Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Cadastre


Full Definition of Cadastre

A cadastre (also spelt cadaster), using a cadastral survey or cadastral map, is a comprehensive register of the metes-and-bounds real property of a country. A cadastre commonly includes details of the ownership, the tenure, the precise location (some include GPS coordinates), the dimensions (and area), the cultivations if rural and the value of individual parcels of land. Cadastres are used by many nations around the world, some in conjunction with other records, such as a title register.

In most countries, legal systems have developed around the original administrative systems and use the cadastre as a means of defining the dimensions and location of and parcels described in legal documentation. This leads to the use of the cadastre as a fundamental source of data in disputes and lawsuits between landowners.

In the United States, Cadastral Survey within the Bureau of Land Management is responsible for maintaining records of all public lands. Such surveys often required detailed investigation of the history of land use, legal accounts and other documents.


The word “cadastre” came into English by way of French and Italian, variously attributed to the Late Latin capitastrum, a register of the poll tax, and the Greek κατάστιχον [katastikhon], a list or register, from κατά στίχον [kata stikhon], literally, “down the line”, in the sense of “line by line” along with the directions and distances between the corners mentioned and marked by monuments in the metes and bounds.

The word forms the adjective cadastral, used in public administration, primarily for ownership and taxation purposes. The terminology used for cadastral divisions may include counties, parishes, ridings, hundreds, sections, lots, blocks and city blocks.

Cadastral Surveys

Cadastral surveys are used to document land ownership, by the production of documents, diagrams, sketches, plans (plats in the USA), charts, and maps. They were originally used to ensure reliable facts for land valuation and taxation. An example from early England is the Domesday Book. Napoleon established a comprehensive cadastral system for France which is regarded as the fore-runner of most modern versions. Cadastral survey information is often a base element in Geographic/Land Information systems used to assess and manage land and built infrastructure. Such systems are also employed on a variety of other tasks, for example, to track long-term changes over time for geological or ecological studies, where land tenure is a significant part of the scenario.

Cadastral Map

A cadastral map is a map showing the boundaries and ownership of land parcels. Some cadastral maps show additional details, such as survey district names, unique identifying numbers for parcels, certificate of title numbers, positions of existing structures, section and/or lot numbers and their respective areas, adjoining and adjacent street names, selected boundary dimensions and references to prior maps.

Cite Term

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Modern Language Association (MLA):
Cadastre. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
August 08, 2022
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Cadastre. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: August 08, 2022).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Cadastre. Retrieved August 08, 2022
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Cadastre are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 1st May, 2020 | 0 Views.