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Can you purchase land on St.Helena?


Nothing in these pages is to be construed as legal advice.
This information serves purely as a guideline.
For professional advice, please refer to the Public Solicitor.


Can you purchase land on St.Helena?

In a nutshell - probably. We shall amend this page when/if legislation changes.


But unless you are "an Islander", you will need a licence to purchase land (or obtain a mortgage for such a purchase).

The complication arises out of the definition of "Islander". First of all, there is a different definition for the term when relating to land-holding rights than when referring to immigration (although the two are linked)

Briefly, an Islander for the purposes of owning land is any of the following:

Anyone else (person or organisation) must apply for a landholding licence.

So, what is the definition of an Islander for the purposes of Immigration? Good question. The answer is not simple.

NOTE: There is also the concept of St.Helenian status. This is less restrictive, but does not confer any additional rights with respect to owning land. It basically refers to right of abode and right to work.

Please note: The Property Shop will not forward to a vendor any offer to purchase a property from an interested party that cannot show legal right to purchase, either by virtue of Islander status, or by holding a valid landholder's licence.

In addition, The Property Shop will advise vendors similarly to check the rights of the prospective purchaser.

The laws defining Islander were last drawn up in 1972. The situation changed in 1981 when the UK legislature enacted the British Nationality Act, which removed British Citizenship from all St.Helenians. Then, the local law was revised in 1999 and, in 2001, a legal notice made a further modification. The addition of the term Landholding Company was made in 2005.

There's little point in listing all of the clauses of all of the relevant laws in legalese, because they are so confusing, and it is extremely difficult to give general guidelines for understanding, although you could follow through your own circumstances if you had the patience and stamina. But, in any case, the definitions are currently being reconsidered (hopefully to make them simpler to understand). Nevertheless, here are some broad-brush pointers:

In you were born after 18/10/1999, you cannot be an Islander, irrespective of where you were born, what the status of your parents was then or is now, or who you are married to (unless the Governor says otherwise)

If you were an Islander according to the 1972 ordinance, you won't have lost that status in the meantime.

Many of the conditions depend on what type of citizenship you have:

  • British Dependent Territories citizenship
  • British Overseas Territories citizenship
  • British citizenship

If you don't have any of the above, then you are not an Islander.

Some conditions confer status on you if you are (or in some cases, were) married to an Islander, were born to or adopted by parents, one of which was as Islander, (or whose parents were Islanders), were born (or your parents were born) on St.Helena, or have lived continuously on St.Helena for a period of time.

If you have no connection through marriage or birth/adoption with a St.Helenian, or by having lived here, the situation is pretty clear. You are not an Islander (although, the Governor has the right to grant the status by order).

But the situation for Saints, or descendants of Saints, or spouses of Saints, is very complex and there are many anomalies.

For your reference, here are the applicable ordinances and notices:


St.Helena Law, Cap 68, 1/1/2001

Basis: Ordinance 4 of 1987

Amended: Legal Notice 16 of 1987

Amended: Ordinance 14 of 1994

Revised: Revised Edition of the Laws Ordinance 1999

Amended: Ordinance 7 of 2005

UK Law, Cap 61, 30/10/1981

Basis: New bill, 1981

Amended: British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1990

Amended: British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983


St.Helena Law, Cap 40, 1/1/2001

Basis: Ordinance 3 of 1998

Amended: Ordinance 7 of 1999

Amended: Ordinance 10 of 1999

Amended: Legal Notice 11 of 1999

Revised: Revised Edition of the Laws Ordinance 1999