Initial Registration - Instructions for Registration of Title to Land

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Minnesota has two systems for keeping track of land ownership: abstract and Torrens. Converting land out of the abstract system into the Torrens system is Initial Registration. The steps for an Initial Registration are listed below. This is complex real estate law; we recommend you hire an experienced attorney to assist you.

Forms can be found on our forms page.

  1. Call the Examiner of Titles at 651-266-2886 to discuss your Initial Registration before you begin. The Examiner will explain the steps, fees and on-line forms. Do not order an abstract of title or survey until you’ve talked to the Examiner to decide what evidence of title is needed. If you are unclear on any step in the case, call the Examiner before you act, to save time and expense.
  2. Prepare an Application for Initial Registration, have it approved as to form by the Examiner of Titles, then e-file it in District Court.
  3. Purchase a certified copy of the Application from the Court Administrator, then record it with the County Recorder.
  4. When you have the evidence of title required by the Examiner, e-file it in the court file and send a paper copy to the Examiner of Titles.  If your case involves a determination of boundaries in addition to registering title, e-file in the court file a Certificate of Survey from a licensed land surveyor.
  5. Send a check in the amount of $300 payable to “Ramsey County” for the examination fee. Include the court file number on your check. Mail the check to:
    Examiner of Titles
    Suite 170
    90 West Plato Blvd.
    Saint Paul, Minnesota 55107
  6. The Examiner of Titles will issue a Report of Examiner which tells you who to serve as Defendants. The Report of Examiner may change the legal description of the land being registered and may require changes to the survey. Use the revised legal description from the Report of Examiner in all documents from this point forward.
  7. Find the current addresses of all Defendants. If you learn that a Defendant is deceased, ask the Examiner who to name as Defendant instead of the deceased person. 
  8. Prepare a Petition for Summons and e-file it in the court file. Add a courtesy copy in your e-file envelope for the Examiner of Titles office using this email address: 2ndexamineroftitlesoffice@courts.state.mn.us
  9. Prepare a proposed Order for Summons but do not e-file it in the court file; instead, email the proposed Order for Summons to the Examiner of Titles office in Word format using the email address in Step 8.  
  10. When the Examiner of Titles office receives notice that you’ve e-filed in the court file the Petition for Summons and receives your e-mail with your proposed Order for Summons in Word format, the Examiner of Titles office will obtain the Judge’s signature on the Order for Summons, will e-file the Order for Summons in the Court File, and will email a copy of the signed Order for Summons to you.
  11. The Examiner of Titles office will draft a Summons that conforms to the Order for Summons. The Summons will be e-filed in the court file by the Court Administrator. A copy of the Summons will be emailed to you. When you receive the emailed copy of the Summons, use it to serve the Defendants and publish the Summons.   
  12. The Summons must be published in a qualified newspaper for the county where the land is located, once each week for three consecutive weeks. 
  13. In-state Defendants are served according to Minn. Stat. 508.16 and Rule 4 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. 
  14. Out-of-state Defendants are served by the Court Administrator. You must request that service by e-filing in the court file a "Notice to Court Administrator to Mail Copies of the Summons to Non-resident Defendants." Mail a courtesy copy, along with stamped addressed envelopes for each out-of-state defendant and a copy of the published Summons for each envelope, to the Examiner of Titles office.
  15. Service of Process is complete, and the Defendants’ time to Answer expires when all of the following time periods have ended:
    1. 27 days after the date of the third publication;
    2. 20 days after the last day of personal service on a Defendant residing in the state;
    3. 23 days after the last day the Court Administrator mailed a copy of the Summons to a Defendant who is a non‑resident of the state;
    4. 30 days after substituted service on the Secretary of State for business entities as permitted by law; and,
    5. 60 days after service upon the United States of America or any of its agents and officers.
      When service is complete and the time to Answer has ended, a hearing can be scheduled. 
  16. If any Defendant made contact with you in any way, notify the Examiner and ask how to proceed. If the Examiner determines your case is a Contested Case, it will be set for trial.  A Contested Case occurs when someone claims some interest in the land that is not agreed to by the Applicant, such as an easement, lien, or unrecorded contract for deed. If all parties to a Contested Case agree, the case will be tried by the Examiner of Titles; if not, the case will be tried by a Judge. 
  17. If no Defendant made contact with you, the case will be considered a Default Case. Call the Examiner of Titles Office to schedule a Default Hearing.
  18. No later than one week before the Contested Case trial or the Default Hearing, e-file:
    1. Affidavits of Service from the process server
    2. Affidavit of Publication from the newspaper publisher
    3. Certificate of Evidentiary Facts Required by Examiner
    4. Certificate of Default and Non‑Military Service. To determine whether a Defendant has ever served in the military, check the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) website
  19. If your case involves a determination of boundaries in addition to registering title, draft a proposed Interlocutory Order but do not e-file it in the court file, email it to the Examiner of Titles in Word form, using the email address in Step 8, above. After the hearing, e-file in the court file an updated Certificate of Survey showing the locations where Judicial Landmarks were placed.
  20. For all cases, draft a proposed Order and Decree of Registration but do not e-file it in the court file, email it to the Examiner of Titles office in Word form, using the email address in Step 8 above.
  21. Mail or deliver a check for recording fees and, also, a self-addressed return envelope to the Examiner of Titles. Our staff will get the Order and Decree of Registration signed by the judge after the hearing, and we will deliver it to the County Recorder for recording. Call the Examiner of Titles office for the correct recording fee.

If anything about the title to the land changes while the Initial Registration case is pending (for example it is sold, or transferred to a trust, or a new mortgage given) ask the Examiner whether an Amended Application is required. 

This is a short guide to a complicated process. We encourage you to call for help at any step in the proceeding. There are no dumb questions, and you’re not bothering us – we’re here to help!

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