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2 Nov

Roatan Laws and Regulations

Moving to a new country can seem a bit daunting – there is so much to learn and everything is different! The best part about moving to Roatan is that you are not alone; the path has already been paved before you and the expat community here is ready to welcome you and to guide you. They can share their insider knowledge with you, especially when it comes to logistics and legalities.

There are a few Roatan laws and regulations you should know right away, however, as some may be applicable to your home purchase or moving here. We’ve broken down the most important and pertinent laws and regulations into appropriate categories below…be sure to take a look and become familiar with these concepts to make your transition to life in Roatan easier!


Most importantly for new real estate buyers, in Roatan foreigners may purchase up to 3,000 square feet (or 0.72 acres) of land, one time.  That means that if you’d like to purchase more than 0.72 acres of property in Roatan, you will need to create a corporation in order to do so.

Likewise, if you want to purchase more than one lot or home at a time, you’ll need to create a corporation. It’s a fairly straightforward process that must be completed by a Honduran attorney. We can recommend an attorney through Mariposa Lagoon, or you can reach out to one on your own.

Additionally, there are restrictions on proximity to various landmarks and environmental markers, so your local Honduran builder will be able to address those with you.


If you wish to stay in Roatan full-time, you will need to become a legal resident. There are a few ways you can do this, which you can read about in this post about residency versus tourist visas. 

If you qualify for the Pensionado (Retiree) Residency visa, there are a few additional benefits you can take advantage of as well. First is a special dispensation to bring a vehicle into Honduras. The vehicle must be less than 12 years old, you must have the original title in your name (must match the name in your passport), and you must have

As a Pensionado, you can also take advantage of a second special dispensation for up to $10,000 worth of household goods. Both of these dispensations will be helpful, so be sure to have your Honduran attorney apply for both of those for you.


You may drive on a foreign driver’s license in Honduras, but if you are living here full-time as a resident with a vehicle, you will need to obtain your Honduran license to go along with your Honduran license plates. Something to keep in mind for this section is the idea of mañana. The plates and licenses might not be printed today, they might not be printed tomorrow…in fact, they might not be printed for a few years. Whatever the current situation may be, just try to keep up with your paper provisional copies of everything and just be sure to pick-up the plates and license whenever the printer starts printing again! Island life can have hiccups – go ahead and laugh along with them.

Other important driving notes to keep in mind:

  • Carry your driver’s license at all times while driving in Roatan. In fact, you are required to have photo identification on you at all times in Honduras.
  • Keep your “matricula” (registration card) in the vehicle at all times.
  • Police checks happen regularly for a variety of reasons – stop and comply with police regulations.
  • Seat belts are mandatory.
  • Cell phones are only legal in hands-free mode.
  • If you have an accident, you are required to stay with the vehicle until the police arrive.

These are some laws and regulations in Roatan you will want to keep in mind. There are many other laws that may differ from your home country, so it’s best to research and learn as much as possible when moving to any new location!

Are you ready to live in paradise? Contact us today to learn more about Mariposa Lagoon, your waterfront estates in the stunning Caribbean island of Roatan.

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