Upcoming deadline - 30 September 2020

30 September 2020 is a key date for foreign businesses with land interests in Queensland to ensure they have made notifications to the Registrar of Titles which are required due to recent changes to the Foreign Ownership of Land Register Act 1988 (Qld).

What is the Foreign Ownership of Land Register?

The Queensland Foreign Ownership of Land Register is a public register of all land in Queensland held by a “foreign person”. The Act requires acquisitions and disposals of an interest in land by a foreign person to be notified to the Registrar of Titles. The Register is a separate Queensland based register which should not be confused with FIRB – notification to FIRB will not satisfy any notification requirements for the Register.

Notifications are also required if a person who holds an interest in land ceases to be a foreign person or subsequently becomes a foreign person.

Notification is made by lodging a Titles Office Form 25 with the Registrar and penalties apply for non-compliance.

What changes have been made to the FOLR Act?

Amendments to the Act came into effect on 1 July 2020.

The relevant changes were:

  • Foreign person - the definition of foreign person (i.e. who meets the criteria for notifying the Registrar under the Act) was changed to align with that in the Duties Act 2001 (Qld). A foreign person will therefore be a foreign individual, foreign corporation or trustee of a foreign trust, as defined in the Duties Act.
  • Notification - The notification requirements for change of foreign and non-foreign status under the Act were changed to relate to the status of the person on 30 June each year. If, on 30 June in any year, a person has become, or ceases to be, a foreign person, notification must be provided to the Registrar by 30 September in that year (the previous provisions required notification to be given within 90 days after the change occurred).

However, the notification requirements applying to a new acquisition or disposal of an interest (rather than a change in status of the holder of the interest) must still be made within 90 days after the date of the acquisition or disposal.

  • Penalties – The penalty provisions under the Act were changed to include new penalty unit provisions specific to the breach (e.g. for failing to notify on becoming a foreign person).

What you need to do by 30 September 2020?

If you held an interest in land in Queensland as at 30 June 2020 and you are concerned that you might be regarded as a foreign person, you should review the new definition of a foreign person applying from 1 July 2020 because:

  • if you have not yet registered your acquisition under the Act and you now fall under the new definition of a foreign person – you will need to notify the Registrar of that change by 30 September 2020; or
  • (though unlikely given the nature of the changes) if you have previously registered your acquisition under the Act but you now no longer fall under the definition of a foreign person - you will need to notify the Registrar of that change by 30 September 2020.