Foreign citizens who want to buy or invest in residential property in Victoria (VIC), New South Wales (NSW) or Queensland (QLD) will need to pay a stamp duty levy and, in some states, land tax surcharge.

These changes have already come into effect but whether you’ll actually be hit with the extra costs depends on your situation.

The additional duty doesn’t actually apply to all foreign citizens or even every Australian state and territory so how can you avoid it?


Who does the additional duty apply to?

The land transfer duty surcharge and extra land tax (select states only) applies to certain foreign purchasers and only in certain circumstances.

It can get really confusing so read on to find out more for your specific state.

This additional duty only applies in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland!

As yet, all other states and territories don’t apply a stamp duty or land tax levy.

Call us on 1300 880 743 (+61 2 9194 1700 if you’re outside Australia) or complete our free assessment form and we can let you know if you qualify for a foreigner mortgage.

You may be able to borrow up to 65% of the property value with some of our lenders!


Victoria foreign citizen stamp duty

When does it apply?

How much is the extra tax?

Prior to the additional stamp duty changes that came into effect on 1 July 2015, duty in Victoria was applied on a sliding scale

This kicked in at 1.4 per cent for properties valued at $25,000 and rose to 5.5 per cent for properties valued at $960,000 and above.

These rates still apply but the SRO Vic began charging an additional duty of 3% of the property value for contracts signed between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016.

Today, a 7% additional land transfer duty applies to all property purchased from 1 July 2016 onwards.

Increased stamp duty is the only surcharge that will apply.

However, the VIC government’s absentee owner surcharge or “ghost tax” on land tax increased from 0.5% to 1.5% on 1 January 2017.

This is an annual fee based on the value of the land you own in Victoria.

Units and houses have a portion of their value which is considered to be land for tax purposes.

Example

For an $800,000 property in Victoria, the normal stamp duty is $43,070.

For foreigners and certain visa holders, your stamp duty now shoots up to $99,070 for the same property. That’s $56,000 more!


NSW foreign citizen stamp duty

When does it apply?

  • You’re buying residential property in the state of NSW. The surcharge doesn’t apply to commercial property.
  • You’re a foreign citizen or temporary resident but it doesn’t apply if you’re an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen on a Special Category Visa (subclass 444).
  • You signed the Contract of Sale after 21 June 2016, although this only for the stamp duty surcharge – a land tax surcharge also applies to purchases made from 1 January 2017.
  • Please refer to the NSW Office of State Revenue website for more information.

How much is the extra tax?

A 4% stamp duty surcharge and a 0.75% land tax surcharge applies.

From 1 July 2017, the stamp duty will double to 8% and the land tax surcharge will increase to 2%

In addition to this, foreign investors will no longer be entitled to the 12-month deferral on the payment of stamp duty for off the plan purchases of residential property.

Example

Previously your stamp duty would have been $31,490.

You’re now paying $63,490 which is a $32,000 increase.


QLD foreign citizen stamp duty

When does it apply?

  • You’re buying residential property in the state of Qld.
  • You’re a foreign citizen or temporary resident but it doesn’t apply if you’re an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen on a Special Category Visa (subclass 444).
  • You signed the Contract of Sale after 1 October 2016.
  • Please refer to the QLD Office of State Revenue website for more information.

How much is the extra tax?

A 3% stamp duty surcharge applies.

Example

Previously, your stamp duty would have been $21,850.

You’re now paying $45,850 which is a $24,000 increase.


What if I’m buying with my spouse?

If you’re an Australian citizen living and working overseas (an expat) and you want to buy a property with your wife who is a foreign citizen, you won’t be charged the additional land transfer duty.

Even though you’re overseas, you’re exempt from the surcharge because you’re still an Australian citizen and your wife is exempt because she is legally married to you.

The trick is to buy the property in your name while the mortgage itself can be in both of your names.


How else can I avoid foreign citizen stamp duty?

If you’re currently a temporary resident and not married to an Australian citizen, your next best bet is to either buy in a state that doesn’t apply extra stamp duty or wait until you become a permanent resident.


Are other states planning to introduce the higher duty?

NSW and QLD are the only two states so far to follow VIC’s lead in introducing a stamp duty and land tax surcharge for foreign purchasers.

It’s unclear whether other states will follow suit purely because average property prices in other states are lower: the amount of revenue other states can expect to generate pales in comparison to QLD, NSW and VIC.


Why did NSW, VIC and QLD do this?

When explaining its reason for introducing the higher duty, the Victorian government said that it was only fair that foreign investors pay their fair share to fund government services and infrastructure.

