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Can I Buy Investment Property and Reside in the Cook Islands?

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.  

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Is Cook Island land freehold or leased?

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) and have the lease topped back up to 60 years again however at the landowner(s) discretion. 

What rates and taxes apply to property leases?

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.

How does it work?

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 section, residential land, and residential property in the Cook Islands. However, it is legally possible to reside in the Cook Islands by:

1. 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;

2. 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;

3. establishing a new business with a minimum investment of NZ$1 million or more on Rarotonga and NZ$500,000 or more in Aitutaki;

4. 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. Search our website for current business & property listings for investment including tourist accommodation and home & income options.

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.

How do I get approval?

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 encourages local and foreign investment, and promotes trade, investment and business in the Cook Islands. 

Our staff are adept in the foreign investment process and can assist you with filing your application and pave the way with an introduction to BTIB.  You may also choose to have a legal representative handle your purchase transaction and complete the full application and registration process in Cook Islands for you at the same time.

Will I receive permanent residency if I invest?

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.  

What is the application process?

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

2. Attach the below supporting documents from your country of residence:

Foreign company:- (with more than one-third foreign ownership) 

  • Business plan
  • Completed due diligence form
  • Two references (from lawyer, accountant, banker)
  • Police character reference from home country
  • Health report form (includes HIV report; avian flu report if from Asian countries)
  • Copy of passport details and photo
  • Curriculum Vitae

Joint Venture foreign company:-

  • Copy of articles of association
  • Copy of memorandum of association
  • Land involved
  • Copy of deed of lease
  • Purchase an existing business
  • Copy of sale and purchase agreement

3. Pay a registration fee of NZ$750 (one-off fee)

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.

  • Work and Residence permits will cost NZ$500 per person. 
  • No fees payable for childen 15 years and younger

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. 

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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.

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