Bahamas Real Estate Guide to Permits, Residency and More


In 1993, the International Persons Land Tenure Act was put into effect to encourage foreigners to buy a second home in the Bahamas. And it couldn’t be easier. If a foreigner buys a single-family home or vacant land to use for the construction of such a home, he no longer needs to obtain a permit from the Government before the purchase. He only needs to register the acquisition later with the Board of Investment. Bahamian permanent residents and foreigners inheriting property in the Bahamas do not have to obtain a permit before acquiring land, but must register afterwards.

However, there are cases where a Bahamas real estate permit will be required. First, if the property is undeveloped and five acres or more. Second, if the property is not a private residence, or is not intended for development as such, a permit is required.

When dealing with mortgages, the law is not meant to be an obstacle. In fact, it states that banks, trusts, and licensed insurance companies that acquire an interest in or take possession of property pursuant to a court order must register that acquisition. Acquisition via foreclosure or land acquired by an authorized foreign state will not require a permit but must be registered.

With leases, foreigners are not required to obtain permits, register leases or leases unless they are for business or commercial purposes and the term can exceed 21 years.

The government has not only made it easier for foreigners to own a second home, but has also included a condition for a foreigner to no longer pay a double rate of stamp duty; now he pays the same flat rate as a Bahamian.

Stamp duty is a tax payable on the delivery of all real property based on value as follows: Stamp duty starts at 2% for real property valued at less than $20,000 USD, but increases at 10% for real estate over $250,000 USD. The payment of this tax is usually divided equally between the seller and the buyer. There is also a 1% stamp duty on mortgages paid by the borrower. Standard practice in the Bahamas is for the tax to be shared equally between the buyer and the seller, unless otherwise agreed.

If you enter the Bahamas, you must complete an embarkation-disembarkation card that is usually provided to you by your travel agent, the airline or the ship you are traveling on. No visa or passport is required if you are a Canadian citizen or UK subject, unless your stay exceeds three weeks. US citizens on scheduled airlines, pre-cleared for return at US Customs and Immigration at Nassau International Airport, also do not require a visa (although proof of citizenship is required).

You are allowed a maximum stay of eight months with proper documents including a return ticket and evidence of financial support. If you wish to stay longer, you must apply for temporary residence to the Director of Immigration. However, if you want to make the Bahamas your permanent residence through a Bahamian real estate investment, you will need to apply for permanent residence. If you plan to work in the Bahamas, you must apply for a separate work permit.

There are different levels of residence. The first is permanent residence which requires the purchase of a residence of more than $500,000, subject to a one-time payment of $10,000. Another residency level is homeownership where there is no minimum purchase required, however your card must be renewed each year for a $1000 fee. And the last level of residency is an annual residency where, again, there is no minimum purchase required, but you must renew each year for a fee of $1000.

Owning Bahamas real estate sounds spectacularly easy and that’s because it is. But there are a few things to keep in mind when making an investment of this size. Here are some guidelines to help you when buying property in the Bahamas:

-Think about location: Depending on where you shop, prices will vary. On the main islands, such as New Providence and Grand Bahama, prices are more than double the prices in Florida. If you are looking for an investment property these would be good options. If you’re looking to buy a quiet retreat, consider something on the family islands, as they’re less expensive.

-Take a look: Once you have decided where you would like to buy a property, the next step is to take a look at more than one property so that you can get a general idea of ​​the market.

-Take a second look: It’s a good idea to have a certified professional look over the property in case there are any hidden surprises!

So whether you’re making an investment or buying a vacation home, the Bahamas will welcome you with open arms. All you have to do is book your ticket to paradise!

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