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Foreigners seeking to acquire residential property in Australia must be aware of the requirements imposed by the FIRB. The FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) is a non-statutory body established to advise the Australian Government and its Treasurer regarding Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy. One role of the FIRB is to assess applications from foreigners who are seeking to acquire property in Australia. All foreigners must receive approval from the FIRB before they can acquire any interests in residential property. This article is one of a multi-part series that aims to provide some guidance on FIRB approval.


FIRB Requirements

Most foreigners will require FIRB approval to acquire Australian residential property. Foreign investors and temporary residents, such as those staying in Australia on certain work, study or spousal visas will require FIRB approval. Not waiting for approval before acquiring any interests is against the law. Foreigners concerned about missing out on a property they are interested in can still enter into a contract as long as it is conditional upon them receiving FIRB approval.

This article sheds some light on acquiring property as a temporary resident.


Temporary residents

Temporary residents have several options regarding property purchasing in Australia. They can purchase either established dwellings or new dwellings, subject to certain conditions. If a temporary resident wanted to purchase an investment property, it must be a new dwelling. A new dwelling is one that will be, is currently being, or has been built on residential land and has not previously been sold as a new dwelling. The new dwelling also must not have been previously occupied, subject to certain exceptions.

Temporary residents may also purchase an established dwelling to live in as their primary place of residence while in Australia. Established dwellings refer to a dwelling on residential land that is not a new dwelling. Temporary residents can only acquire one established dwelling and must sell it within 3 months of it ceasing to be their primary place of residence. They also cannot use this property as an investment property (in other words, renting or holiday homes).



 Established dwellings or vacant residential land may be purchased by temporary residents if the intention is to redevelop the dwellings or vacant residential land. The redevelopment must also be completed within 4 years of the date of FIRB approval. Temporary residents may apply to the FIRB for an established dwelling exemption certificate. This allows a person to purchase one established dwelling up to a certain price, within a specified state or territory. They may also apply for a residential land exemption certificate that would allow them to purchase unspecified property as long as they are not established dwellings.

If you are a temporary resident seeking to acquire property in Australia and you would like to discuss anything in this article further, email Straits Lawyers at or call at 08 8410 9069.


Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice and Straits Lawyers will not be legally responsible for any actions you take based on this article.