Frequently Asked Questions
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- Am I an overseas person?
- You are an overseas person if you are neither a New Zealand citizen, nor ordinarily resident in New Zealand. A company or a trust can also be an overseas person. Find out if you are considered ordinarily resident. Note that different rules apply depending on the type of overseas person. For legal or other expert advice you should seek assistance from a professional adviser.
- Do all investments in New Zealand need consent?
- No. New Zealand’s overseas investment legislation only affects transactions that include sensitive New Zealand assets, including land that is considered sensitive. Note that transaction timeframes and procedures may be affected if consent is required. If you are an overseas person planning an investment, seek assistance from a professional adviser as early as possible to help ensure a smooth transaction.
- How do I know if land is sensitive and requires consent?
- Sensitive land is determined by the types of land and area thresholds detailed in the legislation. You will need to read and understand the legislation to determine if land is sensitive. While determining sensitive land is sometimes straightforward, often significant legal and land expertise is required, particularly if there are any nearby waterways. See sensitive land for more details. For legal or other expert advice, please seek assistance from a professional adviser.
- Can you give me some examples of sensitive land?
- Sensitive land is dependent on individual transaction details. The following land types and area thresholds describe some examples of sensitive land:
- farm land that exceeds five hectares
- land that exceeds 0.4 hectares and adjoins certain types of reserve or conservation areas (that also exceeds 0.4 hectares)
- land that exceeds 0.2 hectares and adjoins foreshore.
See sensitive land for more details.
- Does the OIO provide a map of all sensitive land?
- No. Determining sensitive land is dependent on individual transaction details. Some research may be required to determine if land is sensitive. See sensitive land.
- How do I apply for consent?
- All applications are made by way of letter with supporting information. Note that applying for consent generally requires significant legal and land expertise. Read more about applying for consent.
- How long will the decision take?
- There is no statutory timeframe within which an application for consent must be decided. However applications generally fall into one of three categories according to complexity with category 3 being the most complex. These categories provide a guide for how long it may take for a decision to be made:
Category 1 applications, where the OIO aims to make decisions within 30 working days from the date of registration. Examples include:
(a) applications for consent to purchase significant business assets,
(b) variations to existing consents.
Category 2 applications where the OIO aims to make decisions within 50 working days from the date of registration. Examples include:
(a) applications for consent to purchase "sensitive land"
(b) applications for exemptions.
Category 3 applications, where the OIO aims to make decisions within 70 working days from the date of the registration. Examples include:
(a) applications to acquire an interest in fishing quota,
(b) applications that involve special land being land that includes foreshore or the bed of a river or lake,
Applications where the OIO has received submissions from third parties or where the OIO needs to consult with third parties, i.e. Department of Conservation, Walking Access Commission etc. also fall into this category.
Note that these targets apply to high quality, well prepared and analysed applications, and excludes the time where the OIO is waiting for the applicant to provide further information and the time for Ministers to consider and make decisions on relevant applications. Assessment timeframes should be factored into any Agreement for Sale and Purchase. Read more about application assessment, timeframes and decisions.
- Can I keep my application confidential?
- Applications submitted to the OIO are a public record. However, the OIO may withhold information contained in an application in accordance with the Official Information Act 1982. Find out more about privacy/confidentiality, including withholding the existence of an application.
- What happens if I don’t apply for consent?
- The Court may cancel a transaction if it determines that requisite overseas investment consent was not granted. A party who was not required to obtain consent can also cancel a transaction.
- Will I also need consent from other agencies to invest in New Zealand?
- The OIO is responsible for administering New Zealand’s overseas investment legislation. For other consent requirements, you should seek legal or other expert advice from a professional adviser. Check related organisations and websites.
- My spouse or partner is a New Zealand resident. Do I need consent?
- No. Under regulations 33(1)(m) and 33(1)(n) of the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005 you are exempt from the requirement for consent as an overseas person if your spouse or partner is a New Zealand citizen or ordinarily resident in New Zealand and the securities or rights or interests to be acquired are or will be relationship property (as defined in the Property (Relationships) Act 1976). Find out if your partner is considered ordinarily resident.
- I’m planning to buy a personal residence or holiday home in New Zealand. Do I need consent?
- Yes, if you are considered an overseas person and the land is considered sensitive. Lifestyle properties and holiday homes are generally subject to the same consent criteria as any other sort of overseas investment in New Zealand. However, if you can demonstrate your intention to reside in New Zealand indefinitely, then you may be eligible for consent without satisfying the benefit to New Zealand criterion. See lifestyle properties and new migrants.
- I’m an Australian resident. Do I need consent?
- Yes, if you are neither a New Zealand citizen or resident, then you are considered an overseas person. However, if you can demonstrate your intention to reside to New Zealand indefinitely, then you may be eligible for consent without satisfying the benefit to New Zealand criterion. Australian citizens and the holders of a current Australian permanent residence visa or current Australian resident return visa will normally be eligible for consent on this concessional basis. See lifestyle properties and new migrants.
Note that Australian residents migrating to New Zealand will normally be granted a New Zealand residence visa on arrival.
- I live in New Zealand and have a temporary work visa. Do I need consent?
- As the holder of a temporary work visa you cannot be ordinarily resident in New Zealand and you are an overseas person for the purposes of the Overseas Investment Act 2005. However, if you can demonstrate your intention to reside to New Zealand indefinitely, then you may be eligible for consent without satisfying the benefit to New Zealand criterion. See lifestyle properties and new migrants.
- I am ordinarily resident in New Zealand but my company is registered overseas. Does the company need consent to buy sensitive land?
