Foreign Investment Review

Investment made by a foreign person or foreign company in real estate, business or agricultural land may be subject to examination


Investment made by a foreign person or foreign company in real estate, business or agricultural land may be subject to examination by the Australian Government, through the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

At Beyond Migration, we understand the complexities and nuances involved in foreign investment law. We can assist you in notifying the Foreign Investment Review Board of any investments and submitting applications on your behalf. We will help you by navigating these legal regulations and obligations to ensure your investment passes review by the FIRB.

REAL ESTATE

Real estate includes residential, commercial and other types of real estate.

Residential Real Estate

All temporary residents are required to notify FIRB of any proposed acquisition of residential real estate.

A temporary resident is a person who is residing in Australia and:

  • holds a temporary residency visa which permits them to stay in Australia for a continuous period of more than 12 months (regardless of how long remains on the visa); or
  • has submitted an application for permanent residency and holds a bridging visa which permits them to stay in Australia until that application has been finalised.

Temporary residents can buy one established dwelling only to live in and they may buy new dwellings, or vacant land to build new dwelling.

Established (Second-Hand) Dwellings

Temporary residents need to apply if they wish to buy an established dwelling. Temporary residents may acquire one established dwelling only and it must be used as their residence (home) in Australia. Such proposals normally meet with no foreign investment objections subject to conditions (such as, that the temporary resident sells the property when it ceases to be their residence). Temporary residents are not permitted to buy established dwellings as investment properties.

New Dwellings

A ‘new dwelling’ is a dwelling which is being purchased directly from the developer and has not been previously occupied for more than 12 months in total. Temporary residents need to apply to buy new dwellings in Australia. Such proposals are normally approved without conditions.

Vacant Land

Temporary residents need to apply to buy vacant land for residential development. These applications are normally approved subject to conditions (such as, that ongoing construction begins within 24 months).

Commercial Real Estate

There are two broad categories of Commercial real estate: Developed commercial real estate and Land for commercial development

Developed commercial real estate 

This generally includes offices, factories, warehouses, hotels, restaurants and retail outlets. It does not include rural land, but may include rural property which does not fall within the definition of rural land (that is, it is not used wholly and exclusively for carrying on a substantial business of primary production).

Foreign persons need to notify if they want to take an interest in developed commercial real estate that is valued at $55 million or more – unless the real estate is heritage listed, then a $5 million threshold applies. An exception for developed commercial real estate applies for Chilean, Japanese, Korean, New Zealand and United States investors, where a $1,094 million threshold applies instead.

Developed commercial property also includes hotels, motels, hostels and guesthouses, as well as individual dwellings that are a part of these properties. Buying a unit in a hotel that is owner-occupied or rented out privately (that is, it is not part of the hotel business) is considered to be residential property.

Land for commercial development 

This is vacant land for commercial development. Foreign persons need to apply to buy or take an interest in land for commercial development (including to start a forestry business), regardless of the value of the land. Such proposals are normally approved subject to development conditions.

Business Investment

The follow types of proposals should be notified to the Australian Government:

  • Acquisitions of interests in an existing Australian business or corporation which is valued above, or the proposal values above the applicable monetary threshold. Acquisitions of interests may include:
    • acquisitions of shares (including options and other instruments which may be converted to shares) representing a substantial interest in the corporation;
    • acquisitions of assets resulting in control of the business; or
    • any other type of arrangement which results in control of the business or corporation.
  • Takeovers of offshore companies whose Australian subsidiaries or gross assets are valued above the applicable monetary threshold.
  • Acquisition of shares in a company or trust that is considered an Urban Land Corporation or Trust, regardless of the value, and unless exempt.
  • Proposals where any doubt exists as to whether they are notifiable.