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Title page of the report
Title page of the Law Library's report "Restrictions on Land Ownership by Foreigners in Selected Jurisdictions."

Law Library’s New Report Reviews Foreign Ownership of Land Restriction in Major Economies

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The following is a guest post by Sayuri Umeda, a foreign law specialist who covers Japan and other countries in East and Southeast Asia. Sayuri has previously authored numerous posts for In Custodia Legis, including Tradition vs Efficiency: ‘Hanko’ Affects Workplace Efficiency and Telework in JapanFood Delivery in Japan – History and Current RegulationNew Era, New Law NumberHoly Cow – Making Sense of Japanese Wagyu Cow Export RulesJapanese Criminal Legal System as Seen Through the Carlos Ghosn CaseDisciplining Judges for “Bad Tweets”; The History of the Elimination of Leaded Gasoline, and many more. 

Our new report, Restrictions on Land Ownership by Foreigners in Selected Jurisdictions, is available on The report includes individual surveys of 39 jurisdictions with high gross domestic products. It includes a chart, a map, and a diagram to easily observe the results of individual reports.

We found that five countries, namely China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines, and Thailand, do not allow foreigners to own land. Twenty-four jurisdictions restrict foreign ownership of land but allow it if restrictions do not apply. The level of restrictions varies among these jurisdictions. Many countries restrict foreign ownership of land for national security reasons.

We identified 10 countries that do not restrict land ownership by foreigners. This relates to an obligation under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). GATS obligates members to provide national treatment to other members. Land ownership is subject to this. If land ownership restrictions result in less favorable treatment of foreigners, GATS members must specify this in their schedule of specific commitments. These 10 countries did not make such reservations.

This report is an addition to the Law Library’s Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection, which includes over 4,000 historical and contemporary legal reports covering a variety of jurisdictions, researched and written by foreign law specialists with expertise in each area.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

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