Limitations and Restrictions for foreign investors
Do I need a permission or license to invest in Lebanon?
No permission is required to invest in Lebanon. The Government has a non-interventionist position concerning private investment. In fact, there is no legislation requiring foreign investors to obtain approval from the Lebanese authorities before embarking on an investment project in Lebanon. Moreover, there is a freedom of exchange in Lebanon allowing foreigners to import and export capital freely in any form they wish.
Is there any particular sector foreign investors cannot invest in?
Restrictions on foreign investment are very few; all economic sectors are open to foreign investments, except those related to weapons and media and in some cases real estate ownership and activities related to national security. Foreigners have also the right to participate in public tenders without the need for a local partner.
What are the restrictions for foreign ownership of Real Estate?
A foreigner whether an entity or an individual cannot own a real estate right in the territory of Lebanon without obtaining a prior authorization granted by virtue of a decree issued by the Council of ministers upon the request of the Minister of Finance (the “Decree”)
According to the law, is exempted from the Decree, the ownership by a foreigner of up to 3000 square meters in the whole territory of Lebanon.
Notwithstanding the Decree, a foreigner cannot own more then 3% of the total area of Lebanon.
In each province, a foreigner cannot own more than 3% of its total area. However with respect to Beirut the total area owned by a foreigner should not exceed 10 % of its total area.
Normal lease right for more than 10 years needs the Decree.
The Decree shall be ineffective, if not acted upon during a period of 1 year as of its publishing in the Official Gazette.
When approval is granted, the building on the real estate should be constructed within a period of five years as of the date of registration with the Land registry (renewable once by the government).
Are there any special restrictions concerning Commercial representation?
According to the law, the exclusive representative must be a Lebanese national.
In case the company is a LLC, the majority of the partners must be Lebanese, the majority of the company’s capital must be held by Lebanese and the authorized signatories must be Lebanese.
In case the company is a joint-stock company, the majority of the company’s capital must be held by Lebanese, the director and authorized signatories should be Lebanese and 2/3 of the Board of Directors must be Lebanese. Finally the place of business must be in Lebanon.
Is it allowed to transfer funds from Lebanon and vice versa?
Yes there is a freedom of exchange in Lebanon allowing foreigners to import and export capital freely in any form they wish. Complete funds movements from Lebanon and vice versa are acceptable. Currency switch can be executed without any restrictions and while maintaining banking secrecy which cannot be lifted unless in exceptional cases.