Australia - What is the new Register of Foreign Ownership?

As of 1 July 2023, a new Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Assets (Register) came into effect under Part 7A of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (Cth) (Act). The Act is also accompanied by the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Amendments (Register of Foreign Ownership and Other Matters) Regulations 2023 (Cth) (Regulations).

Registration will only be required for acquisitions that occur on or after 1 July 2023.

What’s included and what’s not

The Register will be operated by the ATO. It will give the Federal Government increased oversight of foreign-held assets while also seeking to consolidate some existing registers, such as the:

  • Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land;
  • Register of Foreign Ownership of Water Entitlements; and
  • ATO’s register of foreign-held interests in residential land.

However, the Register will not include the:

  • Register of Foreign Owners of Media Assets; and
  • Register of Critical Infrastructure Assets

What does the register capture

The Register requires notification of an:

  • acquisition of interests in the following types of land (even if the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval is not required):
    • residential land
    • commercial land
    • agricultural land
    • national security land
  • acquisitions of interests in mining, production and exploration tenements;
  • acquisitions of registrable water assets; and
  • acquisitions of business assets or interests, including starting an Australian business, where a foreign person makes an acquisition that requires FIRB approval.

How to report under the new Register

To report an acquisition under the new Register, the foreign person is required to set up an online account at the ATO’s online services for foreign investors. To do this, the foreign person will require a myGovID.

Once the foreign person has set up their own account, they can authorise a representative to act on their behalf, provided that the representative has both a myGovID (and their full legal name matches the myGovID) and an appropriate email address.

The process to authorise a representative varies depending on whether the foreign person has an ABN or ARBN. Instructions on how to authorise a representative are available on the ATO website.

Looking for a detailed resource on what will be captured under the new Register? the Macpherson Kelley team of experts have put together a detailed table of registerable interests for you to access here.