Ownership of land by foreigners in South Africa

Ownership of land by foreigners in South Africa

There are currently no restrictions on the ownership of land by foreigners in South Africa. However, in President Jacob Zuma's 2015 State of the Nation address, the President indicated that, in terms of the proposed Regulation of Land Holdings Bill (the proposed Bill) which will be submitted to Parliament during the course of this year, 'foreign nationals' will no longer be allowed to own certain types of land in South Africa (although they will be allowed to enter into long-term leases over all types of land). This announcement has caused widespread concern and confusion, both in South Africa and among foreign investors. As a result, the Presidency released a statement on 14 February 2015 in an attempt to clarify the announcement

In terms of this statement:


  • The proposed Bill will only be applicable to agricultural land and not residential, commercial or industrial land.
  • The restriction on foreign land ownership will apply to foreign nationals and juristic persons, being non-South African citizens and juristic persons whose dominant shareholder or controlling shareholder is a foreign-controlled enterprise, entity or interest.
  • In terms of the proposed Bill, foreign nationals and juristic persons will not be able to own land in freehold 'from the time the policy is passed into law', i.e. the proposed Bill will not apply retrospectively and those who have already acquired freehold will not have their tenure changed by the passing of the proposed legislation (although, in these cases, a right of first refusal will apply in favour of another South African citizen in freehold or the state, if the land is deemed strategic).
  • While foreign nationals and juristic persons will not be allowed to own land, they will be eligible for long-term leases of between 30 and 50 years.
  • Environmentally sensitive lands, land with a 'security' sensitivity, land which is historic and has cultural significance, and strategic land (i.e. for land reform and socio-economic development) will be classified by law and land ownership by foreign nationals and juristic persons in these areas will be discouraged
Thanks to Biz Comminuty for the information. Read more on their website (click here)


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