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  • Residential real estate application – instructions

    Foreign persons (including temporary residents and foreign non-residents), who plan to invest in Australian real estate, may need to apply for foreign investment approval before they purchase property in Australia.

    These instructions explain who needs to apply for foreign investment approval, and how to complete the Residential real estate application form.

    Find out about:

    Before you apply

    Before you purchase residential real estate, you should check the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) guidance notes to see if you require FIRB approval or are exempted.

    Next step:

    When to use the application form

    Use this form to apply for approval to purchase Australian residential real estate. You must complete a separate application for each property you intend to purchase.

    You can also use the application form to request approval to vary the conditions of an existing foreign investment approval.

    Exemption certificates

    An exemption certificate allows a foreign person to make multiple attempts to acquire one property, in a nominated state or territory, without having to seek individual approval for each property they are interested in.

    Foreign persons can use an exemption certificate to purchase a new or near-new dwelling, or a single block of vacant land.

    Temporary residents can also use an exemption certificate to purchase an established dwelling to live in while residing in Australia.

    Apply for an exemption certificate using the Residential real estate application form.

    See also:

    Property developers and new (or near-new) dwelling exemption certificates

    If you are a property developer proposing to sell new dwellings or near-new dwellings to foreign persons, you can apply for a new (or near-new) dwelling exemption certificate.

    If approved, you can provide foreign investors with a copy of the exemption certificate and, in most cases, the investors won't need to apply for their own foreign investment approval to purchase a new dwelling or near-new dwelling in that development.

    See also:

    Variations

    You can also use the Residential real estate application form to request a variation of a previous FIRB approval. Requests to change an application not yet determined by the ATO don't need a variation application form.

    If a change to an undecided application is needed, email us at FIRBresidential@ato.gov.au.

    Variation applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis including the timing of the request, the nature of the variation, control over circumstances and fees.

    Variations that don't substantively change the original FIRB approval would generally be considered as a proposal for a variation. In contrast, a proposal that seeks to broaden the scope of the original approval will generally require a new application.

    Fees are payable for variations. The level of fee is dependent on the complexity of the variation requested.

    The fee for variations that are:

    • complex (not of an immaterial or minor nature) will be $12,700
    • simple (considered immaterial or minor) will be $2,000.

    Determining the complexity of the variation requested

    Examples of complex variations include situations where you want to:

    • change or remove a condition imposed
    • extend the validity period of the no-objection notification or exemption certificate
    • add a new wholly-owned subsidiary as an applicant.

    Examples of simple variations are limited to situations where you want to fix:

    • typographical errors, or
    • errors to the name of the acquirer, target, or property being acquired.

    However, if you paid a lower fee when you originally applied for approval, the fee will be capped at the lower initial application fee.

    To avoid delays in processing a variation, make sure the correct fee is paid.

    See also:

    After you invest

    Land and water register

    You must register your residential real estate purchase with us using the Land and Water Registration form no later than 30 days after the date of settlement. There is no cost involved in registering.

    See also:

    Vacancy fee

    If your property has a residential dwelling on it, you must lodge an annual vacancy fee return within 30 days of the end of every 12-month period you own it, telling us how the dwelling was used.

    See also:

    Start your application

    Use this form to apply for approval to purchase Australian residential real estate or to ask us to vary the conditions of an existing foreign investment approval.

    We collect data on purchases, sales and transfers of properties by foreign persons through the Land Register. The information you disclose on this form may be used for this purpose.

    This form can’t be completed in some older browsers, such as Internet Explorer 8. If the form doesn't appear, you may need to update your browser.

    Start your application

    Completing the application form

    You must complete the application form in full and submit it in one session. You cannot save an incomplete application and return to complete it later.

    Mandatory fields are marked with an asterisk (*). Use the Help button at the top of the form to find extra information about each field in the application form.

    Find out about:

    Terms and conditions

    Read the terms and conditions carefully. They outline your obligations and how we use the information you provide on the application form.

    Check the I agree to the terms and conditions box, and then click on the Apply button to continue.

    Contact details

    Provide the contact details of the person we can ask for more information about your application.

    The contact person is usually the person who is submitting the application on behalf of the purchaser. If you are the purchaser and are submitting the form yourself, provide your own contact details here.

