Coronavirus update

COVID-19 update

16 September 2020

The NSW Office of the Registrar General (ORG) is working with network partners including NSW Land Registry Services (NSW LRS) and Electronic Lodgment Network Operators to ensure minimal disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our joint priority is the safety of customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Our advice at this stage is to please use online lodgment and enquiry channels where they are available, in favour of visiting the NSW LRS Lodgment Office.  If you do need to visit the Lodgment Office, we would recommend wearing a mask to protect yourself and others.

We are continuing to work with all operators to deliver the most effective planning and response for land transaction related business in NSW.

The first roll out of residual documents are also now available for subscribers to use electronically. The remaining residual documents will be made available in batches over the next few months. For more information, please refer to the Schedule of eDealings.

The witnessing of important legal documents over video conference will now continue until the end of 2021, under new legislation to be introduced into NSW Parliament. The new legislation seeks to continue arrangements introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce non-essential personal contact.

Temporary changes to the Conveyancing Rules have also been extended. This means customers can continue to electronically or digitally sign dealings and plans until 31 March 2021.

The Registrar General has approved a temporary lodgment process that will allow some documents to be lodged electronically. This is the preferred method of lodgement in favour of visiting the NSW LRS Lodgment Office.

This “COVID-19 residual lodgment” allows for paper documents to be sent to NSW LRS via the PEXA workspace as a PDF attachment. NSW LRS will treat the PDF version of the paper document as if it were lodged in paper over the counter.

All documents that would ordinarily be lodged over the counter at NSW LRS, such as powers of attorney and deeds (but not plans or water access licences) will be able to be lodged using this option. Only PEXA Subscribers are able to use COVID-19 residual lodgment.

More information on COVID-19 residual lodgment can be found in the ORG information sheet, NSW LRS website and PEXA website.

Restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 have made it difficult to prepare, sign and witness paper land dealings.

From 27 April 2020, changes to the Conveyancing Rules temporarily allow paper land dealings, plans and Section 88B instruments to be signed electronically. These documents may also be witnessed electronically using an audio-visual link during the COVID-19 restrictions, under Division 1 Part 2B of the Electronic Transactions Act 2000.

Version 2 of the Conveyancing Rules – (COVID-19 Pandemic) Amendment was published on 28 September, extending the operation of the temporary changes until 31 March 2021.

These temporary changes do not alter any existing requirements for execution and certification, verification of identity or establishing the right to deal.

Please refer to the following publications for more information about signing and witnessing documents, and for general information about how we are responding to COVID-19:

  • Guidance Note: executing NSW paper land dealings during COVID-19 restrictions
  • Guidance Note: executing NSW plans during COVID-19 restrictions

Please note: The Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 was repealed on 28 September 2020, with the provisions allowing for electronic witnessing using an audio-visual link inserted into Division 1 Part 2B of the Electronic Transactions Act 2000. Version 1 of the Conveyancing Rules – (COVID-19 Pandemic) Amendment was automatically repealed on the repeal of the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020.

ARNECC has provided guidance on conducting eConveyancing during this time.

NSW LRS has published information and a COVID-19 key links page on assisting customers during potential COVID-19 disruptions. The information outlines measures NSW LRS is putting in place to assist customers during this time, including health and safety measures for visits to the lodgment counter at Queens Square, and managing dealings that cannot be lodged electronically.

PEXA advised industry that, property settlements continue to proceed as normal and uninterrupted. PEXA provides advice for its members settling digitally during the COVID-19 situation. For more information please contact PEXA.

Sympli is continuing to operate and deliver services during the COVID-19 situation. They remain committed to maintaining a high level of customer service and supporting industry. For more information, please contact Sympli.

Below is some key information for you to understand who to contact in what organisation, and how we will respond to various scenarios as a result of the Coronavirus.

Key points
  1. All operators are continuing with business as usual.
  2. ORG and all operators have established relevant Business Continuity Plan (BCP) pandemic response teams.
  3. ORG and the operators have tested their capacity to continue business services from remote locations.
  4. ORG and all operators will continue to liaise closely on changes to any land transaction services in response to the Coronavirus threat.
  5. Operators will communicate directly to customers on what services have changed should there be any change, and ORG will also update this webpage with this information.
  6. To identify the potential impact of new aspects of the pandemic, we will continue to take the advice of external guidance from public health experts. We are taking advice from the Department of Customer Service (DCS) and DCS is getting regular briefings from NSW Health, along with the Crisis Control Group, and other forums.
  7. Each operator is responsible for developing their response plan and communicating to customers any changes to their business services, in line with the relevant regulations.
Key Contacts

Office of the Registrar General - 1300 318 998

NSW Land Registry Services - 02 8775 3575 or 1300 396 076

PEXA - 1300 084 515

Sympli - 1300 769 754

Ongoing updates

As we continue to build our understanding on the extent of this situation, we will keep you informed to help you to prepare for any potential or actual business disruption.

This page will be ORG’s source of regular updates. We will also send direct communications on any substantial developments via ORG’s email subscription service.