The following helps to outline all the necessary Investment Information that you will need prior to you taking the next steps in coming to live in Paradise

When we are discussing Real Estate in the Cook Islands - we need to keep in mind that the land itself is always owned by the respective Cook Islands families. A 'Foreigner' (ie: anyone who is not a Cook Islander ) has the ability to obtain a lease from the ' landowner(s) ' to conduct a business or to build a home or take over an existing lease (re-assignment)  on a residential property or a property where a  business an be operated from.

Image of blue lagoon on Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Business opportunities

NON-COOK Islanders seeking permission to reside or do business in the Cook Islands have to take account of three statutes:-

+ The Development Investment Act 1995-6.
+ The Leases Restrictions Act 1976.
+ The Entry Residence and Departure Act 1977.

The most important is the Development Investment Act which lays down that all foreign organisations or companies that want to set up an enterprise must first obtain approval and register their planned activities.

The Leases Restrictions Act does not allow freehold ownership of land. Any person/s may lease land for up to five years. Any longer period up to a maximum of 60 years has to be approved by a Committee established under the Act. The Committee's principal function is to regulate leasehold to people other than Cook Islanders and permanent residents.

The Entry Residence and Departure Act demands that anyone other than Cook Islanders and permanent residents who wish to live and work in the islands must first obtain a work and residence permit.

Section 17 of the Development Investment Act states:-

"No foreign enterprise shall carry on business in the Cook Islands in any activity unless that foreign enterprise is registered in respect of that activity pursuant to this Act".

'Foreign enterprise' means business with more than one-third foreign ownership. Registration applications must be made to the Cook Islands Development Investment Board. There are various incentives and concessions for tariff protection, import duty and levy concessions, tax concessions by way of accelerated depreciation, allowance for counterpart training and recruitment of Cook Islanders from overseas.

The Board takes account of an Investment Code which spells out the Government's general investment policy. The Code states:-

'Generally provision should be made in the case of a new foreign investment for the acquisition of equity by or on behalf of Cook Islanders, or for joint ventures with enterprises owned or controlled by Cook Islanders'.

The term 'Cook Islanders' includes Cook Island Maoris and Permanent Residents. The Development Investment Board Monetary Board may waive these requirements if the investor can demonstrate that attempts were not successful to attract Cook Islanders' participation.

If the enterprise wishes to lease land to carry on its business and if the land is central to the activity, for instance, hotel/motel accommodation, the Board may require the lease arrangement to provide for the lessors to be paid a share from the activity. This is a brief guide only and a solicitor should be consulted for advice.

Development Investment Act The Development Investment Act does not allow any foreign enterprise (a business with more than one-third foreign ownership) to carry on business in the Cook Islands in any activity unless it is registered. Registration applications must be made to the Cook Islands Development Investment Board. There are various incentives and concessions for tariff protection, import duty and levy concessions, tax concessions by way of accelerated depreciation, allowance for counterpart training and recruitment of Cook Islanders from overseas.

The Business Trade Investment Board outlines as follows the steps and information required for the successful registration of a foreign enterprise in the Cook Islands.

Foreign Enterprise Registration Checklist,

(a)   Foreign company:

+ Business plan
+ Completed registration application form
+ 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
+ NZ$1,400.00 fee This fee covers the following

  • Foreign Investment Application NZD$ 750.00
  • Health clearance $150 per person
  • Immigration entry and residence permit  $500 per person

(b)  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


Cook Islands Real Estate       Real Estate Cook Islands      Resort Brokers Rarotonga

The (Cook Islands)Business Trade Investment Board is located in Avarua - Rarotonga and has been established to encourage, and assist, foreign direct investment into our country. As a business partner you'll find a stable and growing economy, a transparent and simplified regulatory environment, a government committed to private sector-led growth and above all, friendly, skilled and supportive people.

Take a moment of your time read how the Cook Islands  B.T.I.B. team can help you with investment opportunities.

B.T.I.B. - ' Business Trade Investment Board ' encourages business growth in the Cook Islands.    They are here to help your business grow."

Their services:

Foreign Investment Registration – receive and consider all foreign investment proposals and provide information and advice for all investment projects.

Investment Facilitation – provide links between foreign investors and potential Cook Islanders.

Targeted Investment Promotion – provide advice on priority investment areas in tourism, agriculture and marine resources.

Approval to Lease Land – approval may be granted to a foreign investor (following a qualifying period) to lease land in the Cook Islands for a maximum of                                                                  60 years.

Import Levy exemptions – exemptions granted for assets, equipment and materials required for the establishment of a new business and/ or expansion of                                                                 an existing business.

Trade exports – liaise with industry sectors to assist with the development of potential products for export markets.

Domestic trade – assist local suppliers, to develop products for supply to the domestic market.

Policy advice – assist with policy development to stimulate and encourage private sector entrepreneurship.

Business development – provide business training courses, business plan workshops, mentor programs and networking opportunities for local businesses.

Outer Islands development – facilitate the Outer Islands Development Grant Fund (OIDGF) to encourage business in the Outer Islands.

Funding options – provide advice on finance packages, grants, development funds and technical assistance options.

This is where the team at Cook Islands Real Estate can help and assist you.

We can walk you thru the paper work and the necessary government documents that need to be filled in and filed.

All of this can take time, so patience is needed, but your Cook Islands Real Estate guys will be with you, every step of the way. We live,  work and breath the Cook Islands each and every day, so there is nothing too big or small that we can lend a hand to. If we don't know the answer straight away - rest assured we will strive to find the answer for you.

Listed below is some of the important information that the Government Department, the B.T.I.B - ( Business Trade Investment Board )  will need from you as you proceed.