Once you have chosen your new home, we recommend that you engage an attorney who can acquire, and assess the title deed for the property. The attorney will make sure that the seller has the right to sell the property and that it is free of any leans, charges or cautions.
Upon completion of the title search, the attorney will prepare a Sale Agreement, which will include the terms and conditions of the sale of the property, including full inventory of the property. A 10% deposit must be paid on the signing of the Sales Agreement. Deposits should only be held by reputable lawyers in escrow accounts under Antiguan law. This sum is refundable if the application for a license is not granted for any reason. After signing, the attorney will register a caution against the property to restrict any dealings with the property without the consent of the purchaser. This will protect the purchaser's pending completion of the sale. Property may be purchased in the name of a company or in the name of an individual. If you are a non-citizen, you must apply to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda for a non-citizen's land holding license.
Non-Citizen Landholding License
A non-citizen is a person who is not a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda and this also includes:
(a) any company registered in Antigua and Barbuda, which is under the control of non-citizens;
(b) Any company registered outside of Antigua and Barbuda.
Failure to obtain a non-citizen's license can render the sale void at the digression of the government, so it is very important to obtain a license for the property prior to the completion of the sale. This application for the license is done through the purchaser's attorney and must be supported by:
- Letters of reference from two professional Antiguan citizens or two professional citizens from the purchaser's country of residence, such as his accountant or solicitor. A bank reference is also required.
- A passport size photo of the purchaser certified by a Commissioner of Oaths or Notary Public must be affixed to the application for the license and a copy of the purchaser's passport must also be attached to the application and signed before a Notary Public.
- The letters of reference should be addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Environment, Marine Resource, Agro Industry and National Parks on Queen Elizabeth Highway in St. John's, Antigua.
If the purchaser is a company the following information is required for purposes of incorporation:
- Name, address and occupation of the director(s)
- Maximum and minimum number of director(s)
- Registered office
Completion and Transfer
The non-citizen's license should normally be obtained prior to the completion of the sale and purchase. However, in most cases, when approval for the license is granted from the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda (but the formal license has yet to be issued) the closing may take place, as the process thereafter is merely procedural. A purchaser should allow at least three months from the date of the application for the issuance of the license. Following the notification of approval of the license, the parties can proceed to completion when the balance of the purchase price and stamp duties is paid and the Instrument Transfer is signed by both parties. Both the purchaser and the seller must pay stamp duty on the sale. Stamp Duty as determined by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is: The purchaser must pay 2.5% stamp duty on the value of the property and 5% stamp duty for the non-citizens license on the value of the property. The vendor must pay 7.5% stamp duty on the value of the property.
For land purchase, compliance with the details of the non-citizen’s licence is required and building work must be completed within a given timescale or tax penalties may occur.
Stamp duties payable by Companies:
A company may choose to sell the property as an asset or to sell the entire share capital of the company, whereby it must pay 5% stamp duty and the purchaser must pay 2.5% of the value of the shares which is calculated on the net assets of the company.
The Bar Association has set minimum fees for attorneys. Fees for the purchase of a property will range from 1 % to 2% of the amount of the purchase price. Fees for applications for non-citizen licenses, sale agreements and company incorporation are additional.