- Yes. However, in some circumstances the overseas investment need not satisfy the "benefit" or "substantial and identifiable benefit" test. See determining if a person is ordinarily resident for more information..
- What are the associate provisions?
- A New Zealand citizen or resident associated with an overseas person, such as an agent, trustee or joint venture participant, may require consent to invest in New Zealand. For more details, see associate provisions and/or determining ownership or control interest.
- Can a New Zealand company be an overseas person?
- Yes, in some circumstances. See determining ownership or control interest.
Note that exemptions under regulation 34 of the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005 enable:
- portfolio investment in New Zealand companies, without that investment, in itself, making the New Zealand company an overseas person
- a company that is an overseas person as defined in the Act, but clearly in "New Zealand hands", to invest in New Zealand without requiring consent.
- When does an option to purchase sensitive land need consent?
- Under the Overseas Investment Act 2005, consent is required before an overseas person or associate of an overseas person acquires an estate or interest (legal or equitable) in sensitive land. The grantee of an option acquires an equitable interest in the land that is the subject of the option.The grant of an option will therefore require consent if:
An overseas person or an associate of an overseas person will commit an offence under section 42 of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 if consent is not obtained.
- the grantee is an overseas person, or an associate of an overseas person;
- the option relates to sensitive land;
- the option is for three years or more (including rights of renewal, whether of the grantor or grantee); and
- the grant of the option is not conditional upon consent being obtained.
- What is “adjoining land”?
- In the Act "adjoins" has its literal meaning of touching or next to. Every adjoining title to the land being acquired should be examined to determine whether the target land adjoins "sensitive" land in Table 2 of Schedule 1 in the Act.
- What is “associated land”?
- Associated land is land owned or controlled by an applicant which adjoins, or is on the same island, and is, or will be owned or controlled by, the applicant or an associate. You may need to aggregate associated land to determine whether land exceeds the area thresholds in Table 1 and Table 2 of Schedule 1 of the Act. However, the method for aggregating varies for each Table. See land types and areas.
- What sort of map should I use to illustrate a property?
- To illustrate properties the OIO requires maps and/or aerial photos, which are available from commercial mapping providers. The OIO may also require a spatial search from Landonline showing every adjoining property and/or a planning map from the relevant territorial authority showing the property relative to any adjoining reserves. Read more about applying for consent.
- Where can I find the OIO’s list of reserves, public parks, or other sensitive areas under section 37?
- The second table in Part 1 of Schedule 1 includes a reference to the Regulator’s (the OIO) list of land in a class listed as a reserve, a public park, or other sensitive area under section 37. You can download the section 37 list (pdf 45KB) or to find out more read sensitive land.
- How do I know if farm land has been adequately advertised?
- Farm land must be offered for acquisition on the open market before consent can be granted. The Regulations establish the procedure and minimum standards for advertising farm land. In most situations standard market advertising will comply with and meet the overall requirements. See standards for advertising farm land.
- What is an example of special land?
- The two most common special land scenarios are where there is either:
- a qualifying riverbed fully enclosed within a Land Transfer Act title, or
- a Land Transfer Act title which has an external river boundary to which the ad medium filum aquae centreline presumption applies.
- What is the difference between special land and sensitive land?
- Special land and sensitive land are defined separately in the Act. Sensitive land is defined in the two tables found in part 1 of schedule 1 of the Act. Special land is described under Regulation 12 and only arises where section 16(1)(e)(ii) applies to an overseas investment in sensitive land. See sensitive land and/or offer back of special land.
- How do I know if foreshore or the bed of a waterway is considered special land?
- Under Regulation 12, foreshore, seabed, riverbed or lakebed which is required to be offered to the Crown under section 17(2)(f) of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 is described as “special land”. Section 6 of the Act provides further details about the definition of foreshore/seabed, riverbed and lakebed. It is important to note that special land can include the bed of an adjoining waterway where this is presumed to be owned by the adjoining title owner to the centreline under the ad medium filum aquae presumption.
To determine if land or a waterway qualifies as special land, the OIO recommends you engage a lawyer with experience in overseas investment applications, a licensed cadastral surveyor and/or a LINZ-accredited Crown property service provider. See offer back of special land.
- Who decides whether to accept land offered back to the Crown?
- The Minister of Finance and the Minister for Land Information decide whether to accept special land offered back to the Crown. Please note that all documentation should be forwarded to the OIO in the first instance. See offer back of special land.
- How will special land affect an application?
- Where section 16(1)(e)(ii) applies, special land must be offered back to the Crown before consent can be granted. The procedure for the offer back of special land is detailed in the offer back of special land. Note that special land generally increases the timeframe for application assessment.
- Can I complete a transaction before the offer back process is completed?
- It may be possible for consent to be granted for an application to acquire sensitive land before the offer back process is completed. In such cases, the consent will be conditional upon the new owner agreeing to be bound by any subsequent special land agreement. See offer back of special land.
- How can I identify land that is subject to a heritage order?
- Heritage Orders are issued under the Resource Management Act to ensure the protection of a heritage item and its surrounding area. You can find heritage orders in district and regional plans and their associated planning maps.
- Where can I find out if land is held for conservation purposes or district planning?
- Search agents and other property record providers can help with land research, including searches in Landonline, Department of Conservation and relevant territorial authorities.
- What does “wāhi tapu” mean?
- Wāhi tapu are sites of special significance according to tikanga Māori. Wāhi tapu areas are groups of wāhi tapu. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga maintains a register of Wāhi tapu areas.
- How is “foreshore” defined?
- Section 6 of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 defines “foreshore or seabed”. In practice determining the cadastral boundaries defined by mean high water springs will usually require professional surveying expertise.