes
resurrect obsolete prefixes for administrative reasons either permanently
or temporarily
Nowadays though the title number is simply a unique reference number and
the geographical emphasis previously placed upon it previously is no more.
For example we recently introduced a new prefix YY for West Yorkshire.
I have attached a list of the current title number prefixes being used
8, 9 and 10. Check digits are not used
Yours sincerely
Adam Hookway
CS&H
Trafalgar House | 1 Bedford Park | Croydon | CR0 2AQ

Email: [1][email address]
Telephone: 0300 006 7831
Customer By E-mail (Adam Hookway) (02/10/2013 08.48)
Dear Land Registry,
 
I have a number of questions about the format and significance of the
unique title numbers that are used to identity land / properties in the
title register. (I understand that an example of a title number would be:
"TGL312172".)
 
Given that there is very little publicly available information about this
matter, I have had to carefully word my request (in some detail) to make
sure I get the information I want. However if you have a document (or a
number of documents) which amongst other things explains the format and
significance of title numbers, and which I could use to get the answer to
my questions (as listed below), then by all means please just provide that
document. I don't mind reading through it, even if it's rather long or
technically worded.
 
The information I want is as follows:
 
1. What is the minimum possible length (i.e. the total number of
characters) of a title number?
 
2. What is the maximum possible length of a title number?
 
3. If there is no maximum possible length (that is, if a valid title
number could theoretically have an unlimited length)—what is the actual
length of the longest title number so far issued?
 
4. What restrictions are there (if any) on the possible letters / digits
that can make up each character of the title number? (E.g. that the first
three characters can be only letters from A-Z, etc.)
 
5. Is it the case that all title numbers are in the format
"[prefix][number]"?—that is, where:
• "[prefix]" is a sequence of at least one letter from A-Z  • "[number]"
is a sequence of at least one number from 0-9
 
6. If there are title numbers which are not in this format, could you
explain what the other possible formats are, and when and why the
different formats are (or were) issued?
 
7. With respect to title numbers that have an alphabetical prefix (e.g. as
in the format "[prefix][number]") could you provide:
• a list of the alphabetical prefixes that have so far been used in
issuing title numbers  • a list of the alphabetical prefixes that are
scheduled to be used for issuing title numbers in the future
 
And for each prefix could you state:
• whether or not the prefix has been used yet to issue title numbers  •
whether it is still being used to issue new title numbers  • what meaning
/ significance there is (if any) for the prefix (e.g. that it is used for
property in a certain part of the country, or that it is used for certain
types of properties, or that it corresponds to a certain year, etc.)
 
Ideally, could you provide this list in spreadsheet format (e.g. Excel /
CSV).
 
8. Are any of the characters of the title number a "check digit"?
 
And if so—
 
9. Which character is the check digit?
 
10. What is the formula for calculating the check digit from the other
characters of the title number?
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Jeremy Hilton

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Dear Mr Hookway,

Thank you very much for the detailed response. It's really appreciated that you replied so promptly.

Could you also include in the spreadsheet a list of the alphabetical prefixes that have so far been used in issuing title numbers, but which aren't currently used to issue new title numbers? (E.g. I noticed that "LN" and "Z" aren't in the spreadsheet that you sent.)

You also didn't mention any prefixes which are scheduled to be used in the future. Could you also include this list, or else confirm that no prefixes have been scheduled? (If you include this data in the same spreadsheet with the existing prefixes, please distinguish the scheduled prefixes from the existing prefixes.)

And could you include a column (in the spreadsheet) indicating the meaning of each prefix (be it a geographical area / administrative purpose) for each prefix?

Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Hilton

Customer Support, Land Registry

2 Attachments

LR Reference 131001-003507

Response By E-mail (Adam Hookway) (03/10/2013 11.20)
Dear Mr Hilton
Thank you for your further email
I have `attached an amended spreadsheet which covers the title prefixes
used to date and includes the area they cover/covered
As far as future prefixes are concerned our database already includes
provision for AA to JJ, RR, SS, UU, WW, XX and these may be used over
time. no others are currently programmed.
I have also attached an article on the History of Land Registration as
penned by a colleague at the request of the Law Society. It contains some
information around title numbers which you may find interesting.
I don't think there is anything else I can really add but would be
interested to know as to the purpose of your enquiry in return?
Yours sincerely
Adam Hookway
CS&H
Trafalgar House | 1 Bedford Park | Croydon | CR0 2AQ

Email: [1][email address]
Telephone: 0300 006 7831
Customer By E-mail (Adam Hookway) (02/10/2013 14.41)
Dear Mr Hookway,
 
Thank you very much for the detailed response. It's really appreciated
that you replied so promptly.
 
