Your Guide To The Overseas Investment Act

New Zealand’s migration flow is outpacing the rise in out flows and it comes as no surprise Statistics New Zealand population growth projections sit Queenstown-Lakes as one of the fastest regions for growth out of 67 New Zealand centres, as Queenstown has always been an aspirational destination to live in.  Our Harcourts Queenstown office is seeing multiple offers subject to Overseas Investment Office consent coming through.  We have reached out to Scott Donaldson & Caitlin Laurenson at Mactodd Lawyers to help explain OIO.

What is OIO?

The OIO, or the Overseas Investment Office, is a government body in New Zealand that administers the Overseas Investment Act 2005 (OIA). It scrutinises proposed investments by overseas individuals or entities in New Zealand’s sensitive assets, which include specific types of land, significant business assets, and fishing quotas.

Can someone who resides overseas buy New Zealand residential property?

Generally, overseas persons are not allowed to buy residential property in New Zealand. Exceptions exist for individuals who hold a NZ residence class visa, have lived in New Zealand for at least the last 12 months, have been present in New Zealand for at least 183 days during that period and are NZ tax residents. They are then considered to be ordinarily resident in New Zealand. Notably, Australian and Singaporean citizens are exempt from these restrictions due to free trade agreements, and can buy residential property without needing to obtain consent.

Can someone who resides overseas buy any sort of real estate in New Zealand?

Yes, overseas persons can buy real estate in New Zealand, but they may need to obtain OIO consent if the property is deemed ‘sensitive’, such as non-urban land over five hectares, land adjoining certain types of reserves, or land over a certain size within the foreshore area.  Residential land is also deemed sensitive. Australian and Singaporean citizens and permanent residents have more lenient rules due to trade agreements.

What is OIA consent?

OIA consent is a formal approval granted by the Overseas Investment Office, allowing an overseas person to invest in sensitive New Zealand assets. The criteria for consent typically involve demonstrating good character, financial commitment, and business experience or acumen.  There is a more simple pathway called ‘one home to live in’ for people who are residents but have not yet satisfied the ‘ordinary resident’ requirements. 

How long does it take to get OIA consent?

The processing time for OIA consent varies depending on the application’s complexity and completeness. The OIO aims to process 75% of applications within 50 working days and 90% within 90 working days. More complex applications could take longer. 

The ‘one home to live in’ application generally takes less than 10 working days to process.  That application type is fairly straight forward.

Are there any costs associated with getting OIA consent?

Yes, obtaining OIA consent comes with application fees, the cost of which depends on the application type.   The ‘one home to live in’ application can be done online and costs $2,040 (for an individual).  Consents for sensitive land that is not purchased under the ‘one home to live in’ consent range from $35,000 to $139,000 for very complex cases involving a Ministerial decision.

I have recently moved to New Zealand from overseas and want to call New Zealand home, what steps do you recommend I take to become eligible to buy a home to live in?

If you’ve moved to New Zealand and wish to buy a home, it’s crucial to first obtain a residence class visa (if you don’t already have one) and become a tax resident in New Zealand. After that, you should live in New Zealand for at least 12 months and be present in the country for at least 183 days during that period. This is to be considered “ordinarily resident” in New Zealand.

Australian and Singaporean permanent residents need to meet this “ordinarily resident” test to buy residentially sensitive property in New Zealand.

For Australian and Singaporean citizens, the “ordinarily resident” requirements do not apply due to free trade agreements. They can purchase residential property without needing OIO consent.If you are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand, you might still be able to purchase a residential property to use as your main home by applying for a ‘one home to live in’ consent. To obtain this consent, you need to have a New Zealand residence class visa or be a permanent resident of Australia or Singapore, and you need to complete a statutory declaration that the property you are purchasing will be your main home and you will become a tax resident in New Zealand. This means that you will be in New Zealand and live in the property for at least 183 days of every 12-month period from the date you obtain the OIA consent, and you must sell the property if you no longer use it as your main home.

For the most accurate advice please speak to us directly. 

MacTodd Lawyers


Phone +64 0800 228 110 +64 3 441 0125

Talk to Harcourts to assist you into your New Zealand property.