Brief History of Land Records

The word cadastre is derived from Latin and its meaning is, in brief, something like inventory (caput = head, capitastrum = inventory by heads, later on also by any item/unit). In general this word used to mean the well-arranged systematic description of special features, humans, things or rights, especially the inventory of land or also yields from trades and other businesses, being acquired for tax purposes. The effort for a unified tax policy originates even from the year 1022, when the Czech prince (Oldřich († 1034) from Přemyslid dynasty introduced the collection of field tax.

Domesday Book and Urbaria

Nobility started to secure its private rights to real estate in the beginning of the 14th century recording them into the domesday books. These books, administered by the land court, served in fact originally for records of court disputes.  The first written document of the records is in the form of the land scribe from the year 1278. Following the Czech example Moravia introduced in 1348 the domesday books at the Brno and Olomouc courts and in the beginning of the 15th century even Silesia at the Opava court introduced them.
Serfs´ lands and their obligations had the nobility recorded before 1650 to books named Urbaria. The recorded land of serfs and freelancers were named as urbarial, rustic, later on also contribuentive.  Unlike the landlords´  land, which was named as manor, dominical or court, which was not the tax subject before 1706.

Rustic Cadastre

In 1650, the Assembly of the Kingdom of Bohemia decided that taxes should be levied on a fairer and more factual basis. Only estates and land held by serfs were to continue to be subject to this tax. The resulting elaboration (prepared in the years 1653-1656) was the first tax cadastre for Bohemia and is known as the first rustic cadastre (the first tax inventory), which was valid in the years 1656-1684. The first rustic cadastre was revised and supplemented in the years 1674-1683 and is then listed as the second rustic cadastre from 1684 (the second tax inventory), which was valid until 1748. The so-called field registers (the first field visitation in the years 1656-1658, the second 1669-1697) can be considered the first Moravian cadastre.

Theresian Cadastre

On May 1, 1749, the so-called first Theresian rustic cadastre (the third tax inventory from 1748) came into force, which replaced both the previous tax inventory and the Moravian field registers. After a new general visitation of the rustic land, the second Theresian rustic cadastre began to apply in 1757 (the fourth tax inventory from 1757). In 1749, new declarations for dominical estates were introduced in order to balance the land tax, according to the number and area of land of the individual lords (exaequation). The investigation was completed in 1756 and the resulting report is known as the Exaequatorium dominicale (manorial settlement) from 1757. It formed the basis for the Theresian dominical cadastre. The rustic Theresian cadastre together with the Theresian dominical cadastre formed a complete and large cadastre of all lands and estates, both rustic and dominical. It was in summary called the Teresian cadastre or the Teresian rectification of the cadastre.

Josephian Cadastre

On April 20, 1785, Joseph II issued a patent on the reform of land tax and land assessment stating, that all fertile lands, both dominical and rustic, will be surveyed within the municipality, depicted, and their areas and gross yield according to soil fertility will be determined. The patent introduced two significant innovations - the replacement of the existing homestead system with another, smaller and more numerous tax element - the parcel - and its surveying, enabling so stating its correct acreage and, consequently, the yield. The resulting elaborate is known as the Josephian Cadastre. It was the first cadastre, based on a direct measurement of the actual state in the field. The Josephian cadastre did not find understanding among the nobility and they demanded the abolition of the new cadastre after its one-year validity (1789-1790) and the reintroduction of the Theresian cadastre.

Theresian - Josephian Cadastre

After the abolition of the Josephian Cadastre, the Theresian Cadastre was valid only for a short time. The Josephian Cadastre showed all the inaccuracies in the acreage of the Theresian Cadastre. Therefore, a cadastre was introduced, in which the correct acreage was taken over from the Josephian cadastre and left the nobility with the benefits of the exaequatoria. The new cadastre was established in 1792, called the Theresian-Josephian cadastre and was the basis for the establishment of domesday books and tax regulations until 1860, when the documentation of the stable cadastre came into force.

