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June 5, 2023

Australia | Update on new Register of Foreign Ownership

  • Register of Foreign Ownership begins on 1 July and the Australian Tax Office may remove access to its online forms from 17-26 June in preparation.
  • This Alert highlights these upcoming developments.

The new Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Assets (the Register) will commence on 1 July 2023. The Register requires foreign persons to register certain interests in assets that were previously exempt from registration requirements and prescribes new requirements for these registrations.

The Register replaces the existing foreign investment registers for water and agricultural and residential land interests. It also introduces new categories of commercial land and business acquisitions, including interests in Australian media businesses, tenements, and securities in mining, production or exploration. The Register will streamline foreign investors' experience in managing their investment and compliance with Australia's foreign investment framework.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will maintain the Register. Foreign persons will be required to notify the Registrar online through the Online services for foreign investors platform, generally within 30 days of taking a relevant action. Significant penalties apply for failing to register an acquisition within 30 days — up to 250 penalty units (currently $68,750) per day.

From 26 June 2023, foreign investors and their representatives will require a myGovID to register interests through the ATO's Online Services. MyGovID is the Australian Government's Digital Identity app that allows applicants to prove their identity when logging into a range of government online services. It provides a personal digital identity and the requirements differ depending on whether the applicant is applying as a representative or as the foreign investor. Typically, applicants will require a tax file number (TFN), notice of assessment and bank account to register. Those who do not have a TFN will be required to produce other identity documents, such as a passport and visa details. Read more about the requirements on the ATO Website.

The ATO proposes to remove access to most of its online forms from 17-26 June in preparation for the new portal.

For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:

Ernst & Young (Australia), Corporate Law, Sydney

Ernst & Young LLP (United States), Australia Tax Desk, New York

 Ernst & Young LLP (United Kingdom), Australia Tax Desk, London

Published by NTD’s Tax Technical Knowledge Services group; Carolyn Wright, legal editor