What Are the Regulations for Non-Resident Buyers Investing in BC Real Estate?

The beautiful landscapes and vibrant cities of British Columbia (BC) have long attracted individuals from all corners of the globe. This allure extends to the downtown Vancouver condos for sale, making it a popular destination for both non-resident buyers and sellers. However, navigating the intricacies of purchasing or selling property in BC as a non-resident can be a complex and nuanced process. 
This comprehensive guide aims to equip you with the essential information necessary to understand the current regulations, tax implications, and crucial considerations specific to non-resident involvement in BC's real estate scene. 
Whether you're a foreign investor considering a property purchase, or simply someone curious about the unique considerations involved, this blog is here to empower you.

the Regulations for Non-Resident Buyers Investing in BC Real Estate

Non-resident buyers are subject to a 20% Foreign Buyers' Tax on top of regular property transfer taxes

Understanding the Foreign Buyer Ban in Canada

As of January 1, 2023, the Canadian government implemented a two-year ban on certain non-residents acquiring specific residential properties within the country. This legislation, known as the **Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act (the "Act")** and its accompanying regulations (the "Regulations"), has generated significant interest and inquiries. 

Who Is Affected by the Ban?

The Ban primarily applies to foreign corporations and individuals seeking to purchase residential properties in Canada. In other words, those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents.  
To determine if you fall under the category of a "Non-Canadian," it's crucial to consult with a qualified professional to ensure an accurate assessment based on your specific circumstances.

Where Does the Ban Apply?

The Ban focuses on residential properties situated within census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs). 
These terms represent municipalities with populations exceeding 10,000. It's important to note that certain smaller localities deemed "recreational" may also be subject to the Ban.

Who Is Exempt?

While the Ban applies broadly, some crucial exemptions exist. One notable exemption includes non-residents who are purchasing a residential property jointly with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner. 
Additionally, temporary residents such as specific students and individuals holding valid work permits may qualify for exemptions. For a comprehensive list of exemptions and specific eligibility criteria, consulting with an expert in the field is highly recommended.

Taxation on Rental Income

For non-residents of Canada, rental income earned from properties within the country is subject to taxation. This includes income generated through renting out houses, apartments, or any other residential dwelling. To fulfill your tax obligations, you must to file a Canadian tax return each year, regardless of your residency status.  
It's crucial to note that the specific tax rate applicable to your rental income will depend on the terms of the Canada-U.S. Tax Treaty or any other relevant tax treaty your country of residence may have with Canada. These treaties often establish reduced tax rates on rental income, compared to the standard non-resident tax rate of 25%.  
To ensure accurate tax filing and compliance, consulting with a qualified Canadian tax professional specializing in non-resident taxation is highly recommended.  
They can guide you through the intricacies of the tax system, ensuring you meet your legal obligations while also maximizing your tax efficiency.

Foreign Buyers Property Transfer Tax

The Foreign Buyers Property Transfer Tax (FBPTT) is a specific tax levied on non-resident buyers purchasing residential properties in designated areas of British Columbia, Canada. It applies to those who aren`t:

  • Canadian citizens
  • Permanent residents
  • Registered under the Provincial Nominee Program

The FBPTT stands at a significant 20% of the property's purchase price and must be paid by the non-resident buyer in addition to the regular provincial property transfer tax. It's crucial to remember that the FBPTT only applies to purchases within specific regions of British Columbia, including:

  • Greater Vancouver Regional District
  • Capital Regional District
  • Fraser Valley Regional District
  • Regional District of Central Okanagan
  • Regional District of Nanaimo

Understanding the FBPTT implications is essential for any non-resident considering purchasing property in these designated areas of British Columbia. Consulting with a local real estate professional or tax advisor can ensure you are aware of the applicable tax requirements and can factor them into your overall investment decisions.

Understanding Tax Clearance Certificates for Non-Resident Sellers

Selling property in Canada as a non-resident presents unique considerations, particularly when it comes to taxes. Here, we shed light on the crucial role of tax clearance certificates for non-resident sellers, ensuring a smooth and timely closing process.

Understanding Tax Clearance Certificates for Non-Resident Sellers

Since January 1, 2023, a two-year ban on foreign nationals purchasing residential properties exists, excluding certain exceptions such as Canadian spouses, temporary residents, and those granted exemptions

Why Are Tax Clearance Certificates Needed?

