Belize Land & Land Titles
Foreigners and Non-Belizeans are able to purchase land, real estate, and property in Belize. The full title of the land and property is granted to non-Belizeans just the same as it is given to Belizean nationals. Belize is one of the only countries in the region with fee-simple land title ownership and full-foreign ownership. Even though Belize has full foreign ownership and foreigners are able to own Belize land with a fee-simple title, there are a few types of Belize property ownership that buyers and investors should be aware of and not all types of property ownership in Belize are equal.
In Belize, when you buy land that has a title, the original or certified copies of Belize land documents registered with the Lands Department are issued as proof of ownership. The land title will have either the owner’s name or a corporate entity (like Chapter 250 or IBC). In Belize, for a land transaction to take place proof of ownership is required.
When buying Belize Real Estate, it is advised to work with a Belize Real Estate agent and Closing Company. When buying land or property in Belize the real estate agent will draft a formal offer of purchase or agreement of sale and present it to the land owner. The Belize real estate agent will require the full name and address of both the “Purchaser” and the “Seller” with the legal name of the property (Lot Number & Parcel Number). The property will have an identification number which is given by the Department of Lands and Survey Office. Standard land and real estate agreements include a property title search.
The Closing Company and Real Estate agent will request records for the land with the Department of Land and Survey. This office provides information on who the land title is registered to (the owners), whether it is held in a corporation or individual name, and checks if there are any restrictions on the use of the land. They will also ensure there are any liens or encumbrances on the property.
Belize Land Laws
Belize is a British Common Law Country and with that comes strong real estate ownership laws. The land and real estate ownership laws in Belize are derived from the Common Law and English Statutes of the 19th century. The Law of Property Act, Chapter 190 in Belize is based on the Real Property Act 1925 of England. Other relevant statutes and laws in Belize include the Registered Land Act, Chapter 194 (1977) which is a statute that governs all land transactions in Belize.
There are mainly two categories under which land in Belize can be classified. These categories include;
- Declared Land
- Undeclared Land
Declared Land transactions in Belize are much easier as the property itself already has a title issued. Transactions done on Undeclared Land have to be recorded at the Titles Registry and require a much longer process. If the land is “Declared Land” the title is registered at the Land registry. Most real estate transactions and property purchases are in “declared land” with a real and absolute title.
Belize allows for full foreign ownership and freehold property ownership. Property purchasers can take title to freehold property in Belize in three different ways. They are:
- Deed of Conveyance
- Transfer of Certificate
- Land Certificate
Fee Simple Land Ownership
Owning land or Belize real estate with a fee-simple title is the strongest form of property ownership. A Fee-Simple Title and Freehold Ownership is the highest possible form of property and land ownership. It means that you own the property outright.
If you’ve bought land or a house in Belize, it’s likely you own the property outright with a fee-simple title. If you own a property with a fee-simple title you will have a physical copy of the land title from the Belize Department of Lands. A fee-simple title is the strongest form of property ownership and means that you own the “real property”. Belize is one of the few countries in the Caribbean & Central American region that allows for full foreign ownership with a fee-simple title.
In Belize, not all properties and real estate have “fee-simple titles.” A lot of condos will use Strata Title or Co-Op Share ownership which is a less desirable form of property and real estate ownership in Belize.
Belize Property Taxes
When buying land or property in Belize, you will be shocked to learn how inexpensive and cheap the property taxes are. Most property taxes are 1% to 1.5% of their assessed value. What is even more appealing is that property or land assessments are usually far less than the actual resale value. For example, property taxes for land around Belize Secret Beach start at $75 per year. Property taxes in Mahogany Bay are $108 per year.
Property taxes in Belize are paid annually in April and are to be paid each year. Property taxes in Belize for land and real estate are assessed and determined by the Department of Natural Resources. Belize is a low-tax jurisdiction and the property taxes in Belize are some of the lowest of any of the Commonwealth countries. Property taxes in Belize are almost unbelievably low for most off-shore owners and investors.
Stamp & Transfer Tax
When buying a property in Belize Belizeans pay 5% of the purchase price in Stamp Duty or Transfer Tax to the Government of Belize. Foreigners and non-nationals pay an 8% Stamp Duty or Transfer Tax to the Government of Belize when buying real estate or property in Belize. This is why so many foreign owners and investors purchase Belize real estate in an IBC. When you buy real estate in Belize that is in an IBC there is no stamp or transfer tax. Learn more about owning Belize property in an IBC.
For more information on Belize Real Estate, Owning Belize Land, & Land Titling in Belize contact our team at RE/MAX Belize! We look forward to helping you with your Belize Real Estate Search!