The Bogotá Cadastre

An Example of a Multipurpose Cadastre
Liliana Bustamante and Nestor Gaviria, Abril 1, 2004

Colombia’s cadastral administration is a meeting point for authorities from the various levels of the country’s political-administrative system. At the national level, cadastral activities are determined by the technical norms established by Law 14 of 1983 and modeled on guidelines of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). The national government agency Agustin Codazzi Geographic Institute (IGAC) is responsible for all cadastral administration and oversight of more than 7 million parcels. In addition, there are municipal-level cadastres in the cities of Cali and Medellín, a department-level system in the Department of Antioquia, and a district-level cadastre for Bogotá’s Capital District.

Each of these entities represents the cadastral authority in its assigned territory. As such, each is in charge of the processes of establishing protocols and updating and maintaining the cadastres, which record the proper physical, legal, fiscal and economic identification of all real estate properties. These authorities update the cadastres every five years in order to check their physical and legal elements and to eliminate eventual disparities in cadastral valuation due to physical mutations, use or productivity changes, public works or local real estate market conditions. The authorities also reset the cadastral valuations every year, which enables them to determine the base payment level of the property tax.

Bogotá’s Administrative Department for the District Cadastre (DACD) was established in 1981 but was not fully operational until 1991. The process for updating the cadastre database was provided in Article 5 of Law 14 of 1983, but was started in 1997. The Bogotá cadastre relied on the national cadastre program guidelines before formulating a program that reflected local interests and concerns. Mayor Antanas Mockus set a goal for his administration in 2000–2003 to undertake a complete updating of Bogotá’s real properties. In spite of the unpopularity of this task, the mayor’s political will, his commitment of the necessary budget and resources, and the persistence of the District Cadastre’s staff ensured that the goal was met.

This endeavor updated 1,734,622 properties, 102,531 of which belong to the incorporated-as-new category. At the same time, the cadastral base value was increased from $66.61 billion to $88.25 billion Colombian pesos, thus increasing $21.64 billion pesos (approximately US$8 million; US$1=2,700 Colombian pesos). A quick calculation of the revenue impact suggested the District would receive an additional income of $65 billion pesos (US$24 million) in property taxes per year. The city spent only about $11 billion pesos (US$4 million) on the updating process, so it obtained a very positive cost-benefit result, especially because this investment is done only once and the resulting additional resources are permanent.

Having an updated cadastre is important not only from a public finance perspective but also for other benefits, such as addressing taxation inequity, purging cadastral archives, improving the urban nomenclature and incorporating cartography. All of these effects may be used as valuable tools for administrating the city’s future development. Thus, keeping the cadastre updated becomes imperative to preserve the District’s solid fiscal status, ensure the just distribution of the tax burden among the different social groups, and provide financial resources for planning and development processes.

The positive outcome of this experience led DACD to examine other countries’ experiences with cadastres, in search of new strategies and ideas that could help improve future performance. This led to the First Cadastral Updating Methodologies Forum, which took place in November 2003 with experts from Spain, France and the U.S. sharing information on different issues. Spain’s cadastre most resembles Colombia’s and offered valuable information on the legitimacy and simplification of the process. The National Geographic Institute of France shared experiences in linking registered cadastre data and technological developments in updating graphic databases. The Lincoln Institute, which has long worked in Bogotá on various aspects of land management and taxation, contributed information regarding mass valuation processes. Finally, the IGAC manifested its desire to integrate its cadastre data with the international cadastre through an agreement with similar systems worldwide.

Liliana Bustamante is adviser to the director of the cadastre and Nestor Gaviria is project manager for updating the cadastre in the Administrative Department for the District Cadastre in Bogotá, Colombia.