You've found your little piece of paradise, your Caribbean get away, your home away from home. Perhaps you've found it online or you've found it while on holiday. Regardless, you will need expert guidance on how to make it your own. One of the things which any foreign purchaser buying in Saint Lucia will need to navigate is the Aliens Landholding License.
The new Alien Landholding (Licensing) Act (No. 1 of 2020) was passed into law in March, 2020 and makes provisions for a foreign person or foreign controlled entity defined as an “alien” upon qualifying for an Aliens Landholding License, commonly call an ALL, to purchase, acquire, or lease land in Saint Lucia and for an alien investor to enter and remain in Saint Lucia among other related matters.
The process is a two step one and is overseen by the Citizenship by Investment Board and Unit (https://www.cipsaintlucia.com )
The first step requires an applicant to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility.
A Certificate of Eligibility has a duration of one year or ten years and the holder of a Certificate may make one or several applications for an ALL during the validity of the certificate. The grant of the Certificate of Eligibility will then allow the holder to apply for the ALL in respect of the specific property that the holder wishes to purchase, acquire or lease.
It should be noted that there are other categories of persons who will also need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility. These include –
- an individual or entity with a valid licence issued under the former act, or who was exempted under the former act and who intends to obtain an alien investor entrance permit;
- an individual or entity with a valid licence issued under the former act, who wishes to subdivide land specified in a licence issued under the former act;
- a divorced spouse who has become entitled to ownership of property in a divorce settlement and who after having obtained a Certificate of Eligibility will need to apply for an amendment to a licence issued under the former act to change the name on the licence to his or her name consequent on a divorce.
- (i) persons or entities acquiring land pursuant to rights under a mortgage or debenture; (ii) administrators of the estates of deceased aliens; (iii) receivers and liquidators of alien companies; and (iv) companies which by virtue of a share disposition, or change in directors, beneficial owners assume alien status among other categories are required to obtain a certificate within specified time periods to facilitate applications for amendment of existing ALL's issued under the former act.
Documents Required to Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility
In order to apply for a Certificate an applicant will need to provide his or her Legal Practitioner with the following documents –
In the case of individual applicant(s)
- Police certificate if character or equivalent from applicant's country of domicile or nationality
- Certified copy of passport bio-data page
- Bank reference letter
- Birth record of applicant
In the case of corporate applicant(s)
- Incorporation/registration documents of the company;
- Certificate of goodstanding or equivalent from country of incorporation or registration;
- Filed corporate documents to include notice of directors, beneficial owners and shareholder Police certificate if character or equivalent from applicant's country of domicile or nationality;
- For each director, beneficial owner or shareholder, the documents required for individual applicants.
UPON APPROVAL OF THE APPLICATION FOR A CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY AN APPLICATION MAY BE MADE FOR AN ALIEN LANDHOLDING LICENCE.
An application must be made with respect to one parcel of land or one subdivided lot and must be in the prescribed form and contain particulars of current ownership, location, cost, purpose for which the land will be used and identify any land currently owned or leased by the applicant
A licence once issued is valid only with respect to the land specified in the licence and is subject to conditions specified in the act those specified by the planning authorities. Standard conditions include the following-
- A licence once issued must be registered within 90 days at the land registry
- Where the land is proposed to be developed, application must be made within 1 year to the planning authorities for approval
- In the case of the purchase of a commercial building, operations must be commenced within 6 months of the construction, purchase or acquisition of the building
- Where the alien intends to trade or carry on a business obtain a licence under the trade licence act prior to trading or carrying on a business on the island
- Use the land for the intended purpose.
Once the licence is issued then and only then can the holder proceed to complete the property acquisition whether by a deed of sale or purchase of shares or otherwise.
It is important that the requisite timelines and conditions be built into any property purchase agreement. The services of an experienced legal practitioner will go a long way in making the process hassle free.
At Athena Law we understand that doing business in a foreign country can be challenging. Our real estate lawyers are here to answer all of your questions, to provide you with the support needed to simplify the journey and to help you achieve your vision.
For more information, check out Investing In Saint Luca Simplified: The 5 Step Property Investment Guide.