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What are conveyancing disbursements?

Your conveyancing solicitor will bill you for disbursements amongst other fees - but what are they?

What are conveyancing disbursements?

What are disbursements?

A disbursement is an expense your solicitor pays on your behalf and later adds to your final bill for you to reimburse them.

An example would be Land Registry fees  – as the person who is moving, you need to pay Land Registry fees, however your solicitor will pay this expense to speed up the process, they will then add this to your final bill as a disbursement.

The amount you pay for disbursements will be the exact cost of the expense that your solicitor has paid. These costs will usually be similar between all conveyancing solicitors. The most common conveyancing disbursements are listed below.

Buying a property

Bankruptcy search - £2 - £4
Your mortgage lender will need to know that you, or any other person named on the mortgage, has not been declared bankrupt. Your solicitor will check all named parties.

Local Authority searches - £100 - £200
The cost of Local Authority searches can vary and depend on which borough the property is in. The local council will check their records to determine local influences on the property such as planning applications, enforcement actions, restrictions on permitted development, road schemes or land contamination. Some conveyancers use Personal Search Companies rather than Local Authority searches, but the costs are comparable.

Land Registry office copies - £4 - £8
Your solicitor will arrange a pre-completion search to ensure the vendor legally owns the property you're buying.

Environmental search - £30 - £35 plus VAT
An environmental search is additional to the basic Local Authority search and will investigate specific concerns such as subsidence, flooding or industrial contamination.

Drainage search - £30 - £40 plus VAT
This ensures the property is connected to fresh and foul water sewers. The cost will vary between water companies but should not fall too far outside the range given above.

Local searches - £40 - £250
These are location-specific and are suggested by your solicitor if there is a history of mining from coal, tin to limestone.

Telegraphic transfer fee - £25 - £45 plus VAT
This is charged by your bank to cover the cost of transferring the money to the seller’s conveyancer.

Land registration fee - From £20 (for properties under £80,000) to £910 (for properties over £1,000,000)
This is a fixed cost disbursement that depends on the cost of the property being purchased. Conveyancing quotes should state the cost of the land registration fee.

Stamp Duty – Have a look at our Guide to Stamp Duty for more information.

Selling a property

Land registry office copies - £4 to £8
These documents confirm that you are the legal owner of the property you wish to sell.

Telegraphic transfer fee - £25 -£45
Cost to transfer money to pay off your existing mortgage.

When you compare quotes for conveyancing services, have a look at the breakdown, as it will include disbursements. If you are unsure about any charges, you can always ask your conveyancing solicitor.

Last reviewed January 2020

Comments (11)

  • Michael Bayliss

    posted on 18 Jan 2013

    Most useful information & much appreciated,as we have not bought & sold for 19 years;so had no idea of current costs. Thankyou.

    Vicki Roland

    posted on 11 Apr 2013

    I think the land tax should not apply to people buying a home - it is OK to tax developers but to be hit with a 3% tax on a house over 250,000 is daylight robbery. As well as all the other fees. When a bank transfers money it is surely a simple job why does it cost up to £30?

    Philip Dunn

    posted on 23 Apr 2013

    What about furniture storage, as it is not always possible to move straight in?


    posted on 10 May 2013

    Really useful from the reallymoving team. I havent moved for 25 years so great and informative.


    posted on 14 Feb 2014

    Really helpful imformation and easy to understand without getting tied up in lots of jargon. tHANK YOU

    David Walls

    posted on 16 May 2014

    Very helpful

    John Maxwell

    posted on 17 Jun 2014

    Very useful and informative site. Thank-you. I will be using the conveyancing quote.

    Janice Ellen Waite

    posted on 9 Oct 2014

    I have found your site extremely useful as we are in the process of selling and buying, and relocating. It has enabled us to budget more accurately rather than me just rounding up! (better to round up as then always have a little extra funds!). Regards.

    Pat Pirie

    posted on 7 Oct 2015

    Like others here, I haven't moved house for over 20 years and what a difference I have found. All the extra legal bits and pieces are a minefield. I feel much more confident with your help. Thank you


    posted on 23 Feb 2016

    great first price guide very usefull thankyou

    Kim Lees

    posted on 17 Jul 2017

    Very helpful site covering all main costs for both buying and selling as last moved n 2005 ! Thanks.

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