FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
The questions and answers below provide a brief response to some of the most commonly asked questions. For more information, refer to the relevant sections of the website or Contact Us.
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Q1.1. I am a foreign person. Can I invest in Australia?
Yes, but you may require approval depending on what you wish to buy.
Q1.2. Which purchasers need approval?
Q1.3. How long does it normally take to get a decision?
Under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeover Act 1975, the Treasurer has 30 days to consider your application and make a decision. There is no time limit for applications made under the Policy only. However, the Government also aims to consider these proposals within 30 days, where possible.
For residential real estate applications, if you have not received a response after 15 working days, you may contact us at: email@example.com.
Q1.4. I have received an approval to acquire a property but there has been a delay and the sale will not occur for 6 months. How long is the approval given for?
Approvals stand for 12 months from the date on the approval letter.
Q2.1. Can I lodge an application before finding a property?
No, approval is required for a specific property you wish to purchase. You cannot apply for a general or 'in principle' approval.
Q2.2. Can I apply for several properties at once?
Yes, but you must submit a separate application for each property you wish to purchase.
Q2.3. How many properties can I purchase?
Temporary residents can only acquire one established (or second‑hand) dwelling which must be used as their principal place of residence.
However, there are no restrictions on the number of vacant and new properties or established dwellings for redevelopment that you can receive an approval to buy.
Q2.4. If I buy a property, can I rent it out?
Established (or second‑hand) dwellings bought by temporary residents cannot be rented However, new dwellings, dwellings built on vacant land and dwellings built as part of a redevelopment, can be rented.
Q2.5. If I buy a property, will I need approval to sell it?
Provided you have met any conditions attached to your approval (i.e. developing vacant land) you do not require approval to sell the property.
If you have not met such conditions, you will require approval to sell the property.
Q2.6. Will you contact me about my application?
We will only contact you or the nominated contact person if we require more information in relation to your application.
The decision advice will be sent to the nominated contact person via email.
Q2.7. I have received an 'approval' email – will you also send me an 'approval' letter in the post?
No. The email is your approval.
Q2.8. What if I change my mind about purchasing the property?
If you no longer intend to proceed with a purchase, you must withdraw your application by notifying us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q2.9. What if I want to change or add a purchaser(s)?
Approval is granted for specific person(s) and will not apply to any other person(s). If you wish to change the foreign person(s) who will be acquiring the property, you must submit separate application(s).
Q2.10. What if I want to change the property?
Approval is granted for a specific property and will not apply to any other property. If you wish to purchase a different property (or additional properties), you must submit separate application(s).
Q2.11. What if I become a permanent resident? Do existing conditions still apply?
No. Any conditions applied to acquisitions you made prior to becoming a permanent resident will no longer apply.
Q2.12. I bought a property as joint tenants with my Australian citizen spouse (I didn't need approval at that time). Our relationship has ended, but we wish to retain the house in joint names. Do I need approval now?
Q2.13. I bought a property as joint tenants with my Australian citizen spouse (I didn't need approval at that time). Our relationship has ended and I wish to transfer the house solely into my name as part of the property settlement. Do I need approval?
It will depend on how the acquisition is made. In such circumstances, you should contact us at: email@example.com
Q2.14. I am a temporary resident and I wish to purchase a property to live in while I am in Australia, but I cannot afford to buy a property by myself. Can my parents (who live overseas) purchase a property with me?
It depends on the type of property.
As foreign non-residents, they can seek approval to purchase vacant land or a new property.
They will not be permitted to purchase any interest in an established (second-hand) property.
Q2.15. I was granted approval on condition that I commence construction within a particular timeframe. Can I apply for an extension?
Yes. If you are unable to comply with conditions attached to an approval, please contact us as soon as possible at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q3.1. I am buying a new property and the developer has given me a copy of a pre‑approval letter dated several years ago, and told me I don't need to submit an application for approval. Is this correct?
Yes. If the developer has been granted pre‑approval to sell new dwellings to foreign persons, this means that the individual foreign purchaser doesn't need to submit an application for approval. The pre-approval does not expire – it remains valid as long as you are buying a new dwelling in the development identified in the pre‑approval letter, and buying this from the developer named in the pre‑approval letter.
Q3.2. I am buying a new property and I have been told that the developer has pre‑approval. Can I still submit an application for individual approval?
