The Land Code of the Russian Federation allows foreign citizens, stateless persons, and foreign legal entities to purchase land plots located in Russia. There are many exceptions to this rule, however, and foreigners should be certain they understand the rules before attempting to purchase land in Russia.

Location Restrictions

Foreign citizens may not take possession of land located in certain areas, including the following:

  • Land plots located in the border areas listed in the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 26 dated January 09, 2011
  • Land plots located in specially determined areas of the Russian Federation (for example, areas where important strategic or military facilities, or resitricted access municipalities are located)
  • Land plots within sea ports (item 2 Article 28 of Federal Law No. 261-FZ dated November 08, 2007).

Foreign citizens may use these land plots under other rights, such as the leasehold right.

Lands of Agricultural Destination vs. Lands of Agricultural Exploitation

Foreign citizens, as well as Russian legal entities with more than 50 percent share of foreigners in their charter ( joint-stock) capital, may possess land plots of the lands of agricultural destination only under the leasehold right (Article 3 of Federal Law No. 101-FZ dated July 24, 2002). There are essentially two categories of land foreigners should be aware of;

  1. Lands of agricultural destination belong to a land category, which is covered by the restrictions above. 
  2. Lands of agricultural exploitation are territorial zones of lands that are in an inhabited area, which are classified as lands of inhabited localities (a different land category from the one mentioned above) and are not covered with the above-mentioned restrictions.

Foreign citizens may be members of horticultural, market-gardening, or summer cottage non-commercial associations and possess horticultural, market-gardening, or cottage land plots only under the leasehold rights.

Land Purchase by Foreigners Who Own Buildings

Foreign citizens may enjoy a preferential right of buying or leasing a plot of land if they own buildings, houses, or structures located on another person's plot, but the Land Code provides some restrictions. Moreover, the President of the Russian Federation may establish a list of buildings, houses or structures not covered by this rule (item 5 Article 35 of the Land Code).

The restrictions above suggest that, pursuant to the law, foreign citizens are also prohibited from inheriting lands of agricultural destination.

Additional Restrictions for Foreigners Buying Russian Land

In addition, according to Article 238 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, if a person owns any property that by virtue of law may not belong to him/her, this property must be surrendered by the owner within one year from the moment the title to the property was issued. State-owned or municipally owned land plots may be transferred to foreign citizens only for a fee.

Jus Privatum Can Help Foreign Nationals Purchase Property in Russia

If you are looking to purchase property in Russia, working with the attorneys at Jus Privatum will ensure that you are making a legal purchase and that you will be able to keep the property. Contact our office today to learn more about our services to foreigners doing business in Russia.

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.