How to Research Deeds

Deeds on line – www.deeds.gov.za

DeedsWeb provides you with a web-based interface to up-to-date land registration information located on the Deeds Registration System database.

In order to use DeedsWeb, two things are necessary:
Firstly, your browser software should meet the minimum requirements in order to display the data properly: and
Secondly, you must be a registered DeedsWeb user.

In terms of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (No 43 of 1996) archives are not accessible before a period of twenty (20) years.
This embargo does not apply to estate files and items documenting court cases.

When you make a request for a particular document, the Reading Room official needs to check whether or not the document falls within the prescribed closed period. Should you wish to consult the document nonetheless, you are required to forward a written request to the National Archivist. If the latter is satisfied that consulting a document does not infringe on privacy rights or other criteria defined in the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000, approval for consultation may be granted.

Your written application has to contain the following information:

  • A description of the documents required. This would include the period that the records spans;
  • The subject and purpose of the research project; and
  • A recommendation from your research supervisor where applicable.

However, the Reading Room official will advise you on the procedures involved.
Requested documents may be reserved for the following day. However, different archives repositories have their own way of reserving documents. Researchers need to find out from Reading Room officials if they want to reserve them for the following day.

Please note that you may not use a fountain pen or a ball point pen when working with archival documents. In some repositories pencils may be bought at the desk of the Reading Room.
Eating and drinking are not allowed in the Reading Rooms, and you may not bring either food or drinks into the Reading Rooms. Smoking is forbidden inside all public premises. Cell phones are not allowed in the Reading Room. Please do not place boxes or documents on the floors of the Reading Rooms.

The Reading Room officials are there to assist you at every level of your visit to the Reading Rooms. This applies to inquiries in languages other than English. You may request to be assisted in any of our country’s eleven official languages. If the Reading Room official is not competent in the language of your choice, she or he will seek assistance from other members of staff. However, even though this is policy in the National Archives and Records Service, you may not find an official who is competent in the language of your choice particularly in the smaller provincial repositories.

The reading room supervisor will guide you to archival finding aids which you could use to identify material that might be relevant to your needs. These finding aids include manual retrieval systems, such as inventories, guides, lists and indexes.

The National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS) is also an efficient means of archival retrieval and is available in all reading rooms. NAAIRS does not however include references to the total archival holdings, as it is being developed continually, and should therefore be used in conjunction with the manual finding aids.