Coronavirus (COVID-19): this week’s update from Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar Simon Hayes  

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To all HM Land Registry customers

I am writing with another update on measures we are taking to support the property market while we are still restricted by coronavirus (COVID-19) and related public health measures.

Our focus has always been on keeping HM Land Registry open and ensuring that the most essential transactions can continue, including searches of the index map, official copies and official searches. For almost a month now these critical services have been processed within our normal timeframes, and therefore our focus has more recently been on building our remaining service delivery back up to previous levels.

In my last email I said that it was my intention to enable all of our people to work remotely by the end of the month. I am pleased to say that we are now very close to this point. We are building our capacity to process and complete all applications, of all kinds, while ensuring that these services are both secure and stable. Some of you may have already started receiving requisitions and responses.

Now that we are at this point, and are in a position to plan and manage resources with more confidence, we hope to give you more detail very soon around expected processing times for different products. Caseworkers are still having to work in a very different way from that which they are used to, and this obviously has some impact. I am grateful therefore for your ongoing patience as we work through these challenges. Please remember that if you have a client who urgently needs their case processed, you can request an expedite through Application Enquiry.

Customer Support Centre

I’m also very pleased to say that our Customer Support Centre telephone service was re-opened successfully last Wednesday (20 May). As we have a smaller team available at the moment, we are currently operating a reduced telephone service; our current opening times are 8am to 12 midday.

Wait times may be longer than usual with reduced advisors available, so please only call if your enquiry is urgent.

Our Contact HM Land Registry page has comprehensive help pages for most enquiries, including the latest information about the impact on our services. Alternatively, you can choose to ‘send us a message' which will be prioritised. Using our online contact form means we are able to provide a faster and more consistent response - getting back to you within 5 working days (often much sooner).

Ordnance Survey surveys

Ordnance Survey are gradually resuming field survey work where health and safety allows. We are working with them to prioritise applications that need a survey before registration can be completed. Ordnance Survey will contact customers prior to carrying out a survey, using the contact details provided.

Mercury signatures

Finally, we’ve been happy to see the discussion in the media around our introduction of signatures using the ‘Mercury signing’ approach. We acknowledge a small area of uncertainty so I just wanted to clarify that we will accept any dispositionary deed that has been Mercury signed in accordance with our requirements set out in practice guide 8, and the grant of a charge (for example, a mortgage) is a disposition.


Thank you for your continued support. 

Best wishes


Simon Hayes
Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar