Proposed Amendments to Georgian Farmland Purchase by Private Individuals and Foreign Invested Companies

Earlier this week, Parliament considered amendments to the existing land law. From Daily News, on September 19:

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Amendments, drafted to law “On Ownership of Agricultural Land”, prohibit acquisition of agricultural land in Georgia for company or other legal entity, established abroad.

As Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani has declared, the government approved the draft at the meeting today.

However, the Minister pointed that “In case of serious investment proposal, the government retains right to assist individuals or legal entities with specific investment project and allow them to own agricultural lands in Georgia after thorough study by relevant ministries”.

The Minister said that foreign citizens and companies, established by foreign persons in Georgia, will be able to become landowners only if they will have at least 5-year experience of working in Georgian agriculture. In case of individuals, they must also have permanent residence or investment residence permission.

The law will state that those foreign persons will have right to purchase agricultural land not less than 5 ha and not more than 100 ha, Tsulukiani noted. However, plots located in 5-km zone along the border and in border zone, determined by the government, cannot be alienated to them.

In case of mixed marriages, where one spouse is citizen of Georgia and another one – foreigner, agricultural land may be in their co-ownership. In case of divorce, former spouse, who is citizen of Georgia, has a pre-emptive right to acquire ex-spouse’s property, the Minister said, pointing that foreigner ex-spouse is obliged to alienate this type of agricultural land.

Tsulukiani specified that restrictions do not apply to inheritance of agricultural land by foreigners. “This will allow many Georgians, who lost their Georgian citizenship and are considered today as foreigners, to inherit land from their ancestors”, she said.”

Investors remain concerned that conditions are so onerous that few individuals would qualify, and that complicated panel approvals may be required.

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