When it comes to making construction investments in Romania, most investors choose to purchase plots of land for construction.

Be it retail parks, production facilities or storage depots, offices or apartments, one should be careful when choosing plots of land for subsequent construction.  

According to Romanian construction law, only plots of land within built-up areas (intravilan), designated as construction land, may be built on. If the chosen plot of land is located outside a built-up area (extravilan), the boundaries of the built-up area must be extended in order to include such plot of land in it, and if such plot of land is agricultural, it must be rededicated into construction land, so that the planned construction project can be carried out.

And, of course, the purchaser must obtain a building permit for the investment.

Switching from outer city areas (extravilan) to the built-up area (intravilan)

Changing the boundaries of the built-up area to include land outside it requires, in principle, the approval of a new zonal urban plan (plan urbanistic zonal – “PUZ”). This needs a decision by the city or local council based on documentation prepared by the investor.

The approval of zonal urban plan means applying for and obtaining authorisations and prior approvals from different authorities or providers (e.g. location approval by the electricity suppliers, approval by the water supply agencies and by the leading architect of the county, decisions by the environment authorities, appropriateness approval, notification from the Ministry of Culture, acceptance protocol from the Cadaster Office, etc). What type of authorisations are needed will be discovered by obtaining a urbanism certificate –certificat de urbanism.

There must also be public consultation on the proposed zonal urban plan. Once legally completed, the city hall issues a report.

The approval procedure for a zonal urban plan usually takes 3-6 months.   

Rededication from agricultural land into construction land

As a result of previous changes to construction law, the rededication procedure has become much easier, through the issue of building permits (as long as the land is in a built-up area). 

Necessity of a building permit

Carrying out construction works in Romania demands, in principle, a building permit(autorizatie de construire). 

According to art.1 of Law no. 50/1991, the issue of a valid building permit requires the existence of a property related right to the land intended for development. If the land belongs to a third party, the obtaining of a property related right (in the form of a superficies right) is necessary to obtain a valid building permit for the intended construction project. Drawing up a simple lease agreement with the landowner will not be sufficient in this context, since it only provides a personal right of use which does not confer the right to build on the land.

The building permit process implies the following:   

(i)     Issue of an urbanism certificate (certificat de urbanism) for land development, where all approvals, authorisations, technical documentation and other documents needed for granting the building permit are listed;

(ii)    Requesting and obtaining all authorisations and approvals (e.g for connecting to the necessary infrastructure, for fire/civil protection, from the environment authorities etc.) according to the urbanism certificate; 

(iii)   Preparing technical documentation (documentatie tehnica – D.T.) for the approval of construction works by a specialist planner authorised in Romania, and the verification or approval of this documentation by a project reviser (verificator de proiecte) authorised in Romania;

(iv)   Submission of all these documents to the competent administrative authorities (in principle the competent city hall), along with proof of payment of taxes required for issuing the building permit. 

The building permit will be issued, in principle, within 30 calendar days of the submission of completed documentation for the approval of the construction works.   

Conclusion

Carrying out construction projects on plots of land needs several measures being taken well in advance. Before choosing and buying a plot of land, a rigorous legal and technical verification is needed to identify any potential barriers.