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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Kew

A Beginner's Guide to Understanding FIRB

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

Before you invest in any property you first need to understand the regulations of that particular country. One regulation that you need to know as a foreign investor is the registration with the Foreign Investment Review Board or otherwise known as the FIRB.

What is the Foreign Investment Review Board?

The Foreign Investment Review Board (For short FIRB) was established in 1976 to advise the Treasurer and the Government and its administration on Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy (the Policy).

If you are interested to invest in property as a foreigner in Australia, you are required to apply with the FIRB before making any purchase of a property in Australia. The FIRB's role is to asses your applications when you intend to invest or to buy a home in Australia.

Do you need FIRB approval?

Broadly, there are 2 groups of people that require FIRB approval, and they are:

  • Temporary residents, and Foreign investors.

If you own a temporary visa such as a work visa, graduate visa, student visa, etc.:

  • An approval from the FIRB is needed.

  • You are only able to buy 1 established dwelling and it must be for you to live in. This established dwelling must be sold when you do not intend to live there anymore.

  • Alternatively, you can buy an investment property. However, it must either be a new property or vacant land for the purposes of building a new property.

*Latest updated information on visas can be found on the Immi Website.

As a Foreign Investor:

  • An approval from the FIRB is needed.

  • You can only buy an investment property. However, it must either be a new property or vacant land for the purposes of building a new property.

  • You can buy a new property in your name and rent it to your child that is on a temporary visa.

Who doesn't need FIRB approval?

  • Australian citizens

  • Australian permanent residents (PR)

  • New Zealand citizens

If your partner is an Australian citizen or an Australian PR:

In general, if you are either a Temporary Resident or Foreigner buying a home with an Australian citizen or Australian PR, FIRB approval is not necessary if you are buying the property as joint tenants and you are in a spousal relationship.

*Do note that these circumstances don't broadly apply to investment properties, and you must either be in a spousal or a de facto relationship (can't be 2 family members or relatives).

How do you lodge for a FIRB application?

You can lodge your application here.

What you will need to prepare for your FIRB application?

  • Your contact details

  • Full legal name

  • Address of the property you wish to purchase

  • Your passport

  • Your Australian visa (*if applicable)

* For properties that are new, you can leave the title details blank as these details will only be available a few weeks before completion.

Would your application be declined?

The majority of applications are approved by the Australian government. If you meet the guidelines as provided by the FIRB (checklist available on the website too), then there are very few reasons to decline your application.

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