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The Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (the Bill) comes into effect on 1 December 2015 and makes substantial changes to Australia's foreign investment regime.

Application fees

As of 1 December, application fees will be payable on all foreign investment applications submitted to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Residential fees

The fees begin at $5,000 for residential properties valued at $1 million or less.

For residential properties valued over $1 million, there will be a $10,000 fee plus a $10,000 incremental fee per additional $1 million in the property value.

Developers and advanced off the plan certificates 

Under the new regime, for an upfront fee of $25,000 a developer can obtain an advanced off the plan certificate, allowing them to sell all new dwellings in a development of 100 or more dwellings to overseas buyers without the buyers requiring a separate FIRB approval. The current 12-month reconciliation report, required to be provided to FIRB by developers, will be shortened to six months.

Compliance and enforcement

The Bill also establishes a compliance and enforcement framework, including a register to monitor the number of foreign residential and agricultural property owners in Australia, and higher penalties for breaches of the foreign investment rules. A specialist unit within the ATO will also be established to enforce the civil penalties, whereas before it was the Foreign Investment Review Board's responsibility to monitor compliance.

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Ellen Locke and Emanuel Oros to this article.
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