Foreign Investment In Residential Land – Are You Complying with the Legislative Requirements?

Foreign Investment In Residential Land – Are You Complying with the Legislative Requirements?

From 1 December 2015 the Commonwealth government of Australia introduced sweeping reform of the laws regarding foreign investment into land in Australia. The penalties for failure to comply with foreign investment laws are strict and accordingly it is important to understand your obligations prior to purchasing residential land in Queensland.

The Rules

Generally foreign persons can only purchase land in Queensland if the purchase is for a new build or vacant land on which a new building will be constructed. However, it is possible for temporary residents of Australia to purchase an established home provided it is used only as your principal place of residence and that you do not rent out any part of the property.

If you are a foreign person, you must apply for and be granted approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before your purchase of land is complete. Most contracts for the sale of land in Queensland also contain a standard condition in which the buyer assures the seller that approval from FIRB to purchase the property has already been granted. It is possible to sign a contract for residential land and then seek FIRB approval however a special condition must be inserted into the contract to ensure you do not breach the contract or break the law.

Making an application

Applications can be made online via the FIRB website at Your application will not be considered until after you have paid the required fee, which is $5,000.00 for land valued at under $1million and $10,000.00 for land valued between $1million and $2 million. The application fee continues to progressively increase as the value of the land exceeds $2million.

How we can help

Olsen Lawyers are experts in in the field of property law in Queensland and would be pleased to assist you in understanding how foreign investment laws affect you. We can also assist you in making an application to FIRB and can ensure that your contract for land is tailored to protect your interests.


The legislative framework and FIRB notification requirements for foreign investors into agriculture, business and commercial property are entirely different from those for residential land. If you would like more information about how foreign investment laws may affect your investment plans please contact Olsen Lawyers for comprehensive legal advice.


If you plan on developing land in Queensland you may wish to consider applying for an exemption certificate for your development. This allows foreign persons to purchase buildings or units in your development without having to obtain individual approval from FIRB. It goes without saying that obtaining an exemption certificate makes your development a considerably more attractive prospect for foreign investors. Olsen Lawyers represents a number of property developers and are experienced in providing legal advice for all aspects of a property development.

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