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How to Buy in the BVI

Non Belonger Landholding Licence – The British Virgin Islands have always been the perfect island-in-the-sun location for homebuyers looking to escape colder climates and the fast-paced life of larger economies.

Sometimes, buyers are just looking for a smaller community in which to raise their family. The BVI’s comparatively low crime rate, friendly residents and sound economy makes it the retirement’s age happening spot.

In the coming years the islands will be even more attractive.  The Territory is preparing to embrace a number of developments that will bring a higher standard of resort living to its shores.  On the horizon are community developments in Nail Bay and Little Dix on Virgin Gorda, Brewers Bay, Smugglers Cove and Lambert on Tortola as well as a major development on Beef Island.

You have cruised the pages of the BVI Property Guide or even logged on to a few of our recommended realtors and have found the perfect property as a retirement home, or perhaps a first home for your growing family.  So what is next?  

Citizens of the Territory, once financing is secured, are ready to close on their home.  For persons that are not citizens of the BVI, a Non-Belonger Land Holding Licence is required.  If the property is being purchased within a development, all expatriates are required to obtain a Non-Belongers Land Holding Licence to own a dwelling house, villa, condominium or any residential abode.

After speaking with the development’s realtor, you may learn that the development will provide some assistance with submitting applications for prospective residents.  Others may leave the application process for you to go it alone.  In any event the application process can be rather simple, once you have all your required documents.

Obtaining a Non Belongers Land Holding Licence
To acquire a licence, a completed application with all supporting documents should be submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour located in the Central Administration Complex on Wickham’s Cay.  

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Documents required to support an application for a Non-Belongers Land Holding Licence include, but are not limited to: a police certificate; four consecutive newspaper advertisements relating to the particulars of the property for sale; a valuation report of the property; and one financial statement reflecting one year of banking practices.  A statement from your banking institution in the Territory or overseas is sufficient.  Two personal references indicating your ability to purchase the property and to carry out any proposed development or improvement are also required.  These should come from your current banking institution, employer or financial auditor.

Other information to be submitted includes: a copy of the sale agreement, the purpose for which the dwelling will be utlised; full details of plans for the property including usage; proposed timetable for building; material to be used; and a detailed description of the property, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Once the completed application, along with all required documents, is submitted, the average processing time is 12 to 14 weeks.  A non-refundable application fee of $200 is charged for each applicant.  In the case of an application where the property will be held by a corporate entity, the application fee is $500.

Persons purchasing a dwelling to be further developed are required to specify the details of that development in the licence application.  According to the amended Non-Belonger Land Holding Regulation Act of 1994, the property cannot be sold, sub-divided, altered or otherwise disposed of without written approval from Government.  Any purchased property must be developed within 3 years of the purchase of the property.  Extensions for development or request for alterations in original plans should be submitted in writing to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour.  Breech of any of the conditions of the licence can result in a penalty of either a fine up to 40% of the cost of the property or forfeiture of the property.  

In the event you are purchasing to rent the property year round or on a seasonal basis, remember to state this on your initial applications, or you will be required to make a supplemental application indicating your desire to rent the property to the Minister of Natural Resources and Labour.  Proof of the Property’s rental history may be requested.

Whether purchased for a retirement home, family house or investment property, community living is fast becoming the ultimate desire for buyers looking to live in the warm sun and island breeze of the Caribbean.  After identifying a property, securing financing, submitting a complete application to own property in the BVI, you will be well on your way to taking up residency in your community development in Nature’s Little Secrets.  It will only be a matter of time, before you can say, “Hi” to your community neighbours.

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