*** note recent amendments to FIRB approvals which apply to temporary residents***
Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) Approval:
This month I thought I would outline briefly when FIRB approval is required. I have taken information directly from www.firb.gov.au and summarized it below however if in doubt, please see the website directly and/or seek legal advice.
What is the FIRB?
The Foreign Investment Review Board was set up basically to examine proposals by foreign citizens to directly invest in Australia. Essentially it is the mechanism by which the government of the day uses to control the amount of foreign investment within Australia.
Do I need FIRB approval as an Australian Expat?
Australian Citizens living abroad do not need FIRB approval to acquire real estate in Australia.
Do I need FIRB approval as a temporary / non resident?
Temporary / non residents will be exempt from applying for FIRB approval if one of the following applies;
- Your spouse is an Australian citizen and you are purchasing real estate in both names as joint tenants. Note, spouse is defined in the Acts Interpretation Act and can included defacto spouse,
- You are a New Zealand citizen and purchasing residential property,
- You hold a permanent resident visa,
- You are a temporary resident and are purchasing residential property as follows:
- single block(s) of vacant land,
- new dwelling(s); and/or
- a second hand dwelling (ie, existing home) which is to be used as your principal place of residence.
What is a spouse?
Spouse includes de facto partner (whether of the same sex or a different sex) – that is, although they may not be legally married, they have a relationship as a couple and live together on a genuine domestic basis (sections 22A and 22B of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901).
I am a temporary resident on a 457 visa residing in Australia, do I need FIRB approval?
If you are not buying with an Australian citizen then you will need FIRB approval if you are looking at buying an existing second hand home that is to be an investment property. If you are buying a home to live in yourself, or buying something that is brand new or constructing a home, then FIRB approval is not required.
I am a foreign citizen looking to invest in Australia. Do I need FIRB approval?
Yes, unless you are looking at buying directly from the developer (ie, brand new property either built or to be constructed) AND the developer has pre-approval from the FIRB to sell those dwellings to foreign persons. Ie, the FIRB would rather give one approval for the entire development than have to take FIRB applications from everyone looking to purchase.