When buying land or property as a non-resident in England or Northern Ireland stamp duty rates are higher and it can be harder to work out if you are due a stamp duty refund as a non-UK resident or a partial SDLT refund for non-residents on the additional surcharges. Here we explain the additional fees and occasions on which a stamp duty land tax refund could be applied.

man looking at screen and smiling

Payment Of Stamp Duty Land Tax For Non-Residents

Stamp Duty Land Tax is charged at an additional rate for non-resident buyers. Overseas companies or individuals are subject to a 2% surcharge on top of their usual stamp duty land tax rates when buying land or property in England and Northern Ireland.

The surcharge applies to all non-resident transactions even if you intend to stay in the property you have purchased and regardless of whether or not you already own another residence elsewhere. You must pay the surcharge if you are a non-resident buying a major interest in a freehold residential property for £40,000 or more.

The surcharge usually applies if one or more of the buyers is a non-resident this includes business partnerships and marriage. If the property is your second property purchase you will also be charged the additional 3% stamp duty land tax for second properties or additional dwellings.. This will bring your full charges to a 5% surcharge.

To avoid the surcharges you must have UK resident status which requires a person to have remained in the UK for at least 185 days during any continuous 365-day (1-year) period immediately before or after the transaction date. 

For overseas companies, they must pay the 2% surcharge on any property purchased in England or Northern Ireland. UK-based companies that are classed as ‘close companies’ are also liable to pay the 2% surcharge on purchases made on or after 1st April 2021. The surcharge does not apply to property bought in Scotland or Wales as they have their own stamp duty land tax regulations.

When Does The Non-Resident Stamp Duty Surcharge Not Apply?

There are a few instances in which the additional 2% surcharge will not apply, for example; When a non-resident buys a property and flips it to a UK resident the 2% surcharge will not apply and the non-resident buyer will gain full sub-sale relief from stamp duty land tax.

The surcharge also won’t apply to purchases of property if it is:

  • Non-residential property
  • Mix of residential and non-residential (multiple dwelling)
  • If you lease a property and the least is for 7 years or less on the date it was granted


The surcharge sometimes doesn’t apply to land transactions where a contract has either been entered into substantially before April 2021 or if the property has been exchanged before 11 March 2020 unless the contract relates to excluded transactions.

SDLT Refunds For Non-Residents

Individuals who become UK residents after submitting a non-resident stamp duty refund application have up to two years to amend their application in order to claim a refund of the non-resident stamp duty refund.

HMRC has published some guidance on when and how non-resident buyers can apply for a stamp duty land tax refund, which is as follows:

  • The non-resident stamp duty refund is claimed by applying to HMRC to amend the SDLT refund to take account of the fact that the land is not liable to the non resident surcharge.
  • The non-resident stamp duty refund claim must be made within 2 years of the date of the property purchase.


This allows people who are moving to the UK to reclaim the extra 2% of stamp duty land tax even though they may be a non-resident when the initial purchase takes place.

If the purchase involves more than one buyer then stamp duty land tax refunds will only be possible if all of the persons involved in the transaction meet the residency requirements however the continuous 365 day period of UK residency can be different for each person involved in the purchase.

Record keeping and evidence of a non-resident having a presence in the UK is important. HMRC could ask for bank statements and other documents to evidence the place of the property buyers day by day and they can also check phone usage or bills.

What Is The Top Rate For SDLT For Non-Resident Buyers?

Stamp Duty For Non-Residents will usually be at a top rate of 17% of the purchase price. This is either a flat rate of 17% in the case of the existing 15% higher rate on companies buying a dwelling.

The flat rate of 15% stamp duty and the additional 2% surcharge is charged on the value of any dwelling costing more than £500,000 that is bought by a non-resident including companies, partnerships and collective investment schemes.

The 15% stamp duty land tax rates don’t apply to properties bought by companies that are acting as trustees or that have been purchased to be used for property rental (buy-to-let) or property bought for development or trade.

How Can CapEx Help?

The stamp duty land tax criteria for UK non-residents are complex and any individual or company who thinks that they may be considered for an exemption from additional surcharges due to having UK residency should contact CapEx Tax before proceeding with their refund claim to properly review their mitigating circumstances.