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British Virgin Islands Property
British Virgin Islands Property Buying Information
British Virgin Islands Property and Land Investment
Buying property, a home or a business in the British Virgin Islands is not difficult but it does take time and commitment.
When purchasing property of any type it must be remembered that the British Virgin Islands has a finite amount of land and therefore land is more expensive in the British Virgin Islands than on some of the other larger Caribbean islands.
BV Islanders and Belongers always have the first choice of property selection. All other persons, including British Citizens are considered as non-belongers.
In order for a non-resident to purchase and own property in the British Virgin Islands, whether it be land, a home, multiple dwellings or a business/commercial venture, it is necessary to obtain an Alien Landholding License. (Details Below)
Agreements to purchase property are therefore contingent upon such a license being granted by the Government to the purchaser. The Alien Landholding License is an entitlement to own a specific property and is non-transferable. (See Also - Property Rentals Below)
The British Virgin Islands Alien Landholding License
The application for the Alien Landholding License is submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour.
Each person whose name appears in the Application Form will be required to pay US$200.00. Each company that appears on the Applications Form is required to pay US$300.00. Additionally, each person or company is also required to pay US$600.00 on the approval of the License.
The application for an Alien Landholding License must be accompanied by:
two character references,
two financial references from the applicants bank, employer or accountant, which must indicate the applicants ability to purchase and develop the property,
a financial statement covering one years banking record,
a police certificate of good standing,
a passport sized photo of each applicant,
four consecutive newspaper advertisements for the property,
a letter sized cadastral survey showing the land and surrounding properties,
a valuation report form a licensed surveyor,
plus other supporting documentation.
The purchase of a property by anyone who is not a British Virgin Islands citizen is required to be advertised locally for four consecutive weeks in a local paper prior to submission of the Licence Application to Government.
If you are purchasing land, you will be required to enter into a commitment to develop the land within a three year period or less. The development commitment will be calculated by the government based on environment and other planning considerations and the acreage of the land being purchased, with the development commitment for a single family home being generally not less than US$250,000.00
Where an owner fails to honour the development commitment, the government is entitled to fine the buyer of up to 40% of the sales price. Additionally, the owner is only allowed to sell the property once the development commitment has been completed.
The purchase of developed property for residential purposes will generally not incur a development commitment. The objective of the licensing regulations is to prevent speculation on undeveloped property.
Applications for all licenses are referred to the Executive Council for approval. The typical Alien Landholders License will usually take 8 months to obtain, with longer periods not at all uncommon.
British Virgin Islands Policy on Property Rentals
A property may only be rented, following approval by the Executive Council as part of the Alien Landholders License application, and the granting of a Trade Licence.
Such approval by the Executive Council will be stated on the Licence and will automatically grant approval of the relevant Trade Licence, which needs to be renewed thereafter at the fee of US$400 per annum.
The current (2012) BVI government policy appears to favourthe granting of approval for the renting of all properties by non-nationals, with approvals being granted fairly swiftly.
Tenure and Registration Section
The majority of land in the British Virgin Islands is owned in fee simple. A purchaser will normally acquire absolute title which is registered in the British Virgin Islands Government Land Registry. Registered titles relate to a detailed cadastral survey which defines legal boundaries. No transfer of land can take place unless the boundaries of the property have been determined to the satisfaction of the Registrar of Lands.
Property in the British Virgin Islands may also be held on long lease from the Crown or private individuals. The leases term is normally 99 years or the unexpired term in the case of an assignment of a lease. For practical purposes a purchaser of such a leasehold interest will enjoy all the benefits of an absolute title for the duration of the lease.
British Virgin Islands Property Taxes
On the transfer of title to a property Stamp Duty at the rate of 12% of the price or appraised value is payable by the purchaser. (This rate was recently raised in January 2006 from the old rate of 8%).
Land Tax of $50.00 is paid annually for any land under a half of an acre. For any land above half an acre there is a standard charge of $150.00, plus $50.00 for each additional acre.
