Are foreigners allowed to buy property in Namibia?

In principle, the Namibian constitution grants every person – regardless of their nationality – the right to acquire property.

However, there are some restrictions to this principle, which are discussed below.

  1. With regard to residential property, “foreigners” are permitted to acquire property, provided they have a valid residence status. A “foreigner” in this sense is any person who – without being a citizen – has permission to reside in Namibia. See Immigration Control Act (Act 7 of 1993)

    Regarding funds transferred from abroad, only a validation process is carried out by the Namibian authorities, whereby the legitimacy of the money is checked. This verification based on the Financial Intelligence Act 2012 (Act No 13 of 2012, FIA) is a routine procedure for property transfers.

    So-called “illegal aliens” who are in Namibia in violation of the Immigration Act, on the other hand, are not permitted to acquire property or dispose of property in any way under penalty of a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.
  2. The acquisition of agricultural land, on the other hand, is not permitted for “foreigners” due to the Section 58 of the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act, 1995. This right is reserved exclusively for Namibian citizens.

    “Foreigner” in this sense means any natural person who is not a Namibian national or a company incorporated under the laws of another country as well as a company incorporated in Namibia if the majority shareholding is not held by Namibian nationals.

    However, this prohibition does not cover cases where only a minority shareholding in a farm is to be acquired, the residual ownership of which otherwise remains in local hands. The potential foreign investor who intends to establish a tourism business on a Namibian farm may acquire a minority shareholding (up to 49%) in the Namibian farm and, by mutual agreement with the Namibian majority shareholder, establish a tourism joint venture on part of the farm.

    Section 58 of the Agricultural Land Reform Act also provides for an exception in terms of which foreigners can purchase a farm with full title if they have obtained a Special Consent from the Minister of Lands. Usually, applicants will be required to first apply for an “Investor Status Certificate” from the Minister of Trade and Industry before applying for such a Consent.

    The reality is that during the past 3 years, only a handful of Investor Status Certificates and Consents granted in terms of Section 58 were issued to foreigners.  

    Foreign investors in Namibia are protected by the provisions of the Namibian Foreign Investment Act and are therefore allowed to repatriate their profits and original investments to their home country at a later date.

Author: Ulrich Etzold, lawyer, in cooperation with Dr. Richard Schulz (trainee lawyer at the Munich Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht München), currently working as an intern at the law firm Etzold-Duvenhage)

Ulrich Etzold & Dr. Richard Schulz

Disclaimer of liability

Please note that the above information is not intended as legal advice. This article is for information purposes only and neither Etzold-Duvenhage nor its employees shall be liable for any direct or indirect loss arising from reliance on the contents of this article. This article is limited to matters of current Namibian law. In the event that the contents of this document are relevant to a reader, we advise the reader to contact their lawyer for legal advice.