Purchasing Land In Belize
(all $ amounts are in US dollars unless they have BZE noted after the amount)
1. How does purchasing land in another country work? Do I need an Attorney to purchase land?
While there are many Attorneys available here to help you with your purchase, they generally charge 2% of the purchase price of the land. The Country of Belize recently went through a simplification of the land recording and ownership process in portions of the Country. These are referred to as ‘registered areas’. If the land you are buying is within a registered area, it is a very simple process for you to view the register and know if the land you are considering is owned outright, and if it has any mortgages or encumbrances on it. If the land is not within a registered area, it is a bit more complicated process and would be worth your while to retain the services of a title searcher which will average around $200. Title Insurance is available for 2% of the cost of the land.
Through Belize Land Office, all documents can be completed digitally and no trip to Belize is required in order to make your initial land purchase.
2. Can I purchase land using American Dollars or do I need to change it to Belize Currency?
Through Belize Land Office, all purchases can be made using American dollars and can be deposited into a U.S. bank account. One of the benefits of being in both the United States and Belize is the ease of purchasing land using the currency system you are familiar with!
3. What should I expect for interest rates?
Belize Land Office interest rates range from 7% to 9.75% for financed properties, depending on the amount of down payment and the length of contract. This is simple interest, calculated on the declining balance, different from the norm here in Belize and substantially lower than many lending institutions within Belize.
4. What should I expect for closing costs?
During the course of the contract there are no extra charges. You pay the down payment, enter into the land contract and commence monthly payments. At the time that you have the land paid in full, you will pay the Government of Belize a conveyance transfer tax of 8% of the valuation of the land, with the first $10,000BZE being exempt. Example: purchase a property of $20,000.00, the conveyance is calculated on $10,000. The conveyance tax is $800.00 paid to the Government of Belize at the time the transfer is done. In addition they charge a $15.00 fee for the recording and the issuance of the new land certificate into your name.
There is not any capital gains tax here, only the conveyance tax you pay when you purchase.
4. How much will property taxes cost me?
Property taxes are very economical. Seafront properties command the most….$50.00 per acre per year for each acre within ½ mile of the sea. For example, a two acre seafront parcel will be $100.00 per year, a half acre parcel, $25.00 per year, etc. Off-water properties, less than 30 acres and more than ½ mile from the sea, are only 50 cents per acre per year. 31 acres up to 300 acres are $2.50 per acre per year. Currently there is a land tax only, with no additional tax when you build a home on the land.
5. Are there special requirements if I want to view properties?
When you come into the Country for any reason, you will be stamped in for 30 days through Immigration. If you will be here for longer than the 30 days you must go into one of the many immigration offices throughout the country, present your passport and $25.00. US They will stamp you in for the next 30 days, this will continue for the first 6 months that you are in the country. This fee increases to $50.00 US commencing the 7th month you are in the country, until you become a resident. You can apply for residency after being here for one year. **Commencing Nov. 2015, you are now required to have a work permit before you will be able to make application for residency.
There is a work permit available for foreigners that want to do business here prior to obtaining their residency status. The cost is $1,000. US for the year. This will no longer be required once you have gone through the process to become a resident, it also eliminates the need to pay the immigration extension fees and to check in every 30 days. The total cost to check in every 30 days for the year is $450.00 US, which is now eliminated, reducing the cost of the work permit to $550. US
Departure Tax Note: when you exit the country. It is $37.50 US at the Belize City airport (now included in your airline ticket if you purchased on line) and $32.50 Bze when you exit at the northern border.
Special Note: Retirement Incentive Program: This might be just what you are looking for if you would like to bring your vehicle, airplane, boat and personal household items into Belize under an import duty exemption – check their website to see if you quality: www.belizeretirement.org/whoqualifies
6. What if I change my mind on where I want to be once I spend more time in the country?
All land parcels offered by Belize Land Office come with a “Trade in Option”….. at any time during the course of your land contract you will have the option of exchanging your land parcel for any other land that we offer. 100% of the principle paid in will be credited toward the down payment of any other parcel that may be available. You may upgrade, downgrade, even change to a different district, or a different type of property. This can be done at any time prior to the land being paid in full and the land certificate being recorded into the Buyer's name. Many people purchase a land parcel without coming to Belize to view it first. This option allows them the flexibility of checking out many different areas of the country and many different types of land (mountains, inland water ways, lakefront, seafront, etc.)
If for some reason, after spending time in the country, you decide that the Tropics aren't for you, Belize Land Office also offers the option for an early termination on your contract. You will lose your downpayment, all monies paid in, and a small early termination fee, but you will be released from your contract in order to explore your next adventure.