Answers to common questions the OIO receives.
If your question is not answered below, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note you may need to notify the Overseas Investment Office prior to proceeding with an investment in a New Zealand business if that investment results in:
- Acquiring more than 25% ownership in a business; or
- acquiring more than 25% of a business’ assets; or
- an increase in an existing ownership interest in a business to or beyond 50%, 75% or 100%.
Overseas persons must notify the Overseas Investment Office regardless of the value of that business. Failure to do so is a contravention of the Act.
As part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has enacted the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Act 2020 which amends the Overseas Investment Act 2005. This Amendment Act combines changes already announced in November 2019 and introduced to Parliament with new amendments designed to respond to risks to New Zealand created by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Act 2020 also introduces a national interest assessment.
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?
New Zealand’s overseas investment legislation affects transactions that include sensitive New Zealand assets, including sensitive land. In 2018 residential and lifestyle land was brought under the definition of sensitive land. As a result, most New Zealand land is now sensitive. There are different rules depending on the type of land. 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. Land that is categorised as residential or lifestyle in the District Valuation Roll is sensitive. You can ask the local council or use a property website, such as qv.co.nz to check. For other land, 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.
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:
- residential or lifestyle land
- rural 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 marine and coastal areas.
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.
How do I apply for consent?
Applications must be made online. Find out which information and supporting documents you need to provide, then start your application.
Note that applying for some of these consent types requires significant legal and land expertise.
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.
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.
My spouse or partner is a New Zealand resident. Do I need consent?
No. Under regulation 45 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).
- the overseas person acquires property as a result of division of relationship property.
Find out if your partner is considered ordinarily resident (for land that is sensitive, but not residential).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Can a New Zealand company be an overseas person?
Yes, in some circumstances.
- determining ownership or control interest
- different ownership and control thresholds for New Zealand listed issuers and managed investment schemes (see clause 32 of Schedule 1 AA of the Act).
Note exemptions under the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005, incuding for:
- portfolio investment in New Zealand companies, without that investment, in itself, making the New Zealand company an overseas person (regulation 42)
- 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 (regulation 48).
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Where can I find the OIO’s list of reserves, public parks, or other sensitive areas under section 37?
These rules do not apply to transactions entered into after 2 June 2020, subject to the transitional provisions in the Act. 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 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.
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 is foreshore, seabed, riverbed, or lakebed as defined in the Overseas Investment Act 2005. Two common instances of special land are where there is a riverbed (that meets the definition) which is either:
• fully enclosed within a lot in a Land Transfer Act title, or
• a movable boundary to a lot in a Land Transfer Act title to which the ad medium filum aquae centreline presumption applies.
How do I know if foreshore or the bed of a waterbody 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 (or under section 16A(4)(f)) 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 waterbody 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 an instance of foreshore, seabed, riverbed or lakebed meets the definition to be special land, the OIO recommends you engage a lawyer a licensed cadastral surveyor and/or a LINZ-accredited Crown property service provider, with experience in overseas investment applications and identifying special land.
Who decides whether to accept special land back to the Crown?
The Minister of Finance and the Minister for Land Information decide whether to accept special land offered to the Crown. Please note that all documentation should be forwarded to the OIO in the first instance.
How will special land affect an application?
Where section 17(2)(f) or 16A(4)(f) applies, the special land offer process must reach a specific stage before consent can be granted. The special land offer process is detailed in the offer special land – foreshore, seabed, riverbed or lakebed – to the Crown. Note that special land generally increases the timeframe for application assessment.
Can I complete a transaction before the special land offer process is completed?
For a decision to be made on an application that includes special land under the benefit to New Zealand or special forestry test pathway, the special land offer process will need to be at the stage where either:
• the applicant sends to the OIO special land agreement(s) in principle, signed by the applicant and the vendor; or
• The relevant Ministers decide to waive the right to acquire the special land under [Regulation 15].
Conditions in the any consent granted will include that the applicant agrees to be bound by and perform the special land agreement(s) after the transaction has been completed.
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?
What does “wāhi tapu” mean?
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.
The Overseas Investment Office encourages you to seek legal advice about whether your obligations have changed as a result of the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Act 2020.