Show download pdf controls
  • Residential investment

    If you’re a foreign personExternal Link (including a temporary residentExternal Link or foreign non-residentExternal Link) and you plan to invest in Australian residential real estate, you may need to:

    • lodge a Residential real estate application form and wait for your approval before you buy
    • register your purchase using the land and water registration form after settlement
    • lodge an vacancy fee return and make a declaration each year on the occupancy of your residential property.

    Residential real estate includes:

    • new dwellings
    • established dwellings to live in
    • properties for redevelopment
    • off-the-plan properties
    • vacant residential land.

    On this page:

    See also:

    Before you invest

    How to apply

    Apply by completing a Residential real estate application form.

    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.

    If you need to attach more files to your application, send them separately to, along with your FIRB approval number. You will receive a FIRB approval number once you have submitted your application.

    We cannot consider your application until we have received your fee. Make sure you use the correct payment reference number to reduce any delays.

    There are limited circumstances where a fee waiver or remittance will be granted. This is determined on a case-by-case basis. Fees will generally not be waived or remitted following an unsuccessful attempt to purchase property or if there has been a change of mind to invest in the targeted property.

    See also:

    Exemption certificates

    If you don't have a specific property identified for purchase, an exemption certificate allows you to purchase one property in a specified state or territory without having to apply for individual approval for each property you are interested in.

    Temporary residents can use an exemption certificate to purchase a single established dwelling to live in. Foreign non-residents can use an exemption certificate to purchase a new or near new dwelling or a single block of vacant land for development.

    An exemption certificate enables you to make multiple attempts to acquire one property without having to seek individual approval for each property you are interested in.

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

    See also:

    After you invest

    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.

    Settlement generally means that you are able to occupy the property if there is a dwelling on it or you are able to commence building if it is a piece of vacant land that you have purchased. You do not have to register if you have just signed a contract and have not yet taken possession of the property.

    How to register

    Register by completing a Land and water registration form.

    If your situation changes

    You will need to update your details using the Land and water register. Common situations include if:

    • you no longer hold residential land – complete a Land and water registration form to remove your details when you sell or transfer the land to someone else
    • you are no longer a foreign person – complete a Land and water registration form to remove your details
    • the property is no longer residential – complete a Land and water registration form to remove your registration.

    Vacancy fee

    You must lodge a vacancy fee return every year and make a declaration about the use of your residential dwelling in the previous 12 month period (vacancy year).The return must be lodged within 30 days of the end of the vacancy year.

    The vacancy fee return must be lodged by foreign owners of residential dwellings who:

    • made a foreign investment application for residential property after 7.30pm AEST on 9 May 2017
    • purchased under a New dwelling exemption certificate that a developer applied for after 7.30pm AEST on 9 May 2017.

    If you are required to lodge a vacancy fee return, you will need to pay avacancy fee if your dwelling is not residentially occupied or genuinely available on the rental market for 183 days or more during the vacancy year.

    A vacancy fee may also apply if the vacancy fee return is not lodged by the due date.

    See also:

    Foreign investment rule breaches

    If you avoid your obligations, for example, if you enter into an unconditional contract for purchase before you receive approval, you could face an infringement notice, or civil or criminal penalties.

    If you have information about someone you think may be deliberately breaking our foreign investment rules, you can report it confidentially via the online form located on the Making a tip-off page.

    See also:

    Last modified: 28 Aug 2019QC 52586