The beautiful Caribbean island of St. Lucia has, in recent years, become a popular destination for British retirees to purchase property and settle down to live out their years in their very own place in the sun. In my many years of experience here, I've found that it's not just the diversity and affordability of St. Lucia real estate that's so appealing, it's also the relative ease of obtaining the permission you need in order to purchase property – known as the Alien Landholding Licence. |
Simple, Streamlined, Welcome to St. Lucia!
I've never heard the words "buying a property abroad" strike confidence into anyone's heart, but if you're considering purchasing St. Lucia real estate, rest assured that it's actually a fairly straightforward process. The St. Lucian government has recognised the value of foreign investment and have streamlined the process of obtaining an Alien Landholding Licence to be as fast and stress-free as possible.
Enlist Expert Help
No matter how easy it is, however, the very first thing you need to do is enlist the services of a local property lawyer to help you navigate the required governmental departments. (This is not just friendly advice; it's actually the law that your licence is registered by a local attorney.)
Applying for an Alien Landholding Licence
Once you've found your own dreamy piece of St. Lucia real estate, completed a Land Registry search, lodged an Agreement of Sale and paid a deposit to the landholder to secure it (usually 10% of the total price), the process of filing for your licence can begin.
What you'll need to provide:
In order to complete the application your attorney will need the following documentation and fees.
• Full details of property – including valuation and DCA (Developmental Control Authority) approval • Statutory declaration • Bankers references • Certified copy of passport and four passport photographs • Certified copy of fingerprints and police character report • Treasury receipt of payment of application fee: EC$1,500 (approx. £380) • Licence fee: EC$5,000 for properties under an acre and EC$10,000 if over an acre and up to 10 acres. Cost goes up exponentially for land sizes, up to EC$50,000 for properties over 100 acres. • Completed application form
Once completed, your application is sent to the Physical Planning Office of the Ministry of Physical Development, Environment & Housing, from where it is then sent to the Prime Minister's Office for final approval. Following granting of the licence, it's returned to the Physical Planning Office and a draft copy is sent to the Office of the Attorney General.
While it is not a complicated procedure, as in any country really, I've found that dealing with busy government departments here always takes a certain amount of time. Even if everything goes to the letter you'll need to allow at least four to six weeks at the minimum, and up to three months.
Registering the Licence and Transferring the Property
Once the Attorney General's department has signed the licence, your property lawyer will lodge it with the Land Registry, which I've usually found takes up to two weeks.
The final step is to complete the transfer of the property to your name with a Deed of Sale, which your lawyer will prepare. This is also when the money is transferred to the vendor and they, in turn, sign the Deed of Sale. Once this is lodged with the Land Registry the process is complete.
If you're considering retiring to the Caribbean and buying real estate in St. Lucia, the affordability and relative ease of obtaining an Alien Landholding Licence can put that long-held dream of a laid-back tropical lifestyle right in the palm of your hand.
Adam Gobat is a renowned expert on the Caribbean, with a passion for its culture, history, people and places. His indepth local knowledge and wealth of experience in luxury St. Lucia real estate, are key to the marketing and sales of the luxury villas and penthouses in The Landings, one of the most desirable freehold beachfront developments in the Caribbean.
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