Tanzania Regulations for Private Ownership of Land

The efforts to create a Tanzanian business and purchase and develop farm land has not always been simple or straightforward.  The following is information regarding Tanzania – Right to Private Ownership and Establishment – derived from the State Department’s Office of Investment Affairs Investment Climate Statement:

Tanzanian regulations allow foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in legal forms of remunerative activity. The Business Registration and Licensing Act establishes licensing regulations for business operations. It provides the right to establish private entities freely, to own property both movable and immovable, and to acquire and dispose of property including interest in business enterprises and intellectual property. The Act stipulates that no business entity can enter into business activities in Tanzania before obtaining a business license through the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA). Registration fees and charges for foreign companies are significantly higher than for domestic companies. The government is now implementing the Business Activities Registration Act of 2007, which aims to reduce administrative barriers with one centralized licensing database.

Land ownership remains restrictive in Tanzania. Under the Land Act of 1999, all land in Tanzania belongs to the state. Procedures for obtaining a lease or certificate of occupancy can be complex and lengthy, both for citizens and foreign investors. Less than 10 percent of land has been surveyed, and registration of title deeds is currently handled manually, mainly at the local level. Foreign investors may occupy land for investment purposes through a government-granted right of occupancy (derivative rights), or through sub-leases through a granted right of occupancy. Foreign investors can also partner with Tanzanian leaseholders to gain land access.

Under the Tanzania Investment Act 1997 and the Land Act of 1999, occupation of land by non-citizen investors is restricted to lands for investment purposes. Land can be leased for up to 99 years, but the law does not allow individual Tanzanians to sell land to foreigners. There are a number of opportunities for foreigners to lease land, including through TIC, which has designated specific plots of land (land bank) to be made available to foreign investors. Foreign investors may also enter into joint ventures with Tanzanians, in which case the Tanzanian provides a lease over the land. The GOT plans to expand TIC’s land bank and modernize its land titling and registration system, though both changes are long delayed in execution.

Secured interests in property, both movable and real, are recognized and enforced under various laws in Tanzania. There is no single comprehensive law to secure property rights. Though TIC maintains a land bank, restrictions on foreign land ownership can significantly delay investments. Land not already processed for investment in the land bank has to go through a lengthy review and approval process by local-level authorities, as well as the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Human Settlements Development and the President’s Office, in order to be officially re-designated from village land, with customary rights of occupancy, to general land, which can be titled for investment and sale.

The Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Human Settlements Development handles registration of mortgages and rights of occupancies. The Office of the Registrar of Titles is responsible for issuing titles and registering mortgage deeds. Title deeds are recognized as a mortgage for securing loans from banks. Traditional Certificates of Occupancy for village land are still being piloted for use as collateral, and this is currently limited to groupings of village-level borrowers. In the category of Registering Property, Tanzania ranking has fallen six places from 117 in 2014 to 123 in the 2015 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report.


Comments are closed.