Provided the developer's pre-approval is valid – for example, you are buying a new dwellingand/or you are buying from the developer named in the letter – you do not need to obtain an individual approval.
Q4.1. I do not hold a temporary residency visa but I wish to purchase residential property, do I need to seek approval?
Yes. Unless you are exempt, all acquisitions of residential real estate by foreign persons must be approved.
Q4.2. I am a permanent resident and my relative is a foreign person who wishes to come to Australia to be near their family. Do they require approval to purchase a property?
Yes. As a foreign non-resident, your relative is required to apply for foreign investment approval to purchase any real estate.
Q4.3. I am a foreign non-resident, do I need approval if I buy property through an Australian company or trust arrangement?
Yes. If you are a foreign non-resident you require approval regardless of the way you buy the property.
Q4.4. I am a foreign non-resident, do I need approval to buy real estate through an Australian incorporated company or unit trust which has at least one Australian director or shareholder/unit holder?
Australian incorporated companies or trusts where 15 per cent or more of the shares or units are beneficially held by a foreign person are themselves considered to be 'foreign' and require approval.
Q4.5. I am a foreign person who regularly visits family in Australia. Can I buy a second-hand property with a family member who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident?
No. As a foreign non-resident, you cannot buy any interest in second-hand residential property, irrespective of whether you purchase it solely in your name or jointly with eligible persons (Australian citizens, permanent or temporary residents), unless the Australian citizen is your spouse and you are buying the property jointly (i.e. as joint tenants).
Q4.6. I am a foreign person and I want to buy a transportable home in a caravan park but I will not be buying any land. Do I need approval?
You will only need approval if you enter into a lease for a site in the caravan park for a period that is reasonably likely to exceed five years.
Q4.7. I'm a foreign non-resident and my spouse is an Australian permanent resident. If we're buying a house together, do I require approval?
Yes. Even though your spouse doesn't require approval, you still require approval.
Q4.8. I'm a foreign non-resident and my spouse is a New Zealand citizen. If we're buying a house together, do I require approval?
Yes. Even though your spouse doesn't require approval, you still require approval.
Q4.9. I am a temporary resident, but my parents are not. Can they buy a property for me to live in while I am in Australia?
As foreign non-residents, they will need approval if they wish to purchase any property. They will not be permitted to acquire an established (second-hand) property.
Q4.10. Do foreign persons require approval to acquire a unit with a 'lifetime' lease?
Yes, so long as the lease is reasonably likely to exceed five years.
Q4.11. I am an Australian citizen and I wish to purchase a property to live in as my permanent residence, but cannot afford to buy a property by myself. Can my foreign person parents (who live overseas) purchase an established property with me?
No. As foreign non‑residents, your parents are not permitted to acquire any interest in second-hand residential property, irrespective of whether the property would be purchased solely in their name or jointly with eligible persons (Australian citizens, permanent or temporary residents).
Q4.12. What share structure requirement/percentage ownership is allowable if an Australian citizen is purchasing a second-hand house with foreign non-residents?
Generally, no share structure percentage ownership is allowable asnon-resident foreign persons cannot buy established dwellings as investment properties or as homes irrespective of their interest in the property.
Q4.13. My relatives not living in Australia under any visas wish to buy a property in Australia. Can they get the approval to buy?
Yes, but only to buy a new property or vacant land – they cannot purchase an existing or second-hand property, unless for redevelopment.
Q4.14. I live overseas. Can I purchase a second-hand resident property with the intention of demolishing it and building a new house?
Yes with approval. Foreign non‑residents need to seek approval to buy established dwellings for redevelopment.
Q5.1. What is a temporary resident?
A Temporary Resident is a person who is residing in Australia and:
- holds a temporary visa which permits them to stay in Australia for a continuous period of more than 12 months (regardless of how long remains on the visa); or
- has submitted an application for permanent residency and holds a bridging visa which permits them to stay in Australia until that application has been finalised.
Q5.2. I am a temporary resident. Can I buy property in Australia?
Yes. You can acquire any type of property provided you obtain approval.
Q5.3. I am on a 457 visa which permits me to stay in Australia for a continuous period of more than 12 months. Can I buy property in Australia?
Yes. You can acquire any type of property provided you obtain approval.
Q5.4. I am a permanent resident but my wife is an Australian temporary resident – on a spouse visa. Can we buy a property to live in? Do we have to apply for approval?
