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Calm

Securing Your Alien Land Holding Application
Retain Anguilla Attorneys!

As of November, 2005, we had completed our Purchase Agreement and secured our Outline Planning Permission. Onwards and upwards!

Time for Anguilla attorneys.

Why?

Because we are about to enter the phase most dreaded by prospective new Anguilla land owners like us, securing the the Alien Land Holding License ("ALHL").

Before I go any further, understand that the Anguillian government runs the country with admirable discipline, restraint and patience.

My observations...

  • They manage conservatively, careful not to develop too quickly.
  • They have a clear vision for the future of Anguilla, and they stick to it.
  • They want to know who is moving onto their island.

And that last point is the reason for the Alien Land Holding License Application and process. Here is a copy of the application -- right-click to download.

The ALHL application is thorough and, happily, contains guidance notes. If you review it, you'll see that the Anguilla government ends up knowing more about you than your own government. And that's the way that I want it.

There's an old Groucho Marx joke that goes something to the effect that "I'd not want to belong to any club that would accept me." Well, in Anguilla, it's the reverse.

I'm happy they do their homework.

It costs EC$1000.00 to apply (US$372). Once you complete and submit the ALHL application, it takes a long and winding road. Expect 6 months as it goes from (and these are just the "highlight stops)...

  • Lands & Surveys, where the value of the property is established (it will usually be the price you paid), to the
  • Registry office, and then to the
  • Chief Minister's office, where you will have an interview with someone from the Chief Minister's office. My interview occurred in March/2006 during our last vacation there, so I did not have to make a special trip. Try to plan that in advance. It only takes 15 minutes. From there, your application goes to
  • Executive Council for evaluation. And from there, the decision is made. Minutes of that council meeting must be approved before the final decision goes to
  • YOU! You receive a letter confirming the approval, and noting the amount of taxes due. And you'll receive a second letter to pick up the license. From there, you
  • Take your license and RL1 Land Transfer Forms to Lands & Surveys where taxes are confirmed.
  • Pay the taxes to The Treasury, where you will receive a receipt.
  • Back to Lands & Surveys you go, with the receipt and paperwork in hand. They then transfer the land to your name!

Did I do all this personally? No way! And you don't want to either.

I knew I did not want to manage this from the beginning. So I asked our good friend, Doug Burdon, who lives on the island. He is a stickler about who handles his legal affairs.

He referred to me to Eustella Fontaine of Fontaine & Associates. They took excellent care of me and the application every step of the way. When it got bogged down, as papers tend to do in any government process, they called and moved it ahead.

I skipped a lot of the little back-and-forths in the process outlined above. And you don't want to know them all. There are always little "unforeseeables" (ex., our land, recently subdivided, had not yet been assigned a "Parcel Number," so stalled).

Suffice it to say that Eustella took care of it every step of the way. And they'll be doing all my future legal work (ex., future residency there). I could not hope for better Anguilla attorneys. The attention to detail and the desire to really get it all done was superior to legal firms I deal with in North America.

They even keep you up to date with recent legislation. For example, Eustella e-mailed me...

Regarding residential/rental villas, there is an Act that was recently passed, called the Villa Rental Act. This Act states that non-belongers of Anguilla who rent their villas, should have a local agent in Anguilla to monitor their affairs."

This was part of a larger e-mail explaining the difference between building a villa purely for rental (not our goal) and "residential/rental," our case. We plan to move there one day, but in the meantime, we plan to rent it while not on the island.

"Residential/rental" did not previously require a local agent. The Villa Rental Act is fine with me, though. I do not want to worry about my villa while renting, and we just happen to know the best Anguilla villa rental agent on the island.

But the point here is how consistently these Anguilla attorneys went "above and beyond" to take care of me.

Summary: We sent Eustella Fontaine our ALHL application in December/2005. From there, they took care of it all, updating me regularly, until lo and behold...

In June 2006, we received the first official confirmation of acceptance, which included the notice of taxes that will be payable...

  • Stamp Duty on License (12.5% of value of land)
  • Stamp Duty on Transfer (a "transfer tax") (5%)
  • Refundable Deposit (10%)

Refundable deposit? Yes. Within 18 months of the official date of the ALHL, you must build a villa that has at least 2000 square feet ("gross external floor area'). After that date you are fined EC$500.00 per month for a further 12 months, ED$1,000 after that.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, you can lose your Anguilla property if you have not completed your villa by 18 months beyond the "original 18 months" you are given. Lately, builders have been hard to come by, a possible extenuating circumstance, I have heard.

Takeaway lesson for this step: Retain top Anguilla attorneys to handle your ALHL application for you. I highly recommend Eustella Fontaine at Fontaine & Associates.

Next step? We'll be wrapping up the final details (pick up license, pay taxes, etc. as outlined above. And we've already started the house design...

We have done rather detailed project planning for our home, employing an architect here in Canada. Only do this if you have spent a lot of time on Anguilla to...

  • study homes, and have some idea of what is realistic and what is not, given the local materials and type of construction that can be done locally
  • study the lay of your land, the trade winds (direction and force on your home affects design), and sunrise to sunset (ditto re design).

So... next step is give our pre-project plans to an Anguilla architect and find a builder/contractor, not an easy task at the moment.

On yes, one last thing? You may be wondering how much I was charged for 6 months of legal work. From top to bottom... under US$2,000!

Truly outstanding Anguilla attorneys! Eustella is special. Here's how to reach her...

Contact Fontaine & Associates

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