Foreign persons includes natural persons and corporations.

For information relating to corporations see our Foreign Corporations page.

Who is a foreign natural person?

A foreign natural person is any individual who is not

  • an Australian citizen within the meaning of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cwlth);
  • the holder of a permanent visa within the meaning of Section 30(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cwlth); or
  • a New Zealand citizen who is the holder of a special category visa within the meaning of Section 32(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cwlth).

Example 1

Sam is a dual national of Australia and another country. As Sam is an Australian citizen, Sam is not a foreign person.


Example 2

Jamie holds a permanent visa within the meaning of Section 30(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cwlth). As such, Jamie is not a foreign person.


Example 3

Chris is a New Zealand citizen, but does not hold a special category visa within the meaning of Section 32(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cwlth). As such, Chris is a foreign person and is liable to pay the surcharge on an acquisition of an interest in residential land.


If a foreign person is married to an Australian citizen are they exempt?

No. The foreign ownership surcharge applies to the value of the interest acquired by the foreign person.

Is there a list of permanent visas subclass from the Immigration Department?

There is a summary list of all visas available, though it does not show which visas are permanent and which visas are temporary.

For specific information, go to https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing and search for the visa on the webpage. Then read the visa description to see if this is a permanent visa or a temporary visa.

Information on visa details and conditions is available at https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/already-have-a-visa/check-visa-details-and-conditions/check-conditions-online

Will any surcharge paid be refunded where a person ceases to be a foreign person?

A refund of a surcharge paid is available where a person was a foreign person at the time of the acquisition of an interest in residential land, but then ceases to be a foreign person not more than 12 months after the interest in the residential land was acquired.

The foreign person can apply to RevenueSA for a refund of the foreign ownership surcharge if the person ceases to be a foreign person not more than 12 months after the acquisition of the interest. See Section 72(5) of the Stamp Duties Act 1923.

refund form (PDF 235KB) will need to be completed.

What happens when a person becomes a foreign person within 3 years after the acquisition?

The surcharge will be retrospectively imposed where a person becomes a foreign person within 3 years of the acquisition of the interest in residential land. Where this occurs:

  • the Commissioner must be notified in writing that the person became foreign within 28 days;
  • a surcharge is payable on the instrument or, in the case of an acquisition under Part 4, the transaction;
  • the surcharge is to be regarded as having become payable when the person became a foreign person; and
  • interest and penalty tax may apply as if the failure to pay the surcharge at the date of the acquisition were a tax default under the Taxation Administration Act 1996.

Example 4

Jack acquired an interest in residential land, though was not a foreign person at the time as he held a permanent visa within the meaning of Section 30(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cwlth).

Two years after the acquisition. Jack ceases to hold the visa. As such Jack became a foreign person.

A surcharge is accordingly payable at the time Jack became a foreign person.


However, where a surcharge has been paid or is payable in respect of the transaction by virtue of which the person became a foreign person, the surcharge is reduced by the amount of the surcharge paid in respect of the transaction by virtue of which the person became a foreign person.

The reduction is in essence a rebate that ensures that 2 surcharges are not payable as a result of a transaction.

If a non-foreign person becomes a foreign person within 3 years, is it their responsibility to advise RevenueSA?

If within 3 years of the acquisition of the interest in residential land the acquirer becomes a foreign person, the Commissioner must be notified in writing within 28 days of becoming foreign.

The onus is on the acquirer to notify the Commissioner in writing within 28 days of becoming foreign.

When does the 3 year period for changing from non-foreign to foreign start?

The period starts from the date of acquisition of the property, that is, the settlement date.

Is the surcharge payable if the person ceases to have the interest in the residential land prior to becoming a foreign person?

A surcharge is not payable if the interest in the residential land was conveyed or transferred by the person before the person became a foreign person.

When a foreign person signs a contract but their representative (for example, Attorney) provides the VOI and Client Authorisation without Visa/Passport information on the purchaser, how are required information fields for Commonwealth Reporting to be completed?

You will need to request the relevant information about the purchaser (not the Attorney).

Are there other forms of evidence that show the permanent resident status apart from a permanent visa for clients who do not hold any passport?

It is a requirement that the person is a holder of a permanent visa within the meaning of Section 30(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cwlth). This can be ascertained by the particular visa number.

The Department of Home Affairs may be able to assist with enquiries on visa status.

If it is not clear if a person is a foreign person, will RevenueSA make a determination?

Yes. The transfer instrument can be submitted to the Commissioner of State Taxation through RevenueSA Online for assessment.

When does a person hold property?

A person holds property (including a security of a corporation) if the person:

  • is registered as the holder
  • is beneficially entitled to the property; or
  • controls the exercise of rights attached to the property.

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