Buying a property in St.Lucia where there is a tax haven with no VAT, no capital gains tax, no inheritance tax and no estate tax makes a great deal of sense. St.Lucia is one of the worlds top destinations for weddings and honeymoons making a holiday rental property potentially lucrative. St.Lucia has really embraced the worldwide taste for health spas with the first St.Lucia Health & Wellness Retreat, supported by the government and private businesses, being established and opening soon on the island. Being one of the most accessible islands in the region with the lowest crime rate St.Lucias affordable properties offer an ideal opportunity for investment. Comparable in many ways to neighbouring Barbados but with house prices ranging from 40-60% lower this beautiful island should not be overlooked as an investment opportunity.
With a total land area of just 620 sq miles St.Lucia, often called "The Helen of the West Indies" because of its natural beauty, sits in the ocean like a shimmering jewel. Pristine white sandy beaches, tropical forest populated by rainbow-plumed birds and acres of orchards filled with sweet smelling tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and banana are crowned by the islands twin peaks the Gros & Petit Pitons.
How to buy St Lucia property
There are certain rules and regulations you must comply with as a non domicile of St Lucia in order to purchase a St Lucia property. For instance, you will need to apply for an Alien Landholding Licence. Generally the cost of purchasing a property on St Lucia will come out at between 6-8% on top of the purchase price. This will cover stamp duty, the Alien Landholding Licence, Treasury receipt, legal costs and registration fees. If you are taking out a mortgage, lenders tend to charge a set-up fee.
Alien Landholding Licence
Foreigners must apply to the Ministry of Planning for an Alien Landholding Licence which costs EC$1,500, is non-refundable and does not need renewing. The process takes up to 16 weeks as the application is vetted by the Physical Planning Office of the Ministry of Physical Development, Environment & Housing, approved by the Prime Ministers Office and finally by the Office of the Attorney General.
Your locally appointed lawyer will make the application for the Alien Landholding Licence on your behalf. Along with your completed application you will need to provide the lawyer with the following information:
Certificate of character for each applicant (from your local police station)
A bank reference
A copy of your passport data page
Full set of fingerprints (from your local police station)
4 passport size pictures of each applicant
Full details of the proposed property or land purchase (including a survey plan and land register of the property (from the Vendor) and a value assessment of the land or property (although the value assessment may not be necessary
Receipt proving payment of application fee
Initial approval from the Development Control Authority (this may not be necessary).
In addition to the application fee for the Alien Landholding Licence, the following fees are applicable depending on the land area of your property.
Land Area (in acres) Price (in EC$)
Under 1 $5000
There is no standard procedure on this, but common practice is to offer 10% of the purchase price as a deposit, which is forfeited if the buyer pulls out. If the vendor pulls out then the buyers 10% is returned as well as 10% from the vendor plus an additional penalty of 10%. In the unlikely event that the Alien's Landholding Licence is not granted, then the deposit is refunded.
Annual Property Tax
5% of the unfurnished rental value of your property, regardless or intent of use.
2% of purchase price
10% for non citizens or 5% if the property is owned by a local citizen of St Lucia.
There is no vendors tax if the property is owned by a company as you would transfer the shares in the company as a way of transferring the property (rather than by deed of sale). It is therefore best that all foreign clients sent up a local company and to apply for the license in the company's name. When you come to sell, you will be selling the company rather than the property itself.
There is no capital gains tax, inheritance tax or gift tax in St Lucia.
Local solicitors / lawyers usually charge 3% to 5% of the purchase price.
There are certain very attractive tax incentives available to a selection of 'returning residents' of St Lucia including the right to ship a container of 'personal goods' without paying duty on them and importing or purchasing a vehicle duty free.
To qualify for 'returning resident' status you must be a citizen of St Lucia, either by birth or parentage who is returning to St Lucia after a minimum of 10 years off the island or be married to the aforementioned citizen.
There are strict guidelines as to what constitutes 'personal goods' and various limitations that should be read thoroughly. For up-to-date information please contact your local Consulate General of St Lucia, or contact one of our agents.
Example of a full listing here - http://www.guidetostlucia.com/returning-residents.html
Local mortgages are available (subject to status) up to 75% of the property value with maximum term of 25 years but both the LTV (loan to value) and the term vary of course according to a number of factors. Interest rates are generally set at LIBOR + a spread of between 3-5%. The minimum you can borrow is usually US$250,000 and the maximum is US$2.5 million. You will always need to prove that you have the funds available to finance a mortgage independently from rental income (if you are planning to rent your St Lucia property). We are happy to provide reliable contacts for financial advice and mortgage providers.