House Tax is also levied annually at the rate of 1.5% of the assessed annual rental value.
British Virgin Islands Planning and Building Control
Development in the British Virgin Islands is controlled by Planning Guidelines which determine general policy. Development work must be approved by the Land Development Control Authority who are concerned with planning matters and by the Building Authority who are responsible for ensuring that building conforms with the building code guidelines. It is preferred if working drawings submitted to these Authorities are prepared by architects based in the British Virgin Islands.
Building Costs in the British Virgin Islands
Buildings in the British Virgin Islands (and generally throughout the Caribbean) have to be able to withstand the forces exerted by earthquakes and hurricanes, and therefore normal construction methods call for reinforced concrete floors and foundations, reinforced concrete masonry walls and secure roofs. Most homes also have a reinforced concrete cistern for storing potable water (caught from the roof) and their own septic tank.
Building costs (2012) to meet the above requirements generally vary from $300 to $400 or more per square foot, depending upon the type of structure to be built and the standard of finishes used. Swimming pools typically cost from $45,000 and upwards to construct.
The British Virgin Islands has many first class architects and contractors, capable of building anything from a small vacation home to a large mansion.
Architects fees vary according to their level of involvement, responsibility and the complexity of the work. Fees for design are usually start around 6%.
Before employing an architect, it is wise to hire the services of a Project Manager. The Project Manager will be able to assist you in finding the architect best suited to your project and will supervise progress of the architectural design and the construction of your home.
Most building materials are available on the island; however with a larger project, it is usually cheaper to have your Project Manager arrange for the materials to be directly imported. The duties on imported materials directly are generally between 5% and 20%.Please contact us for more information on Building Costs and Project Management Services.
Typically a house will take 9 to 18 months from the initial planning stage to completion.
There are no restrictions in the British Virgin Islands against an owner building his own house and employing sub-contract workers, providing the BVI labour codes are observed.
House Insurance Costs
The typical cost for insuring a property in the BVI is 0.75% of the property value per annum. For example a US$700,000 home would cost approximately US$5,250 per annum to insure.
British Virgin Islands Properties
Click Here to view our British Virgin Islands Property
Our local representative in the BVI can be contacted by emailing us through the Contact Page
Rocky Headland at the Entrance to Great Harbour, Peter Island.
British Virgin Islands General Information
The British Virgin Islands
Some general information on the British Virgin Islands and important information on buying a property in the BVI, can be found on this page.
Until the 1960s, the British Virgin Islands had been virtually subsistent in food production and produced enough for export to neighbouring United States of America Virgin Islands.
During the period 1980 - 1991 the population of British Virgin Islands almost doubled as expanding economic activity drew persons from virtually every country in our neighbouring countries and the Caribbean region, bringing a significant number of challenges to the Governance of our country placing pressure on social services such as health, education and personal security.
Simultaneously, the indigenous population expanded naturally bringing more challenges to social services. However, it is this combination of immigrants and BV Islanders, the people, who are responsible for the economic growth and development we see today. The marine and land environments have been equally responsible for the expansion in tourist services, physical infrastructure developments and housing. The clear and pristine natural environment we enjoy today has been maintained as a result of deliberate policies and strategies of protection.
The British Virgin Islands were one of the first countries in the region to establish a department of Government directly responsible for the management of the environment. In addition, the National Parks Trust was established to manage our system of land and marine national parks. Even with the heavy flow of incomes from financial services today, the environment makes tourism the most dynamic sector in the economy. Our environment is fragile, very productive and contributes substantially to the present standard of living. Obviously, there has been a level of degradation and our aim is to halt and reverse this trend. (ref: http://www.dpu.gov.vg/).
Please note that the information on this page is subject to constant change and revision and may not be fully up to date. Users are advised to verify any information that could effect their decision on buying a property, visiting this country or any other matter of importance.
Copyright 2008-12 Text & Images by Caribbean Land and Property
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