The ownership of land by foreigners is governed by three laws: Law No. 15 of 1963, Law No. 143 of 1981, and Law No. 230 of 1996.
Law No. 15 of 1963 stipulates that foreigners, whether natural or juristic persons, may not acquire agricultural land and not own or hold rights of usufruct over agricultural land. The government must inform the relevant authorities of any transfer of agricultural land to foreigners by inheritance. In such cases the Egyptian government seizes the agricultural land and compensation is paid.
Law No. 143 of 1981 governs the acquisition and ownership of desert land. Certain limits are placed on the number of feddan (one feddan is equal to 0,42 hectare) that may be owned by individuals, families, co- operatives, partnerships and corporations. Partnerships are permitted to own 10,000 feddan. Joint stock companies are permitted to own 50,000 feddan.
Partnerships and joint stock companies may own desert land within these limits, even if foreign partners or shareholders are involved, provided that at least Egyptians own 51 per cent of the capital. Upon liquidation of the company, however, the land must revert to Egyptian ownership. Article 1 of Law No. 143 of 1981 defines desert land as the land lying two kilometers outside the borders of the city.
Furthermore, the lease of desert land for more than 50 years is also considered to be ownership under Law No. 143 of 1981.
Law No. 14 of 2014 restricts the ownership of property in Sinai. The government has designated development areas in Sinai where companies (whether owned by Egyptians or foreigners) may have the right of usufruct over designated property. Such usufruct rights can be granted for terms of up to fifty years. It must be noted that Egyptian must own at least 55% of the ultimate shareholding of such companies.
Law No. 230 of 1996 allows non-Egyptians to own real estate (vacant or built) under the following conditions:
Ownership is limited to two real estate properties in Egypt that serve as accommodation for the owner and his family (spouses and minors) in addition to the right to own real estate needed for activities licensed by the Egyptian Government.
The area of each real estate property does not exceed 4,000 sqm.
The real estate is not considered a historical site.
Exemption from first and second conditions is subject to the approval of the Prime Minister. Ownership in tourist areas and new communities is subject to conditions established by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Our lawyers advise foreigners on all aspects of real estate law in Egypt, whether it is part of an inheritance, a private or corporate investment under the Investment Law.