QLD and NSW made similar announcements, with figures of up to $1 billion in revenue-raising being bandied about.

Most foreign investors aren’t fazed by the higher costs of buying a property and investment is still strong.


Do you need a non-resident mortgage?

Are you a foreign citizen, permanent resident, temporary resident or New Zealand citizen in need of a mortgage?

The Australian government has long had a love/hate relationship with foreign investors and rules and regulations for buying real estate change on a regular basis.

This also extends to bank and lender policy, from how much you can borrow to what type of non-residents can actually qualify for a mortgage.

Not all lenders are the same!

We’re experts in non-resident mortgages and can navigate this policy minefield so you have the best chance of qualifying for a mortgage in Australia!

Call us on 1300 889 743 (+61 2 9194 1700 if you’re outside Australia) or fill in our free assessment form to speak with one of our mortgage brokers.

  • belisario

    I’m a foreign citizen but my wife has a PR. Do we need to pay this when we’re getting our home loan?

  • Hi belisario,

    Since your wife has a PR, you won’t need to pay foreign citizen stamp duty if you’re buying with her and you’re in a spousal relationship. The same goes for FIRB approval.

  • Vickery D

    I am an overseas foreigner and I would like to know how much I can borrow to buy Australian real estate. It is my prime consideration to invest in the land down under because of how great the opportunity and returns there.

  • Hello Vickery,

    We’re glad t know that you want to invest in Australian real estate. You can generally borrow up to 70% of the purchase price of a new property in Australia. However, if you’re planning on coming over here or you’re married to an Australian citizen or PR holder then you can borrow more. We’ll need to know your full details to see if it’s something we can help with. Please email your info to us at info@homeloanexperts.com.au or simply call our overseas number +61 2 9194 1700 to discuss directly with one of our specialist mortgage brokers.

  • Vickery D

    Thank you sir. I will send you an email and maybe call in the coming days to discuss if there is anything specific I want to talk about.

  • mauri

    I’m a US citizen but my partner is from Australia. We’re both living and working in Hawaii and want to buy a house in Australia to move to within a year. We’re both self-employed – I’m a partner in a law firm and my partner’s a marketing consultant. Our combined income is around $220k AUD. We need help getting an Australian mortgage.

  • Hi mauri,

    We know lenders that can do self-employed expat home loan applications. You seem to have a strong income and as long as you can verify it, you may be able to borrow up to 95% of the property value. However, note that if your application is assessed as a foreigner mortgage application then this will reduce to 80%. Please call our overseas number +61 2 9194 1700 if you’d like to discuss your situation and loan needs and understand what options are available and find out if you qualify.

  • Dong Liang

    I’m applying PR and estimated 3 month to be approved. If i am going to buy a off the plan property in QLD now, can I claim back the extra stamp duty because I will have the PR at the time of settlement.

  • Hi Dong,
    Good question. In most states it is based on your residency status at the time of settlement. As this is an unusual question I’d recommend that you call the QLD OSR on 1300 300 734 (Australia) or +61 7 3227 6044 (overseas) to confirm their rules.

    Just be careful of the Brisbane CBD area as many lenders believe this to be oversupplied. If you’d like our help with a home loan then please feel free to contact us https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/free-quote/

  • Katie

    Hi
    I am a New Zealand citizen living in (Australia special visa subclass 444). I am buying property with my partner who is an Australian citizen. Will I be required to pay extra stamp duty or will we be required to pay less stamp duty than if we were both Australian citizens?

  • Hi Katie,
    As you are a PR holder you’ll pay normal stamp duty. If you’re both first home buyers and / or buying a new property then you may get an exception depending on the state that you’re buying in.
    If you like let me know if you are both first home buyers, the state you’re in, the approx purchase price and if you’re buying a new or existing property and I can let you know.

  • Sarbjit Singh

    Hi,
    I am Australian PR working in Singapore. I want to buy my 1st property in Sydney (NSW). Would I be eligible to get stamp duty waiver? Would I be eligible to get subsidy from govt as it’s my 1st property?

    Regards
    Sarbjit

  • Hi Sarbjit
    Yes you are eligible for a home loan. Have a read of this page for more information https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/non-resident-mortgages/permanent-resident-mortgage/
    If you buy a new property you may be eligible for the stamp duty waiver as long as the property you buy isn’t over the maximum allowable purchase price. Up to $550,000 you’d pay no stamp duty on a new home and up to $650,000 you’d pay partial stamp duty. On an established home you’d pay full stamp duty.
    To get a grant of $10,000 you must live in the home for at least 6 months starting within the first 12 months. So you could move to Australia 11 months after buying the property and that would be ok. You can read this for more info http://www.osr.nsw.gov.au/grants

  • Patty

    Hello Home Loan Experts,

    I recently arrived here in Australia on a 190 visa and I am considering buying a house here so I can settle down instead of renting. I am living and working in Victoria and will be buying a property here so will I need to pay that hefty stamp duty?

