COVID-19 exemptions are over in B.C. – Can you still execute land title documents remotely?

Authors: Saravan Veylan and Anna Schlagintweit

This blog outlines how to execute land title documents efficiently in British Columbia, even after the COVID-19 remote witnessing exception has ended.

There are different methods available, such as Section 49 applications, adding a lawyer as an additional signatory, appointing a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits or using a power of attorney.


Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Land Title Survey and Authority temporarily allowed the remote witnessing of affidavits in support of land title applications. The allowance of remote witnessing made executing land titles documents much more efficient – you could sign the documents without being in the physical presence of an officer (typically, a lawyer or a notary).

These measures were retired on September 23, 2023 due to the end of B.C.’s province-wide COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite the end of the COVID-19 remote witnessing exception, there are still several ways that you or your business can find efficiencies in the land titles document execution process.

Section 49 application – Documents executed in B.C.

Section 49 of the Land Title Act permits documents to be filed at the land title office without an officer’s certification. Under this section, the signed document must be filed together with an affidavit of execution that explains why the transferor was unable to sign the documents before an officer. Some valid reasons might be that the transferor is physically disabled or that the transferor lives or works in a remote location.

Where the document’s execution takes place in the province, a Section 49 application through an affidavit of execution is available on a case-by-case basis and is subject to the discretion of the Land Titles Registrar. Transferors should consider getting pre-filing approval of the affidavit from the registrar so that they have certainty the registrar will not reject the affidavit after closing and payout.

Section 49 application – Documents executed outside of B.C.

If the transferor remotely executes a document outside of the province, then the Land Titles Registrar will accept an affidavit of execution for that document without further justification.

Adding a lawyer as an additional signatory for the transferor

Where the transferor is a corporation or society, they can add a lawyer at a law firm as an additional authorized signatory for the transferor. The transferor’s regular signatory will execute the documents, signing everything that needs their signature.

Those documents are then scanned to the law firm where the lawyer, in their capacity as the additional authorized signatory, can sign the documents as the transferor’s second signatory while witnessed by one of the firm’s other lawyers (acting as the officer).

Appointing a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits

If the transferor routinely files a lot of documents with land titles, the transferor should consider having someone from their office apply for an appointment as a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits.

The person applying must pass an examination that ensures they understand their responsibilities as a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits. In this circumstance, the Attorney General’s office will usually place a condition on the newly appointed Commissioner’s powers that they only use those powers to witness signatures on behalf of their employer.

Remote witnessing under a power of attorney

B.C.’s Power of Attorney Regulation authorizes a lawyer or notary to remotely witness land titles documents that are done under an enduring power of attorney by the adult and the attorney. The lawyer or notary who remotely witnessed the execution of the document must then complete a Section 49 affidavit of execution, so that it can be filed with the land title office.

The lawyers at MLT Aikins have extensive experience advising clients on real estate matters in British Columbia and would be pleased to help you or your business. Please contact one of the authors to learn more.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive or all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.