Buying land in Bolivia it’s very similar to buying any other kind of property, and also the process you need to follow is almost the same as if you were a Bolivian citizen, but it has its own regulations. For example, it’s not possible for people from overseas to buy rural land here. Also, there is an important risk of scam when you are buying your land lot of which you need to be aware of.
To buy land in Bolivia you need to: 1) find the land that suits your needs, 2) do the proper anti-scam verifications, 3) pay the land sales tax, 4) sign up the land sales public deed and 5) register your ownership in Derechos Reales entity. Keep in mind that only urban land can be bought by foreigners.
Here we will be talking about all the steps, risks and regulations you need to know in order to buy land in Bolivia, with every detail including the requirements, costs and time that this process will require. We are real estate Bolivian experts who live in Bolivia and help a lot of people from this country in their real estate projects.
Take into consideration that buying land in Bolivia is not that safe. There are a lot of risks present here, a lot of scammers are among legit land lot sellers. Also there is an important risk of squatting, this is a huge illegal business here, many people try to occupy abandoned land lots, and get the ownership of them.
That’s why we highly recommend you to only buy land in Bolivia if you really know what you are doing. You need to take a lot of legal advice and you need to know how legal paperwork and real estate works here in Bolivia.
Anyway, the general best process you can go through is the following:
- Buy the land lot with the best assistant and knowledge you can get (we’ll talk more about this later).
- Once you get the land lot, build inside it a little home to rent.
- Rent this little home to a tenant that will also take care of the land. (You should always rent this home with a public deed and pay all the house taxes).
- Change your tenant every 2 to 4 years (longer than that, you may be at risk of usucaption).
- That’s all!
If you follow the above process, you will hugely reduce the risk of being scammed, or being the target of squatting or usucaption in Bolivia. The key for this safeness is that: 1) the tenant will avoid possible squattings and illegal occupations by his presence, and 2) the public deed will avoid the tenant himself going through those ways.
Also remember that as a foreigner you can’t buy rural land, you can buy only urban land lots. We have a complete guide about this issue in the following link: Can foreigners buy property in Bolivia? All the Facts and regulations. Anyway, we will talk about it briefly in the following section.
The 2 types of land you can buy in Bolivia
As we just said, there are 2 types of land that you can buy in Bolivia:
- The urban lands, no matter if you are foreigner or Bolivian
- The rural lands, only if you have become a Bolivian citizen.
1) The urban lands
Any property and land lot that is inside an urban area is within this category. The urban area may be a major city of Bolivia or may be just a little town that is classified as an urban area. People from overseas and expats can buy urban land lots without any restriction, as if they were Bolivian citizens. Land lots for both Bolivians and foreigners can be bigger than 100,000 ft2 in extension.
There is an exception to this rule, which is that people from other countries can’t buy any kind of property in the 31 mile wide frontier of Bolivia. Then, in this frontier band you can’t buy any kind of property, no matter if it’s urban land or anything else.
2) The rural lands
Unfortunately only Bolivians can buy rural land. There is no exception for this rule, then you can’t buy any kind of property that is outside urban areas of Bolivia, no matter for which purposes you want to buy it.
But there is a possibility of controlling rural land in Bolivia through a Bolivian company (Bolivian legal person) of which you are an owner in the form of a partnership, stocks or the only owner. But this land can only be used for business purposes.
The only work around for this is to become a Bolivian citizen, or make a shared risk contract with Bolivian business owners or land owners. We talk more about this in our dedicated guide about foreigners and their ways for buying rural properties in Bolivia.
How to buy urban land in Bolivia?
Now we are going to talk about the general steps you need to follow in order to buy urban land in Bolivia. Keep in mind that this process is almost the same as if you were buying any other kind of property in this country, like houses, apartments, etcetera.
We have a complete guide about how to buy properties, including urban lands, in Bolivia in the following direction: How to buy a house in Bolivia? All the steps and risks. This guide is very complete, and it can be fully applied to buying land lots also.
Anyway, next we’re going to show you the general steps you need to follow in order to buy urban land lots in our country.
The good news are that you will almost need the same requirements as for Bolivian people to buy an urban land lot in Bolivia. What is going to change is your personal foreigner ID instead of a Bolivian ID document. Also you may need to present other documents like your passport, your Visa permanent residence and similar ones.
Beyond the mentioned documents, you’ll need to present other documents which will be the same as for Bolivians. Also, you’ll need to conduct the same paperwork as for Bolivians to acquire the land in this country.
