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Things required to be registered in Ethiopian’s Law

Published on: Wed, 2014-02-26 15:30

Things required to be registered

The requirement of registration applies to immovable things and special movable things, because of their high economic and social value and they are easily identifiable, and various acts, public or private, which are intended to recognize, create, modify, transfer or extinguish rights related to them. This is because registration of every thing that can be the object of property is impossible and even if it is possible to do so, commercial transactions will be greatly affected as a buyer has to check registers to be sure that he is transacting with the owner of the thing. The law addresses this concern by presuming a possessor of a chattel to be a lawful owner and by allowing a person who acquires a chattel in good faith to become an owner even where the transferor was not the lawful owner of such chattel. See Arts 1193 and 1161-1167 of the Civil Code.

Under the following sections we shall try to discuss the rules governing registration of immovable and special movable things required to be registered under Ethiopian law.


Art 1553 of the Civil Code provides that keepers of registers of immovable property shall keep registers of immovable property in Awradja Guzat. Each area of conservation and each district shall keep two types of registers, i.e., a register of property and a register of mortgages. However, where the district does not have a cadastral survey plan, which allows the adoption of such systems, there shall be a register of immovables. Furthermore, where there is no cadastral survey plan, which allows the adoption of register of immovables, the district shall have a register of owners. In other words, a register of property and a register of mortgages and register of immovables shall depend on the existence of appropriate type of a cadastral survey plan in the district. See Arts 1553-1558.


Register of property is a register in which all acts, i.e., contracts or wills, or judgments, or compromises, intended to recognize, create, transfer, modify or extinguish the right of ownership, usufruct, use, habitation, servitude of one or more persons on an immovable, are registered. Legal actions intended to obtain a judgment recognizing, transferring ownership or other property rights over an immovable shall also be registered in the register of immovable. It is also a register in which acts by which an heir accepts a succession or legacy, a contribution is made in a partnership, a dwelling house or apartment is leased for a period exceeding five years, creating restriction of right of ownership or usufruct…etc are registered. See Arts 1567-1572.


This a type of register in which all acts intended to create, modify, or extinguish a right of mortgage, or to transfer a debt secured by a mortgage or assign the right of priority arising from mortgage are entered. Legal actions, by the mortgagee or any other creditor, for the attachment of immovable things shall also be registered in the register of mortgages. See Arts 1573 and 1574.


A register of immovables is a register, which shall be kept where the district in question does not have a cadastral survey plan, which makes keeping register of property and register of mortgages possible. In other words, it is an alternative system of registration.

Under this type of registration, all immovable things situated in a district shall be registered in the register of immovables under its number in the cadastral survey plan and a separate leaf shall be assigned to it. The register shall contain a summary of the description of the immovable in question on each of its leaf. The registration and descriptions should be in conformity with the indications and measurements of the immovable in the cadastral survey plan. It shall also contain a brief description of all acts, which are required to be registered. See arts 1575-1582.


This register, as we have seen earlier, is used where the district does not have a cadastral survey plan that is needed to implement the three types of registration discussed above. It is a register that contains, in alphabetical order, the name of owners of immovable things situated in the district. Where several persons jointly own an immovable thing, a separate leaf shall be assigned to each owner in the register. On the hand, where a person owns several immovable things, separate leaves shall be drawn for each immovable he owns. The register shall also contain a brief description of the acts that are required to be registered and that involve the immovable in question. See Arts 1583-1386.


Registers of property and mortgages shall consist of files made up of printed forms that are prepared and supplied, free of charge, by relevant state organ to the keepers of registers. The forms are made available to persons requesting registration. Any interested person may make a request for registration up on payment of the prescribed fee. The request shall be made by filling out the forms, in two copies, with necessary information and signing it. Up on receipt of the completed and signed forms, the keeper shall assign a serial number to the request that corresponds to the register. The keeper shall countersign and seal the forms with the seal of the place of conservation and return one copy to the person requesting registration. The other copy of the form shall form part of the register to which it is related. The insertion of the forms in the register shall be made in the order in which they are made. See Arts 1587-1601.   

However, Art 3363 of the Civil Code provides that the provisions of the civil code we have discussed so far shall not be operational until a date to be fixed by an order to be published in the Negarit Gazeta. Such order has not been issued yet and hence the provisions of the civil code dealing with registration of immovables, i.e., Arts 1353-1646 have not come in force. However, various municipalities have been registering immovables and issuing title deeds.


Special movable things that are required to be registered by the law include ships, airplanes, motor vehicles, businesses and televisions. 

Ships- According to Art 45/3/ of the Maritime Code, every Ethiopian ship should be registered at the port where her owner is domiciled or has his address for service. Registers shall be kept at ports designated by the Ethiopian government for the purpose of registration Ethiopian ship. See Arts 45-52 and 1-8 of the Maritime Code. Moreover, mortgages and rights in rem that may exist in relation to ships shall be entered in the register of ships. See Arts 36, 37 and 45 of the Maritime Code.

Vehicles- Art 3/9/ of the Road Travel and Transport Proclamation No 256/1967 defines a vehicle as any wheeled vehicle constructed or adapted for use and used primarily on roads and includes carriages, bicycles, motor vehicles, semi-trailers, trailers and trains.

A motor vehicle, according to Art 3/9/ of the same proclamation, is a vehicle propelled mechanical or electrical power and may be a commercial vehicle, motor cycle, private motor car, public service vehicle, hackney or truck tractor.

Art 6/1/ of the same proclamation provides that no vehicle, except a bicycle, may be driven or operated unless it has been registered at the Road Transport Authority. Furthermore, the Motor Vehicles and trailers Identification, Registration and Inspection Regulations No 360/1969 as amended by Regulation No 74/2001 prohibits the use or operation of motor vehicles or trailers in Ethiopia with out a valid annual registration sticker which has to be properly displayed on the motor vehicle or trailer. See also Art 42-45 of the same regulation.

Currently, the Federal Road Transport Authority registers vehicles engaged in cross country road transport services, vehicles owned by diplomatic missions and vehicles owned by the federal government. Similarly, Regional Trade, Industry and Transport Bureaus register vehicles engaged in road transport services with in the region and vehicles owned by the regional government. See Art 50 of the Regulation cited above and Art 14/19-22/ of Proclamation No 9/ 1996/7 of the Regional State of Tigray.

Ministry of National Defense may also register it owns as per delegation from the Federal Roads Transport Authority. See Art 51 of the Regulation cited above.

Aircrafts- Art 7/14/ of the Civil Aviation Re-establishment Proclamation No 273/2002 provides that the authority shall have the power to register all civil aircrafts and any right related thereto. Art 20 the same proclamation provides that the Registration of Aircrafts Regulations No 306/1965 /as amended/ shall continue in force.

Businesses- Art 5 of the Commercial Registration and Business Licensing Proclamation No 67/1997 provides that a person may not engage in any commercial activity in the country without being registered in the commercial register and after receiving license from the Ministry of Trade and Industry/ where the business is undertaken at a federal level/ or the Trade and Industry Bureau /where the business is undertaken at a regional level/. See also Arts 3 and the following of the Federal Government Commercial Registration and Licensing Council of Ministers Regulation No 13/1997. Art 171/3/ of the Commercial Code requires the registration of contracts creating mortgage on businesses. However, there is no clear provision requiring registration of other contracts in relation to businesses such as sale and lease. See Arts 142-147 and Arts 164-170 of the Commercial Code.

Televisions are also treated as special movable things, which are required to be registered. With the rationale behind and the legal basis of their registration.

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