Could you also include in the spreadsheet a list of the alphabetical
prefixes that have so far been used in issuing title numbers, but which
aren't currently used to issue new title numbers? (E.g. I noticed that
"LN" and "Z" aren't in the spreadsheet that you sent.)
 
You also didn't mention any prefixes which are scheduled to be used in the
future. Could you also include this list, or else confirm that no prefixes
have been scheduled? (If you include this data in the same spreadsheet
with the existing prefixes, please distinguish the scheduled prefixes from
the existing prefixes.)
 
And could you include a column (in the spreadsheet) indicating the meaning
of each prefix (be it a geographical area / administrative purpose) for
each prefix?
 
Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Hilton
Response By E-mail (Adam Hookway) (02/10/2013 08.48)
Dear Mr Hilton
Thank you for your email enquiry. There is no document to provide so I
shall do my best to cover your questions in the order presented.
1. A title number can be a single character
2 and 3. The maximum length is 9 characters
4. There are no restrictions but our current policy is to create a title
number in two parts, namely a two or three letterprefix, which generally
denotes the area in which the land lies; and a number, which is allotted
automatically by the Land Registry’s computerised database.
5 and 6. Originally title numbers had no prefix (we refer to these as
“plain numbers”).  Later we used the LN prefix for London and Z (later P)
for Provincial title numbers.  County and county borough prefixes started
appearing from the 1920s, but the P prefix did not disappear until 1963.
 7. Over the years, we have issued title numbers in various series ranging
from the plain numbers 1-20000 to those with lettered prefixes. The later
prefixes reflect the administrative and metropolitan counties set up in
the early 70s, or unitary authorities created under in the early 90s. The
current lettered prefixes provide a more ready means of identifying the
general area in which a title falls and may also assist in indicating the
local office having responsibility for the title without having to view
the register. It is our policy to replace earlier non-definitive title
numbers with new title numbers in the current series but we may sometimes
resurrect obsolete prefixes for administrative reasons either permanently
or temporarily
Nowadays though the title number is simply a unique reference number and
the geographical emphasis previously placed upon it previously is no more.
For example we recently introduced a new prefix YY for West Yorkshire.
I have attached a list of the current title number prefixes being used
8, 9 and 10. Check digits are not used
Yours sincerely
Adam Hookway
CS&H
Trafalgar House | 1 Bedford Park | Croydon | CR0 2AQ

Email: [2][email address]
Telephone: 0300 006 7831
Customer By E-mail (Adam Hookway) (02/10/2013 08.48)
Dear Land Registry,
 
I have a number of questions about the format and significance of the
unique title numbers that are used to identity land / properties in the
title register. (I understand that an example of a title number would be:
"TGL312172".)
 
Given that there is very little publicly available information about this
matter, I have had to carefully word my request (in some detail) to make
sure I get the information I want. However if you have a document (or a
number of documents) which amongst other things explains the format and
significance of title numbers, and which I could use to get the answer to
my questions (as listed below), then by all means please just provide that
document. I don't mind reading through it, even if it's rather long or
technically worded.
 
The information I want is as follows:
 
1. What is the minimum possible length (i.e. the total number of
characters) of a title number?
 
2. What is the maximum possible length of a title number?
 
3. If there is no maximum possible length (that is, if a valid title
number could theoretically have an unlimited length)—what is the actual
length of the longest title number so far issued?
 
4. What restrictions are there (if any) on the possible letters / digits
that can make up each character of the title number? (E.g. that the first
three characters can be only letters from A-Z, etc.)
 
5. Is it the case that all title numbers are in the format
"[prefix][number]"?—that is, where:
• "[prefix]" is a sequence of at least one letter from A-Z  • "[number]"
is a sequence of at least one number from 0-9
 
6. If there are title numbers which are not in this format, could you
explain what the other possible formats are, and when and why the
different formats are (or were) issued?
 
