Laws and Regulations When Buying Property in St Lucia
Alien’s Landholding License – General Information
The property purchasing procedure in St Lucia is similar to that in the UK, with the exception of the Alien’s Landholding License. Foreigners wishing to purchase land in St Lucia must first acquire an Alien’s Landholding License. Laws were recently changed in St Lucia to make this process quicker and more flexible. Please note the following:
- A local lawyer must register the licence.
- It is a permanent licence, which does not require renewal.
- The licence is granted for a specific property or plot of land and is not transferable.
- There is a non-refundable licence application fee of EC$1,500.00.
- The license fee is EC$5,000.00 for properties measuring less than 1 acre and EC$10,020.00 if over 1 acre.
- There is a future tax liability of 10% of the cost of the property or plot of land, when eventually sold. Note that the payment of the 10% tax can be avoided by making the purchase through a company, which can be formed at the time of purchase. Company formation takes approximately 6 weeks and cost EC$3,200.00.
- License applications take 6 to 8 weeks to process and is normally done during the early part of property purchasing process.
Note that when obtaining an alien’s landholding license to buy land only, you are required to build within 2 -3 three years of purchase.
Procedures for Acquiring an Alien’s Landholding Licence
The application is vetted by the Physical Planning Office of the Ministry of Physical Development, Environment & Housing, before being sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval. After the application has been granted the draft license is sent to the Office of the Attorney General for approval.
The list below indicates what will need to be submitted with the licence application form:
- Completed application form.
- Full details of the property or land to be purchased.
- A value assessment of the property or land.
- Statutory declaration.
- Four passport size photographs.
- Certification of character – report from your local police station on information or lack of information on file.
- Certified finger prints – from a police station.
- Treasury receipt for payment of the application fee (EC$1,500.00).
- Approval in principle, from the Development Control Authority (DCA) in relation to the use of the property or land.
Stamp duty on property is 2% of the purchase price.
The normal deposit for purchase is 10% of the purchase price. To prevent gazumping, a forfeiture clause is introduced into all purchasing contracts as follows:
- If the buyer pulls out the deposit is forfeited.
- If the vendor pulls out then a sum equal to the deposit must be paid to the buyer. The buyer would receive their original deposit plus the 10% forfeited by the vendor.
- If the buyer is unable to proceed due to non-granting of the Alien’s Landholding License, then the 10% deposit is refunded. Note that this is a rare occurrence.
Local solicitor fees range from 3% to 5% of the purchase price.
The start-up cost for property purchase is approximately 15% of the property price, made up of, 10% deposit + 2% stamp duty + 3% solicitor fees.
When purchasing properties forming part of a new development, the developing company would put in place an escrow account for owners to make their deposits into, so that the money is totally safe. The development stage payments is typically as follows:
20% On completion of foundations
30% On completion of structure
20% On completion of roof and exterior
20% On completion of building
When selling property in St Lucia, vendor’s tax needs to be paid at a flat rate of 10% for non-citizens. If the property is owned by a local company and the property sale is effected through a share transfer then 2% is payable instead of the 10% vendor’s tax.
St Lucian citizens pay vendors tax by the following breakdown:
Nothing on the first EC$50,000.00
2.5% on the next EC$25,000.00
3.5% on the next EC$75,000.00
5% on the balance
You can avoid the Alien’s Landholding License by becoming a citizen of St Lucia. If you are not resident in St Lucia you can qualify for citizenship if you fit into one of the following categories:
- You or your parents were born in St Lucia.
- You are married to a St Lucian citizen.
If you don’t fit into one of the above categories, owing property on the Island is one of the main qualifications when applying for citizenship.
For further details on any of the above, please contact your appointted St Lucian lawyer.
Exemption From Property Tax
The Land and House Tax Act was amendment in parliament on the 12th Oct 2006 to be effective 1st April 2006. Exemption from property tax is granted where an owner occupied residential property, the owner of which has attained the age of sixty years or more and who uses the residential property exclusively for providing accommodation for himself or herself and members of his or her family.