Hints & Tips on Preparing Electronic Forms

April 5, 2012

Importance Of Preparing in Electronic Form – If you are preparing a Form A Freehold Transfer of Fee Simple, Form B Mortgage, or Form C Charge or Release (each without a plan), that were mandated for e-filing starting January 16, 2012, you must it in the electronic form unless you are certain that it will qualify for an exemption. If you are not set-up to e-file and are expecting to rely on the discretion of the registrar to file in paper form, you are taking a significant risk that you will not be able to file it. I suggested in a previous post that you may get the registrar to exercise discretion to allow you to file in paper form, but I expected there would be less empathy for these requests going forward. I understand that the registrar is now taking a harder stance and has been rejecting these types of requests for documents mandated in January.

If you are preparing public utility, telecommunications, or oil and gas statutory rights of ways or leases (or releases thereof), you may be temporarily exempt from filing electronically, but the registrar is requiring that the document be prepared in the electronic form.

If you are preparing any form that will be mandated for e-filing on May 7, 2012, you should prepare it in the electronic form because you will have the option of filing the originally signed paper document prior to May 7 or filing the electronic form at any time.

You Must Prepare Using Adobe Acrobat – You must have Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional software (version 9 or 10) to prepare electronic forms. I am aware that some people have purchased other types of software since they are cheaper than Adobe Acrobat, but other software is not permitted and is not in compliance with the requirements of the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (the “LTSA”).

Use Current Forms of Prescribed Electronic Forms – When preparing an electronic form, you must use the forms prescribed by the LTSA and use a version of the form that is currently being accepted by the LTSA.  Some people are now receiving warning messages when they file electronically advising that the version of the form they are using is old and is being phased-out. If you downloaded these forms onto your system some time ago and keep re-using them, then it may be time to update them. Most of the electronic template forms were updated in June 2011.

Highlight Fields – “Highlight Fields” on the top right-hand side of the electronic form will highlight the field areas to be completed on the form.

Careful When Copying Over And Re-Using Forms – You have to be very careful when copying over electronic forms that you’ve used before. If it’s an old version of the form, it may no longer be acceptable and will be rejected by the system. It’s also possible that the form may have become corrupted which you may not realize until you try to file it. Never copy over a property transfer tax form as the system will reject it since it has previously been filed.

Number of Property Transfer Tax Forms – You must have the same number of electronic property transfer tax forms as electronic Form A Freehold Transfers. You can include more than one parcel on an electronic Form A Freehold Transfer, but then you should have only one tax form and you should consider the implications and whether you will be paying more tax than if you had prepared the forms separately for each parcel.

No Blank Space for Plan Number – An electronic form cannot have a blank line for a plan number. Electronic plan numbers are issued to the surveyor who prepares the plan and this number should be inserted in all relevant electronic documents prior to submission.

No Blank Space for Priority Agreement – Similarly, an electronic form cannot have a blank space relating to a priority agreement like you would leave on a paper document. How you refer to the priority agreement(s) in an electronic form will depend on the number of priority agreements being granted in a particular document, and whether priority is being granted over single or multiple charges, and whether those charges have previously been registered or are being submitted in the same electronic form. For example, if the form contains one new charge, e.g. covenant, and a priority agreement over an already registered charge, e.g. mortgage, the priority agreement would be described in Item 3 under “Additional Information” as  “Granting the within Covenant priority over Mortgage XXXXXX”. Where the electronic form contains more than one new covenant and priority for each covenant over a registered mortgage, it may be simplest to set out the 1st covenant, followed by the 1st priority agreement, and then the priority agreement would be described as “Granting the Covenant with one registration number less than this priority agreement priority over Mortgage XXXXXX”, and then follow with the 2nd covenant and priority agreement, and so on.