  • Hello Patty,
    A 190 visa allows you to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident. So the foreign citizen stamp duty will not be applicable in your case. Please feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss your situation and loan needs directly with a 190 visa home loan specialist.

  • kes

    Hi, my partner and i are looking to buy a property in melbourne. she is from the UK (currently awaiting PR approval) and i am australian. will we have to pay the foreign purchaser duties on the property as we are in a defacto relationship (currently on a defacto visa)??

  • Yes Kes I believe you would.
    A simple solution is to have the property in just your name and have the loan in both names. This is acceptable for some of our lenders. If you’d like our help then please complete your details here https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/free-quote/

  • chefharshal

    hi there ,

    I am on visa 489 with my wife and planning to buy property in queanbeyan,NSW 2620 . And its going to be first home for us.SO in that case will this stamp duty surchage and landtax surcharge will apply in our case? also wanted to know that am i eligible to get first home buyer grant

  • Hi
    It’s best to just buy in her name only with both of you on the loan. That way you will avoid the additional taxes. Note that lending policy is about to change for your visa in the next month so I’d recommend you get pre-approved ASAP.
    Yes you would be eligible for he grant if you’re both first home buyers.

  • chefharshal

    HI there ,
    Glad to see your revert .
    Just to let you know that my wife is depended on me . So is it same situation going to be for me ?also FIrst home grant is on Only brand new property or any first home?

    Also i really appreciate information here ………is quite helpful

    thanks .

  • In that case if you are both on visas then you can borrow a max of 80% and you would not be eligible for the grant and you would need to pay higher stamp duty. If you buy in the ACT then you would not pay higher stamp duty

  • Sam Sydney Smith

    HI! Dear Home Loan Experts,

    Im a Australia citizen and my de facto is a TR, We are planing to buy a $520K property as our 1st home in N.S.W. I have a few questions

    1. Would us be eligible to get stamp duty waiver if we buy it under both of us?

    2.The best way to avoid the Foreign Buyers Duty is just buy it under my name only with both of us on the home loan right?

    3.If it is under both of our name then the Foreign Buyers Duty will be 520,000*4%*50% =$10400 right?
    As Im own 50% of it as a Joint Tenants and Im a citizen so my part should be exemption?

    4. Could us be qualified to get $10K First Home Grant if we are going to live in there ?

    5. If it is a not yet settle off the plan apartment, and Im buying it from the 1st buyer do I still get the 1st home buyer Grant?

  • Hi Sam
    1. My understanding is that you would pay the higher duty on 50% of the property value. However if you buy in just your name then you can be eligible for the stamp duty waiver.
    2. Yes.
    3. Yes I believe so.
    4. Yes as long as you meet the other conditions.
    5. Yes that is fine. However off the plan units are quite risky for a number of reasons. Mostly because you’re committing to buy without a confirmed loan approval. If lending policy changes or your situation changes then you may lose your deposit. It’s much lower risk to buy a new complete property than an off the plan one.

    Please call the NSW OSR on 1300 130 624 to double check what I’ve told you.

  • Superb info…

    Question for a 457 visa holder (and dependents), we haven’t moved into Melbourne yet but are hoping that we’ll purchase a 2BR flat/unit within 6-months of arriving and it’s for occupancy, not investment/rental as we don’t want to pay rent until we become PR.

    Currently looking at brand new/almost completion properties.

    Assuming the property is priced at 650K, how much stamp duty and FIRB, and other cost add up to?

    Thank you so much.

  • Hi David
    As an estimate stamp duty would be approx 10.5% of the purchase price and Firb approval would be $5,000. So around $70,000 in costs.
    It may be best to wait until you have PR. If you’d like to buy now we can help you to borrow 90% of the purchase price.

  • Helena

    I am a New Zealand citizen on a Special Category Visa (subclass 444) whilst my spouse is on a 457 visa. Am I right in thinking that I can acquire title (in VIC) such that no additional duty for foreign purchasers is due but have the mortgage in both our names? Second, are any of the banks changing their lending policies following the announcement of abolition of the 457 visa? As I understand it, indications are that existing 457 visas will be unaffected.

