Alien Landholders License
Foreign nationals must apply for an Alien Landholding License to the St. Lucia Ministry of Planning. This will cost EC$1,500 and is a non-refundable one-off process that can take up to 16 weeks to complete. The application is approved by the Physical Planning Office of the Ministry of Physical Development, Environment & Housing, the Prime Ministers Office and the Office of the Attorney General.
Your local lawyer will apply for you, however you will need to supply the following information and documents:
Police record (from your local police station)
A bank reference
Your CV or resume
A photocopy of your passport data page
A full set of fingerprints (from your local police station)
4 passport size pictures of each applicant
Full details of the proposed property or land purchase (with the land register and survey plan of the real estate and a value assessment of the real estate)
Initial approval from the Development Control Authority (ask your lawyer whether this is necessary) regarding use of the property or land
A fee will also be payable for the Alien Landholders License, that is calculated on a sliding scale depending on how much real estate you have purchased, starting at EC$5000 for under 1 acre to EC$10,200 for over 10 acres.
Note that when obtaining an Alien Landholders Licence to buy land, there is a stipulation that you must commence developing the land within the following 2-3 years.
An Alien Landholders Licence is not a requirement for a citizen of St. Lucia. Citizenship in St. Lucia is granted to anyone who was born on the island, or born from St. Lucian parents, and can also be gained by marrying a St Lucian. Again you will need to work with a locally appointed lawyer to confirm your citizenship.
Paying a deposit
Common practice when purchasing real estate, is to offer a deposit of 10% of the purchase price. If the buyer pulls out, this is forfeited. If the vendor pulls out, then the buyer's 10% is returned along with 10% from the vendor and another 10% as a penalty. In the unlikely event that the Aliens Landholders Licence is not approved, the deposit is returned to the buyer.
There are 3 major taxes, annual property tax, vendors tax and stamp duty.
Annual property tax is 5% of the unfurnished rental value of your property, regardless of use. Exemption of tax for owner-occupied property for owners who are over 60 years old and use the property to provide accommodation for themselves or members of their family.
Vendors tax is 10% for non-citizens and approximately 5% for citizens. Companies pay 2% tax, so it is recommended that non-citizens set up a company to purchase their real estate. Setting up a company will take approximately 6 weeks to complete and will cost EC$3,200 with a small yearly renewal fee to pay thereafter.
Stamp duty is 2% of the purchase price and a one-off payment.
Returning Residents Incentives
There are many attractive incentives for returning St Lucians. Tax is not charged on bringing a container of 'personal effects' and no duty will be paid when purchasing or bringing a vehicle to the island. Guidelines on what constitutes 'personal effects' will need to be followed and before returning to the island it is wise to visit the Customs Department and confirm that you qualify as a 'returning resident'.
Before making plans to buy real estate in St Lucia, we recommend that you check all rules and regulations with a local lawyer, as these rules are revised and amended from time to time.