A Guide to Buying Land in the British Virgin Islands

A Guide to Buying Land in the British Virgin Islands

 
When you purchase raw land and custom-build your own house, the stamp duty or transfer tax is charged only on the value of the land. You’ll pay a significantly reduced property tax annually as well.

The land-buying process is the same as buying an existing house (what we refer to as a “resale home”), but there are some interesting rules and restrictions. A breach of these conditions may result in the BVI government restricting the property.
 

RESTRICTIONS

1. You must develop the land and complete the main building within three years of purchase. It can take nine months to build a smaller home and as long as 18 months or more for larger projects, from the planning stage to completion.

2. You must spend a minimum of $250,000 to build your new house or villa. The BVI development requirements are even higher with larger sites with more acreage. Environment and other planning considerations will determine the appropriate level of development. Subdivision is allowed only if it is part of a comprehensive development.

3. You cannot resell your land until you have fulfilled your development agreement. (This rule is in place to minimize offshore speculation.) If that’s unavoidable, the BVI government can charge a penalty on the sale of undeveloped property. However, they may grant an extension to allow you to fulfill your development commitment.
 

COST

For quality construction and finishes, prices start at around $350-USD 500 per square foot but can be higher. Building on Virgin Gorda tends to be more expensive.

Design and labor supervision costs will cost about 10% of the building costs. Several first-class architects and contractors are based in the BVI, and sound, skilled labor is available.
 
Architectural fees will vary according to the level of involvement, responsibility, and complexity of the work.

A swimming pool will cost around $60,000+ to construct.
 
 

LEGALITIES

Most of the land in the British Virgin Islands is owned in “fee simple.” A purchaser will usually acquire absolute title, which is then recorded in the BVI governmental Land Registry. Registered titles relate to a detailed cadastral survey that defines legal boundaries. No transfer of land can take place until the boundaries of the property have been determined to the satisfaction of the Registrar of Lands.

Property in the BVI may also be held on long lease from the Crown or private individuals. But since the duration of such leases is 99 years, leaseholders enjoy all the benefits of an absolute title. (Unless living in the BVI proves so healthful to your longevity that you outlive your lease, that is. Leasehold property will require an annual rent to be paid to the Government. The amount will depend on the property size and location.
 
The purchase of a property in the BVI does not in itself establish resident status. However, an identification card is available once you have your Non-Belongers Land Holding License (NBLHL) which will allow you to reside in the BVI for a period of up to 6 months. A certificate of residence, entitling the holder to land or embark in the Territory for an indefinite period, may be granted to a person who intends to reside permanently year-round in the BVI. For building materials unavailable here, you can have them shipped to the BVI from anywhere in the world.
 
 

Lawyers

O’Neal Webster
 
Jenelle Archer

George Henry & Partners
 
Paul Mellor

Harneys
 
Ayana Hull
 

Architects

Roger Downing & Partner

OBMI

LavinaLiburd
 

Land Surveyors

Island Surveying BVI
Osei Baisden

Adamson Land Surveyors Ltd
Michael Adamson

VISS Ltd
Marc Downing
[email protected]

Insurance

Hyperion Risk Management
Simon Cross

Caribbean Insurers
Simone Monsanto

Nagico Insurers
Shan Mohammed
[email protected]

 

Banks

VP Bank:
Sjoerd Koster

CIBC First Caribbean International Bank:
Fabian Devonish

Republic Bank:
Mechael Baird

First Bank:
Tanika Lettsome-George

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