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Landholding licence update
12 Aug 2009

The Immigration Control Ordinance 2008 was enacted on 31 December 2008, but the official publication of the Ordinance has still not been made. LL&PD do not give any explanation for the delay, or even why the publication did not take place on the day of enactment. Since it has not been published, we cannot refer to it with a Chapter number (Cap. number).

Anyway, the law exists and is inforce, and it covers all sorts of ways of controlling immigrants and immigration. As far as landholding rights are concerned, the most salient section is Part 6 Landholding by Immigrants

You can read an extract of the Ordinance draft here, or a full version here, but a layman's interpretation is most definitely needed. This is what we offer in this article. Disclaimer: This is a layman's summary and must not be viewed as legal advice.

The first section is about definitions, and though they are boring, they are essential to understanding the rest of the text:

Controlled Immigrant   This is legal speak for...
  • a person without Saint status (except for spouses and life partners of Saints),
  • an organisation or company (with some exemptions, including incorporated companies run predominantly by Saints)

So, in brief, a non-Saint or a company not run by Saints.

Land   This is more than just ownership of title deeds - it includes any interest in physical land. Some interests in land are also exempt (see later), so that these licensing regulations do not them.


The central message of the rest of this section is:

" land in St. Helena may be acquired or held by a controlled immigrant except under the authority of a licence."


The exemptions mentioned above mean that this single statement does not apply to:


(The Attorney General has confirmed that the first two exemptions are not necessary, since they are covered by the final one, so this list reduces to: a mortgage interest (for loan providers) and a maximum 99 year lease or rent agreement)

The rest of the Ordinance section covers special cases (like acquisition of an interest through a will, trust funds, directors' responsibilities in companies etc), but for most of the people interested in acquiring land, the summary message is:

a. you have to be a Saint or an immigrant to buy or lease property on St.Helena - off-islander non-Saints cannot.

b. only Saints or Saint-run organisations can buy freehold, but anyone can rent or lease property up to 99 years

Note: these regulations cover the issuance of licences. In the end, the Governor in Council has the right to ignore these regulations:

These notes are interesting, because the Governor in Council has to take into account whether a business plan is workable and sustainable in deciding whether to grant a licence to a business investor.

The final consideration, which is rather complicated, is the definition of Saint (i.e. one with St.Helenian status) - it is almost certainly different to what you might predict, so only qualified legal advice can help you in specific cases.


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