Purchasing a farm in Australia from Abroad

Owning a farm in Australia can be the ultimate dream for many people. Australian agriculture is recognized around the world for its volume and range of products, defying harsh areas and terrible weather. The agricultural environment is very gorgeous; depending on where your farm is located, you can choose from rich eucalyptus woods to wide-open plains. Therefore, if you are looking for Farmland for sale in Melbourne then The Company can help you to get the land. 

Owning and running a farm in Australia, though, can occasionally seem like an unattainable dream for foreigners. The difficulties in purchasing a farm can seem insurmountable because of the need to handle visas, investment permissions, and numerous bureaucratic hoops. The difficulty in making sense of all the information stems from how confusing and disjointed government laws and legislation can be.  

This blog is meant to be an easy-to-understand overview of the procedure for private international investors to purchase farmland in Australia. 

Clarifying and Defining  

Since 2015, certain foreign investors’ purchases of farmland have required FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) approval before closing. Before diving into the specifics of the legal criteria, it is important to define what “farmland” is and who qualifies as a “foreign investor” to avoid any misunderstandings. 

Clarifying and Defining farmland

Foreign investors are all private individuals (i.e., not an agent of a foreign government) who are not Australian citizens, Australian expats, or occupants of permanent residence visas and who wish to purchase real estate in Australia.  

Expats are still considered citizens even though they are living abroad, and people with permanent residency visas already possess a long-term working visa, therefore they are exempt from additional requirements for investing. Additionally exempt from needing FIRB approval are New Zealanders. Foreign nationals and transient residents seeking to engage in Australian real estate, including agricultural real estate, will probably need FIRB permission. 

In this blog, farmland is used synonymously with agricultural land or agricultural property to refer to land that is currently utilized for or may be used for a primary production company. What exactly is a primary production company?  

Any company that commercially produces is considered a primary production company: 

grows fungi, plants, or other produce.  

breeds, sells, or trades in animals or animal products  

Cow farms  

Plants, cares for, or removes trees  

Trees are milled and processed.  

Artificial pearls  

Fish, turtles, and crustaceans are caught WITHOUT the use of an estuary or bay  

Before your property purchase is considered to be agricultural land with a primary production enterprise, whatever the activity, it must be carried out for commercial ends with the intention of profiting.  

There should be no misunderstanding between “investment in agricultural land” and “investment in an agribusiness.” Agribusinesses require different FIRB guidelines and approval procedures than farms do. Although the activities surrounding agribusinesses are largely unrelated to this article, we will clarify that FIRB approval is required whenever a direct investment in an agribusiness exceeds a cumulative $61 million. Check out the FIRB regulations here for further information. 

Who Needs Clearance under FIRB Policy?  

The current cumulative threshold for informing the FIRB of the purchase of agricultural land is $15 million. This implies that no FIRB approval would be necessary for any purchase priced at less than $15 million!  

Please take note of the purchase’s “cumulative” component, though. This implies that you must inform FIRB of your potential and existing land ownership if you have already purchased land valued at $12 million (without FIRB clearance) and are considering purchasing further land valued at $5 million. 

Also keep in mind that this threshold concerns the value of the land, not just the cost of the potential property. These two numbers might not line up exactly, but FIRB is worried about the value of agricultural land.  

When purchasing land for a main production firm, individuals from Free Trade Agreement (FTA) nations may profit from a higher, non-cumulative threshold.  

The non-cumulative threshold for foreign investors from Chile, New Zealand, and the United States is $1,216 million. However, Thailand has a non-cumulative $50 million dollar threshold for foreign investment. The $15 million cumulative barrier will apply to all other foreign investors.  

The fact that the land purchase was made through a “open and transparent sale process” is still another essential element for foreign investment. Australians were, however, given an equal opportunity to invest in the land because of this. This demonstrates that buying land abroad does not affect the availability of land for other national interests or for ensuring domestic food security. 

Evidence that the land was publicized for sale in places where Australian buyers could easily access it largely characterizes an open and transparent sale procedure. And that within the six months preceding the date of the foreign purchase, the land had been advertised for at least 30 days. 

Requirements, licenses, and Exemptions  

Australian Taxation Office

Prior to getting a loan and buying land, you must have FIRB permission. By using the FIRB Application online, you can request FIRB permission. Use this checklist to ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork and consult these reference manuals if you have any questions.  

You must register your land with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) within 30 days of the sale’s conclusion after receiving FIRB clearance. You must complete the Land and Water Registration form, about which more information can be found here. 

If you are buying several properties, you might be able to get an exemption certificate to avoid having to get regulatory approval for each individual purchase. Although these are offered on an individual basis, exemptions are typically considered when:  

The total amount suggested cannot be greater than $100 million over a three-year period.  

Individual transaction values cannot exceed $10 million.  

Regions with well-defined interests to be acquired  

These certificates must be renewed beyond their typical 12-month expiration date. You may read more about tax breaks for purchases of agricultural land here and here. 

Visas and Residency 

Visas and Residency australia

You can obtain a few temporary, short-stay visas so that you can go to Australia and start looking into your financial interests.  

The easiest visa option is the Electronic Travel Authority, which just requires that you apply from outside of Australia and possess an approved passport. You are permitted to stay for up to three months straight when engaging in business visitor activities. The visa is valid for a year.  

Additionally, you can apply for a Business Innovation and Investment Provisional Visa, which enables you to conduct business and investment activities as well as entrepreneurial endeavors in Australia. To apply, you must be recommended by a legitimate government agency. 

The Business Innovation and Investment Provisional Visa and the Business Owner Visa are two pathways to permanent residency that can be opened by obtaining a temporary working visa.  

Ultimately, you can invest in agricultural land and visit your farm using a variety of work-stream visas. It is crucial to stay informed about any announcements the Department of Home Affairs makes about immigration since things can change.  

Additional Resources 

This site is only meant to serve as a jumping off place for foreign investors looking to purchase Australian farms. There are organizations and consultants that can simplify the procedure and allay any additional technical or logistical worries you may have.  

We The Company want to wish you luck as you search for your ideal Australian farm! Moreover, if you have any query related to farmland for sale in victoria then you can reach us. 

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