Buying real estate in Bolivia is not as easy as you may think. We, as real estate Bolivian experts who help lots of Bolivian people to make their real estate projects, will give you the most important clues about this topic with all the details and restrictions when you are planning to buy real estate in our country.
In Bolivia, foreigners can’t buy any kind of real estate if they are just tourists. They need at least a temporary residence and their own foreigner ID cards, provided by the Bolivian government, to buy real estate in the country. But after that, they can buy properties without any limitations.
Here we are going to discuss deeply all the restrictions, laws, and regulations applied to foreigners buying different kinds of urban and rural real estate in Bolivia. We also will give you an overview of how you can follow these steps in order to get a property in the country.
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Can foreigners buy real estate in Bolivia?
When they are at least temporary residents, people from overseas have the same rights as Bolivian citizens, including the rights to buy or sell real estate in the country, without any kind of limitation.
Also is wrong the myth that foreigners can’t buy property in the 31.1-mile-wide frontier band of Bolivia, almost all of them actually can, except for the people who come from a neighboring country. For example, Peruvians can’t buy property in the frontier of Bolivia and Peru, but they can buy real estate in the frontier of Bolivia and Chile.
But in order to be legally allowed to buy a house in Bolivia, you need to be at least a temporary resident of the country. You can’t buy a house just as a tourist! To get a temporary residence, you need a reason (like for working, health, studying, family purposes, among other ones.
As a foreigner, you have 3 types of Bolivian real estate you can or can’t buy:
- You can buy all kinds of urban real estate.
- You can’t buy any kind of rural real estate.
- Also, you can’t buy any kind of real estate in Bolivia if it’s inside the 31.1-mile wide frontier band of the country if you are from a neighboring country.
After becoming at least a temporary resident, for all the types of real estate you can buy in the country, you’ll need to follow the same steps and get almost the same requirements Bolivians need, except for the ID, which in this case will be your foreigners’ ID.
Warning: You can’t buy a house as a tourist in Bolivia
As we just said before, if you are only a tourist in Bolivia (you have this legal status), you are not allowed to buy a house in Bolivia.
Bolivia laws require that, to have the rights and liabilities, and be protected and regulated by Bolivian law, both Bolivians and foreigners need to be properly registered and have their own Bolivian ID card. For people from overseas, this document is the foreigners’ ID card, and in order to get it, you need at least a temporary residence.
After you get this document, you will enjoy all the rights, without any kind of limitation, that Bolivian laws impose on Bolivians, so you will be allowed, for example, to work here, open a bank account, do real estate, invest in businesses, buy stocks from the Bolivian stock market, and almost everything that a normal Bolivian can do.
It’s a somewhat complicated process to get the Bolivian temporary residency status, you need a reason, for example, you are going to work here, you work in an embassy or similar organization, you are coming for health or studying purposes, etcetera.
We have a complete guide about how to get temporary residence, and permanent residence, among other statuses, in Bolivia, in the following direction: How to become a Bolivia citizen, all the facts and details link.
But after you get this residence status and your foreigner ID, without any limitation or restriction, you will be allowed to buy real estate in Bolivia.
Types of real estate that foreigners can and can’t buy
Now, we will discuss the 3 categories of real estate you can or can’t buy in Bolivia as a properly registered foreigner, with all the elements mentioned in the above section.
1) Real estate in urban areas
When it comes to buying urban real estate in Bolivia, you have the same rights as the Bolivian people. The Bolivian Constitution and laws protect you when you own urban property in this country as if you were a Bolivian.
You also have the same liabilities and obligations that Bolivian people need to address, for example, you need to pay taxes for the urban real estate you own, you need to do all the documents and paperwork and you may also face the same legal troubles, risks and possible lawsuits that may appear.
Said that you can buy any kind of urban real estate here, including residential real estate, commercial real estate, industrial real estate, and similars, then, you can buy homes, commercial galleries, sheds, urban lands, apartments, buildings, and even full high-rises.
If you want to know how to buy real estate in Bolivia, with all the details about paperwork and legal risks, you can visit the next article, in which we talk deeply about this: How to buy a house in Bolivia, a complete and detailed guide.
2) Real estate in rural areas
The Political Constitution of Bolivia says that no foreign natural or legal person is allowed to buy any kind of rural real estate in the country. This means that no matter if you are a real person or an alien company, you will not be capable to buy any kind of rural land, rural house or edification, rural real estate for industrial purposes, etcetera, in this country.
The only way to buy rural property in Bolivia, without becoming a Bolivian citizen is with the help of a Bolivian company. In summary, you must create a company in Bolivia (of which you will have ownership in the form of stocks or a partnership), and this company will be allowed to buy Bolivian rural real estate for business purposes.
Of course, if you become a Bolivian citizen, you will be allowed and capable of buying any kind of real estate that is available in this country. We have a complete guide link about how to become a Bolivian citizen.
Even if you are a temporary or permanent resident of Bolivia, you won’t be able to buy real estate in the country. The only way to achieve this is either by becoming a Bolivian citizen or by buying real properties through a Bolivian company that you own, but only for production purposes.
