Guyer & Regules
Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
In principle, under Uruguayan law, any individual or legal entity may own real estate, regardless of its nationality or place of incorporation.
There is a special regime for agricultural land and/or rural exploitations under which the owners must be either individuals or Uruguayan corporations with registered shares the owners of which must be individuals. The shareholders of such companies may be of any nationality. Entities that do not meet these requirements, must request an authorization to the Executive Power. Certain Uruguayan corporations cannot be authorized if their controlling shareholders are national entities owned by foreign States or sovereign funds of said States.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
No, pursuant to Uruguayan legislation there are no restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies.
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
Normally the following fees and costs are generated:
- Brokerage fees: 3% of the purchase price plus VAT (22%) each part.
- Notary Public´s (Escribano Público’s) fees: 3% of the purchase price plus VAT paid by the buyer (Fees can be negotiated).
- Notary Public´s (Escribano Público’s) Stamp duties: 0,47% of the purchase price plus VAT paid by the buyer (stamp duties cannot be negotiated).
- Land Transfer Tax: 4% of the cadastral value (2% paid by each part).
- Other minor costs: US$ 2,500 approximately, paid by the buyer (if more than one plot is being purchased, costs may increase).
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)?
The following taxes are applicable (variation apply depending on whether the real estate is rural or urban):
- Property Tax (“Contribución Inmobiliaria”), Special Contributions (“Tributos Domiciliarios”), Sanitation Rates (“Tarifa de Saneamiento”), which are payable to the Local Municipality subject to the location of the real estate property concerned.
- Primary School Tax (“Impuesto de Enseñanza Primaria”), which is payable to the General Tax Office and is determined based on the real estate property’s cadastral value (as is the Property Tax).
The payment of Special Contributions can be passed to a tenant or occupier (in the case of a lease).
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
Law number 16,906 declared of national interest the promotion and protection of investments made by both national and foreign investors in the country, there being no discriminations between them. There are tax benefits that apply automatically to certain activities and others that apply to specific investments. In this last case, the presentation of an specific investment project is required in order to obtain the tax benefits. Finally, please note that for the forestry industry, certain tax benefits are specifically regulated in the Forestry Law.
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
Uruguay has an excellent real estate legislation and registration system. All real estate transactions and most contracts which create rights and security over real estate must be executed, before a Notary Public (Escribano Público) in the form of a public deed and registered with Real Estate Registry of the corresponding Province in order to be valid before third parties. Registration provides evidence of ownership and the date and time of registration sets the preference and priority of each person´s rights. The Notary Public that participates in each transaction, carries out a title deed covering the latest 30 years.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
No. Even though a fee is required in order to obtain information regarding real estate properties from the pertinent public registry, said information is accessible to the general public.
However, the registry information is organised and provided based on the property´s plot number, not based on the name of an owner. Therefore, information requests must be made per plot number and it is not possible to request general information on all real estate properties owned by a certain individual or entity.