    Applicants

    Provide the details of all purchasers of the property.

    Individuals

    Individuals need to tell us whether they intend to purchase the property as a sole purchaser or with another party (as joint tenants or as tenants in common).

    If you are purchasing as:

    • joint tenants you will need to provide the details of all purchasers (applicants) on the one application form.
    • tenants in common – only one purchaser can be listed on each application form.

    If the other purchasers you are buying the property with are also foreign people, they need to lodge their own application and pay a separate fee. If they are exempt, they don't need to lodge an application.

    If you aren't sure whether you are purchasing as joint tenant or tenants in common, refer to the definitionsExternal Link.

    If you intend to purchase an established dwelling you need to provide your passport and visa details in this section.

    Enter your street address details, don't provide a post office box.

    If you have been issued with an Australian tax file number (TFN), it must be provided in the application form.

    Company

    If you are applying as a company, you need to provide your legal name and country of incorporation.

    If there are any shareholders who hold more than a 5 percent interest in the purchaser then you must list all shareholders/beneficiaries who hold more than a 5 percent interest in the purchaser.

    Trust

    If you are applying as a trust, you need to provide the:

    • name of the trust
    • trust country of registration
    • name of the trustee
    • trustee's country of residence
    • ownership percentage.

    Where the trustee is:

    • an individual – provide the nationality from the trustee's passport
    • a company – provide the registered address.

    Previous applications

    Select Yes and provide the FIRB approval number if you:

    • have previously applied for foreign investment approval, for this or other properties
    • are applying for approval to vary the conditions of your existing FIRB approval.

    See also:

    Application type

    Select the type of application you are seeking approval for.

    • New dwelling
    • Established dwelling
    • Vacant land
    • Exemption certificate
    • Variation – simple
    • Variation – complex
    • New or near-new dwelling exemption certificate – this option is for property developers only

    Established dwelling

    If you select Established dwelling you must tell us how you intend to use the property by selecting one of the following options:

    • Use the property as your principal place of residence – this option
      • is only for holders of eligible temporary residency visas      
      • requires you to provide the visa and passport details for all applicants under the Applicants tab
       
    • Redevelop the property to increase the number of dwellings
    • Use the property for staff accommodation – this option is only for companies or trusts.

    Exemption certificate

    If you select Exemption certificate you must tell us what type of property you intend to purchase. See exemption certificates to determine if this option is suitable for you.

    You can select one, or more, of the following:

    • Established dwelling to be used as your principal place of residence – this option
      • is only for holders of eligible temporary residency visas      
      • requires you to provide the visa and passport details for all applicants under the Applicants tab
       
    • New dwelling
    • Vacant land.

    Variation – simple or complex

    To ensure the correct variation fee is applied, select either:

    • Variation – simple to request a simple change to your approval conditions or other details for a previous FIRB approval. Under Applicant details you'll need to include the
      • FIRB approval number
      • application fee amount of the FIRB approval you want to change.
       
    • Variation – complex to request a complex change to your approval conditions or other details for a previous FIRB approval. Under Applicant details you'll need to include the
      • FIRB approval number
      • application fee amount of the FIRB approval you want to change.
       

    We will start assessing your application once the correct fee is paid.

    If you need help you can:

    Property details

    If you are purchasing a specific property, provide the exact:

    • address details – including the lot or street number, street name and post code
    • title details.

    Vacant land

    If you intend to purchase vacant land, you need to provide information about the development of the land, such as how many dwellings will be built.

    If you answer Yes to the question Has a contract been signed for the purchase of the property?, you need to attach a copy of the contract to the application in the Attachments section.

    New dwelling

    If you answer Yes to the question Has a contract been signed for the purchase of the property?, you need to attach a copy of the contract to the application in the Attachments section.

    Established dwellings

    If you select Established dwelling you must tell us how you intend to use the property by selecting one of the following options:

    • Use the property as your principal place of residence – this option
      • is only for holders of eligible temporary residency visas      
      • requires you to provide the visa and passport details for all applicants under the Applicants tab
       
    • Redevelop the property to increase the number of dwellings.
    • Use the property for staff accommodation – this option is only for companies or trusts.

    If you are purchasing the property for the purpose of redevelopment, make sure you answer all questions regarding the development of the property.