3) Real estate near the border lines of Bolivia
This is a very old law that was created to protect the sovereignty of Bolivia and says that no foreign natural or legal person from a neighboring country is allowed to buy any kind of urban or rural real estate in the 31.1-mile-wide frontier band that separates both his own country and Bolivia.
So it’s wrong that all people from overseas can’t buy near the frontier line of Bolivia. Only Brazilians in the frontier between Bolivia and Brazil, Argentinians in the frontier between Argentina and Bolivia, and so on can’t buy real estate in those places.
But you, as a foreigner, maybe from North America, Europe, Asia, etcetera, actually, after getting the temporary residence, don’t have any limitations to buy real estate there, except for the no rural real estate rule.
How to buy urban real estate in Bolivia?
The steps and requirements to buy any kind of urban real estate in Bolivia are the same for foreigners as for Bolivians. In general, you will need to do the following tasks:
- Getting a Bolivian residence, before even thinking of buying a house in Bolivia, you first need to get at least a temporary residence. We have a complete guide about how to achieve this status link. After doing it, you are like a Bolivian, you have all the rights to buy real estate here.
- Preparation stage, in which you will need to search for a house that meets your personal needs, visiting and reviewing dozens of houses for sale. Also, you will need to find and hire the appropriate legal and real estate professionals that you may need.
- Verification stage, in which you will need to prove the authenticity of the house seller, search for possible scams and hidden risks (real estate scams are common in Bolivia), review the documents of the house, and similar tasks.
- Negotiations stage, in which you will need to negotiate the price of the house with the sellers and also verify if it has a fair price, with a professional appraisal.
- Notary public stage, where once made the deal, you will need to register your real estate acquisition with a Bolivian professional notary public, and the help of your own attorneys, signing up a public deed of the property.
- Taxes and local government stage, once you have the public deed of the property finished, you will need to pay the property buying taxes, and also change your name in the records of the city’s local government.
- Derechos Reales stage, which is the final stage and in which you will need to register your ownership of the property in the official public institution of Bolivia that is meant for this purpose “Derechos Reales”. Remember that before registering your acquisition in Derechos Reales, you can’t yet consider the property as yours.
Always be very careful about buying a house or real estate in Bolivia, there are a lot of scams and risks that you will need to avoid. You will need the help of attorneys, real estate agents, and also, important knowledge about how to carry out this process, don’t be fooled just because you are a foreigner.
We have a definitive guide about how to buy a house in Bolivia, with all the risks involved and the legal paperwork you need to do, in the following article: How to buy a house in Bolivia as a foreigner?.
To buy rural real estate, you can follow 2 strategies
As we have said at the beginning of this article, a natural or legal foreign person (even a temporary or permanent resident) can’t buy any kind of rural property in Bolivia. But there are some shortcuts to this situation we are going to discuss more deeply in the next sections.
1) Create a Bolivian company as a foreigner
Of course, it is not possible to buy rural real estate as an overseas company, but Bolivian laws and regulations don’t prohibit Bolivian companies owned by foreigners from buying rural properties for production purposes.
So, to get control of a rural property in Bolivia for business and production purposes, you first need to create a Bolivian company (Bolivian legal person) in this country. Accomplishing this task is relatively easy, and the steps are almost the same for aliens as for Bolivian people.
You can create Bolivian partnership companies (S.R.L.) and limited liability companies (S.A.) as the most recommended ones to start a business in this country. Then, you can buy rural real estate with the help of this Bolivian company, always with the goal of making goods and services, and not for living or residential purposes.
We have a complete guide about how to create a Bolivian company, with everything you need to know to achieve this task, in the following article: How to create a company in Bolivia, all the details link.
2) Become a Bolivian citizen
The second way to have the possibility of buying rural real estate in Bolivia is to just become a Bolivian citizen. This is a relatively difficult process to follow, and also, it will take a long time.
In general, to become a Bolivian citizen you will need to address one of the following conditions:
- You are allowed to ask for Bolivian citizenship after living and working in Bolivia for 3 straight years.
- Or you need to get married to a Bolivian person.
- Or either your mother or your father needs to be a Bolivian citizen.
- Or you may be granted Bolivian citizenship for providing military services to Bolivia, or exceptional services in other areas.
We have a detailed guide about how to become a Bolivian citizen, with all the steps and restrictions you need to know, in the following note: How to become a Bolivian citizen, all the details and steps link.
In this article, you have learned that people from other countries can buy any kind of urban real estate property only if they become at least temporary residents, and that just as a tourist, you can’t buy properties here. After getting this status, you enjoy, without any kind of limitation, the right to buy any type of urban property in the country.
You also have seen that no natural or legal foreign person is allowed by law to buy rural real estate in Bolivia, even if the foreigner is registered and has a residence status. But you have seen that there are 2 ways to get around this issue, the first one is becoming a Bolivian citizen, and the second one is to create a Bolivian company and buy a rural property through this company.
You also have noticed the general steps to buy real estate here, and also the risks involved. Remember that you really need to know what you are doing before buying real estate in our country. The risk of scams and legal issues when buying a property here is a lot higher than in developed countries. You can visit our detailed guide on how to buy a house in Bolivia? for more information.
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