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Registry of deeds: formalities and time frames

You leave with the keys, but without your Ownership Title. However, the notaire has given you the Certificates of Ownership . These certificates represent, in some way, a provisional and simplified Ownership Title.


And why not immediately the Ownership Title?

During the appointment for signing, the Notary has explained to you that the Act of Sale is published in the “Land Registration Service” and that it is necessary to wait several months before receiving the Title of Ownership , as well as the final account of the operations carried out.


Associated formalities to fulfill after the signing of the deed

It is important to know that the Notaire still has many formalities to carry out after the signing of the act.

During the appointment, you have seen that he had constituted a large folder prior to the sale. Among other things, he has interviewed the services of the Civil State, criminal record, urban planning, land Register, Mortgages and the Bank of the sellor. As a matter of fact, each deed of a property's sale (apartment, house or land) is preceded by the constitution of a specific folder, regardless of the importance of the transaction. The notaire calls this phase of the folder “preliminary formalities”.

After the signing of the sale, several operations, the “subsequent formalities”, are also carried out. The most important subsequent formality is the registration of the act.
It takes place at the service of the Land Registration . This is the moment when the act is published in the Land Registrar. The notaire transfers to the tax administration the fees and taxes paid by the purchaser when the act is signed (improperly called “notaire's fees”).

In addition, the notaire provides copies and extracts of the Act of Sale to different administrations (Land Registry Office, Service of Land registration ). Among these documents, a special copy called “authentic copy”, signed by the Notary, will be returned to the latter with the tax administration’s stamps. This document constitutes your Ownership Title. Bear in mind that the original of the Act will be retained by the Notary in his office for 100 years for acts, before it is entrusted to the Service of Departmental Archives.


Tele@actes (online acts)

For the completion of these subsequent formalities to the sale, the notaire respects strict formal requirements. His actions take place in the waiting lines of various administrative services he/she is obliged to contact. However, with the deployment of Télé@ctes, transmission and reply timelines have been reduced.

Télé@ctes allows the transfer of important acts on real estate transfers in a dematerialised way to the Service of Land Registration , Caisse des dépôts (transfer of funds) and to the Tax Administration (stamp duty on conveyance, tax on capital gains, etc.). A change of ownership is thus notified and sent to the Service of Land Registration in real time, and the accompanying financial flows are carried out thanks to online procedures set up with the Caisse des Dépôts.


Electronic Authetic Deed (Acte authentique électronique or AAE)

Technological developments have also opened the way to the electronic authentic deed , now incorporated in our Statute Law. French notaires have consequently adopted the electronic signature for several months.

After the signing of an Electronic Authentic Deed, a copy of the electronic act may also be delivered to the client with the certificate of ownership . Finally, the client can, if he/she wishes, retain a dematerialized version on his computer that he/she can transmit, if needed, to his/her bank, insurance company, etc.

The deeds signed by french notaires will be sent directly to the Service of Land Registration to be registered. In the long term, the transfers of ownership could be carried out in 48 hours, thanks to secured broadband connections.

Each year, millions of acts are processed by these services where they are subject to rigorous controls. More or less long processing times are inevitable. Unless exceptions, notaires transfers all documents to the different jurisdictions within two months after the signing of the Act of Sale.

When your Ownership Title (the “authentic copy”), marked with official stamps, is returned to your notaire, the latter performs the last accounting operations concerning you and closes the account opened at your name in his office for your purchase.

  • If you have paid too much at the time of signature, the credit balance will be sent to you, along with the statement of your account and of your ownership title.
  • If you did not pay enough, the notary will ask a complement from you.

The funds held by the Notaries on behalf of their clients

These funds are governed by the 2nd of November 1945 Ordinance "on the status of the French notaires" and modified by Article 15 of the Decree of the 27th of May 2014: "French notaires may not retain in cash in their office during more than two working days more than 5% of the total amount of funds which they hold on behalf of their client, irrespective of title (sale price, estate account, etc.)". Beyond this limit, these sums must be deposited on current availabilities accounts opened at the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations by accountants of the Treasury. “These funds may only be debited for the settlement of cases which are at the origin of the deposits ”.

When these sums are still detained at the end of 3 months period, they are transferred by the Notaries on accounts of mandatory deposits opened at the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations. “These accounts can only be debited or credited with the accounts of current availabilities. These movements are identified on a case-by-case basis”.

Since the 1st of October 2015, (two Orders of the 24th of September 2015), these funds are remunerated at a 0.75% rate per year. This remuneration is paid:

  • To the Notary for the interests paid on the sums deposited by the Notaries on the accounts of current availabilities during the first 3 months. This is a quarterly payment.
  • Then to the client for the interests paid on the sums deposited by the Notaries on the accounts of mandatory deposits. These interests are calculated on a case-by-case basis and liquidated at the closure of each case, on the account of current availabilities.
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