The documents you will need are:
- Seller’s personal documents
- Your personal documents
- Folio Real (Translated: Link) of the land lot
- Informe Rapido (Translated: Link) of land lot
- Public deed (Translated: Link) of the land sale
- Land sales’ tax payment slip
- Proof of payment of “Derechos Reales” registrant services
- Cadastral certificate from the local city’s government.
- Approved plan of the land lot
All of the above documents are going to be needed in a certain point or stage of the paperwork to do in order to buy the urban land lot. Your legal assistant will give you more details about when these documents will be needed.
What you need to do first is come to Bolivia to buy the property. We deeply encourage you not to conduct this buying process through a representative in this country, while this may be possible, you are at a very high risk of scams and getting into legal troubles.
You should be present here in Bolivia for at least: 1) see and proof the honesty of the seller and the land lot you’ll buy with your legal assistants 2) sign of the public deed of the land sale and 3) register your ownership of the land in “Derechos Reales” entity.
The general process you will need to follow to buy this land lot will be:
- Find a land lot that suits your needs, location and price requirements. We have a complete guide about how to find a property in Bolivia.
- Contact the seller through the realtor, bank, your representative here in Bolivia or by yourself.
- Do the proper verifications about the honesty and safeness of the land lot and the seller. This is a very difficult task, follow our guide at the end of this section for more information.
- Deal and make a contract with the seller, this contract will be a public deed of the sale. Only public deeds are valid for real estate sales in Bolivia.
- Pay the land lot sales tax, the proof of this payment is a requirement for the notary to make the public deed of the sale. You will pay this tax to the city’s government.
- Only while you are signing up the public deed for the land sale, you will need to pay the price of the land lot.
- Do the rest of the paperwork, which in Bolivia is a responsibility of the buyer.
- Do additional paperwork in the government of the urban area where the land lot is located.
- Register your ownership of the land lot in Derechos Reales entity. This is a crucial step, only once you have registered your ownership in this institution you can have the security that the land lot legally belongs to you.
- You’re all set!
Remember that the above steps are very general and this process is very time consuming and somewhat difficult in our country. Normally this process will need between 1 and 6 months to be finished, and the title tasks you’ll need to do easily surpass the hundred in count.
People in Bolivia normally spent between 100 hours to 300 hours to buy a property in Bolivia, including land lots.
Visit our detailed guide about how to buy a house in Bolivia to know every detail of the steps you need to follow, including all the precautions that you need to take, in the following direction: How to buy a house in Bolivia? Steps and precautions.
There are seminar costs attached to the paperwork that is required to buy a house in Bolivia. The costs are of various types, including the sales tax you need to pay, the legal fees and notary public fees, the cost of the registration service in Derechos Reales entity, the seller and land verification costs, and other similar ones.
But in general, the costs you will need to account will be the following:
- Verification costs, including getting the Folio Real and Informe Rapido documents, the hiring of multiple third party legal assistants in Bolivia, etcetera, ~$400.
- The land lot sale’s tax, 3% of the agreed sales price. E.g. if you buy a $20,000 land lot, then the tax you are going to pay is $600.
- The creation and sign of the public deed in a public notary, ~$50.
- The Derechos Reales registration service fee, 0.5% of the agreed sales price. E.g. if you buy a $20,000 land lot, then the fee you are going to pay is $100.
- The cadastral certificate of the land lot, ~$30.
- The approved plan of the land lot, ~$30.
- Other miscellaneous costs, including transportation, food, accommodation, and similar things (for 1 month, not accounting the cost of your travel tickets for coming to Bolivia) ~1,000.
The total cost:
For the example above, which is a $20,000 land lot in Bolivia, the total cost will be $2,210, this represent a 10% of the land sales cost, but it’s because mainly of your staying costs in Bolivia.
Recommend to people in Bolivia that for buying a property, including land lots, houses or apartments, to have from 4% to 5% of the agreed sales price of a house to pay all the paperwork and other attached costs.
But in your case is different, you need to add to this percentage the cost of coming to Bolivia and staying here for a while to follow the paperwork process and everything else, you can easily add to this percentage a fixed additional cost of between $1,000 to $3,000 to finish all the buying process.
Then at the end you will have this:
- The cost of buying an urban land lot in Bolivia will be 4%-5% of the agreed sales price + $1,000-$3,000.
Remember not to be overcharged by unethical Bolivian people, professionals and institutions, the costs presented above are the ones that normally Bolivians have, which should be the same for you with some little overpricing.
Remember what we said at the beginning of this article about possible scams and legal conflicts when you are buying land in Bolivia. You really need to be very careful on this side of the land buying process. Bolivians take it very seriously because it’s common to see real estate scams in our country.
