Belize

Registering Property in

Belize

Below is a detailed summary of the steps, time and cost involved in registering property in Belize. It assumes a standardized case of an entrepreneur who wants to purchase land and a building that is already registered and free of title dispute.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 189 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2015.

Compare Belize to 188 other economies.

  • Standard Property Transfer

  • Property value: BZD 476,047
  • City: Belize City
No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
1 Conduct a title search of the property records at the Lands Department
Agency: Department of Lands and Survey Office

A title search is carried out over the past 25 years concerning the history of the property to check that the property does not have any liens or outstanding taxes. This title search is a legal requirement for property transfers in Belize.
1 day 100 BZD
2 Tax clearance stamped on the transfer instrument
Agency: Lands Tax Department

Tax clearance is proven twice: on one hand with receipts, and on the other with a stamp from the Lands Tax Department on the actual transfer instrument.
5 - 10 days (simultaneous with Procedure 3) no cost
* 3 Obtain tax clearance from the Lands Tax Department
Agency: Lands Tax Department

Tax receipts up to the current fiscal year are obtained at the Lands Tax Department. If the property is to be transferred before the fiscal year ends, the seller may pay the property taxes up through that date, and then the buyer agrees to reimburse the seller—either through the sale price or aside.
1 day (simultaneous with Procedure 2) no cost
4 Obtain the Certificate of Good Standing and a certified copy of the most recent Director's List
Agency: The Belize Companies Registry

If Buyer of Seller is a local company (Cap. 250), it will also be required to present a Certificate of Good Standing and a certified copy of the most recent Director's List issued by the Belize Companies Registry at the time of filing the registration at the Belize Lands Registry. The certificates are both obtained from the Belize Companies Registry during one single interaction with that agency.
1 day Certificate of Good Standing costs B$14 and the certified copy of the most recent Director's List costs B$10
5 Property is valued by the Valuation Department
Agency: Valuation Department

The Valuation Department determines if the sale price in the transfer instrument is at least the true value of the property, according to its assessment. The Valuation Department assess based on actual rental value, and any factor having influence on this such as: location, condition of the building, type and size, architectural design, parking area, garage or other buildings on the property. The valuation process may consist of checking the value listed in the valuation ‘Roll’, and/or physically inspecting the property. The Valuation Department will issue a receipt stating how much they have assessed, which is presented at the time of payment of stamp duty.
10-30 days no cost
6 Justice of the Peace attests the transfer instrument
Agency: Justice of the Peace

The Government makes a transfer form available online at http://www.belize.gov.bz/public/Attachment/812231193171.pdf).

The form has to be either notarized (for a fee) or attested by a Justice of the Peace. Most people choose the latter option as it is free of charge. The Justice of Peace will check the identity certificates of the buyer and the seller before signing the transfer form.
1 day no cost
7 Pay registration fees and stamp duty
Agency: The Belize Lands Registry

Registration fees and stamp duty are paid to the cashier at the Lands Registry. To pay stamp duty, the receipt obtained from the valuation department (Procedure 4) is presented and 5% of the assessed value after the first BZD 20,000.00 is charged.
1 - 2 days 15 BZD x 2 (for land certificate and registration) + 5% (property value after the first BD 20000) (stamp duty)
8 Register the transfer at the Lands Registry
Agency: Lands Registry

There are three systems of land registration operating in Belize:

• The property under study by Doing Business is located in Belize City and is most likely under the Registered Land Act, whereby transfers occur by Land Certificate. In this case, the land certificate would need to be transferred at the Lands Registry in Belmopan, and would take about 3 – 4 weeks to process and receive a new certificate.

The documentation required in this case is:

-Receipts of payment of registration fees and stamp duty;

-Transfer instrument; and

-Proof of identification of the parties.