Insert Execution Particulars On Electronic Form – For certain electronic forms, such as Form As, Bs and Cs, the particulars of execution must be inserted before the form is digitally signed and submitted. As I mentioned in my last post, inserting these particulars after execution is a common source of errors. Where possible, insert these particulars into the electronic form before you print out the paper copy for execution to limit what has to be inserted after execution and the potential for differences between the signed paper copy and the electronic form.

Schedules Generally – Be careful if you are preparing an electronic form and selecting a schedule. Once you have selected it, “SEE SCHEDULE” will appear in the field and you will not be able to remove it. You may find that you can delete the schedule itself, but that will not change the “SEE SCHEDULE” in the related field on the form and you will have to start over if you do not want to include the schedule.

Legal Description Schedule – If you have multiple parcels and need to use a schedule, consider what type of legal description you are inserting, e.g. how long it is, before you select the “3 Parcel” or the “30 Parcel” schedule. The 3 Parcel Schedule allows you to type in a long legal description over multiple lines, while the 30 Parcel Schedule requires you to insert one legal description per line – and no additional information, e.g. like a definition of all of the lands.  When inserting a legal description, you need to include the parcel identifier number and, if none, enter “NO PID NMBR” and complete the “Related Plan Number” field with limited exceptions.

Restrictive Covenant/Easement – For a restrictive covenant or easement, under “Additional Information” in Item 3 you must include reference to the “Dominant Lands”, e.g. the benefitting parcel, and the full legal description (including parcel identifier number).

Plan Applications – In order to complete a plan application and submit the plan electronically, you must have an electronic “Survey Plan Certification” form from the surveyor with the electronic plan attached that has been digitally signed by the surveyor. Item 2 of the Survey Plan Certification form will contain the plan number and a control number that must be included on the electronic Plan Application form (commonly referred to as a “DSPL). Both the electronic Survey Plan Certification and the electronic Plan Application form must be submitted. If your plan is the type of plan that requires the approval/consent of the owner, registered chargeholders, or third parties like approving authorities, the signature blocks for those signatures do not appear on the electronic plan, but must be included on the electronic Plan Application form and a paper copy of that form circulated for signature.

Save Unsigned Version Of Electronic Form – Always keep an unsigned version of the electronic form on your system (e.g. before the digital signature has been applied to it) so that you have a record of it and so that you can make changes if changes are required.

To Lock Or Not To Lock – This is an issue for some users, particularly since locking a document before the digital signature is applied only locks certain parts of the electronic form as discussed in my post last week. And, it may reduce flexibility to make alterations if you are sending the form to another party for review and execution. If you are preparing an electronic form, e.g. a release, that your client is executing, and then you are sending the electronic form out of your office for application of the digital signature and submission by another party, you should probably lock the form to generate a unique identifier number and then print out the paper copy with that unique identifier number for signature by your client.

Scanning And Attaching – If you are preparing a document that requires an attachment, such as the Terms of Instrument – Part 2 for a Form C Charge, or an attachment to a Form 17, you must follow the LTSA’s requirements which, among other things, requires that scanned pages must be black on white background (no color), a minimum 300 dpi black & white resolution, 12 pitch font size, and a scanned image  4” by 6” to 8.5” by 14”. There is more than one way to attach a scanned image to the electronic form, but typically you either select “Tools” on the top right-hand side of the form, then “Insert Pages”, “From File” and select the applicable file, and attach after “Last”, or go to the top of the left margin, “Page Thumbnails” (note: not the bookmark or the paper clip), “Options”, “Insert Pages”, and follow the same process.

Validation – You can “validate” an electronic form or package with BC Online before you submit it for registration to check that it meets basic rules and then you can fix basic errors (e.g. missing electronic signature) detected by the system. However, this feature does not check everything and your form can still be rejected when you actually submit it.

Amendments – Once a digital signature has been applied to an electronic form, it cannot be altered. If the form must be amended, prepare a new version, get a printed copy re-executed (or have amendments made to the previously signed copy and ensure they are properly approved and initialled), apply a digital signature and file. Or, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to submit the electronic form and then a corrective Declaration.

Next week – electronic survey plans.

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