Understanding Legal Boundaries and National Mapping

Further information on understanding Legal Boundaries and National Mapping.

In March 2023, a new body called Tailte Éireann formed from the merger of the Property Registration Authority (PRA), Valuation Office (VO) and Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi).

The PRA, VO and OSi manage the most comprehensive set of property and spatial data in Ireland. Combining all three into Tailte Éireann will:

  • Enhance the benefits of land information for Ireland’s continued economic and social development.
  • Provide a comprehensive and secure property title registration system, an independent rateable valuation system, and authoritative national mapping and surveying infrastructure. 
  • Provide streamlined access to enhanced land and geospatial services to the government, other stakeholders and citizens. This will result in more coordinated strategic and business planning, evidence-based decision-making, and innovative service delivery in line with government policy.
  • Provide authoritative property registration, property valuation services for the State, and national mapping and surveying infrastructure.
  • Ensure citizens, businesses, and policymakers have easy access to and use of location information, including property and title information, property valuation data, maps, and aerial imagery.
  • Lead the development and maintenance of national spatial information infrastructures and support better land management.

While it is envisaged that, in the medium to long term, the merger will result in the development of new innovative initiatives, the initial phase will focus on maintaining business as usual.

Citizens, customers and stakeholders should be aware that the existing legislation, processes, rules and regulations underpinning the work of the three merging organisations remain unchanged.

National Mapping Division of Tailte Éireann

The National Mapping Division of Tailte Éireann is, under statute, responsible for the official definitive surveying and topographic mapping of the Republic of Ireland. As this mapping is topographic, it only represents the physical features on the ground at the time of the survey. The features shown must fall within the specification for the survey scale and within agreed accuracy tolerances.

Maps produced by the National Mapping Division of Tailte Éireann or previous Ordnance Survey maps never indicate legal property boundaries or show ownership of physical features. Although some property legal boundaries may be coincident with surveyed map features, no assumptions should be made in these instances and consequently, it is not possible to identify the position of a legal property boundary from a National Mapping Division of Tailte Éireann map or a previous Ordnance Survey map.

The National Mapping Division of Tailte Éireann has a continuous mapping revision programme for the whole of Ireland. Topographic changes that have occurred on the ground since the property was registered in the Land Registry may result in differences between map editions in the National Mapping Division and the mapping used by the Registration Division of Tailte Éireann.

The Registration Division of Tailte Éireann

The Registration Division in Tailte Éireann incorporates the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds.

Land Registry’s role

The Land Registry was established in 1892 to provide a comprehensive and secure system of land registration. When a property title is registered, in the Land Registry, the deeds are filed in the Registry and all relevant particulars concerning the property and its ownership are entered on folios which form the National Land Register maintained in the Land Registry.

In conjunction with folios, the Land Registry also maintains Land Registry maps. Both folios and maps are maintained in electronic form. Land Registry maps (digital vector data) are based on Irish Transverse Mercator (ITM) coordinate reference system topographic maps produced in digital vector form by Tailte Éireann’s surveying division. Published scales are 1/5,000 rural, 1/2,500 urban/rural and 1/1,000 urban. 

The National Mapping Division of Tailte Éireann supplies the surveying topographic base map; the Land Registry references this map to represent the extent of all registered land. Where a boundary of the land is not defined by a physical feature on the Ordnance Survey map, the Land Registry digitises it from application maps lodged at the time of registration. The word “boundary” has no special meaning in law but in land ownership, it is understood in two ways:

The physical boundary

The Land Registry identifies properties, not boundaries and never shows ownership of individual boundary structures such as walls, fences, hedges, etc. please note that deeds rarely deal with such matters.

Non-conclusive boundary system

The boundary system adopted by the Land Registry under the Registration of Title Act, 1964 is known as a non-conclusive boundary system. The non-conclusive provision dispenses with the need for determining the exact location of title boundaries when defining the extent of registered properties and the ownership of the physical features which mark the limits of a property is left undetermined. In the case of boundaries located within buildings, the exact line or plane of the title boundary is also left undetermined.

The non-conclusive boundary system will not indicate whether a title boundary includes a hedge or a wall and ditch or runs along the centre of a wall or fence or runs along its inner or outer face or how far it runs within or without it or whether or not the land registered includes the whole or any portion of an adjoining road or stream. However, the location of the physical features within which the title boundary lies or the points between which an undefined title boundary runs must be accurately defined by the applicant on the map lodged for registration within the limitations of the scale of the application map.

Official copies of the Registry Map can be obtained by ordering any of the following:

  • Special Registration Map
  • Title Plan
  • Official Map Search

Each of the map products above is generated from the Land Registry digital vector map and includes some surrounding topographic detail. Official copies of Land Registry maps are subject to the limitations of scale and survey accuracy of both:

  • Ordnance Survey maps on which they are based.
  • The application maps are lodged for registration purposes.

Where boundaries have been transferred to a larger scale or a different map series, whether on paper or in a digital environment, measurements must not be expected to give a degree of accuracy greater than that of the smaller scale or older map series. Since the commencement of land registration in 1892, almost all registrations were recorded by reference to the topographic detail shown on the then Ordnance Survey published map scales.

Ordnance Survey Cassini/County Series and Irish Grid published scales in the paper system were 1/10,560, 1/2,500 1/1,000 and some urban areas were published at 1/1,250 and 1/1,056, (both 1/1,250 and 1/1,056 were enlarged by Ordnance Survey from 1/2,500 mapping). Accuracy of the Land Registry’s boundary data is, accordingly, limited to the survey accuracy and scale of the source map originally lodged and upon which registration was based. The Land Registry is unable to determine precisely where a property boundary is located.

Questions about land registration

The Land Registry publishes some public guides about land registration which can be viewed here in our Guidance section or obtained free of charge from any Tailte Éireann office. There is also a frequently asked questions section.

Customer queries relating to The Registration Division of Tailte Éireann

  • Queries relating to registered property should be directed to the Priority Customer Review Unit, Registration Division, Tailte Éireann by email to QAexternal@prai.ie
  • Queries relating to registered property that also incorporate a surveying element should also be directed to the Priority Customer Review Unit, Registration Division, Tailte Éireann by email to QAexternal@prai.ie

Customer queries relating to the National Mapping Division of Tailte Éireann

  • Queries that only relate to National Mapping (i.e. that do not incorporate a Land Registry element) should be directed to Customer Services, National Mapping Division, Tailte Éireann by email at custserv@osi.ie or through the Surveying Contact us page.