New Zealand Embassy Washington, United States of America

Guidelines for investing in New Zealand

International investment has contributed significantly to the development of New Zealand’s economy.

New Zealand welcomes investors and offers an attractive, open business environment. Our transparent regulations make investing a straightforward process while the broad-based, low-rate tax regime supports long-term investors.

New Zealand has a consistent political environment where overseas investors are treated on the same basis as domestic investors. There are no restrictions on the movement of funds in or out of New Zealand, or on repatriation of profits.

The Overseas Investment Office is the organisation responsible for foreign investment in New Zealand. An application must be made to the OIC by non-residents planning to invest more than NZ$50 million establishing a business, or to purchase an equity share of greater than 25% in a New Zealand company worth more than $50 million. OIC approval is also required to invest in land over five hectares, islands, the foreshore or reserves.

Investment New Zealand is a division of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. It is the Government agency responsible for attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment (FDI). FDI may be in the form of joint ventures of partnerships with New Zealand companies, new investments, or corporate relocation.

Investment New Zealand’s case management services for major investments include:

  • providing information on potential investment opportunities in New Zealand, and assisting companies during the investigation and due diligence phase;
  • facilitating location visits by investment decision-makers;
  • making referrals to sources of independent professional advice;
  • providing links to relevant private organisations and agencies of central and local government to ensure projects attract support where available.

Recent announcement of New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office findings has implications for those considering foreign direct investment in New Zealand.

The review recommendations provide for some balanced changes to investment requirements, screening procedures and criteria for investment approval in New Zealand. The recommendations attempt to balance the need to protect New Zealand's unique cultural and natural heritage, with the need to maintain and encourage foreign direct investment and minimise the compliance costs around this investment.

Please note that the changes announced apply only to those overseas investors seeking to purchase sensitive New Zealand assets. Such assets are defined as, land of historic or natural significance, land adjacent to the seabed or foreshore, land subject to heritage order or historic places trust registration or adjoining parks and reserves, land on the costal islands of New Zealand, quotas for fishery resources, larger holdings of land (greater than 5 hectares) or local business assets greater than $100 million in value.

The new operation of the overseas investment screening system will change from the existing system in four ways:

  • Coverage - the definition of the strategic assets for which screening is required has been amended slightly, to increase the business asset threshold, but also to expand strategic assets to include special properties such as all foreshore and seabed land and sites subject to a heritage order.
  • Criteria for screening - when considering an application for foreign investment, investors will now be required to submit and investment case that includes a land management plan. (A land management plan will need to cover active management of the land to meet natural and historic heritage objectives and public access obligations, where relevant.) Also foreign investor's investment intentions, residency intentions and the proposed economic development benefits of their investments will be subject to greater scrutiny prior to consent being given. Finally, the New Zealand Government will have a right of first refusal for any foreshore and seabed land that a third party intends to sell to a foreign investor.
  • Monitoring - investors will be required to confirm their compliance with the conditions of consent, periodically, after the consent is given.
  • Enforcement - New Zealand regulators will have the power to impose administrative penalties if foreign investors fail to report regularly on how they are complying with the terms of their consent. New Zealand courts will also be given the power to fine foreign investors that do not comply with conditions of consent.

The New Zealand authorities will implement these changes in the coming months through regulatory and statutory reform, and the establishment of a new dedicated regulatory unit within Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). LINZ is a New Zealand government agency.

We will keep the investor community updated as the new investment screening criteria are implemented, and as the new regulatory functions and relevant bodies are established.

Key web addresses for further investment information are: www.linz.govt.nz, www.nzte.govt.nz, http://www.oic.linz.govt.nz.

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