Due to Cape Verde being a Portuguese colony up to 1975, the Cape Verdean legal system bears a strong resemblance to the Portuguese judicial and legal system. Little change has been made to the legal system since independence.
Perform land charge searches
These will reveal whether there are charges registered upon the property or any restrictions on title. The existence of a valid habitation permit is a precondition for a valid conveyance of built property to take place in Cape Verde and the existence of such permit presumes that a valid building license was issued previously.
The documents which should be obtained are the Certidao do Registo Predial (land registry certificate), Planta de Localizacao (official map with the propertys exact location) and the Certidao Matricial (tax information certificate).
If the property is not registered, it is necessary to obtain a Certidao pela negativa (a certifi cate confirming that the property in not registered in anyones name) and a Certidao matricial para o efeito (a tax certificate confirming this). With these two documents, it will be possible to register the property.
Numero fiscal de contribuinte
All property owners in Cape Verde need to have a personal fiscal number. You can easily obtain this number quickly at a local tax office. You can sometimes avoid visiting a local tax office to acquire your fiscal number by opening a local bank account as the required number may be automatically assigned to you during the account creation process.
Buying a property in Cape Verde can be broken down into 2 main legal parts: the preliminary contract (Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda) and the completion contract (Escritura).
As soon as price has been agreed for a property the preliminary contract is signed between the buyer and the seller. At this stage the buyer will pay a deposit (this amount varies depending on the developer and the development but is usually low). This preliminary contract (promissory) acts like the exchange of contracts in the UK and secures the purchase subject to satisfactory legal research. The deposit paid is normally non-refundable should the buyer withdraw at this stage. This contract must be signed at a notary in Cape Verde.
Before signing the preliminary contract, you will need to obtain the legal documents outlined below. Your legal representative will help with the acquisition of these documents.
Property registration certificate
A document from the local land registry is needed confirming that the seller has ownership of the property and has exclusive legal rights to sell the property.
Also this document will ensure it is free of additional charges and mortgages. Basically this document provides a legal history of the property.
Property tax document
This document outlines the property for annual tax purposes. For new properties on Cape Verde this document will not currently exist and so the developer will be required to issue a temporary certificate.
License of use
You will need a copy of the usage license from the local Town Hall. This document simply denotes that the property is approved for the purpose of its original building. Residential property requires a habitation license and commercial property an industrial license.
Completion occurs when the Escritura is ready to be signed by both the buyer and the seller of the property. It is at this stage that the buyer is required to pay the remaining balance of the purchase price. The Escritura is the equivalent to the Deeds of the property. Once the Escritura is signed the buyer is responsible for the insurance of the property.
The result of the signing of the Escritura is the re-registration and transfer of the property in the presence of the land registry and tax office. Once this document is signed the property is legally the property of the new buyer. It is important to ensure the registration document (Registro) is in your name and lodged with the Cape Verde land office as soon as possible after the signing of the Escritura.
Connection of services
A contract needs to be signed with the providers of services, such as water, gas and electricity. If you are buying a resale, you are advised to arrange for final meter readings to take placed prior to completion.