As in the rest of the UK, you usually have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) when you buy or transfer land or property in Scotland.
This guide outlines the main options for filing SDLT returns in Scotland - including the benefits of using the Automated Registration of Title to Land (ARTL) system. ARTL is the first system in the UK to combine online filing of the SDLT return with electronic registering of property.
If you're not using ARTL, the guide also tells you when and how you can make an urgent request for an SDLT certificate to prevent a purchase falling through, and what to do if a certificate is delayed or needs amending.
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You can file SDLT returns online or use a paper return.
Online filing has many advantages. It's simple to use, secure, more efficient and convenient than using a paper return and is available day and night.
In Scotland, solicitors, conveyancers, local authorities and mortgage lenders have the option of using the fully automated ARTL system. This checks the accuracy of the return and automatically authorises Registers of Scotland to register the transaction - no SDLT5 certificate is required. Find out more in the section on ARTL below.
If the transaction is one for which you can't use ARTL, you can file an SDLT return online using either HMRC’s Stamp Taxes Online service or software from a commercial software provider. You can find out more about these options by following the links at the end of this section.
You also have the option to file a paper return, but this takes longer to complete and any mistakes will take longer to resolve. You will also have to post the return to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and wait to receive the SDLT5 certificate which you will need to register the transaction with the Registers of Scotland.
You can find out more about filing online or paper SDLT returns outside the ARTL system in our guides below.
ARTL - Automated Registration of Title to Land - is an electronic system you can use to file the SDLT return online at the same time as registering the transfer of the property with Registers of Scotland.
You can only use ARTL if you're dealing with Scottish land and property transactions and are one of the following:
You can use ARTL to apply to register:
You can't use ARTL for:
There aren’t currently any plans to extend ARTL to include the above transactions, but you can still file the SDLT return online using HMRC Online Services or software from a commercial software provider. Or you can file a paper return. See the earlier section on the different filing options.
If you use ARTL, you can complete conveyances quickly and efficiently and pay the tax easily and securely. Key advantages include:
When you register for ARTL, you set up a variable Direct Debit to pay registration fees and any SDLT that's due.
The SDLT due on a transaction is collected by Registers of Scotland and passed to HMRC. So if you use ARTL for transactions, paying the tax is easier, quicker and more secure.
If you file an SDLT return outside of ARTL you’ll need to post the SDLT certificate to the Registers of Scotland so that they can register the transaction. However, if there’s a delay in receiving the certificate - and as a result a real risk that the buyer might lose the property (where the transaction needs to be registered on the day of settlement or on the following day) - you might be able to apply for an urgent handwritten SDLT certificate using HMRC's 'two-day service'
To get a certificate in these circumstances you need to apply in person within two working days of the effective date of the transaction.
This service is only available if:
When you apply, you'll need:
If you filed the SDLT return online but you haven't received a certificate due to a system problem, you'll have to provide both of the following when you apply:
You can use HMRC's Scottish 'urgency' service if you file a paper return and you don't receive your SDLT certificate within 16 calendar days of the effective date of the transaction. This service allows you to apply for an urgent certificate by fax.
To apply you'll need to:
You'll be sent a hand-written SDLT certificate by DX or by post as long as:
If you realise that the information in an online or paper SDLT certificate is incorrect or incomplete you can still send it to Registers of Scotland for registration.
The transaction will usually be registered if you send a copy of the SDLT return with it, and a letter explaining either:
If Registers of Scotland won't accept this, you should contact the Edinburgh Stamp Office. They'll arrange for you to be sent a replacement certificate.