New Register of Foreign Ownership – What do you need to do?

A new (singular) Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Assets (Register) commenced on 1 July 2023 – replacing the previous separate registers for residential land, agricultural land and water entitlements.

Foreign persons (as defined below) must now give notice to the Register in relation to a wider range of actions involving Australian land, water, entities, business and other assets including when:

  • acquiring a legal freehold interest in Australian land;
  • acquiring a registrable water interest;
  • acquiring a legal or equitable interest as lessee in a lease giving rights to occupy agricultural or commercial land that is reasonably likely to exceed 5 years;
  • a foreign person disposes of their interest in the asset.

A foreign person under the Foreign Acquisition and Takeovers Act (Cth) 1975 (FATA) is:

  • an individual who is not an Australian citizen or a permanent resident visa holder;
  • a company where a foreign person(s) holds a 20% interest;
  • a trust where foreign person holds at least 20% beneficial interest in the income or property of the trust. Discretionary or Family Trusts are automatically deemed to be foreign (unless expressly provided otherwise in the Deed).

Notice must be given to the Register by foreign persons within 30 days of the acquisition or disposal – a civil penalty of 250 units may apply for non-compliance. Foreign persons (or their authorised representatives) can access the new ATO online service (using their myGovID) to (amongst other things) submit an application to purchase residential property, provide notice of acquisition of all Australian land, update details of registered assets.

More information

If you need advice as to whether you are considered a foreign person and required to provide notice to the Register please contact:

Daniel Morgan
M: 0438 436 968

Jessica Rowbottom
T: (03) 6235 5114

Published: 2 August 2023

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