YES! If you are a non-Cook Islander, it is possible to buy investment property and seek permission to reside in the Cook Islands, as the below video explains.
We are here to help you through all paperwork and walk you through every step of the process!
Our team works closely with the Business Trade & Investment Board (BTIB), Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration (MFAI), Ministry of Health – Te Marae Ora and the various other Government departments and offers a professional facilitating service to file all of the necessary paperwork and documentation required with the appropriate agencies on behalf of offshore investors and ensure a seamless and stress-free transition.
All land in the Cook Islands is customarily owned by respective Cook Islands families and is not available under freehold titles. However, it is possible for a non-Cook Islander to obtain a lease from the landowner(s) to conduct a business or to build a home or to take over an existing lease(re-assignment) on a residential property or business.
The maximum lease obtainable by a non-Cook Islander is 60 years. When the term of the lease runs down, it is possible to approach the landowner(s) at any time and have the lease topped back up to 60 years again however at the landowner(s) discretion.
There are no water and domestic rubbish rates or Government property taxes. There is a yearly rental payable to the landowners depending on the type of lease. The rental is reviewable every 5 to 10 years, as stipulated in lease. As a guide, any rent increases are upon discussion and can be negotiated with the landowner(s), and generally-speaking are usually no more than 10% per 5 years.
Technically only Cook Islanders (descendants or those with Permanent Residency status) or those already here and operating a Cook Islands registered business can purchase a lease for a vacant residential section, residential land, and residential property in the Cook Islands. However, it is legally possible to reside in the Cook Islands by:
1. purchasing an existing commercial property or business that is listed for sale (some areas of investment are restricted to non-Cook Islanders, however there are exceptions). We can advise you more on this. An investment below NZ$300,000.00 may be below the desired value of investment. Search our website for current business & property listings for investment including short-term let holiday accommodation and home & income options.
2. establishing a new business in partnership with a Cook Islander in a joint venture arrangement, where the Cook Islander is a majority shareholder in a local company;
3. establishing a new business in an activity where there is demonstrable demand for the activity, and no Cook Islander is currently carrying on business in that activity;
4. establishing a new business with a minimum investment of NZ$1 million or more on Rarotonga and NZ$500,000 or more in Aitutaki;
5. the foreign enterprise proposes to develop a niche market or niche product.
Once you have satisfied the criteria of having a Cook Islands Registered Company, you can then explore residential property acquisition after a period of around 5 years.
We suggest downloading a copy of the Cook Islands Investment Code here.
As outlined in the Investment Code, note that the preferred level of real capital injection into a project or existing business purchase is 70% to 100%, however each application may be assessed on its own merits.
Depending on the type of business activity, non-Cook Islanders who want to purchase an existing business or set up a foreign enterprise must first obtain approval and register their planned activities through the Business Trade Investment Board (BTIB). BTIB is a Government agency which monitors foreign investment, encourages both local and foreign investment, and promotes trade, investment and business in the Cook Islands.
Our team is adept in the foreign investment process, and offers a professional facilitating service to file all of the necessary paperwork and documentation required for investment approval to the Business Trade and Investment Board on behalf of overseas investors, and to register their new enterprise in the Cook Islands once approval has been granted.
Once you receive investment approval, you will be eligible for an investor visa. This is currently renewable on a yearly basis, however this will change to renewal every 3 years under the new Immigration Act.
An investor visa permits you to reside in the Cook Islands for the purpose of carrying on the business activity that you have been granted approval for.
Business Trade Investment Board (BTIB) outlines the following steps and information required for successful registration of a foreign enterprise in the Cook Islands.
1. Fill in and complete Foreign Investment Application Form and Due Diligence Form. Copies are readily available from our office;
2. Attach the below supporting documents from your country of residence:
Foreign company:- (with more than one-third foreign ownership)
Joint Venture foreign company:-
3. Pay a standard registration fee of NZ$750 (one-off non-refundable fee). BTIB also offer an express service for a fee of NZ$850 where the outcome of your application will be conveyed to you within 5 working days.
4. Variations to the initial approval may be granted and therefore applicant is required to re-apply and a new application fee is applicable;
5. Completed application form and documents are processed within approximately 3 weeks. Submitted applications are considered at the monthly BTIB Board meetings, held on the last Thursday of every month.
6. Applications must be submitted to BTIB Office by the 7th day of each month for consideration by the Board. Once submitted, the BTIB Board can approve, decline or defer applications.
7. BTIB Foreign Investment team will notify applicants of the outcome immediately after the BTIB Board meeting. They will send out a letter confirming their decision within 2 working days after the Board meeting.
8. If you are approved by the BTIB Board you must visit the Immigration Department and apply for the appropriate Work and Residence Permits
9. You will need to register your proposed company with the Ministry of Justice, Companies Office section (to register a company will cost NZ$110 inclusive of the certificate, to register a company name will cost NZ$20). Once registered, you must submit a copy of the company documents to the BTIB Foreign Investment Team
10. You will also need to register your company with the Revenue Management Department
11. The above Government departments must be visited upon approval from the BTIB Board.
Above quoted Government fees subject to change without notice.
Our team works closely with the Business Trade & Investment Board (BTIB), Ministry of Justice – Companies Office section, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration (MFAI), Ministry of Health – Te Marae Ora and the various other Government departments and offers a professional facilitating service to file all of the necessary paperwork and documentation required with the appropriate agencies on behalf of offshore investors and ensure a seamless and stress-free transition.
Subscribe to receive our new property listings
Your Cook Islands Real Estate Specialists
Disclaimer: It is our intention to provide accurate and up-to-date information on our website which has been obtained from various sources, however all information is subject to independent review and verification.
Copyright © Jeff Tikitau Real Estate. All rights reserved.