Belarus as a zone for foreign investment and the real estate as an investment object are popular phenomena. Foreigners eagerly invest money both in purchase of residential real estate for moving and permanent residence, and in running a business in leasing purchased real estate (residential and commercial real estate). A big advantage and often a decisive factor in buying the real estate in Belarus is the complete confidentiality of data on possessing the real estate by a foreigner in Belarus. In this article, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about buying property by a foreigner.
May a foreigner buy property and land in Belarus?
A citizen of any country in the world has the right to buy and use the real estate in Belarus. After concluding the purchase and sale transaction, the foreigner receives a certificate of ownership and becomes the full owner of the property.
When a foreigner wants to purchase a private house with a land plot, there are specific aspects to be familiar with. According to the legislation of Belarus, a foreign citizen cannot own land and only has the right to rent it. Therefore, after the transaction is performed, the foreigner will be the owner only of the residential building and will use the land based on the lease agreement.
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What kind of real estate (residential or commercial real estate) may a foreigner buy in Belarus?
Belarusian legislation does not impose limits on the foreign citizens’ choice of real estate to be purchased. Therefore, they are allowed to purchase:
- an apartment
- a house
- an office
- a warehouse
- a manufacturing facility
In whose name should the property be registered and who may own it in Belarus: an individual or a foreign company?
You can register the property purchased in your name (as an individual) or in the name of a Belarusian or foreign company. When registering property in the name of an individual, a foreigner needs only to have a passport. In addition to the original passport, you should have a notarized translation into Russian. This does not apply to Russian citizens, since the text of their passports is already made in Russian.
When registering the property in the name of a Belarusian legal entity, you have to provide the documents confirming its registration. If a foreign company plans to become the owner, an extract from the commercial register or another similar document confirming the legal status of the foreign company is to be requested from the competent authority of the foreign state. This document should be legalized and translated into Russian with subsequent notarization of translation. In addition to the extract, a document stating the authorities of the person acting on behalf of the foreign company is to be submitted. This may be a power of attorney or the authorization letter of the company’s head.
If a foreign buyer of the real estate does not speak Russian and does not understand it, then a translator should be present during performance of the transaction for purchase of the real estate.
Tax on purchase and sale of the real estate in Belarus by a foreigner
For foreign citizens there is no obligation to pay tax when buying the real estate. This rule applies regardless of the number of acquired real estate facilities in the Republic of Belarus.
When selling the real estate, foreign citizens pay income tax at the rate of 13% of the value of property, if they have stayed in Belarus for less than 183 calendar days (half a year) during the year. When a foreigner has stayed in Belarus for more than six months, he/she becomes a tax resident, therefore one sale of real estate facility in 5 years is not taxed to him/her.
Should the foreigner explain and report the source of money used to buy the real estate in the Republic of Belarus?
Belarus has the law “On declaration by individuals of income and property at the request of the tax authorities”. The law applies exclusively to the foreigners, having the residence permit. Such foreigners are required to declare the income and property at the request of the tax authority. If the foreign citizen does not have a residence permit, he/she does not need to report in Belarus for the money (their source and amount) used to purchase the real estate.
May the real estate belong to a foreigner in Belarus, if payment for the real estate acquired was made on behalf of the third-party company or the individual?
The real estate purchase and sale transaction may be carried out provided that the actual payer under the contract is not the foreigner, who will become the owner and receive a certificate of ownership of the real estate, but, for example, their company or another person. This option is called “payment for the third party”.
May a foreigner who has real estate in Belarus get a residence permit or a temporary residence permit?
A foreigner owning the residential real estate (the whole property or shared property) is entitled to obtain a temporary residence permit in Belarus for a period of up to 1 year with the right of subsequent extension. A foreigner having obtained a temporary residence permit is entitled to move his family members to Belarus and also receive a temporary residence permit for each of them, if such foreigner has is a legal source of income.
The list of grounds for obtaining a residence permit does not include the real estate ownership. However, if a foreigner has invested at least 150,000 EURO in real estate for the purpose of profit earning, such a foreign citizen has the right to obtain a residence permit. It is also allowed to obtain a residence permit subject to a continuous stay in Belarus for 7 years based on the temporary residence permit.
Obtaining a visa by a foreigner owning the real estate in Belarus
Upon receipt of a temporary residence permit, a foreign citizen has the right to obtain a multiple entry/exit visa (multiple entry visa) with the right to cross the border for an unlimited number of times during its validity period. In case of obtaining a residence permit, a foreigner does not need to obtain a visa, as in their rights they will be equated with the citizens of Belarus.