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Decrypted by Barnes: what the new AVNA regulations says



Agricultural land: Lifting of restrictions for foreigners

Foreign investors can now acquire, under conditions, properties in rural areas in Morocco, following the publication of a new tripartite circular. A measure that opens up new opportunities for real estate investment in Morocco.

Until now, investing in an agricultural area for a foreigner was very complicated, but following the publication of a new circular, things will change. Indeed, a joint circular on the issuance of the certificate of non-agricultural vocation (AVNA) has just been published by the Ministry of National Spatial Planning, Urban Planning, Housing and City Policy, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests. This circular comes in a national economic context marked by a strong recovery, which pushes the country's authorities to take initiatives that accompany the dynamism of investment.

It should be noted that Moroccan law protects very firmly real estate transactions in which land is not located in urban areas, because it is concerned to protect agricultural land and the development of green areas. Moroccan law prohibits foreign nationals from acquiring agricultural land on an individual basis, just as it prohibits companies whose capital is held by one or more foreign shareholders in whole or only part. It is in this perspective that the new circular of the AVNA intervenes, with the main aim of overcoming the difficulties related to the receipt of the certificate of the non-agricultural vocation.

It therefore brings a novelty in favor of foreign buyers, via new provisions for the granting of the AVNA. Precisely, because from now on, any foreigner can file an application in order to benefit from a certificate in order to afford a property in a rural area, but nevertheless subject to a development plan resulting from a pledge received. Or to buy a villa from a housing group received with a permit to live.  It should be remembered, however, that foreign companies already had the possibility of applying for the AVNA for agricultural projects in agricultural areas.

New directives

The joint circular also enacts a set of new directives, including strict compliance with the legal conditions required before issuing the certificate of non-agricultural vocation, the need to associate the issuance of the said certificate with the existence of a non-agricultural investment project and the non-issuance of the certificate for areas with high agricultural potential.

Similarly, the issuance of the AVNA is mandatory for any foreign purchaser submitting an application for the acquisition of real estate located outside the urban perimeter, from authorized subdivisions, received and broken up into registered property, or for the acquisition of real estate belonging to authorized housing groups.

These directives also include the strict application of the provisions of Law 131.12 on the principles of delimitation of the territorial jurisdictions of local authorities when delimiting the urban perimeter and the obligation to give reasons for decisions refusing to issue the certificate of non-agricultural vocation.

It is important to note that the local investment commission must give its consent to grant the certificate to applicants applying for the acquisition of properties located outside the urban perimeter. In addition, it should be remembered that foreigners do not need AVNA to buy in urban areas, given the lack of agricultural vocation in the latter.

In conclusion, at BARNES, we believe that this decision comes at a time when several key sectors of our economy, including real estate, are returning to growth, hence the need to accompany them with support measures.