The adoption of Georgia’s “foreign agent law” has been in process for some time and you might wonder what it means for you. In this article, we will discuss what obligations it creates and for whom.


Last year, the Georgian parliament initiated a law, allegedly aiming to make foreign financial influence more transparent. This led to protests, and the law was subsequently rejected.

The Georgian government redrafted and reintroduced the law. Parliament members from the ruling party, Georgian Dream, approved the law. Although it was vetoed by President Salome Zurabishvili, Parliament overrode the veto, and it is now considered adopted.

We have received numerous inquiries regarding what obligations this new law creates and to whom it applies. Hence, we’ll examine both of those questions in detail in this article.

Obligations Under The “Foreign Agent Law”

The most recent iteration of the law approved by the parliament can be found here. Unfortunately, the text is only available in Georgian. Don’t worry; we’re here to help interpret and analyze it.

The law creates two main obligations:

  1. The foreign agent has to register in the public registry that the National Agency of Public Registry will set up.
  2. The foreign agent will have to submit financial declarations to the authorities.

To Whom Does The “Foreign Agent Law” Apply?

The obligations noted above apply only to two types of legal entities:

  1. Georgian mass media organizations.
  2. Georgian non-profit (non-commercial) legal entities.

Additionally, it applies in the aforementioned cases when more than 20% of their annual income is foreign-sourced. An income would qualify as “foreign-sourced” if:

  1. It has been directly or indirectly received from a foreign government, a foreign citizen, or a foreign legal entity or organization;
  2. It has been directly or indirectly received from a legal entity that directly or indirectly received income from a foreign government, a foreign citizen, or a foreign legal entity or organization; or,
  3. The source of the income is unidentified.

The definition of “foreign agent” makes the foreign agent law inapplicable to most of the expats that have relocated to Georgia.

Does “Foreign Agent Law” Also Apply To Natural Persons?

The law does not create the obligation to register and submit declarations for natural persons. However, the drafters have included a way to monitor compliance. Specifically, the authorities can request personal data from individuals. This aims to uncover “foreign agents” who must register and submit declarations but haven’t complied.

Why Is the Foreign Agent Law Seen by Some as Controversial?

Georgian citizens, businesses, and nonprofits, as well as Georgian and foreign politicians and many supra-national and international organizations, have labeled this law “Russian”. Why is that and why has it caused such fierce protests across the country?

While the government claims the law aims to enhance transparency, many believe its primary goal is to silence the opposition. Opponents argue this mirrors how restrictions began in Russia, ultimately limiting freedom of speech.

What Statements Have Been Made Internationally?

Russian politicians have approved the adoption of “Foreign Agent Law”, while the EU and US have repeatedly condemned it.

The most notable would be the Urgent Opinion issued by the Venice Commission.

In paragraph 96 of its Urgent Opinion, the Commission concluded “that the restrictions set by the Law to the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and privacy are incompatible with the strict test set out in Articles 8(2), 10(2), and 11(2) of the ECHR and Article 17(2), 19(2) and 22(2) of the ICCPR as they do not meet the requirements of legality, legitimacy, necessity in a democratic society and proportionality, as well as with the principle of non-discrimination set out in Article 14 of the ECHR”.

Ultimately, in paragraph 100, the Commission “strongly recommend[ed] repealing the Law in its current form, as its fundamental flaws will involve significant negative consequences for the freedoms of association and expression, the right to privacy, the right to participate in public affairs as well as the prohibition of discrimination”.

Is Georgia’s “Foreign Agent Law” More Controversial Than Similar Laws Being Discussed/Applied in Other Countries?

Georgia is not the only country currently applying laws to identify foreign influence. The UK, for example, has the Foreign Influence Registration Scheme, and the US has the FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act), which have both been compared to Georgia’s Foreign Agents law due to the similarities in name. 

However, the UK/US versions of these laws differ from the present Georgian law in key ways, and ultimately, it is the potential de facto application of Georgia’s Foreign Agents law that concerns many, with its possibility to echo the alarming application of the Russian foreign agent law.

A full comparison of these Western laws with the Georgian law is outside our scope, but if you’re uncertain of the significance of the differences, it’s worth reading up on the legislation.

As always, when more information is confirmed, our team at ExpatHub will provide an update on the matter. If you have any questions, Reach Out!

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David Kvitini
David Kvitini

Executive Director at @ExpatHub.GE. David oversees all the departments and ensures a high level of service delivery. He is constantly looking for ways to improve the company's performance and efficiency.