7. With respect to title numbers that have an alphabetical prefix (e.g. as
in the format "[prefix][number]") could you provide:
• a list of the alphabetical prefixes that have so far been used in
issuing title numbers  • a list of the alphabetical prefixes that are
scheduled to be used for issuing title numbers in the future
 
And for each prefix could you state:
• whether or not the prefix has been used yet to issue title numbers  •
whether it is still being used to issue new title numbers  • what meaning
/ significance there is (if any) for the prefix (e.g. that it is used for
property in a certain part of the country, or that it is used for certain
types of properties, or that it corresponds to a certain year, etc.)
 
Ideally, could you provide this list in spreadsheet format (e.g. Excel /
CSV).
 
8. Are any of the characters of the title number a "check digit"?
 
And if so—
 
9. Which character is the check digit?
 
10. What is the formula for calculating the check digit from the other
characters of the title number?
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Jeremy Hilton

Follow us:
[3]Twitter [4]Facebook [5]LinkedIn [6]Google
Plus

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://twitter.com/landreggov?utm_source...
4. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Land-Regi...
5. http://www.linkedin.com/company/2370730?...
6. https://plus.google.com/+landregistry?ut...

Dear Mr Hookway,

Thank you again for your prompt and detailed response.

It was very interesting to read the document about the history of title numbers. It also helps to explain the meaning of the prefixes.

I noticed that the spreadsheet didn't contain two prefixes (GM and WA) which were mentioned in the history document. Could you double-check that the list is complete (other than these two omissions)? Or was there a specific reason for leaving these prefixes out?

Also, could you explain what is meant by "Builder Titles" (BLD)?

The reason for making this FOI request is basically because we want to validate title numbers — we want to be able to say if a title number is a valid title number or not (as far as is possible). Therefore by far the most useful thing I have discovered is that the maximum length is 9 characters. Given that you say the "[prefix][numerical sequence]" format is merely the current way of issuing title numbers, the best thing to do may be to simply make a separate FOI request for the entire list of title numbers. (It was mentioned in the history document that a title number may have a suffix as well, e.g. "Z1Z").

Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Hilton

Customer Support, Land Registry

LR Reference 131001-003507

Response By E-mail (Adam Hookway) (14/10/2013 10.43)
Dear Mr Hilton

As you suggest GM and WA were missing but for no reason other than an
error on my part. Nothing else is missing.

A BLD title (now known as a Developer title) is simply a title identified
by us as a development i.e. of more than 20 plots. It is largely a term
used merely for internal purposes although some customers will be aware of
it's use.

Thank you for explaining the reason behind your request but can I ask for
what purpose or process is the validation required and by whom? Whilst I
do not wish to widen the enquiry further if you are basing validation on
simply a prefix and maximum length that validation will confirm that the
title is in an acceptable format but nothing more.
regards

Adam Hookway
CS&H
Trafalgar House | 1 Bedford Park | Croydon | CR0 2AQ

Email: [1][email address]
Telephone: 0300 006 7831
Customer By CS E-mail (Jeremy Hilton) (14/10/2013 10.28)
Dear Mr Hookway,

Thank you again for your prompt and detailed response.

It was very interesting to read the document about the history of title
numbers. It also helps to explain the meaning of the prefixes.

I noticed that the spreadsheet didn't contain two prefixes (GM and WA)
which were mentioned in the history document. Could you double-check that
the list is complete (other than these two omissions)? Or was there a
specific reason for leaving these prefixes out?

Also, could you explain what is meant by "Builder Titles" (BLD)?

The reason for making this FOI request is basically because we want to
validate title numbers — we want to be able to say if a title number is a
valid title number or not (as far as is possible). Therefore by far the
most useful thing I have discovered is that the maximum length is 9
characters. Given that you say the "[prefix][numerical sequence]" format
is merely the current way of issuing title numbers, the best thing to do
may be to simply make a separate FOI request for the entire list of title
numbers. (It was mentioned in the history document that a title number may
have a suffix as well, e.g. "Z1Z").

Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Hilton

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Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

The "Thanks for contacting Land Registry" auto-response above was received by WhatDoTheyKnow immediately after the sending of the previous outgoing message, but due to a bug in the way we handle BCC'd messages, wasn't posted to the response thread until I manually moved it just now and so shows out of order.

Ganesh - WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer