Buying a property on Nevis is relatively easy. Non-citizens are permitted to buy land and houses on Nevis. Current government policy limits the amount that can be purchased to one-half acre per person. There are exceptions: existing homes that are more than one-half acre and subdivisions with plots of more than one-half acre. Some people set up corporations or LLCs in order to buy property. Check with your attorney for advice on your options.
Once you've chosen a property and signed an agreement of sale, you must apply for an Alien Landholder's License. The license is granted by the government, and usually takes 2 to 4 months. Once the license is granted, the fee for the license is 10 percent of the purchase price.
Costs for Buyers
Closing costs for buyers includes the 10 percent Alien Landholders License fee, legal fees of about 2 percent, and additional these fees:
Alien Landholders License Application
Here are the current requirements for applying for a license to own property on the island.
Once the house is purchased, taxes and other expenses are quite low on the island. Many houses, once purchased, are rented out by week or by month, as vacation homes, to help cover ongoing costs.
The ongoing costs of vacation home ownership typically include a property manager, a gardener, and a housekeeper for routine maintenance. Property managers charge between $175 and $250 US per month; garden maintenance runs about $150-$200 US per month; and housekeeping services run about $6 US per hour. There will be monthly electric, water, cable, and phone charges, as well as annual property taxes. Cost estimates are $60US per month for cable service; about $3.70 US per 1,000 gallons of public water; and electricity run about $200 US per month, not including air conditioning.
Buying a lot and hiring a contractor to build a house is one option. In that case, buyers pay the applicable taxes and fees only on the land and not the house. There are many skilled and reliable contractors on the island. Construction costs range from about $150 US a square foot depending on the materials chosen, and construction can take 6 months to 1 year depending on the size of the home, conditions, and the weather. Don't forget that the cost for materials is higher than elsewhere because of shipping, duty and consumption tax.
Status of Foreigners on Nevis
Foreign or alien visitors and purchasers have several options available for establishing a status to spend time on Nevis.
Alien Visitors: Alien visitors (including homeowners) who have no other status (see below) must pay $50 EC per month for the first three months, then $75 EC for each subsequent month. Visitors must hold an outward-bound airline ticket.
Permanent Residency: Property owners (land or house) can apply for permanent residency, which enables them to stay on the island indefinitely. The application fee for permanent residency is $200 EC, followed by a one-time payment of $3,800 EC when approved. Approval usually takes 6 months to 1 year.
Citizenship Program: Property owners who have owned for 14 years and who are Commonwealth citizens (for Americans it is 15) can apply for citizenship based on their length of residency in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. The application requires a letter of verification of length of residency. The cost is $1,750 EC CARICOM (Caribbean nationals) and $3,800 EC for non-CARICOM nationals.
Economic Citizenship Program: Purchasers can qualify for citizenship in Nevis by virtue of investing $350,000 US in the Federation in certain areas that are located in an "approved investment project". On Nevis, these include Paradise Palms, Cliffdwellers, Fern Hill Estates, the Condos at Nelson's Spring, Four Seasons Resort Estates, Jones Estate, Hermitage villas, and Mount Nevis Hotel condominiums. The cost to obtain St. Kitts-Nevis passports are $35,000 for one spouse, $15,000 for the second spouse, and $15,000 for each other dependent.
Moving to Nevis
Over time, more and more people are choosing to make Nevis their permanent home, moving their possessions to Nevis from their more northern home. When taking that step, it is possible to ship in a container of used personal items and furnishings one time on a duty-free basis. However, duties will be charged on new items. There are three payments required for bringing in items, including duty (varies from item to item); Consumption Tax (fixed at 22.5 percent), and Custom Service Charge (fixed at 6 percent).
Here are some examples of the duty on items (don't forget to add Consumption Tax and Customer Service Charge to these figures):
Shipping in a vehicle will cost 83.25 percent duty of the value of the vehicle as determined by the Nevis customs office. Most people choose to buy a new or used car on the island.
Before moving, it is necessary to write a letter to the Ministry of Finance, Nevis Island Administration, Charlestown, Nevis, requesting permission to bring in items. The letter should list the items to be moved by categories, e.g. pots and pans, bed linens and towels, two sofas, three beds, etc.
Bringing Your Pets to Nevis
It is possible to bring your pets to Nevis, but the rules are strict as rabies does not exist on Nevis. It is necessary to quarantine your pet once it arrives on the island, but it is a home quarantine in a fenced yard and the animal cannot come into contact with any local animal for a certain period of time.
If you don't bring a pet, but would like one, there are always dogs and cats looking for homes.
More detailed information about bringing in a pet is available from the Nevis Veterinary Office at 869.469.5521.