, tangible property is literally anything that can be touched
, and includes both
In English common law, real property, real estate, immovable property or, solely in the US and Canada, realty, is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called improvements or fixtures) integrated with or affi ...
property is property that is movable. In common law systems, personal property may also be called chattels or personalty. In civil law systems, personal property is often called movable property or movables—any property that can be moved fr ...
(or moveable property), and stands in distinction to
Intangible property, also known as incorporeal property, is something that a person or corporation can have ownership of and can transfer ownership to another person or corporation, but has no physical substance, for example brand identity or ...
English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.
Principal elements of English law
Although the common law has, historically, ...
A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically, it has been synonymous with "republic". The noun "commonwealth", meaning "public welfare, general good or advantage", dates from the ...
legal systems, items of tangible property are referred to as ''choses in possession'' (or a ''chose in possession'' in the singular). However, some property, despite being physical in nature, is classified in many legal systems as intangible property rather than tangible property because the
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theor ...
s associated with the physical item are of far greater significance than the physical properties. Principally, these are documentary intangibles. For example, a
A promissory note, sometimes referred to as a note payable, is a legal instrument (more particularly, a financing instrument and a debt instrument), in which one party (the ''maker'' or ''issuer'') promises in writing to pay a determinate sum of ...
is a piece of paper that can be touched, but the real significance is not the physical paper, but the legal rights which the paper confers, and hence the promissory note is defined by the legal
Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The de ...
rather than the physical attributes.
A unique category of property is
Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The primary functions which distinguish money are as ...
, which in some legal systems is treated as tangible property and in others as intangible property. Whilst most countries legal tender is expressed in the form of intangible property ("The
A treasury is either
*A government department related to finance and taxation, a finance ministry.
*A place or location where treasure, such as currency or precious items are kept. These can be state or royal property, church treasure or in ...
of Country X hereby promises to pay to the bearer on demand...."), in practice
A banknote—also called a bill (North American English), paper money, or simply a note—is a type of negotiable promissory note, made by a bank or other licensed authority, payable to the bearer on demand.
Banknotes were originally issued ...
are now rarely ever redeemed in any country, which has led to banknotes and coins being classified as tangible property in most modern legal systems.