Stable Cadastre and Land Registry Books

icon in WMV format Video in Czech in WMV format
Imperial patent of June 1, 1811, No. 946 Coll. of judicial court, introduced the General Civil Code. It contained, among other things, principles that had an immediate effect on the further function of the cadastre. It stated that the building was part of a plot of land (i.e. the principle superficies solo cedit of the Roman law) and that the transfer of ownership of immovable property required entry in the land registry books, called an intabulation. The General Civil Code was in force until 1951, when it was repealed by the Act No. 141/1950 Coll., and the abovementioned principles have been abandoned.
The foundations of today's modern real estate cadastre were laid by the highest patent of the Austrian Emperor Francis I from December 23, 1817, on Land Tax and Land Surveying. It was based on an accurate inventory and geodetic survey of all land, the so-called stable cadastre. Stable cadastre was already completely based on the scientific foundations of a large-scale map work. Cassini-Soldner's non-conformal transverse cylindrical representation and the system of rectangular coordinates with the origin at the trigonometric points Gusterberg (for Bohemia) and Saint Stephan (for Moravia) were chosen for the new map work. The chosen basic scale of the imagery (1: 2880) was based on that time requirement that one Lower Austrian morgen (ie a square with a side of 40 fathoms) is depicted in the map as one square inch (1 fathom = 6 feet, 1 foot = 12 inches, 40 fathoms x 6 feet x 12 inches = 2880). The boundaries of all plots were properly investigated and marked in the field with the participation of their owners. Detailed surveying was performed in most cases by the method of plane table (graphical intersection). Detailed surveying took place in Bohemia in the years 1826-1843, in Moravia in 1824-1836. All surveyed lands were depicted and numbered as parcels. The area of individual parcels was determined from the area shown on the map. Till today, most of the valid cadastral maps in the Czech Republic are derived from the surveying documentation of the stable cadastre. Such cadastral maps (usually at the scale of 1: 2880) are valid for about 70 % of the territory of today's state.
The stable cadastre aged significantly faster than expected, because its systematic maintenance was not ensured. Therefore, its one-time completing was ordered, so-called reambulation of the stable cadastre. The work was carried out in big rush in the years 1869-1881 and the quality of the original work suffered greatly.
On June 25, 1871, the General Act on Public Books was adopted (Act of June 25, 1871, No. 95/1871 Coll., on the Introduction of the General Act on Land Books) and on December 5, 1874, the Act on the Establishment of New Land Books. (Act No. 92/1874 Coll., on the Establishment of New Land Books for the Czech Kingdom and their Internal Arrangements) were adopted. It was stipulated that all real estate as well as all rights and obligations associated with them should be recorded in the new land register. The law stipulated that land registers are public. The rights entered in the land registers were acquired by entry - intabulation. By establishing the intabulation principle (i.e. identifying the moment of acquisition of the right with the moment of its public publicity in the land register) and strict and precise formal rules for registration, a high compliance between reality and the registered state was ensured.
Reambulation of stable cadastre maps has shown that the cadastre can soon be devalued if the system of its continuous replenishment and maintenance is not ensured. The Act of May 23, 1883, No. 83 Coll., on the Registration of the Land Tax Cadastre, therefore ordered that the land tax cadastre must be maintained in accordance with the actual and legal status. In 1896 the cadastre of landswas revised and from 1898 the use of the metric measure was introduced in the cadastre as well. For the new surveying, the use of graphic methods was gradually stopped and the method of numerical measurement was introduced. The advantages of numerical measurement were accuracy, a network of fixed permanently stabilized points (trigonometric and polygonal), the possibility of expressing the position of each point with orthogonal coordinates, the possibility of retrospective reconstruction of the point and the possibility of displaying the area at any scale. The land tax cadastre was valid until 1927.

