Land exemption certificates

Under the foreign investment framework it is a requirement that each proposed acquisition of an interest in land by a foreign person be separately notified, unless otherwise exempt. However, a longstanding feature of the framework is that foreign persons making multiple acquisitions can apply for an up-front approval for a program of land acquisitions without the need to seek separate approvals.

Section 58 of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 allows a foreign person to apply for a certificate in relation to acquisitions of one or more kinds of interests in Australian land, and the Treasurer to grant such a certificate, if satisfied that the acquisitions of the kinds of interests by the foreign person is not contrary to the national interest.

When may an exemption certificate be applicable?

The certificate is a mechanism available to minimise the regulatory burden of foreign investment screening that would otherwise apply to each acquisition covered by a certificate. It is intended for foreign persons with a high volume of acquisitions of interests in land (this generally would not include individuals). A certificate will not usually be granted where the number of likely acquisitions is small and it would be reasonable for the foreign person to notify the acquisitions separately.

A certificate will generally specify the maximum value of interests that can be acquired and also the period during which acquisitions can be made. While certificates have previously been for a default 12 months, certificates may now be issued for shorter or longer periods depending on the circumstances.