Ever wondered what it is like to live and work in the Turks and Caicos Islands ("TCI")? You wouldn't be alone! TCI is an increasingly popular destination for high-net-worth individuals ("HNWI") and their families, drawn by the tranquillity, natural beauty, security, and privacy to be found here, combined with excellent transport links to the US and Europe. With a wide array of world class resorts and restaurants, host to Grace Bay beach which is consistently voted number 1 in the world by the travel industry, TCI has a very strong reputation as a high-end tourist destination, and is increasingly being discovered by discerning investors looking for an alternative to other offshore jurisdictions. TCI offers a modern company and trusts legislative framework and is home to thriving community of highly experienced lawyers, accountants, and professional trustees.

When it comes to property or development opportunities, you will be spoilt for choice. There is a wide variety of real estate on offer in the TCI, and everything from private islands to ultra-prime property, commercial development plots and modest homes is available.

Many people buy property for use as a holiday home or to generate income through rental. Others develop commercial property. Many HNWI have also made the leap and become resident of the TCI through investment in real estate – we'll touch on this in more detail later. Whatever you are looking for, there will be real estate here to suit you.

TCI: Geographical Overview

TCI is a British Overseas Territory, comprising an archipelago of 40 or so 'cays' and located 500 miles southeast of Miami (just over an hour on the plane). Providenciales (locally known as "Provo") is the main hub for tourism and business within the Islands. Provo is well connected with direct flights to numerous US cities, including Miami and New York. There are also direct flights to Canada and the UK.

Investing in real estate in the TCI

The real estate market is booming in TCI currently, and there are a lot of new homes and luxury resorts currently under construction on Providenciales. Investor interest in other islands such as North & Middle Caicos is on the rise, following the recent announcement of an airport infrastructure upgrade project.

There are no foreign ownership restrictions on real estate here in the TCI. You can either buy property in a personal capacity or set up a TCI company to hold the title to the property. The latter is often preferred when purchasing a property for investment purposes rather than as a primary residence. It ringfences liability should, for example, a guest have an accident on the property. We can assist you with incorporating a TCI company.

Tax benefits are a prominent reason for investing in real estate in TCI. There is no income tax, capital gains tax, estate/inheritance tax, corporation tax or annual property taxes associated with real estate investment and ownership. A one time "stamp duty" is payable upon acquisition, which is 10% for properties on Provo with a value of more than US$ 500,000. Other rates apply to properties of lesser value and property on other islands within the TCI. If you purchase the shares in a company that holds the property title, a share transfer duty of 8% of the market value of the underlying property is payable.

TCI has a registered land system, and all property is registered at the Land Registry with its own title number. The land registration system is guaranteed by the government and is simple and secure, giving confidence to potential investors.

When purchasing a property, there is a decision to be made as to whether you want to purchase a standalone property or a condominium within a resort. Resorts usually offer a variety of amenities such as a bar, restaurant, gym, swimming pool, tennis court and other sports facilities, but these will incur strata fees (common expenses) which are payable and need to be factored in. There are also an increasing number of private villa communities which provide owners with the ability to own a standalone property, but enjoy the convenience of on-site management and facilities.

Investment in real estate also opens up a pathway to gaining either temporary or permanent residency in TCI. An investment of US$ 1 million or more real estate investment on Providenciales to construct a new home or renovate a distressed home would allow you to apply for permanent residency, and we can guide you through that process.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.