The way that property rights are handled in Belize is a bit different than what you’ll find in either other parts of Central America or in the United States and Canada.
One key difference is that Belize places absolutely no restrictions on foreigners buying, selling, or renting property. You do not have to have legal residence in Belize to buy, sell, or rent property, and Belize does not impose any capital gains taxes. Property can also be managed by an offshore company registered in Belize known as an International Business Company (IBC).
Belize is a former British colony, so its laws and rules on land rights are primarily derived from English Common Law and the statutes put in place in the 1800s. These laws are still on the books and affect all transactions in Belize involving land ownership.
Effectively, all land in Belize is classified as declared or undeclared land. Declared lands have a registered owner and the title and deed information is stored at the Land Registry Office in the capital of Belmopan. Ownership of declared lands is in the form of a fee-simple title, which means that the owner has absolute domain over the land. In other words, there is no eminent domain or any squatter’s rights.
Declared land can be acquired in one of three different ways: a deed of conveyance, a transfer of certificate, or a land certificate. A deed of conveyance is the oldest form of title ownership. These days, most deeds of conveyance have been converted to a certificate of title. A transfer of certificate is when ownership of a declared property is transferred to a new owner. A land certificate is only for property in specially designated areas. and requires the property to be surveyed.
Undeclared land can be acquired if it can be demonstrated that it has been settled and occupied for a minimum of 30 years. If it can be demonstrated that the land has been held in undisturbed possession for at least 30 years, the Supreme Court of Belize can issue a declaration of title.
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