• Other properties may be under ‘deed of conveyance’ or ‘certificate of title’, in which case the transfer process would be slightly different.
21 - 30 days (paid in Procedure 6)
9 Notify City Council of change in ownership
Agency: City Council

The City Council updates the property tax records to reflect the new ownership. Since 2007, with the introduction of the "Land Folio" system, changes in the Land Registry are automatically communicated to the City Council. However, the new owner still has to go to the City Council to register the property transfer.
1 - 2 days no cost
  * Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.
Answer Score
Quality of the land administration index (0-30) 11.5
Reliability of infrastructure index (0-8) 5.0
What is the institution in charge of immovable property registration? Belize Lands Registry (for titles falling under the registered land system) and Land Titles Unit (for titles falling under the unregistered land system), both under The Land and Surveys Department
In what format are the majority of title or deed records kept in the largest business city—in a paper format or in a computerized format (scanned or fully digital)? Computer/Scanned 1.0
Is there an electronic database for checking for encumbrances (liens, mortgages, restrictions and the like)? Yes 1.0
Institution in charge of the plans showing legal boundaries in the largest business city: Surveys and Mapping Section, under The Land and Surveys Department
In what format are the majority of maps of land plots kept in the largest business city—in a paper format or in a computerized format (scanned or fully digital)? Computer/Scanned 1.0
Is there an electronic database for recording boundaries, checking plans and providing cadastral information (geographic information system)? No 0.0
Is the information recorded by the immovable property registration agency and the cadastral or mapping agency kept in a single database, in different but linked databases or in separate databases? Different databases but linked 1.0
Do the immovable property registration agency and cadastral or mapping agency use the same identification number for properties? Yes 1.0
Transparency of information index (0–6) 2.5
Who is able to obtain information on land ownership at the agency in charge of immovable property registration in the largest business city? Anyone who pays the official fee 1.0
Is the list of documents that are required to complete any type of property transaction made publicly available–and if so, how? Yes, in person 0.0
Link for online access:
Is the applicable fee schedule for any property transaction at the agency in charge of immovable property registration in the largest business city made publicly available–and if so, how? Yes, on public boards 0.5
Link for online access:
Does the agency in charge of immovable property registration commit to delivering a legally binding document that proves property ownership within a specific time frame–and if so, how does it communicate the service standard? No 0.0
Link for online access:
Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the agency in charge of immovable property registration? No 0.0
Contact information:
Are there publicly available official statistics tracking the number of transactions at the immovable property registration agency? No 0.0
Number of property transfers in the largest business city in 2014:
Who is able to consult maps of land plots in the largest business city? Anyone who pays the official fee 0.5
Is the applicable fee schedule for accessing maps of land plots made publicly available—and if so, how? Yes, on public boards 0.5
Link for online access: No
Does the cadastral or mapping agency commit to delivering an updated map within a specific time frame—and if so, how does it communicate the service standard? No 0.0
Link for online access:
Is there a specific and separate mechanism for filing complaints about a problem that occurred at the cadastral or mapping agency? No 0.0
Contact information:
Geographic coverage index (0–8) 0.0
Are all privately held land plots in the economy formally registered at the immovable property registry? No 0.0
Are all privately held land plots in the largest business city formally registered at the immovable property registry? No 0.0
Are all privately held land plots in the economy mapped? No 0.0
Are all privately held land plots in the largest business city mapped? No 0.0
Land dispute resolution index (0–8) 4.0
Does the law require that all property sale transactions be registered at the immovable property registry to make them opposable to third parties? Yes 1.5
Is the system of immovable property registration subject to a state or private guarantee? No 0.0
Is there a specific compensation mechanism to cover for losses incurred by parties who engaged in good faith in a property transaction based on erroneous information certified by the immovable property registry? No 0.0
Does the legal system require a control of legality of the documents necessary for a property transaction (e.g., checking the compliance of contracts with requirements of the law)? Yes 0.5
If yes, who is responsible for checking the legality of the documents? Registrar; Lawyer.
Does the legal system require verification of the identity of the parties to a property transaction? Yes 0.5
If yes, who is responsible for verifying the identity of the parties? Notary; Lawyer.
Is there a national database to verify the accuracy of identity documents? No 0.0
For a standard land dispute between two local businesses over tenure rights of a property worth 50 times gross national income (GNI) per capita and located in the largest business city, what court would be in charge of the case in the first instance? Supreme Court of Belize
How long does it take on average to obtain a decision from the first-instance court for such a case (without appeal)? Between 2 and 3 years 1.0
Are there any statistics on the number of land disputes in the first instance? Yes 0.5
Number of land disputes in the largest business city in 2014: Around 80%

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