Land Ownership in Belize for Foreigners

Land Ownership in Belize for Foreigners

Belize is a beautiful country located in Central America, known for its tropical climate, stunning beaches, and diverse wildlife. It is also an attractive destination for foreigners looking to invest in land, whether for residential, commercial, or agricultural purposes. However, before purchasing land in Belize, it is essential to understand the laws and regulations regarding land ownership, particularly for foreigners.

Ownership Rights for Foreigners

Foreigners can own land in Belize, and there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property. The foreigner can own land Absolute Title and have the same property rights as a Belizean citizen. They can sell, transfer, or lease the land, as well as build structures and develop the property as they see fit. All the land transfers must go through The Land Registry which under the Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining a Government Ministry of Belize. The Ministry of Natural Resources is the government body responsible for the management and administration of all lands in the country. Its main functions include the registration of land, the issuance of land titles, the collection of land taxes, the provision of land information, and the management of public lands. The Ministry plays a crucial role in ensuring that land transactions in Belize are carried out in a transparent and equitable manner and that land-related disputes are resolved in a fair and timely manner.

When purchasing land in Belize, it is important to choose the right type of ownership based on your needs and preferences. The following guidelines can help you decide which type of ownership is best suited for your situation.

Types of Land Ownership

There are four main types of land ownership in Belize depending on a location of the land: Deed of Conveyance, Land Certificate, Minister Fiat Grant, and Transfer Certificate of Title. Each type of ownership has its own unique characteristics and requirements, but all of them are strong titles

  • Deed of Conveyance: Typically used for land located on Unregistered or undeclared areas and islands. This is the most common type of land ownership in Belize. It is a legal document that transfers ownership of the land from the seller to the buyer. A Deed of Conveyance must be signed by the seller and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public. It is important to note that a Deed of Conveyance does not provide conclusive proof of ownership and must be registered with the Lands Department to be recognized as a legal document. The process takes from 7 months while going through deferent departments. 
  • Land Certificate: Typically used for land located in urban areas and more developed islands which have been surveyed by the government of Belize. Governed by the Registered Land Act (1977). A Land Certificate is issued by the Belizean government’s Lands Department and serves as proof of ownership. Land Certificate is Transfer by a Land Certificate.
  • Transfer Certificate of Title: This type of ownership is similar to a Land Certificate, but it is issued for properties that have already been registered with the Lands Department. A Transfer Certificate of Title can be obtained by completing an application and paying the appropriate fees. Transfer Certificate of Title is transfer by said Transfer Certificate of Title.
  • Minister Fiat Grant: This type of ownership is normally in an unregistered area where the Minister would grant you title to Government Land. Government land is not granted to foreigner but Minister Fiat Grant can be sold to Foreigner. This can be transfer through a Conveyance.

Property Taxes

Property taxes in Belize are relatively low compared to other countries, making it an attractive destination for foreign investors. Property taxes are assessed based on the market value of the property, and rates vary depending on the location and size of the land. It is important to note that property taxes must be paid annually and failure to do so can result in a penalty fee. As an example, yearly land tax for a lot in Carmelita Gardens is BZ$10 which is due on 1st of April.

Stamp Duty

When buying properties, the buyer is responsible for paying stamp duty at the rate of 8% on the value of the property. If you are foreigner but hold Belizean nationality then you would pay 5% on stamp duty.

Real Estate Agents and Attorneys

Foreigners looking to purchase land in Belize should consider hiring a local real estate agent or attorney to guide them through the buying process. These professionals can provide valuable insight into the local market, help with negotiations, and ensure that all legal requirements are met.

It is also recommended that buyers conduct a thorough title search to ensure that the property is free and clear of any liens or encumbrances that could affect their ownership rights. A title search can be performed by a local attorney or title company.

Belize offers many opportunities for foreign investors looking to purchase land for residential, commercial, or agricultural purposes. However, it is crucial to understand the laws and regulations surrounding land ownership in Belize

Alisa and Llewelyn

Alisa and Llewelyn

This article was prepared by Alisa Khaertdinova and edited by Llewelyn Joseph Usher - Crown Counsel for Ministry of Natural Resources, Government of Belize

Discovery Tours with Carmelita Gardens, Belize