Migrating to New Zealand brings numerous investment prospects and opportunities. However, navigating the financial landscape as a newcomer can be challenging. This article provides an overview of some considerations for migrants from an investment perspective.

New Zealand Financial Market Regulation

New Zealand has a well-regulated and transparent financial market with the key regulatory bodies including:

  • The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) who oversee the securities, financial advice and insurance sectors, ensuring fair and transparent markets.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) Is New Zealand’s central bank and manages monetary policy, banking supervision, and financial stability.
  • The Commerce Commission enforces laws related to competition and consumer protection.

Since the global financial crisis, many western countries have enacted regulation to enhance financial stability and improve behaviour.   This has also happened in New Zealand with improvements to bank capitalisation, lending rules, and licencing of insurance and investment advisers.

Local Taxation of Investments

New Zealand has a unique tax system, and it’s essential to understand how this will impact on your investment decisions.  New migrants often have tax advantages if investments are structured correctly.   In NZ there are no capital gains tax on many investments (e.g. domestic shares or rental property owned more than two years), but there are other taxes and regulations to be aware of.    Seeking professional advice can help you optimize your investments from a New Zealand tax perspective.

Transitional Residency

New migrants to New Zealand can benefit from the Transitional Resident tax status which provides a temporary tax exemption on most foreign income for up to four years (48 months from the date of New Zealand tax residency). This status allows migrants to settle in and adjust their financial affairs without immediate tax implications on foreign income.   To qualify for this exemption, individuals must not have been a tax resident in New Zealand for at least 10 years before their arrival

Portfolio Investment Entity (PIE) Funds

PIE funds are a tax-efficient investment vehicle in New Zealand, particularly beneficial for those in higher tax brackets.  PIEs are taxed at a maximum of 28%, which can be lower than the individual tax rates for high-income earners (up to 39%).  PIEs offer a wide range of investment choices, including local and international assets, across asset classes including shares, property and bonds.

Foreign Investment Fund (FIF) Tax

Investing in foreign assets (i.e. non-New Zealand assets) can trigger FIF tax rules, which are complex but manageable with proper guidance.   This tax is designed to be a pseudo capped capital gains tax on many foreign investments.   FIF rules apply to investments in foreign companies and certain financial arrangements exceeding NZD 50,000. The FIF income can be calculated using different methods, such as the fair dividend rate (FDR) or comparative value (CV) method. The choice of method can impact the taxable income significantly.

Retirement Saving and Income

Planning for your retirement will help ensure you have the lifestyle you want once you give up working life.  Retirement income can come from many sources such as employee savings schemes and government benefits.   Migrants may also have overseas pensions which they can draw from or transfer to New Zealand.

New Zealand Superannuation

New Zealand Superannuation is a government funded benefit to those that meet the eligibility criteria.   To be eligible for New Zealand Superannuation, you must be aged 65 or older, a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and have lived in New Zealand for at least 10 years since turning 20, with five of those years being after the age of 50.


KiwiSaver is a voluntary retirement savings scheme in New Zealand. Contributions come from both employees and employers, with a small government contribution. It’s a great way to build a retirement fund with employer matching contributions at a minimum of 3% of gross salary.   Usually, KiwiSaver funds can be accessed at age 65 which is the eligible age for New Zealand superannuation.    For US citizens, participating in the KiwiSaver plan can cause additional obligations to the IRS and should be considered after full consideration of your obligations.

Pension Transfers

Migrants often wish to transfer their overseas pensions to New Zealand for easier management and tax efficiency.    There may be significant advantages to doing this within the first few years of residency in New Zealand as there is a period where transfers can be made without incurring any New Zealand tax.    Understanding the process and tax implications for moving pensions is crucial as it can be complex. For example, if transferring pensions from the UK,  it will be important to move your pensions into a Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (ROPS).   Additionally, it will be important to consider potential tax liabilities that may occur in both the source country and New Zealand on transfer.

Investor Visa Types

New Zealand offers several visa options to gain residency through financial investments.    Recently the criteria have become stricter and it is important to discuss investment options with an adviser.

Active Investor Plus Visa

This visa is designed to attract high-value investors and provide a pathway to permanent residency.    The Active Investor Plus Visa is targeted at high-net-worth individuals who are willing to invest significantly in the New Zealand economy. Applicants must invest between NZD 5 -15 million. The investment can be distributed across different asset classes, including direct investments, managed funds, listed equities, and philanthropic contributions. Different types of investments have different weightings. For example, direct investments have a 3x weighting, meaning NZD 5 million invested in direct investments is counted as NZD 15 million for visa eligibility purposes. The investment must be maintained for at least four years, and the applicant must spend a minimum of 117 days in New Zealand during this period.

Parent Retirement Resident Visa

If you have an adult child who is a NZ resident or citizen, then you can apply for this visa if you have NZD 1 million to invest for four years.   You will also need NZD 500,000 to live on and an annual income of NZD 60,000.   This visa requires a significantly lower level of investment assets than the AIP vis for those that are eligible to apply.



Seek Professional Advice

Migrating to New Zealand opens up new investment opportunities, but understanding the local financial landscape is crucial for making informed decisions.  There are opportunities to secure a robust financial future in your new home by initially leveraging the benefits of transitional residency and then managing pension transfers effectively.   Engaging with a New Zealand based financial adviser can provide valuable insights and personalised advice.   An experienced financial adviser will help you manage this complex process and connect you with the right people to ensure an effective transition.