Cadastre of Lands

On December 16, 1927, the Act No. 177/1927 Coll., on Cadastre of Lands and its Management (Cadastral Act) was approved. The land tax cadastre, amended by the new law officially to the cadastre of lands, has begun to change substantially its original purpose. It became an indispensable part of all legal negotiations on real estate and its original tax mission began to be transformed into a legal and general economic purpose. The technical level of the newly created cadastral maps has reached an unprecedented level. Obsolete and unsatisfactory representations of land and buildings in built-up areas of cities began to be replaced by modern, detailed and accurate representations, usually at a scale of 1: 1000 or 1: 2000. Newly created cadastral maps were displayed in the local national coordinate system (Uniform trigonometric cadastral network - S-JTSK), characterized by a Bessel ellipsoid and Křovák 's conformal conic representation in the general position. For each parcel, the holder, acreage, cultivation (culture), quality class (on a scale of 9 degrees) and cadastral yield were listed in the land cadastre. The essential parts of the cadastre of landswere: measuring documentation (i.e. maps), written documentation (i.e. written compilation of survey results), collection of documents (according to which entries are made in the land cadastre) and summary reports (containing total cadastre of lands data for cadastral territory or wider financial districts). Cadastre of lands was established by law as public. Cadastral proceeding, such as surveying or field inspection, carried out for the establishment or renewal of the cadastre of lands was defined. Cadastre of lands was maintained in accordance with the existing state and the law stipulated the rules for co-operation between cadastral surveying offices and land book courts (their mutual reporting obligation). A general reporting obligation has been set to all land owners. Cadastre of lands was very accurate and reliable, especially until 1938. Later on, its maintenance was not sufficient enough, and especially after 1945 (post-war confiscations and allotment procedures) it began significantly diverge from the reality, and after 1956 it ceased to be maintained at all. Cadastral Act No. 177/1927 Coll., was completely abolished only in 1971 by the Act No. 46/1971 Coll., on Geodesy and Cartography.
After the end of World War II, post-war confiscations, subsequent allotment procedures, revisions of the so-called first land reform and the announcement of the so-called second land reform brought fundamental changes in property rights to real estate. Extremely extensive changes affected a third of the country's territory. The principle of intabulation, on which the function and reliability of land registers were based and when the right of ownership passed to the allocator on the day of taking possession, was broken. A completely new legal status was created, which was in gross discrepancy with the status of the cadastre and land registers, to an unprecedented extent until then. The complexity was often multiplied by the fact that the allotment procedure was (especially in South Moravia) combined with the already started consolidation procedure. The allotment documentation was not uniformly established everywhere. Its surveying part consisted mainly of a graphic allocation plan, which was usually made on miniatures of cadastral maps to a scale of 1: 5000. The demarcated boundaries of the parcels were mostly marked in the field only with pins. The new boundaries were drawn into the plan in the simplest possible ways, and the areas of divided parcels were determined in another simple way from such approximately created parcels. On May 8, 1947, the Act No. 90/1947 Coll., on the Implementation of the Land Book Order of the Confiscated Enemy Property and on the Adjustment of Certain Legal Conditions relating to Allocated Property, was adopted, which significantly simplified entries in land registers and fundamentally changed the principles of the land book law valid for decades. The use of temporary and inaccurate surveying data was allowed. Within a few years, an unhappy status arose, which has not been remedied to these days. Allotments were not surveyed and new boundaries were not depicted in cadastral maps. The original technical documents (graphic allotment plans) are often illegible, damaged or even lost. Most of the initiated land consolidation proceedings were never completed and a chaotic legal situation arose in such an area. Competence for the completion of initiated land consolidation proceedings and for the specification or reconstruction of allotments currently belongs to the land offices on the basis of the Act No. 284/1991 Coll., on Land Adjustments and Land Offices.
On January 1, 1951, the Act No. 141/1950 Coll., the Civil Code, entered into force. The so-called central civil code of 1951 rejected the, for centuries, proven principle of Roman law - superficies solo cedit - and explicitly stated that the building is not part of the parcel. There was also a definitive abandonment of the intabulative principle of entries in land registers and ownership continued to be acquired by the contract itself or passed by law, by a statement of a court, office or public administration body. The central civil code crowned the gradual decline of the importance and reliability of entries in land registers and in the land cadastre.
In the newly prevailing political situation, the interest in registering private property rights was on complete decline. The socialist economy was based on the planning of agricultural production, and in order to fulfill these ambitions, it was necessary to know first and foremost who manages the land and not who owns it. In 1956, the Unified Land Register (JEP) was established, based on this requirement. The cadastre of landswas abandoned (without being in line with reality) and ceased to be maintained. JEP had no basis in a generally binding legal regulation and was established only on the basis of Government Resolution No. 192 of January 25, 1956. The essence of JEP was the registration of land use regardless of ownership relations. Private rights to real estate were not subject to any complete and systematic registration in 1951-1964.

