Designate a primary family homestead for duty tax exemption

Primary family homesteads are exempt from the stamp duty tax that would otherwise be due upon the death of the owner. Any property owner can designate a property for this exemption. If you own more than one property, you can choose one property to receive the exemption.

You can only designate residential properties as a primary family homestead. This applies to:

  • a house
  • a condominium
  • another unit used wholly or mainly as a private dwelling

The exemption is from the stamp duty chargeable on the estate of an owner upon death and is granted based on the Affidavit of Value provided by the Supreme Court.

How do I designate a primary family homestead in Bermuda?

Download and fill out the application for primary homestead designation.

To complete the application, you’ll need to know:

  • the full address of the property you wish to designate
  • the assessment number of the property (for each unit, in the case of a multi-unit building)
  • the date and details of proof of ownership

Along with the application form, you must submit certified copies of following supporting documentation:

  1. The most recent title deed proving your ownership of the designated property. This could include any of the following:
    1. Deed of conveyance
    2. Voluntary conveyance
    3. Lease
    4. Assignment of lease
    5. Will
  2. All other relevant title deeds dating back at least 20 years from the date of the most recent title deed proving ownership.
  3. The lot plan (official drawing of property being designated) attached to documentary proof of ownership.
  4. Your birth certificate.
  5. Your government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s licence, voter’s card or senior’s card.
  6. The following excerpts from your Bermuda passport:
    1. Photo page
    2. Page showing name, date of issue, etc.
    3. Page with the stamp endorsed by the Department of Immigration of the Government of Bermuda certifying the passport holder has Bermudian Status

If you don’t have a Bermudian passport, you must submit a Certificate of Bermudian Status or a letter from the Bermuda Department of Immigration confirming your Bermudian Status. 

Sign and submit the application and all certified copies to the Office of the Tax Commissioner.

Joint owners, including married couples, who own the same property must submit separate application forms.

How do I know if my application to designate a primary family household has been approved?

Once an application has been vetted and approved, the Office of the Tax Commissioner will issue a primary family homestead certificate. The certificate must be collected from the Office of the Tax Commissioner in person. You will be notified once your certificate is ready.

If someone is picking up the certificate on your behalf, he or she must bring a photo ID or a letter from you giving authorization to that person to collect. That person must sign for the certificate on your behalf.

What are the fees for applying for the designation?

As of 1 April 2016, the application fee is $27. If your certificate is lost or destroyed, you can request a replacement subject to a re-issue fee of $55.

Payments can be made via cash or cheque at the Office of the Tax Commissioner. Persons wishing to pay via debit or credit card will be given a form to take to the Government Cashiers, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton.

Rules and exceptions

The primary family homestead exemption does not affect the existing exemption from stamp duty on assets passing to a surviving spouse.

Property, which has been transferred in its entirety to a trust, cannot be designated as a primaryfFamily homestead.

Sale of properties

If a property that has a primary family homestead designation certificate is sold, you must complete a cancellation form and submit it to the Office of the Tax Commissioner along with the original signed primary family homestead certificate.

Death of an owner before designation

If an owner does not complete an application before death, their estate representative must notify the Office of the Tax Commisisoner, complete a deceased person application form, and submit it with the required documents.

If, at the time of death the estate consists of more than one residential property and the deceased resided at one of these properties, the estate representative can only designate the property in which the deceased resided as the primary family homestead. If the deceased did not reside at one of these properties, the estate representative can only designate the property of least value as the primary family homestead.

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