Important Information for non-Cook Islanders

Information for Non-Cook Islanders

Here is some important information for Non-Cook islanders

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 manage & regulate leaseholds to all including 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 a business with more than one-third foreign ownership. An application for Foreign Enterprise registration must be made to the Cook Islands Business Trade & Investment Board (BTIB).

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

„Business activities must contribute significantly to the economic development of the Cook Islands and result in a net economic benefit to the Cook Islands“

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. 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.

Solicitors in the Cook Islands include:

Accountants in the Cook Islands include:

Banks in the Cook Islands include: