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Tax Declaration To Title In The Philippines

Tax Declaration To Title In The Philippines

I am a geodetic engineer and have been in private practice for almost 5 years. With all the clients I was able to meet, one thing that is very common to almost everybody is the thought that having a tax declaration is like having a land title. In fact, many would think that their tax declaration is enough to prove their claim of ownership over a certain property.

Moreover, many people do not know how to apply for a land title using a tax declaration. This is why I decided to write this article to explain the difference between a tax declaration and a land title, and to further explain the process of the application for the land title using a tax declaration.

Tax Declaration VS Land Title In The Philippines

Ownership means someone has legal control over a property, may it be tangible or intangible assets. It gives someone the full right to decide what to do with a certain property, whether to use, dispose of, or transfer it to others through any legal means possible.

In the Philippines, there are two documents regarding ownership that are both deemed to be very important to many people, the tax declaration and land title. However, one differs from another, and proper knowledge of the difference between the two is necessary to avoid misinformation.

tax dec vs land title

What Is Land Title?

A land title or a certificate of title is the highest form of ownership in the Philippines. It is a document that proves the ownership of the person named as the owner of the property described therein. It guarantees the registered owner of a piece of land that his/her ownership is protected against any dispute or challenges.

A land title is registered in the Registry of Deeds of the province, city, or municipality where the land is located. Whatever claims over the property there are, everything is quieted upon the issuance of this document. Meaning, anyone who is registered as the owner of a certain property has all the right to possess, use, and dispose of the property through any legal means recognized by law.

Furthermore, a land title cannot be altered, modified, or canceled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with the law (Sect 48, PD No. 1529).

What Is Tax Declaration?

A tax declaration is a document that is very common to Filipinos who attest to being an owner of a certain property. To many, they believe that a tax declaration is very important and others may even think that this is equivalent to having a title.

However, it must be clarified that a tax declaration is only a document showing a good sign of possession only in the concept of owner, not ownership. Meaning, the registered owner in a tax declaration may use, possess, and transfer property but does not have absolute legal control over the property. 

Unlike the land title which proves one’s ownership of a certain property, a tax declaration does not guarantee the same. It is important to know that a tax declaration is not conclusive evidence of ownership but is only an instrument for the application of land title.

A tax declaration is a document recorded by the Assessor’s Office of the municipality or city where the land is situated. It is only a document used to declare the estimated value of a property for taxation purposes. It is a requirement for all property owners to submit their tax declaration annually and pay for the assessed tax of their property.

Therefore, it is conclusive to say that a tax declaration is not enough to prove one’s ownership over a property. A land title will always be required as it is the highest form of ownership as stated above.

How to Get a Tax Declaration

How to Get a Tax Declaration?

Depending on the local government where a certain land is located, the requirements and procedures may vary. However, in most cases, a copy of a tax declaration can be requested by the registered owner or by their authorized representative/s.

Assuming that you do not have an existing tax declaration of your land property and you want it declared in your name, the following steps are what you should do:

  1. Visit your Municipality/City Assessor’s Office.
  2. Fill up the application form.
  3. Submit the application together with the certificate of title, tax map, latest real property tax receipt, and proof of payment of the assessment fee.

After the application is submitted, an inspection will be conducted to check and verify the information on the application of your real property. Then, you will be provided with the official value of your property. You must keep in mind to keep this document up-to-date as the value of your land property may change over time.

However, if you cannot provide a certificate of title, then you must consider asking for assistance from professionals, such as licensed geodetic engineers in private practice. Land properties in cases like this must undergo verification of land classification to check whether such property is alienable and disposable.

Alienable and disposable lands are lands of the public domain which are available for disposition. Meaning, a qualified individual can apply for its ownership.

Tax Declaration To Land Title Process

The process for the application for the land title using a tax declaration is somehow a tedious and lengthy process. But of course, it is important to go through the whole process to have a land title. Below are the steps for the application for land title in the Philippines:

1. Know If There Is Already An Approved Survey

One of the first things one should know in applying for a title is whether there is already an existing approved survey of the land. The basic way to know if such a thing exists is to check the information indicated in the tax declaration. If there is a lot number and survey symbol, then that is already a clear indication that an approved survey plan exists.

However, there are a lot of tax declarations without lot numbers and survey symbols written on them, which is quite a common thing of the past that is still a problem nowadays, especially in rural areas. In cases like this, you must consult a licensed geodetic engineer in private practice about the proper proceeding. Based on experience, there are instances when a land has already an approved survey but was not indicated in the tax declaration.

2. Check For The Land Classification

In the 1987 Constitution, land in the public domain is classified into forest land, mineral land, national parks, and agricultural land. Currently, land in the public domain is classified into either forest land or alienable & disposable land. Only land that falls under the alienable & disposable category can be applied for a title.

So to check the classification of your land, you must visit the CENRO Office which has the jurisdiction of the property. You may present a copy of the tax declaration with the lot number and survey symbol written on it.

3. Check For The Land Status

If it is found out that the property is classified as alienable & disposable, do not forget to also check for its status. You should ask for a certificate of land status from the legal custodian of the Official Records Office. This is an important step to check if there is a pending case or an ongoing land title application for the same property, or if there is already an existing title of the said land.

4. Have Your Property Surveyed

After completing the three steps listed above, you can then have your property surveyed by a licensed geodetic engineer in private practice. This is a necessary step to confirm the size and location of the property and to determine any encroachments or disputes over property lines. 

This is also where you can have your land property subdivided if there are changes you want to make or any portion you would like to dispose of or transfer. If there are no changes to be made, you can immediately proceed to the application of the title.

If you have any surveying needs with your properties within the Caraga region, feel free to contact us! You can send us a message through Facebook messenger by simply clicking the button below or send your inquiries to this number: +6398 845 3791

5. Apply For A Land Title

There are two ways to apply for a land title: judicial and administrative proceedings. The judicial application is usually made when there are cases involving the land property and is filed at the court. While on the other hand, the administrative application for title is filed at the CENRO (City Environment and Natural Resources Office). The latter is the most common way of application as it is free for the public.

6. Proceed to ROD

If the application of title is approved by the CENRO, proceed to the submission of the additional documentary requirements such as the latest certified true copy of the tax declaration, updated tax clearance certificate, DENR certification, and payment for registration. Then, you just have to wait for the release of the title.

Tax Declaration To Land Title Cost

The application for the land title using a tax declaration is free at the CENRO. However, other certifications and legal documents will demand an amount that may vary depending on the kind of certificate or document.

DENR Requirements For Land Titling

There are different requirements for the application for land title at the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office). The following are the lists of requirements based on the free patent application:

Agricultural Free Patent

  • Blueprint of the approved survey plan (2 copies)
  • Conveyance (Deed of Sale, Deed of Donation, Waiver of Rights, Extrajudicial Partition, etc.)
  • Updated Tax Declaration
  • Brgy. Certification as Actual Occupant
  • Clerk of Court Certification
  • LRA & LMB Certification
  • Affidavit of Two (2) Disinterested Persons
  • Affidavit of Non-title
  • Documentary Stamps (10pcs.)

Residential Free Patent

  • Blueprint of the approved survey plan (2 copies)
  • Conveyance (Deed of Sale, Deed of Donation, Waiver of Rights, Extrajudicial Partition, etc.)
  • Updated Tax Declaration
  • Brgy. Certification as Actual Occupant
  • Clerk of Court Certification
  • Zoning Certification
  • Engineering Certification
  • LRA & LMB Certification
  • Affidavit of Non-title
  • Affidavit of Undertaking
  • A&D (Alienable & Disposable) Certification
  • Documentary Stamps

Note: Be sure to submit all the above-mentioned requirements in order to not delay the approval of your application.

So that’s it for this article. I hope that I have given you clear insights into the difference between a tax declaration and a land title. Also, if you have any clarifications about the process of applying for land titles using a tax declaration, feel free to leave your comments or suggestions below.

Engr. Jeremie Verano
Engr. Jeremie Verano
Geodetic Engineer

A graduate of Caraga State University with a Bachelor of Science in Geodetic Engineering. She is the co-owner of Terra Surveying Services, Co., a land surveying company based in Butuan City that offers land surveying services anywhere in the whole Caraga region.


Excellent insights on real property tax declaration! Your guidance has been invaluable. Looking forward to navigating the complexities with confidence. Cheers to informed decisions and a smoother tax declaration process!

Maximo Ison Rosales

Hi Engr Jeremie,
Our lot which we inherited from our father {deceased]was already surveyed by DENR and already have a plan and subdivided among six siblings, the person who is handling our paper works is now working to get the extra judicial settlement certificate so we can proceed to have it titled to each individual heir, my question are, whats the next step in proceeding to have it titled, do we have to contact DENR and get the approval, after getting DENR certification where should we go next LRA, RD ? I hope you can spare me some knowledge on this because I knew that there are more requirements to accomplish before we acquire each individual title. I hope you can give me a little light on this matter.Thanks.

Engr. Jeremie Verano

Hello! Have you already paid the estate tax at the BIR? If you haven’t, you must pay it first using the extrajudicial settlement. Then, you can proceed to the filing of transfer of title at the ROD after you received the eCAR (Certificate Authorizing Registration) from the BIR.

P.s. if you don’t know what documents you should compile, I suggest that you ask for the lists of requirements both from the BIR and ROD.

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