What makes the prohibition of Chametz so unique is that, unlike any other forbidden foods, it includes the ban of itspossession. There are three Mitzvot in the Torah related to this prohibition: bal year-e and bal ymatze (Chametz, 'shall not be seen', and 'shall not be found'=We can not own Chametz during Pesach), and tashbitu (disown, dispossess of your Chametz before Pesach begins). There are two identical prohibitions (also an exceptional case!) and one positive commandment virtually for the same issue: owing Chametz during Pesach.
Strictly speaking, these three Mitzvot would be fulfilled at once by the 'bitul'. A verbal declaration by which we renounce to the ownership of any Chametz that belong to us, regardless of where that Chametz is located.
But the Chakhamim explained that there are some practical issues with just declaring our Chametz owner-less. First, we may declarethat we do not own anymore our Chametz, but, if we posses something valuable, will we really mean that we renounce to its possession? Second, Chametz is the most common food, so even if we declare it owner-less, keeping any edible Chametz at home, might cause us to eating it accidentally...
This is why they instructed us to dipose of our Chametz before Pesach.
There are four steps, then, that we should take to fulfill the Biblical commandments and the rabbinical instruction:
1. We clean our houses, cars, offices and other properties before Pesach to identify and remove all chametz from our properties.
2. We run a final search all our properties to make sure that we have removed everything Chametz from them (Bedikat Chametz).
3. We physically dispose or get rid of any Chametz found in our properties before and during the Bedika (Bi'ur Chametz).
4. Then, we declare and state that whatever Chametz we may still own anywhere, which was not detected and eliminated by us, does not belong to us anymore and from now on it is considered ownerless (hefker) as the dust of the earth (Bitul Chametz).
We will explain each one of these steps, B'H, in the coming HOTD.
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