  • Hi Helena
    Yes you can buy in just your name with the loan in both names. Some of our lenders can accept this for 95% loans.
    One lender has announced reviews of their 457 lending but so far the others havent. I expect in your situation we’ll be fine as you have PR.

  • Anh Dung Pham

    Hi, my name is Marco, my friend (who is australian residence but I am not) and me want to co-buying property under joint tenant. Thus, I am wondering whether we still be hit with stamp duty surcharge because I am not residence. Thank you so much!

  • Yes, but only half the amount will require the surcharge. For example, if the property price is $500k, the $250k will have normal charge and the other half will have surcharge in it.

  • Yaseen

    Hi, I am currently on 457 visa and planning to apply for PR in 2 months time. I have been in Australia for 9 years and paying tax .. my question is if I apply for PR and buy and land will I still have to pay foreigner stamp duty?

  • Anh Dung Pham

    Thanks so much for confirming this, i had have the same thought!

  • Hey Yaseen,
    You’re required to pay stamp duty within 30 days of settlement so if you’ve secured your PR by then then you should be able to avoid foreigner stamp duty. If you’re still in the process of getting it then you may still have to pay it though exceptions can also be made. However, please call the revenue office of the state you’re buying in to confirm their rules.

  • Michael

    Hello, I am currently a 457 holder. Just came to Sydney, i am interested to buy a completely appartment around 650k. My questions are:

    1. What is the initial contribution if i want a 90% LVR?
    – Deposit: $65000
    – stamp duty: 4% $26000
    – other cost?

    2. How much i can borrow from the bank?

    Assuming I am in a sales profession, my basic salary is around $6700/mo before tax. Plus 4000/mo commission.

  • Hi Michael,
    1. Aside from the deposit and stamp duty, you can expect to pay a couple hundred dollars on transfer fee and registration fee with the bank. Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), a one-off fee generally applicable when borrowing more than 80% LVR, for you can be anywhere from $10,000 up to $17,000 (you can use the LMI calculator to get an estimate yourself: https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/lenders-mortgage-insurance/lmi-calculator/).
    Additionally, other costs such as hiring a conveyancer, strata reports and other lender fees can add $800 up to $3000.

    2. To find out your borrowing power, you can use our “How much can I borrow?” calculator. Simply input your income, expenses and other detail to your situation and you’ll get an estimation along with some tips. Here’s the calculator:
    https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/how-much-can-i-borrow/

    Please note that lenders are a bit conservative when it comes to financing the purchase of apartments. The size of the apartment as well as other factors will come into play in their assessment so please call 1300 889 743 to discuss this with an expert mortgage broker or simply enquire online and one of us will contact you instead:
    https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/free-quote/

  • Neda Nejad

    Hello
    I have student visa and I am foreign investor.
    How can I calculate my stamp duty for investing in office or shop?

  • Hi Neda,
    You can input your details into the stamp duty calculator to get an estimation of the amount of stamp duty you’ll likely have to pay. Here’s the calculator:
    https://www.homeloanexperts.com.au/mortgage-calculators/stamp-duty-calculator/

  • Hi Marco you may want to consider just buying in your friends name but having both of you on the home loan. This can avoid paying the additional duty.

  • Joe

    We are New Zealand citizens intending to buy a property in Brisbane. Your website states that the Queensland foreign citizen stamp duty doesn’t apply if you’re an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen on a Special Category Visa (subclass 444). However, your broker has informed me that there is a surcharge on the stamp duty unless we are residing there. If there’s no stamp duty, then there’s also no surcharge?

  • Hi Joe,
    The rules regarding NZ citizens appear to vary between different states and we’re seeking clarification from the state governments now to make sure our website is current.
    I’d recommend that you call the QLD government and confirm specifically what their rules are for your situation as they’re the decision makers on this. You’d need to call the QLD OSR on + 61 7 3227 6044.

  • Tony Jancic

    Hi I’m just wondering if the conveyencor is responsible for telling us and explaining about this form and the extra stamp duty fee that occurs with foreign purchasing. Me as a Australian citizen and my de facto partner who is a temporary resident purchased a land on both our names and once the land settled we got extra $17000 taken out of the bank account without us knowing, so we were pretty pissed of when we seen that fee cause we weren’t informed of this fee and I thought it’s the conveyencors job to inform us about this hefty amount (I should also mention the conveyencor did know about my partner being a temporary resident because we asked the question). If I knew and was informed of this fee I would just put the title of land on my name and problem solved, so just wondering if you can give me more insight of this situation I am having???
    Thanks, Antoni

  • Hi Tony,
    I’m not sure if they are legally required to tell you this however it certainly would have been expected that a professional conveyancer would warn you about it.