Thinking of buying rural property in New Zealand?


New Zealand is a great place to live and recent world events are making many overseas residents consider moving to “Godzone”. However, if you are not a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, you may require consent under the Overseas Investment Act (OIA) to purchase land.

If you are an overseas person wanting to move to New Zealand and buy a lifestyle block or rural property, there are several things you need to consider:

Do I need consent to purchase land?

There are a number of factors that come into play here but in simple terms, consent under the OIA is likely to be required for an “overseas person” to buy more than 5 hectares of non-urban land.

How do I get consent?

In order to obtain consent, an applicant will need to apply to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) for approval. The application process is complex and involves providing a wide range of information. The OIO has recently updated its application forms and streamlined the process but it is still a lengthy and complex process and it is likely that you will need professional advice to assist you.

How long does it take?

There are no set timeframes for considering an OIA application and timeframes vary depending on complexity. A reasonably straightforward application can take 4-6 months to complete so you should allow plenty of time and ensure that any agreement for sale and purchase makes appropriate provision for OIO approval.

How much does it cost?

Application fees vary between $22,500 and $49,000 depending on the nature of the application and the level of the investment. However, you may also require professional assistance and advice and should budget for these accordingly.

What information do I need to provide?

The OIO takes into account a range of factors when considering whether or not to grant consent. The application is comprehensive and requires full disclosure of all relevant business and personal information. The main consideration for the OIO is whether the proposed investment will result in a tangible benefit to New Zealand and the application needs to provide enough information for the OIO to determine this.

What personal information do I need to disclose?

A key aspect of gaining OIA approval is the “good character” test that all investors must meet. It is therefore very important to be prepared to disclose all relevant information to OIO as part of this process.

What can I expect if OIO grants approval?

The OIO will typically grant approval to the investment subject to a variety of conditions and applicants need to be aware of and comply with these conditions. OIO have recently expanded their enforcement and monitoring functions and intend to devote more resources to this area.

If you are thinking about moving to New Zealand, there is lots to think about and consider. We have an expert team with experience in both immigration and OIO application matters and we would be happy to talk to you about these issues.

If you would like further information or want to discuss any aspects of the OIO process, please contact Richard Parkes or Caroline Mason in our Christchurch office, or Stephen Brent in our Queenstown office. If you have questions about immigration matters, please contact Nicola Tiffen or Dayle Steele in our Christchurch office.

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Copyright © Cavell Leitch. All rights reserved. Redistribution is only permitted with express written permission. For enquiries please contact us. This article by its nature cannot be comprehensive and cannot be relied on by clients as advice. It is provided to assist clients to identify legal issues on which they should seek legal advice. Please consult the professional staff of Cavell Leitch for advice specific to your situation.