Tanzania: A Guide For Foreigners On Land Ownership Under The Laws Of Mainland Tanzania.

Last Updated: 17 October 2017
Article by Amne Suedi Kagasheki and Beauttah Camara

In the wake of economic globalization, we continue to witness a flow of foreign investors into the United Republic of Tanzania. In Tanzania like in any other jurisdiction, land remains foremost vital natural resource and most jealously guarded of all. Geographically Tanzania has a land size of 947,303 square kilometers. All land is public  and as such power is vested in the President of the United Republic of Tanzania to be a trustee for and on behalf of all the citizens of Tanzania. By virtue of the Land Act CAP 113 R.E. 2002 and its amendments (the "Land Act"), this public land is categorized into general land, reserve land and village land.

For the purpose of this article, our main focus shall be on general land where the Commissioner for Lands has been vested with administrative powers by the President to see into all land matters under this category of land.

Can a foreigner own land?

To begin with, the general rule is that a foreigner cannot own land under the laws of Tanzania unless it is for investment purposes. This is expressly provided under section 19 (2) of the Land Act and reinforced by section 20 (1) of the Land Act.

  Section 20 (4) of the Land Act introduces a new definition of a foreign corporate body. It is explicit that under the Land Act, a body corporate with majority of its shareholders being foreigners is deemed as a foreign company. This is in addition to the provisions of the  Companies Act where the place of incorporation determines the nationality of the company and therefore  a company incorporated outside the United Republic of Tanzania is a foreign company.

Usually a land to be designated for investment purposes is identified, gazetted and allocated to the Tanzania Investment Centre which shall create derivative rights to investors for specified term that does not exceeding (99) ninety-nine years.

What is the role of Tanzania Investment Centre?

Tanzania Investment Center (the "TIC") is a statutory body established and created by the Tanzania Investment Act. The purpose of the TIC is to be a one stop center for foreign investors and a government agency its objective is to encourage, promote and facilitate investment and advise the government on investment policy.

Whereas the scope of application of the Investment Act is mainly based on business enterprises   private individual investors may be assisted as well in procuring permits, authorizations, approvals, registrations, consents, licenses and any other matter required by law for a person to set up and operate.  These rights, among others that are related to investment protection, are acquired through the certificate of incentives that is given to the investor who has not less than United States Dollars Five Hundred (USD 500,000) as investment capital for a non-citizen investor (USD 300,000 for a Tanzanian investor).

Can a foreigner apply for right of occupancy or derivative right?

Once the certificate of incentives is obtained, a foreign investor can apply for right of occupancy or derivative right of occupancy to the Commissioner for land on general land. The whole of section 25 (1) of the Land Act sets out a procedure in applying for right of occupancy to the Commissioner for Lands. An application shall be in a prescribed form and accompanied by a photograph; prescribed fee and signed by the applicant or a duly authorized representative or agent of the applicant. The application shall be delivered to the Commissioner or an authorized officer. The application may be accompanied with any information which may be prescribed or which the Commissioner may in writing require the applicant to supply; a declaration in the prescribed form of all rights and interests in land in Tanzania which the applicant has at the time of the application; any document of consent (where required by law).  Particularly, section 25 (1) (h) of the Land Act requires a Certificate of Approval granted by the Tanzania Investment Centre to be evidenced in the same application made by a foreign investor.

  One should note that a foreigner cannot be granted a right of occupancy or derivative right for residential purposes only, unless the use of such land shall be secondary or ancillary to the investment approved under the Investment Act as per Section 25 (1) (i) of the Act.

In the circumstances whereby an investor breaches the conditions of investment as agreed upon on granting a derivative right of occupancy on a land, the same may be terminated and reversion of interests or rights in and over the land shall revert to the Tanzania Investment Centre or any other authority as the Minister may prescribe in the "Gazette" as provided under section 20 (5) of the Act.

In the case of the President revoking a derivate right or a right of occupancy or the Tanzania Investment Center re-acquires land, then the Commissioner for Lands shall compensate the foreigner for the value of exhausted improvements on such land provided there was no contributory factor by the investor.

What are the alternatives for foreigners to enjoy land use?

Although, the only legal way for foreigners to own land is through obtaining derivative right or right of occupancy with approval from the Tanzania Investment Centre, there are other alternatives to enjoy land use without actually owning the land. Foreign investors may opt to enter into lease agreements for pieces of land with nationals who have registered titles. Prudence requires that you to consult with legal practitioners who are adept with matters of conveyancing. An official search may be conducted to ascertain whether the title exists in the Lessor's name and whether the title has any encumbrances. A legal practitioner will advise and negotiate on your behalf favorable terms of lease agreement as per your type of business.

Second alternative is by a foreign investor incorporating a local company under the Companies Act with other Tanzanian nationals as majority shareholders with 51 per cent or more of the company shares, however this needs to be accompanied by other legal instruments that can guarantee the foreign investor peaceful possession and ownership of the land and can hedge against any risks.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.