Buying or Leasing Property in Bermuda
If you are a foreigner dreaming to buy a property in Bermuda, there are few things that you need to know before you jump into this mission. I don’t want to discourage you, but the fact is, there have been many who quickly stepped back and given up on this aspiration once they knew what it takes to actually buy a property in Bermuda.
On the other hand, there are real opportunities, and the Bermuda Government does allow a foreigner to buy a property in the island, under many restrictions though. By the way, even if you get to buy a house in Bermuda and own it permanently, it does not make you eligible to get a citizenship of Bermuda or a permanent residence.
Citizenship will always require a person to be married to a Bermudian and live in the island for a minimum of 10 years before a foreigner can apply for such status. However, getting a long term residence is possible if the Department of Immigration grants exemption to your work permit. Such exemptions take place in special cases only where the role of a person in Bermuda’s economy or otherwise is considered critical and therefore an exemption to work permit is granted.
So, unless one of the above options works out, you will need to keep departing from the island and come back as a visitor. While you can’t buy a property or a piece of land in Bermuda for the purpose of renting only, the Immigration Department can give permission to rent out your house while you are away. Such permitted rental duration rarely exceeds a period of 1 year and will attract a tax of 7.25%.
But what it takes to buy a house in Bermuda?
Firstly, enormous amount of money, much more than what a local Bermudian would need to pay for a similar property. A nice 3-bedroom house with a lawn and close to the sea can easily cost over 5 million dollars to a non-Bermudian.
Why such huge cost to a foreigner? That’s primarily because of three reasons.
1) Only 5% of top of the line properties are generally made available to foreigners which can not be afforded by the islanders. The Annual Rental Value (ARV) of the property must exceed a minimum limit (which is $32,400 for a condominium and $153,000 for a house).
2) A foreigner like an American or a British would need to pay a license fee which for a house is 8% of the purchase price, and for a condo is 6%. You can own a house only once the government issues a property license to you. However, there is a separate consideration fee that needs to be submitted along with application for the license. If rejected, this amount would be forfeited. Update 2014: Effective October 2014, the license fees would be 12.5% for houses and 8% for condos.
3) A foreigner can buy such international property in Bermuda usually from another foreigner only and not from a Bermudian. This is to keep only a fixed or pre-identified set of assets in circulation within foreigners, and there are seldom new properties added to this. Exceptions are accommodations like Timeshare Properties
which is probably the only real solution for regular vacationers in the island. But unlike a full ownership property, in this case you will own a time shared property with others.
So, if your heart and financial capacity are large enough to fight out all these, do pursue an ownership property in Bermuda. It would certainly be an effort to shape a fantastic dream into reality, which to many non-Bermudians including me, would likely remain as a far fetched dream.
However only when a foreigner is living in the island with a long term Work Permit or Permanent Residency Certificate, does it make sense to purchase a residential property outright. Foreigners from outside Bermuda should not attempt to buy residential property in the island, as they won't be allowed automatic residence in Bermuda and renting out such property requires special permission from the ministry.
Another option that you may consider is to lease a property or a house in Bermuda which is a far easier process than buying one outright. And there can be short term as well as long term leasing arrangements. So, how do you lease or buy a residential property in Bermuda? Best is to take professional help as the property dealing in Bermuda is fairly complex. Check out Real Estate Agencies
who can give you the best professional guidance in dealing with Bermuda Properties.
UPDATE (April 2011): Recently the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Regulations Act has been amended and more condos have been added to the list of units that can be purchased by non Bermudians. A total of 500+ condominiums are now available for purchase by foreigners.
The units are spread across many top residential areas in the island including The Waterfront at Pembroke, Manor House in Smith’s, Mizzentop at Warwick, Southdown Farm, Warwick Villas, Innwood at Paget, and many other places. Additionally there are some condos at Pink Beach Club/Hidden Cove property, Palmetto Hotel & Cottages, and former Mermaid Beach Club that are also available for sale to foreigners.
Shuja Abbas (April 2014)
Hi Raj, Thanks for the detailed information. I am a cardiologist working in Pakistan. I am a Pakistani citizen who is interested to make an investment in real state in Bermuda. Can I do that? If yes then how much is the minimum investment required and after making such investment what will my immigration status become? Thanks your reply will be appreciated.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) April 2014
Hi, You can make investment in commercial properties like hotel etc. In order to buy residential property, you need to first start living in Bermuda either on work or with PRC (permanent residency certificate). Foreigners can't rent out residential properties without special permission from the ministry. Buying a property has no relation with your immigration status.