Tilleke & Gibbins
Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
Land in Laos is under the ownership of the national community, and centrally managed by the state. Lao nationals can be granted land use rights which include: (i) right to protect land; (ii) right to use land; (iii) right of usufruct; (iv) right to transfer land use rights; and (v) rights relating to inheritance of land use rights. Foreigners can lease land for a limited period and own buildings on that land. However, when the lease term expires, the building is usually returned to state ownership, along with the land.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
There are no restrictions. However, authorities may scrutinize such purchases to ascertain whether or not the lending is part of a scheme to have a Lao national acting as a nominee.
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
In order to be granted a land use rights title in Laos, at the time of transferring title a tax of 1% of the total value of the land must be paid. Stamp duty tax will also have to be paid at a rate dependant on the total value of the contract.
A tax will also be applied to the benefits made out of the sale of the land and any assets upon it. The tax that will be between 2% and 5% of the benefits made.
Are there taxes applicable to owning real estate and can the burden of the taxes be passed to someone else (e.g. a tenant or an occupier - not being the owner)?
There are annual taxes applicable to real estate and land, based on the size and location of the land, and also on the nature of building constructed on it (housing, factories, etc.). While the owner is usually liable for tax, terms of a lease agreement can be agreed on that the switch that tax burden to the occupier.
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
Land concessions and promoted sectors by the government may enjoy incentives such as tax holidays on real estate for a certain time period. These promoted sectors include, among others, agricultural and environmental protection; environmentally-friendly industrial processing of agricultural products; and ecotourism.
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
A land title is the main evidence for permanent land use rights. It is filled out based on information in the land register, in one copy only, which is handed over to the land owner. The owner must keep it as long-term evidence until there is a change, in accordance with the legal conditions.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
There is no law that would prohibit the procurement of such information. However, in practice, a document substantiating the ownership of the land use rights cannot be provided by the land management authority to a third party without the owner’s consent.