The Income Tax Act of Canada mandates that non-resident sellers are responsible for paying taxes on any capital gains accrued from the sale of Canadian property. To safeguard the buyer's interests and ensure the appropriate amount of tax is settled, a clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is required.

What Does the Certificate Do?

This federally issued certificate essentially verifies the amount of tax owed by the non-resident seller on the property's sale. The buyer receives a copy of this certificate before closing, ensuring transparency and adherence to tax regulations.

Issuing and Timing

The clearance certificate is issued following section 116 of the Income Tax Act and is usually needed by the closing date. The seller can apply for the certificate ahead of time, but it can only be submitted once a binding purchase and sale agreement is established.   
Processing times can take up to 3 months; hence, ideally, a 3-month buffer between contract acceptance and closing would be optimal.

Potential Complications

Failure to obtain the certificate by closing can lead to complications. In such scenarios, the buyer is legally obligated to withhold a portion of the sale proceeds. This holdback ranges from 25% to 50% and depends on the property type (residential, rental, or inventory).  
The transaction closes with the withheld funds held in a lawyer's trust account until the certificate is issued. Once received, the taxes are settled from the holdback, and the remaining amount is disbursed to the seller. 
It's crucial to remember that the holdback is calculated based on the selling price, not the seller's equity in the property. If the property has outstanding financing, the seller might need to secure alternative sources to cover these obligations during the holdback period.

Who Is A Non-Resident?

The term "Non-Resident" holds significant weight in various Canadian regulations, impacting individuals and entities engaging in real estate transactions or subject to income tax. Within the scope of the FBB, the definition of Non-Canadian encompasses the following:

  • Foreign corporations and individuals: This includes anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Controlled entities: This applies to businesses or individuals who meet a 3% ownership test or satisfy the broader concept of "control in fact", either directly or indirectly. Control in fact can be established through ownership, agreements, or other means.
  • Entities formed and controlled outside Canada: This includes businesses established outside the country and those controlled by entities formed outside Canada.

A Few Last Words 

Investing in real estate in British Columbia, Canada, as a non-resident presents exciting opportunities but also necessitates careful consideration of various regulations and tax implications. In this post, we explored key aspects relevant to both non-resident buyers and sellers. 
Whether you're a non-resident considering buying or selling property in British Columbia, seeking professional guidance from qualified legal, tax, and real estate experts is highly recommended.  
Their expertise can ensure informed decision-making, smooth transactions, and compliance with all relevant regulations. With careful planning and expert guidance, your real estate journey in British Columbia can be a successful and rewarding experience.


1. What are the restrictions for buying property in BC as a non-resident?

As of January 1, 2023, a temporary ban exists on non-Canadians purchasing specific residential properties in Canada. This includes most areas within census metropolitan areas and agglomerations (populations exceeding 10,000). However, exemptions exist for spouses/common-law partners of Canadians, temporary residents like students with permits, and specific types of properties. If you're not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or registered under the Provincial Nominee Program, you'll likely be subject to the FBPTT. This is a one-time tax of 20% on the purchase price and applies to designated areas in BC, including Greater Vancouver and surrounding regions.

2. What are the restrictions for selling real estate in BC as a non-resident?

As a non-resident seller, you are responsible for paying taxes on any capital gains accrued from the sale. You'll need to obtain a tax clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) before closing the transaction. This certifies the amount of tax owed and ensures the buyer's interests are protected.

3. What documents do I need to provide as a non-resident buyer or seller?

The specific documentation required will vary depending on your situation. However, some common documents include a passport or other valid identification, proof of non-residency status, proof of funds for the purchase (if buying), and tax identification number (if applicable). It's crucial to consult with a lawyer or real estate professional familiar with non-resident transactions to understand the specific documents needed in your case.

4. Do I need professional help as a non-resident buying or selling property in BC?

Navigating the complexities of buying or selling property as a non-resident can be challenging. It's highly recommended to seek assistance from qualified professionals, such as real estate agents, lawyers, and tax advisors. These professionals can guide you through the process, ensure compliance with regulations, and protect your interests throughout the transaction.

2024/02/28 | 3 Months Ago