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  • Residential property investment: fact sheet for foreign owners

    This content is also available in Chinese – traditional (繁体中文) and Chinese – simplified (簡體中文).

    If you are a foreign person who has invested in, or plans to invest in Australian residential real estate, there are obligations you will need to meet under Australian law.

    Step 1. Obtain FIRB approval

    Before you purchase residential real estate, you must obtain Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval and pay a fee. To apply, complete and submit the Residential real estate application form available at

    Incorrect applications or information may result in delays in processing and additional charges.

    Step 2. Review your FIRB approval conditions

    You will generally receive your FIRB approval within 30 days. The approval letter will tell you any conditions you must follow when you purchase your property and after settlement (the date that ownership of the property transferred to you, not the sale date).

    If you do not comply with these conditions, you may be liable for an infringement notice, criminal prosecution or civil penalty.

    Step 3. Record your property on the ATO Land and water register

    The ATO records details of purchases of residential property by foreign persons on the ATO Land and water register. As a condition of your FIRB approval, you are required to enter your purchased property on the ATO Land and water register within 30 days of settlement.

    You will need to tell us your:

    • contact information, including an email address so that we can contact you in the future
    • type of registration - Select ‘Residential real estate’
    • reason for registration - Select ‘Transfer: buy’ and enter the settlement date (the date that ownership of the property transferred to you, not the sale date)
    • FIRB approval number
    • property details.


    Once you enter your information you will receive an ATO Land registration number, which you need to use when you lodge your Vacancy fee return.

    End of example

    Step 4. Lodge your Vacancy fee return

    If your land 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. This is called the ‘vacancy year’.

    In the Vacancy fee return, you need to tell us how the dwelling was used over the previous 12 months.

    We will email you a reminder to lodge your Vacancy fee return when it is due, to the email address you gave us in your ATO Land and water registration. You will need your ATO land registration number to lodge your Vacancy fee return.

    For more information on the Vacancy fee, see

    If your situation changes

    Make sure you tell us if your details change so that we can contact you about your property.

    To update your email address you can either:

    If your situation or the ownership of your property changes, update your details by completing the ATO Land and water registration form at

    More information

    For more information visit:

    Phone us on:

    • 1800 050 377 (within Australia)
    • +61 2 6216 1111 (from outside Australia) between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm AEST, Monday to Friday.

    If you don’t speak English well, you can phone us via the Translating and Interpreting Service on:

    • 13 14 50 (within Australia) or
    • +61 3 9268 8332 (from outside Australia).
      Last modified: 08 Nov 2018QC 57311