Yes. Your wife needs approval to buy any interest in a property as she is a temporary resident and you are not an Australian citizen. As the holder of a permanent visa, you are exempt and not required to apply for approval.
Q5.5. I have submitted an application for a temporary resident visa. In the meantime, I have been granted a bridging visa. Am I eligible to buy an established (second hand) dwelling?
No, not until you receive your temporary resident visa. Once you receive your visa, you may apply to buy an established dwelling to use as your principal place of residence.
You must be living in in Australia to be able to seek approval to buy a second-hand property.
Q5.6. I bought a second-hand dwelling when I was a temporary resident and then became a permanent resident. Do I still have to sell that property if I acquire another second-hand dwelling?
No, you do not have to sell the first property and any conditions attached to your first property no longer apply.
Q5.7. I have just been granted a temporary resident visa and intend to move to Australia within a few months. Am I eligible to buy an established (second hand) dwelling?
No. You must be living in in Australia to be able to seek approval to buy a second-hand property (as you would have to live in it).
Q5.8. I have a tourist visa valid for 12 months. Am I eligible to buy an established (second hand) dwelling?
No, you are not eligible to acquire an established (second-hand) property.
Q5.9. I have a business visa valid for 3 years, but it only allows me to stay for periods up to 3 months at a time. Am I eligible to buy an established (second hand) dwelling?
No, you are not eligible to acquire an established (second-hand) property. You must be living in Australia (not just visiting or staying for short periods of time), and your temporary visa must allow you to stay in Australia for a continuous period of more than 12 months.
Q5.10. I have been living in Australia on a temporary resident visa for several years, but my current visa expires in less than 12 months. Am I eligible to buy an established (second hand) dwelling?
Yes. It does not matter how much time is remaining on your current visa, as long as it was valid for more than 12 months when it was issued. However, approvals are subject to a condition that you sell the property when you leave Australia.
Q5.11. My spouse and I are temporary residents and already own a home purchased with approval. Can we seek approval to buy another property for investment purposes?
Yes, provided it is not a second-hand residential property. You may buy any number of new dwellings or single blocks of vacant land (that is, a block of land suitable for building one residential dwelling), subject to approval. Approval is also required if you wish to purchase other vacant land for development or property for redevelopment.
Q5.12. I am a temporary resident. If I receive approval to buy a second-hand dwelling to live in while in Australia, can I keep it and rent it out when I return overseas?
No. Approval will be granted on condition that you sell the property when you leave Australia (as it will no longer be your principal place of residence).
Q5.13. I have been granted a temporary resident visa but am still living overseas. Can I submit an online application to purchase a residential property while I am still overseas?
Yes, but only if you intend to buy a new dwelling or single block of vacant land (that is, a block of land suitable for building one residential dwelling). If you are planning to acquire a second-hand dwelling (house, unit etc.) you must be resident in Australia when you lodge your application.
Q5.14. I wish to rent a property to live in while I am working/studying in Australia. Do I need approval to enter a lease?
Only if the lease is reasonably likely to exceed five years.
Q5.15. I am on 457 visa working in Australia (I am a Canadian citizen) and have a wife and two children who are all Australian citizens. Can I buy an investment property under my name only or do I need to purchase the property under joint names with my spouse?
In your own name, you can buy any number of properties for investment provided they are new or vacant land for development. You cannot buy a second-hand dwelling as an investment.
You do not need to submit an application for approval to acquire residential real estate in Australia if your spouse is an Australian citizen and if you and your spouse are purchasing the property as joint tenants.
Q5.16. I obtained approval to buy a second-hand dwelling while on a 457 visa but am now planning to return to my home country permanently. I understand that I am required to sell the property but are there guidelines on the time frame on when the dwelling must be sold? For example, do I have to commence selling it before I leave or can I commence selling it after I have left the country?
You must sell the property within three months of leaving. If you do not think you will sell the property within this time you must contact us immediately at: email@example.com.
Q5.17. We are a de facto couple, I am a permanent resident and my partner is a temporary resident. Do we require approval to purchase an established (second hand) dwelling?
Your de-facto partner requires approval, you do not.
Q5.18. I obtained approval to buy a new dwelling as a temporary resident. My visa will soon expire. Do I need to sell my house before the visa expires or can I retain the property and rent it out when I am overseas?
