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 2014.

This year, Doing Business has collected new data in 170 economies on the overall quality of land administration systems through a set of indicators on reliability, transparency, coverage and dispute resolution. The new data is available under the “Methodology Expansion” tab, below. The data are preliminary and do not have any impact on the Ease of Doing Business 2015 rankings. This data may differ from what will be published in Doing Business 2016.

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  • Standard Property Transfer

  • Property value: BZD 467,582.1
  • 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 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
5 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
6 Pay registration fees and stamp duty
Agency: 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)
7 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)
8 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
Reliability/Land Registry
Are the records held in a paper format or in a computerized format? If they are computerized, are they scanned documents or fully digital documents? Computer/Scanned
Is there an electronic database for checking for encumbrances (liens, mortgages, etc.)? Yes
Reliability/Cadastre
Are the maps held in a paper format or in a computerized format? If they are computerized, are they scanned documents or fully digital documents? Paper
Is there an electronic database to record property boundaries, check maps and provide cadastral information (Geographic Information System)? No
Reliability/Interconnection
Are the land registration agency and cadastre unified in one system under one agency, or is there a dual system of separate land registry and cadastre agency? If the latter, are the land registration agency and cadastre linked? One agency
Do the land registration agency and cadastre use the same identification number to search for properties? Yes
Transparency/Land Registry
Who is able to consult titles/deeds at the land registration agency? Please select all that apply Anyone;Interested parties;Professional agents;Officials;
How can they be accessed? Please select all that apply In person
If online, please provide the link
Is the list of documents required to complete any type of property transaction made publicly available? Please select all that apply In person;
If online, please provide the link
Is the applicable fee schedule for any property transaction at the land registration agency made publicly available? Please select all that apply No
If online, please provide the link
Does the land registration agency provide service standards for any property transaction (e.g. 5 working days for a transfer)?Please select all that apply No
If online, please provide the link
Are there official statistics tracking the number of transactions at the land registration agency? No
If yes, are they made available to the public?
What is the source of these statistics?
Is there a complaints mechanism through a hotline, address, e-mail or other means? Yes
Please provide the contact information The Commissioner of Lands, Minsitry of Natural Resources, Belmopan Tel: 501-802-2249/802-2711/802-2232/802-2226/802-2307/802-2626/802-3412/802-2082 Fax: 501-822-2333/822-2083 Email: info@mnrei.gov.bz
Transparency/Cadastre
Who is able to consult maps/surveys? Please select all that apply Anyone;Interested parties;Professional agents;Officials
How can they be accessed? Please select all that apply In person
If online, please provide the link
Is the applicable fee schedule to get access to maps and surveys made publicly available? Please select all that apply No
If online, please provide the link
Is there a complaints mechanism through a hotline, address, e-mail or other means? Yes
Please provide the contact information The Commissioner of Lands, Minsitry of Natural Resources, Belmopan Tel: 501-802-2249/802-2711/802-2232/802-2226/802-2307/802-2626/802-3412/802-2082 Fax: 501-822-2333/822-2083 Email: info@mnrei.gov.bz
Coverage/Land Registry
Is every privately-owned land plot in the country formally registered at the land registry? No
Is every privately-owned land plot in the biggest business city formally registered at the land registry? No
Coverage/Cadastre
Is every privately-owned land plot in the country mapped? No
Is every privately-owned land plot in the biggest business city mapped? Not available
Disputes/Legal Background
Does the law require that all property sale transactions be registered at the land registry to make them opposable to third parties? Yes
What is the legal basis? Registered Land Act Chapter 194 2000
Is the system of property transfer and land registration guaranteed by the state? Yes
What is the legal basis? Registered Land Act Chapter 194 2000
Is there any 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 land registry? No
What is the legal basis?
Who is held responsible for verifying the identity of the parties to a property transfer? Please select all that apply Registrar;Notary;Lawyer
What is the legal basis? Law of Property Act, General Registry Act, Registered Land Act
Dispute Resolution
Does the law provide for specific mediation procedures for land disputes? No
If yes, what is the legal basis?
Does the law provide for any specific land dispute resolution mechanisms? No
If yes, what is the legal basis?
How long does it take on average to obtain a decision in a standard land dispute over a property transfer between two domestic businesses in the first instance? 3 years +
Are there any statistics on the number of land disputes in the first instance? No
What is the source of these statistics?

  Please send any comments and inputs on the data above to rru@worldbank.org

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