Real Estate Registry

On April 1, 1964, the New Civil Code (Act No. 40/1964 Coll.), the Real Estate Registration Act EN (Act No. 22/1964 Coll.) and the Notarial Code (Act No. 95/1963 Coll.) entered into force. Even the new legal regulation did not aim at the renewal of the intabulation principle and the complete registration of private rights to real estate (the General Land Books Act of 1871 was definitively repealed by the Real Estate Registration Act). The effectiveness of agreements on the transfer of ownership of real estate required their registration by the state notary from April 1, 1964 (unless it was a transfer to socialist ownership). Real estate registry (EN) were to record primarily data on real estate necessary for the planning and management of the economy, especially agricultural production. Implementing Decree No. 23/1964 Coll. also defined real estate that was not registered according to parcel numbers and not drawn on maps (agricultural and forest land owned by citizens, if they were used by a socialist organization or in alternative use). The compliance of the real estate registry with the actual state was to be ensured by the reporting obligation of all property users to the relevant national committee (within 15 days of the change) and the subsequent reporting obligation of the national committee to the geodesy authorities (within 15 days of the user notification). Documents on real estate were to be submitted to the geodesy authorities within 60 days from the entry into force of the decision (or from the date of their creation). EN data were binding only for the planning and management of agricultural production, for reporting and statistics on the agricultural land fund and for property overview kept by socialist organizations. The EN was to include the registration of legal relations to real estate, and since no such complete and systematic registration of legal relations had been kept since 1951, it was necessary to re-establish it. The comprehensive establishment of real estate records (KZEN), during which the current legal relations to real estate were ascertained and recorded, took almost a quarter of a century (1964-1988). The real estate records included survey documentation (land map, work and registration map), written documentation (statement of changes, list of parcels, registration sheets, ownership extracts, list and register of users and owners and list of houses), collection of documents and summarization reports. The survey documentation of EN (land maps) was based on previous island maps of the former cadastre of lands, which were combined into a continuous representation. New land maps were gradually created on the basis of the results of technical and economic mapping - THM (1961-1981), later on the basis of the results of creating a large-scale base map - ZMVM (1981-1992).

Real Estate Cadastre of the Czech Republic

After the restoration of democratic political conditions in 1989, it was no longer acceptable to rely on the incomplete content of the EN, nor to continue with the imperfect principles, on which it was based and kept. As of January 1, 1993, a completely new legal regulation came into force (Act No. 264/1992 Coll., amending the Civil Code and certain other acts, Act No. 265/1992 Coll., on the Registration of Ownership and other Rights in Rem to Real Estate, Act No. 344/1992 Coll., on the Real Estate Cadastre of the Czech Republic (Cadastral Act) and Act No. 359/1992 Coll., on Surveying and Cadastral Bodies). The Real Estate Cadastre of the Czech Republic (CN), established by the new legislation, integrates the function of the former land registry books and the former cadastre of lands into a single instrument. The state administration of the CN is performed by cadastral offices established by law. The principle of intabulation was partially renewed, namely for the contractual acquisition of rights in rem to real estate, when their acquisition takes place by entry to the CN (after the legal approval approved by law by the cadastral office in administrative proceedings). Rights in rem, the acquisition of which is not based on the entry, are entered in the CN by record. The cadastral map consists of a set of geodetic information - SGI (including cadastral map and in specified cadastral areas also its numerical expression), descriptive information set - SPI (including data on cadastral territory, parcels, buildings, owners and other beneficiaries and legal relations), summary overviews of the soil fund, documentation of survey and measurement results and collection of documents. More detailed legal regulation was first implemented by Decree No. 126/1993 Coll. (effective from April 28, 1993), later by Decree No. 190/1996 Coll. (effective from July 10, 1996) and finally by Decree No. 26/2007 Coll. (effective from March 1, 2007). At the beginning, the CN completely took over the documentation of the previous EN. Its fundamental incompleteness of content (especially regarding private land previously used by socialist organizations) had to be bridged by the establishment of a simplified land register. The simplified land register contains at least the parcel number according to the previous land register, the original or residual acreage (after property changes made) and information on the owner. The parcels of the simplified registration are not displayed in the valid cadastral maps and therefore their display in the maps of the former cadastre of lands or in the subsequent documentation of the allotment and consolidation procedure is still used. The establishment of simplified records was carried out in parallel with the digitization of the SPI in the years 1994-1998. In 1997-1998, the CN was one-time supplemented with data on the relation of estimated pedologic-ecological unit (BPEJ) to parcels. In 1998, the digitization of SGI began.
Although the management and maintenance of some real estate data in electronic form began even in 1972, only the Act No. 120/2000 Coll., stipulated that the cadastre is kept as an information system on the territory of the Czech Republic mainly by computer means. Since 2001, the real estate cadastre has been maintained in the Information System of the Real Estate Cadastre (ISKN), which has technically enabled everyone to obtain remote access to cadastre data kept in the form of computer files via a computer network for a fee and under the conditions stipulated by implementing legislation.


Date of last update: 01.09.2020