The transformation process from state to civil ownership in Turkey was started at the end of the Ottoman Empire and continued until after the formation of Turkish Republic. In this process, in accordance with the Civil Code legislation, most land users who had been using state lands were regarded as owners of those lands. These parcels of real estate were used in various ways and it became necessary to register these properties by using a process called 'written cadastre'. The initial process was slowed down during World War 11 but an intensive cadastral program was begun after the war in both urban and rural areas. particularly in 1950s. The cadastre work had two components called technical and legal. The definition of land ownership is the legal foundation of the cadastre. If properties have their titles, land ownership can be defined based on the title; otherwise the ownership can be defined according to statements by experts chosen from local people. However, without title or written evidence, determining the land ownership is more problematic. In this context, this study explains how the ownership of properties, with or without a title, is determined in cadastral work in Turkey. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.