Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I want to purchase an existing business. What do I need to do?


To purchase an existing business you will need to apply for registration as a foreign investor through our Office.  There is an application process that you must follow.  Please note that some existing businesses that are for sale in the Cook Islands may fall within our Reserve Area of investment. Please refer to our “Rules of Investment” page on our website and look at the Investment Code Order 2003 Parts D and E.

Where the business is in the Reserve Area of investment, please ensure that the vendor provides evidence that the business for sale has been advertised for at least 30 days in the local media and that no Cook Islander have offered to buy.

Question: Can I send my application and documents as a soft copy?


You will need to file the original signed application form and original supporting documents that issued within 3 months of it being lodged. If you are overseas you may also forward to us soft copies of the application for our processing. The original documents must be received before your application is tabled for consideration by the Board

Question: How much is the minimum investment required in the Cook Islands?


An investment below NZ$150,000.00 may be low. However, where the proposed investment allows for new innovations or technology, development of niche market or niche products lower capital investment may be allowed.  However, an investment of NZ$1 million or more on Rarotonga and NZ$500,000 or more in Aitutaki will allow you to invest in the Reserve Area listed in Part D of the Investment Code.

Question: Can I prepare my own application?


Yes however, it depends on the type of business activity you are proposing. You may need specialist or professional advice before lodging your application. For example, if you intend to buy a property as part of the business we encourage you to engage local lawyers to handle the transaction and application.

Question: I want to start a business in the Cook Islands. How do I apply to become an Investor?


If you are a non-Cook Islander we have an application process that you will need to follow.  You must complete our form AF1001A (Foreign Investment Registration) and provide the documents listed in our Foreign Investment Checklist. Lodge your completed application at our Office in Avarua, Rarotonga.

Please refer to our “How to become an Investor page for more information”

Question: How can I live in the Cook Islands?


One way of living in the Cook Islands is to Invest by establishing a business or purchasing an existing one.  You must determine what business you want to invest in before you apply to the Business Trade Investment Board (‘’BTIB’’) for registration to carry on business.  Please refer to our “How to become an Investor” page for more information.

You can also apply directly with the Immigration Department for the Retiree Scheme; however this is only available for New Zealand passport holders.  Otherwise you may apply for a residence permit. For more information visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration website

Question: Can I apply to become an investor while I am on holiday in the Cook Islands?


Yes, you are able to apply while on holiday however, note that the supporting documents needed must be from your country of residence.  You must lodge your application to our office located in Avarua, Rarotonga.  Please ensure your application is fully completed and signed with the supporting documents listed on our checklist.

Question: What areas can I invest in?


The priority areas of investment are in tourism, agriculture and marine. The Cook Islands economy is based predominantly on tourism. However, investment into agriculture and marine will allow for greater diversification of the economy and increase import substitution.

Question: What fee’s do I have to pay?


NZ$750.00 is the standard fee. The fee must accompany your application in order for it to be considered. This fee is non refundable. You will also be required to pay your immigration and health assessment fee once you are approved.

Question: How long does it take to process an application?


We require at least 30 days to process your application. When an application is received it is assessed against the Investment Code and then tabled for consideration by the Board. If the supporting documents are not in order or further documents are required you will be required to provide this before the application is tabled.  

Question: Do you provide business incentives or tax concessions for investors?


We provide incentives through the waiver of motor vehicle import tariff. Apart from motor vehicle import tariff, most items enter the Cook Islands duty free. All businesses pay VAT and Income Tax on a flat rate.

Please refer to our page “Reasons to Invest in the Cook Islands” for more information.  

Question: Once I am approved as an investor what do I do next?


Once you are approved you will be required to lodge your passport together with your Police clearance and Health documents with the Department of Immigration. You will also need to register your Company with the Ministry of Justice if appropriate and register for tax purposes with the Revenue Management Department. These 3 Agencies are copied the approval letter sent out to the applicant following the Board decision.

We encourage investors to take part in community activities as part of living in the Cook Islands.