This risk is even higher for you, because you don’t know too much about real estate and the legal system here, then scammers will easily put you as the target of their malicious plans, hoping that you as a foreigner will be more vulnerable to their scams.
That’s why you need to address this issue and know how to really overcome the odds of being scammed. A very general approach to achieve it will be the following:
- Hire multiple legal assistants at least 3 of them, no one should know about the existence of the others (like a third party verification). Each of them needs to verify the buying process on his own side.
- Get the best reference for ethical legal assistants, for this we only recommend you your own embassy or the major Banks of Bolivia in which you can ask for references.
- Consult the Updated Folio Real of the property, always ask the seller to give you the Updated Folio Real (the best approach is to get this document with a date of the same day in which you are going to sign up the public deed). Also you should ask for this document to the seller when you are doing the verification process.
- Consult the Informe Rapido Report of the property, you should always get this document when you are considering buying a land lot.
- Consult, and let your assistants also consult, the Property Taxes of the land lot, the actual Cadastral Certificate, and the actual Approved Plan of the land.
- Always be present in 3 important steps of the buying process. 1) when you are doing the verification of the honesty of the seller and the safety of the land you are going to buy. Here is where your legal assistants need to do the hard work! 2) when you are signing the public deed, and 3) when you are registering your ownership in the Derechos Reales entity.
- Always ask the public notary to review the documentation and the paperwork of the sale before signing up the public deed.
- Get done a technical inspection of the land lot you are considering to buy This may be done by an architect or a civil engineer in Bolivia.
Keep in mind that these are only our general precautions against possible risks here.
Anyway, In our how to buy a house in Bolivia detailed guide, you’ll have a more detailed approach to this issue, and the most important precautions you need to take in order to avoid scams and unethical people here.
How to buy rural land in Bolivia?
Through this guide we have been talking about only urban land you can buy in this country, but if you want to buy agrarian land or rural land for agriculture or production purposes, you will have a hard time accomplishing this in Bolivia.
The normal way to achieve this is only by one path:
- Becoming a Bolivian citizen. This is not that easy. We have a guide link about this.
You also have 2 work arounds for this issue:
- Creating a Bolivian legal person (legal company registered in Bolivia, but this company needs to be Bolivian), and be the owner of this company through a partnership, stocks, or solely ownership. Then you will be able to manage land in Bolivia, but only for production purposes of your company.
- Sign up a shared risk contract with a rural land owner of Bolivia. Again only for production purposes. And there is a legal void in this possibility; the proper detailed laws for it haven’t been realized yet and this is the situation from years ago.
But if you want to buy rural land to live in this property, or to do activities other than production, your only way to get it is to become a Bolivian citizen.
We have a complete guide about whether people from overseas can buy property in Bolivia, including rural lands. Visit this guide in the following direction: Can foreigners buy property in Bolivia? All the regulations.
How to sell land in Bolivia?
The selling process of a property or a land in Bolivia is very similar to the buying process, because the same documents need to be presented to the appropriate legal institutions, like Derechos Reales entity, local government, the notary public and the legal assistants.
How to buy a land in Bolivia you will certainly know how to sell it, it main differences of the buying and selling process are:
- Commonly the seller of the land doesn’t take care of it anymore after the public deed is signed, to do the additional paperwork is a responsibility of the buyer.
- The buyer is who pays the land sales tax, not the seller.
- The seller needs to know how to announce his land lot for sale, he can do it with the help of a known realtor available in Bolivia, like ReMax or Century 21.
- The seller is who pays the commission to the realtor (this commission is around 2% to 4% in Bolivia.
We have an ultimate guide about how to sell properties in Bolivia, which is written in Spanish. This guide can also be applied to selling urban land lots. You can see it in the following direction: (Translated: Link).
In this guide about how to buy land in Bolivia you have realized that there are two types of land properties in our country, urban land and rural land, of which only urban land can be bought by people from overseas.
You’ve learned the general steps that are involved in buying urban land in Bolivia as a foreigner, like making pre verifications against a scams and dishonest people, hiring the proper legal assistance, dealing with the seller, making the public deed, paying the land sales price, paying the taxes for the sale, registering your property in Derechos Reales, and doing additional paperwork in the local town.
You have known also the precautions you need to get in order to avoid scams when you are buying your urban land lot in Bolivia, like hiring multiple legal assistants and lawyers, be present in certain points of the buying process, make the proper pre verifications, sign up only a public deed for the sale and register your ownership in Derechos Reales entity, and so on.
We hope this information has helped you, and if you want to know how much does land cost in our country, visit our dedicated guide in the following direction: How much does land cost in Bolivia? All the numbers and details.
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