    If you answer Yes to the question Has a contract been signed for the purchase of the property?, you need to attach a copy of the contract to the application in the Attachments section.

    Purchase details

    Provide details about the property you intend to purchase.

    The fee for your application is calculated on the expected purchase price of the property that you insert in this section.

    Tenants in common

    If you are purchasing the property as tenants in common, you need to pay a fee according to your share of the property's value.

    So that we can correctly calculate your application fee, you must show:

    • the full expected purchase price of the property
    • your ownership percentage.

    Your fee will then be calculated according to your share of the property's purchase price.

    For example, if you are purchasing a property valued at $1,500,000 and your share is 10%, we will calculate your application fee based on your share of the property value ($150,000).

    Attachments

    You can attach documents to support your application.

    In some cases, you will need to add an attachment before you can submit the form.

    If your contract is unconditional, attach a full copy of your contract.

    If you are seeking a variation to an existing approval, attach a document describing in detail what you want to vary. For example, you want to ask for extra time to redevelop your property, or you want to seek approval to sell vacant land without building a dwelling on it.

    If you are a property developer seeking approval for a new dwelling exemption certificate, attach documents to support your application.

    If you are an individual applying for approval to purchase a second-hand dwelling, attach a copy of your passport showing your name and passport number.

    Note: You can attach up to six files to your FIRB application. Each file must be under 10MB. Use only English alphanumeric characters to name each file and keep file names as short as possible. File names in a different language or using special characters, such as # @ & $, may affect the submission of your application.

    Declaration and submitting the form

    Before you submit your form, ensure you have answered all relevant questions correctly and have read the declaration. An incomplete form may delay processing and you may be asked to complete and submit a new form.

    Once you have submitted the form, a confirmation message will appear on-screen.

    If you don’t see the confirmation message within a few minutes of submitting your application, we may not have received it. Do not submit another application – phone us on 1800 050 377 (within Australia) or +61 2 6216 1111 (from outside Australia) to confirm.

    We aim to process your application within 30 days of receiving the full amount of the application fee. We will send you an email with our decision within 10 days of making it.

    For some complex applications, we may ask you for extra time to make the decision.

    Print your application

    You can print your application at any time using the Print friendly version button at the end of each section.

    We recommend you print a copy of your application after you have submitted it, using the Print friendly version button.

    Navigating the form

    You can move back and forth between the sections in the form using the Back and Next buttons.

    You can close the application (without completing it) at any time, but you cannot save the incomplete application. You will need to submit a new application when you are ready to proceed.

    Paying your application fee

    We cannot consider your application, or variation of a previous FIRB approval, until we receive full payment of your application fee. Residential land fees apply for each application, based on the value of the property.

    See also:

    Payment reference number

    You need a payment reference number (PRN) to pay your application fee. You will receive your PRN after you submit your application form.

    It's important to quote the correct PRN when paying your application fee. If you don't quote the correct payment reference number, we may not be able to identify your payment and your application decision may be delayed.

    The PRN is a unique 18-digit number (with no alpha or special characters).

    How to pay for your application

    To pay your application fee, go to how to pay and select the most suitable payment option for your circumstances.

    Fee waivers

    In limited circumstances, we may grant a fee waiver. We consider all requests on a case-by-case basis. Generally, we don't waive fees if you:

    • are unsuccessful in purchasing a property, even if it's for reasons beyond your control
    • change your mind about purchasing the property
    • withdraw your application.

    You need to lodge your application before we can consider waiving the fee.

    See also:  

    Report a breach of the foreign investment rules

    To report a suspected breach of foreign investment rules you can:

    • complete the tip-off form
    • phone us on the ATO Tip-off hotline on 1800 060 062.

    We investigate all reports of suspected breaches if enough information is provided.

    If you suspect you’ve breached your foreign investment conditions, contact us as soon as possible.

    See also:

    Where to get help

    To find out more about lodging your application you can:

    • phone us on 1800 050 377 within Australia
    • +61 2 6216 1111 outside Australia

    If you don't speak English well and want to talk to a tax officer, you can phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on

    • 13 14 50 within Australia
    • +61 3 9268 8332 outside Australia
      Last modified: 03 May 2021QC 47396