FAQ about real estate in the Caribbean

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are Frequently Asked Questions and a general guide on what purchasers should be aware of when buying property in Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin. A reminder that this is a guide only and we advise that you consult a local Attorney and or Tax & Legal agency for custom tailored solutions. If you have a specific question or concern, kindly contact us and we will respond to you promptly.

What is Sint Maarten/St. Martin like ?

Dutch St. Maarten has a population of around 32,000, with a wide mix of some 86 nationalities and languages. English is the predominant language, with Dutch the official language. If you are coming from the United States or Canada, you will find Dutch St. Maarten very comfortable, with many familiar business names like Fedex, McDonalds, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, etc. French St. Martin has a population of approximately 28,000 and the official language is French. It has a very European feeling, and the grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants provide a true gourmet experience to complement the commodities and comfort of Dutch St. Maarten.

Are closing costs a set fee ?

No, when purchasing a property in your name closing costs in Dutch St. Maarten are approximately 5% of the purchase price which consists of the transfer tax and Notary fees. A corporation can also purchase a property and would also pay 5%. If purchasing the shares of an existing corporation, which owns the property, there would be no transfer tax. In French St. Martin, individual closing costs are approximately 10%. Corporations can hold properties on the French side, but there are additional taxation and residency requirements we would be happy to discuss.

What types of deeds are there in French St. Martin ?

There are only Fee Simple deeds in St. Martin.

How long can a non-resident which owns property remain on St. Maarten ?

Generally, 3 months on a tourist visa at which time non-residents must leave the island for a minimum of a 24-hour period.

What types of deeds are there in Dutch St. Maarten ?

There are three Types:

  • Fee simple
  • Government Long Lease
  • Private Long Lease

Are there restrictions on the purchase of property in St. Maarten/St. Martin by persons who are non-citizens or permanent residents ?

No, any foreign entity or individual can own property on both sides of the island. Individuals must provide at minimum a passport and entities must provide articles of incorporation/association and complete resolutions; either is protected by the laws of the Netherlands Antilles and France.

Is there good shopping ?

St. Maarten is a Duty-Free Port. For this reason, every year hundreds of the world’s most famous private yachts and sailing ships arrive to fill their stocks prior to sailing in the Caribbean for the winter season. As a result, there are HUGE warehouse outlets which specialize in providing duty free priced wines, champagnes, liquors, foods and every possible delicacy or convenience you could imagine! There is also a good number of furniture outlets for furnishing homes and villas for every taste and there are large and well stocked hardware stores for paint, supplies, etc. that might be needed.

Can I import things easily ?

Very easily! Tropical Shipping from Miami and Toronto specializes in container and smaller shipments and most internet and US stores will drop ship directly to them in Miami for forwarding to St. Maarten. By ship it takes 3-5 days from Miami. Check first locally before bringing items in; St. Maarten is Duty Free and especially for electronics such as large flat panel TV’s, etc. the prices on Front Street in Philipsburg are usually lower than those that you would get at a US big box store for the exact same item.

Can Foreign Individuals and Corporations own property ?

Either, on Dutch St. Maarten quite often Corporations are used to hold property for tax structuring purposes as well as ease of transfer. On French St. Martin a corporation may also hold property but the tax and transfer advantages are less significant.

Are there annual Property taxes in St. Maarten/St. Martin ?

Currently there are no annual property taxes as well as no capital gains tax in Dutch St. Maarten; however, in contrast properties on the French side are subject to “traditional” property taxes based on an annual assessment.

Is there a minimum required deposit amount to initiate a purchase ?

Yes, a nonrefundable 10% deposit is required for payment when signing the purchase agreement. This is a binding contract. The seller’s notary holds the deposit in escrow except for pre-construction purchases, in which case the developer has the right to use all deposits for the financing of the project/development. The balance of the sale price must be paid to the seller’s notary on completion of the purchase.

Will I require an Attorney ?

No, local notaries act in accordance with Netherlands Antilles & French civil law when transferring property from the seller to the purchaser with a long established and well-structured process. Disclosure of the type of deed is made to the purchaser. The notary assures free and clear title; if mortgages are required, he/she would register the mortgage as well as the deed with the Kadaster (City Hall). Of course, you may always have your lawyer act on your behalf if this comforts you.

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