Serbia defers the complete liberalization of transfer of agricultural land to EU citizens

The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the amendments to the Law on agricultural land (the “Law”) on 28 August 2017, which will delay complete liberalization of agricultural land transactions, initially envisaged by the Stabilization and Association Agreement signed between the Republic of Serbia and EU. Amendments to the Law will come into force as of 1. September 2017.

Citizens of EU will now be able to buy up to two hectares of arable land in Serbia if they meet certain legal requirements. Such person must: (i) have at least 10 years of residence in Serbia within a local government unit in which he/she wants to purchase land; (ii) process the respective agricultural land for at least three years; (iii) have a registered active agricultural holding; (iv) have machinery and equipment in order to undertake agricultural production. 

Additionally, agricultural land which is designated as construction land (in accordance with lex specialis), or is designated as protected property, or is located near military facilities, or is less than 10 km away from the Serbian border, cannot be transferred to citizens of EU.

The Republic of Serbia has a statutory pre-emption right on the agricultural land being transferred to the citizen of EU.

Amendments to the Law do not apply in case of property restitution carried out in accordance with the laws governing the restitution of seized property, during the holocaust, or the communist regime, to former owners.