As you have bought a new property, you are not required to sell the property and can rent it if you wish.
Q5.19. I am a temporary resident and bought a second-hand property in Australia to live in. I plan to go overseas for six months and wish to rent the property out during this period. Is this allowed?
No. Second-hand properties acquired by temporary residents cannot be rented out for any period of time while the person is still a temporary resident.
Q5.20. As a temporary resident, can I buy or lease a unit in a retirement village to live in?
All temporary residents, including retirees, are required to seek approval for acquisitions of residential real estate including acquisitions within a retirement village. This includes a lease that is reasonably likely to exceed five years.
Q6.1. Can I sign (or exchange) a contract before receiving approval?
Yes, but you should ensure that the contract remains conditional up until you receive approval.
Q7.1. Can I purchase a property at auction?
Yes, but you should obtain approval before the auction.
Q7.2. I intend buying a property at auction and therefore do not know the selling price. What should I put in my application?
The amount should be equal to the highest price you are prepared to offer for that property.
Q7.3. I received approval to purchase a property at auction but my final bid was unsuccessful. Do I have to seek another approval to bid at another auction?
Yes, as approvals are specific to the named property.
Q8.1. Do I have to attach any other documents to my online application?
No. You will be contacted if additional information is required.
Q8.2. What if I don't have a passport?
You will require a passport if you want to buy second-hand property in Australia.
You may apply to buy a new property or vacant land to develop – simply leave the passport field in the application blank if you don't have a passport.
Q8.3. Should I tick 'yes' or 'no' in the Declaration?
By ticking 'yes' in the Declaration box you are declaring that all the information you provided in your online application is correct.
If you tick 'no' to any statement, that would indicate that you would not normally be eligible to acquire the subject property and that you must provide a statement with reasons why your application should still be accepted.
9. Retrospective applications
Q9.1. I have already bought residential real estate (or entered into an unconditional contract) to buy a property and did not obtain approval. What should I do?
If you have already bought a property without an approval, for example, if you have entered into an unconditional contract, or if the conditions have lapsed and your contract is now unconditional, without first obtaining approval you should apply online as soon as possible. You may be able to obtain 'retrospective consideration' of such a purchase, provided that it was not contrary to the national interest.
Q10.1. According to the list of exemptions, I don't need approval – should I contact you to confirm that the exemption applies to my particular circumstances?
No. If in doubt, seek legal advice.
Q10.2. According to the list of exemptions, I don't need approval – can you provide written confirmation of this for my bank/mortgage provider?
No, we do not provide individual exemption letters.
Q10.3. I am a foreign non-resident and am interested in buying a property from the Defence Housing Australia (DHA). Would I need an approval for this acquisition?
You do not require approval to acquire property from Defence Housing Australia as you are purchasing the property from the Government.
Q10.4. Do I need approval if I have inherited the property which someone left me in their will?
No. You do not need approval for any acquisitions which you either inherited or obtained through an Australian court ruling.
Q10.5. I am in a same-sex de facto relationship with an Australian citizen. Am I exempt if we purchase residential property together as joint tenants?
Q10.6. We are a married couple who have emigrated to Australia and now live permanently in Australia. While I have Australian citizenship, my wife has an Australian visa which entitles her to remain in Australia until her permanent residence application is decided. Does my wife require approval to purchase an established (second hand) dwelling?
You do not need to submit an application (exempt) for approval to acquire real estate in Australia if a spouse is an Australian citizen and are purchasing residential real estate in both names as joint tenants (not tenants in common)
Q10.7. I am an Australian citizen currently residing overseas and my de facto is a foreign citizen. We will buy a residential property in joint names. Do we need approval?
No, provided you and your partner buy the property as joint tenants.
Q10.8. I am an Australian citizen and my de facto partner is a temporary resident. As we are not married, does my partner need to obtain approval?
No, provided you and your partner buy the property as joint tenants.
Q11.1. I bought vacant land with approval but am unable to start construction on my property by the required commencement date – who should I contact?
You should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org stating our reference and requesting an extension of time before the original timeframe expires and the reasons why such an extension should be granted. The matter will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Q11.2. Our company purchased a house with approval which we intended to demolish and build three units. However, we have experienced a delay in the planning process and wondered whether the property can be occupied before demolition begins?
No. The conditions of your approval state clearly that the property must remain vacant until demolition begins.