Buyers Guide

Is it possible for non-Bahamians to purchase property in The Bahamas?

Yes, the International Persons Landholding Act of 1993 permits the sale of real property in The Bahamas to non-Bahamians.

Are permits required when purchasing property in The Bahamas?

According to the International Persons Landholding Act of 1993, permits are required by non-Bahamians if:

  • The property being purchased spans 2 acres or more
  • The purchaser intends to rent out a portion or all of the property, or use it for commercial development

A non-Bahamian who purchases land that does not require the issuing of a permit must register their purchase with the Foreign Investment Board.

Am I required to register my property purchase?

Non-Bahamians should register their purchases with the Exchange Control Department at the Central Bank of The Bahamas. If you choose to sell your property, you will be able to repatriate the proceeds in the currency of your original investment.

Please visit the official Bahamas Investment Authority website for more information on the International Persons Landholding Act, permit applications and certificates of registration procedures.

What form of property title is given in The Bahamas?

Most of the properties are sold on a freehold basis; however, there are some government owned properties (Crown Lands) sold on a leasehold basis for agricultural and/or development purposes.

Will I be required to use a local attorney when purchasing property in The Bahamas?

We highly recommend the appointment of a local attorney who carries indemnity insurance to consult on appropriate property titles and ensure title documents are prepared properly. An attorney is held liable for their opinion on titles should the purchaser find any defects.

Is title insurance available in The Bahamas?

Yes, several companies in The Bahamas offer title insurance, with risk premiums generally running between .20% - .27% of value.

What are the costs involved in buying or selling property?

When buying or selling property in Albany, the following transaction costs are typically associated with a typical sale (a "Gross Sale"):

The Seller will be responsible for:

  • The real estate agent’s commission. The commission on the sale of residential developed property is 6% of the gross sales price. The commission on the sale of undeveloped property is 10%.
  • 2.5% Government Stamp Tax (tax on the conveyance of real property).
  • The Seller's legal fees - on a sale or purchase, which is usually 2.5% of the first $500,000, 2% of the next $500,000, 1% of the next $4,000,000 and 0.5% thereafter.

The Purchaser will be responsible for:

  • 7.5 % VAT (Value Added Tax) on the gross sales price.
  • The purchaser's legal fees, including lawyer opinions on the title to the property
  • Recording fees on the conveyance and other closing documents
  • Payment of the permit under the International Persons Landholding Act, if applicable
  • Payment of an Enhancement Fee of 0.5% payable to the Developer for various community initiatives.

In the event of a Net Sale, the purchaser will be responsible for payment of all fees.

Many of the fees referenced above are subject to VAT charges.

Will I be able to repatriate proceeds if I choose to sell my property in The Bahamas?

You will be able to repatriate the proceeds if you registered the purchase of your property with the Exchange Control Department at the Central Bank of The Bahamas at the time of the transaction.

May I use the services of a non-resident architect?

Yes, as long as that architect has a permit to work in The Bahamas. All building plans submitted to the Town Planning Board and the Ministry of Works must be signed by a locally licensed architect and engineer.

Are real estate brokers and sales agents in The Bahamas required to have a license?

Real estate brokers and sales agents are required to be licensed by the Bahamas Real Estate Association, an international member of The National Association of Realtors.

What taxes can I expect to encounter in The Bahamas?

The Bahamas has no income, capital gains, inheritance or sales taxes, with the exception of the Stamp Duty on the conveyance of real property. The Bahamian government's primary source of revenue derives from duties charged by customs on all goods imported to the territory.

Real Property Tax Rates apply to owner-occupied property as follows:

  • The first $250,000 is tax-exempt
  • On portions in excess of $250,000 and less than $500,000, the rate of tax is 0.75% of the property's market value
  • On portions in excess of $500,000, the rate of tax is 1% of the property's market value
  • The maximum payable annual tax is $50,000

The following Real Property Tax Rates apply to unimproved property (other than unimproved property exempt by virtue of Section 39 of the Real Property Tax Act):

  • A $100 fee upon that part of the market value that does not exceed $7,000
  • A tax rate of 1.5% per annum upon that part of the market value that exceeds $7,000

The following Real Property Tax Rates apply to any other property as follows:

  • A tax at the rate of 1% per annum of the market value upon that part of the market value that does not exceed $500,000
  • A tax at the rate of 2% of the market value of the property upon that part of the market value in excess of $500,000

Market value is defined as the amount the property would realize, if sold in the open market, without any encumbrances or restrictions. If the return is not filed, the owner is guilty of an offense, and upon conviction thereof, may be fined. Persons knowingly making false statements may be liable upon conviction to fines and/or imprisonment. If the tax is not paid on or before the last day the tax becomes due, a surcharge is added. In the case of an extension of time, the Chief Valuation Officer may postpone the date on which the tax is payable in a particular case by notice in writing.

How long can a visitor stay in The Bahamas without residency status?

Visitors may reside in The Bahamas for up to 8 months at a time, provided that they can indicate means of financial support and have a return ticket to their homeland or other accepting territory. Visitors are not allowed to engage in any form of gainful occupation while in The Bahamas without a work permit. For more information, please visit The Government of The Bahamas website.

Is it possible to establish residency in The Bahamas?

Yes, the government has set specific guidelines that allow non-Bahamians to establish permanent residency in The Bahamas. There are two categories of permanent residency: Permanent residency with the right to work and permanent residency without the right to work. One of the criteria for permanent residency is the minimum investment of $500,000 in The Bahamas. This investment may take the form of the purchase of real property with a minimum value of $500,000.

Accelerated consideration for a Certificate of Permanent Residency is offered to purchasers of residences (homes or condos) of $1,500,000 or more. Non-Bahamians who own property in The Bahamas may apply to the Director of Immigration for an annual homeowner's residence card, intended to facilitate entry with minimal formalities. This card is renewable annually and entitles the owner, spouse and any minors endorsed to enter and remain in The Bahamas for the validity of the card. For more information, please visit The Government of The Bahamas website.

What are the advantages to establishing permanent residency in The Bahamas?

Aside from the opportunity to live and work in the picturesque and temperate environment of The Bahamas, there are also significant tax advantages for citizens of countries with high personal, corporate income and inheritance taxes. The advantages vary depending on the applicant's citizenship and home country tax laws.

Is financing for purchase of properties locally available to non-Bahamian permanent residents?

Local financing is available; however, the loan facility may only be given in US dollars at international rates and the down payment required is usually in the area of 50% of the value.