Frequently Asked Question

1) If I am a Fiji dual citizen, do I need to obtain a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) to conduct my business in Fiji?

No.  A foreign investor is an enterprise other than a Fiji national (local) or Fiji dual citizen.  Fiji nationals and Fiji dual citizens can register their businesses directly with the Registrar of Companies office.

2) If I have a local partner, do I still need to obtain a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC)?

Yes. Any business with foreign interest or that has foreign shareholders must obtain an approval from Investment Fiji.

3) What other required approvals are there to do business in Fiji?

Once a foreign investor has been issued with a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC), the investor must then begin the process of obtaining other required permits, licenses and approvals. The number and type of approvals to be obtained depend on the scope and nature of the business.

4) What business activities can I undertake?

Foreign investors can undertake most activities except for those listed as Reserved activities of which locals (Fiji citizens) only are permitted to undertake. Activities that are listed as Restricted can be undertaken by foreign investors provided the conditions specified for each activity is satisfied. All other activities that are neither listed as Reserved nor Restricted, are classified as Unspecified Activities.  And these have no special conditions attached hence, foreign investors may undertake these activities provided FIRC approval is granted by Investment Fiji.

5) How many business activities can I register under a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC)?

For initial FIRC registration, businesses will only be allowed to register one activity. Exceptions can be granted to register more than one activity when the activities are directly related, e.g., manufacture of non-alcoholic beverages and export of non-alcoholic beverages. Should investors wish to further expand and venture into other activities, they can request for an extension of activity once the registered activity has been implemented and is fully operational.

6) Do I need an agent to help me set up my business?

It is not mandatory for foreign investors to engage agents to set up a business in Fiji. In the case the investors are not present in the country and need a representative to make lodgements and submissions on their behalf, foreign investors can engage agents to make the necessary submissions and lodgements.
For a list of agents in Fiji, email
info@investmentfiji.org.fj or contact (679) 3315988.  

7) What form of business (entity) can I operate in Fiji?

Investors can operate their business through the following types of entities:
a) Sole Trader (1 owner - individual)
b) Partnership (2 or more partners)
c) Limited Liability Company (1 – 49 shareholders)
d) Branch operation (parent company is sole shareholder)
e) Subsidiaries (more than 50% owned and controlled by another company or parent company)

8) What is the difference between a sole trader and a limited liability company?

A Sole trader business is taxed as individuals while a company is taxed as a separate entity. With reference to the liabilities of a company, the personal assets of the owners are protected or treated as separate from company assets. Whereas, for a sole trader business there is no differentiation between the personal assets of the owner and that of the business. Sole trader business is a simpler business structure, so it generally has less paperwork and ongoing costs. A company is a more complex business structure, generally has more paperwork and potentially higher ongoing costs.

9) Do I need a local partner to operate any business in Fiji?

No. Only those wishing to invest in the Fisheries sector (Commercial fishing) require at least 30% of equity to be held by locals and the foreign investor must have at least FJD $500,000.00 in owner’s contribution or paid-up capital. The foreign investor can operate any other business activity listed under Restricted Activities by meeting the minimum capital requirement. However, activities under Reserved activities are prescribed for Fiji Citizens only.

10) How much should I invest to obtain an approval?

Activities that are classified as Restricted have specified minimum investment levels. (For more information, please refer to the list of Restricted Activities in the Activities that are neither categorized as Restricted nor Reserved, are Unspecified activities, hence there are no minimum requirements on investment levels. However, during the application process the foreign investor will be required to state the proposed investment level for the project.

11) Where can I set up my business?

You can be setup in any town of your preference. However, it is important to note that there are two main shipping ports - in Suva and Lautoka, which are also the two major cities in Fiji. Fiji’s International airport is located in Nadi. Foreign investors should locate their business in appropriate land classification to suit their business operation.

12) How do I go about obtaining land for my business?

There are three different types of land ownership structures in Fiji, i.e., Native land, State land and Freehold land.
• Native land –makes up 91% of all land mass in Fiji. The iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) is the statutory body that controls and administers iTaukei lands on behalf and for its owners. For available native land for lease, please refer to the TLTB website https://www.tltb.com.fj/
• State land –makes up 4% of the total land mass in Fiji.  The Ministry of Lands administers a total of 18,000 State land leases. For available state land leases, please refer to the Ministry of Lands website
http://www.lands.gov.fj/
•  Freehold land – the remaining 5% is Freehold land that is sold and purchased privately.
Foreign citizens are restricted from purchasing freehold land within the town/city boundary for residential purposes. Any purchase of freehold land more than one acre requires Ministerial approval (Ministry of Lands). Available freehold land may be advertised through licensed real estate agents.

13) Do I have to bring into the country the specified level of investment money straight away?

If the paid-up equity is below FJD $2.5 million, then it must be transferred to the company’s Fiji dollar bank account within 12 months from the time that Investment Fiji issues a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC). However, if the paid-up equity is FJD $2.5 million or more, then it must be transferred within 18 months to the company’s Fiji dollar account.

14) When can I open a bank account in Fiji?

The investor can open the company's Fiji dollar bank account after obtaining the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) from Investment Fiji, approval from the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) and registering the company with the Registrar of Companies. Individual investors can open their personal Fiji dollar bank accounts only after obtaining their work permit.

15) Is there enough infrastructure in Fiji for me to conduct my business successfully?

Yes. Fiji has a reliable telecommunications network. Fiji is linked by optic fiber cable to Australia, New Zealand, USA and rest of the world. Mobile phones are also used extensively in Fiji. The Electricity Authority of Fiji provides power or electricity services to most parts of Fiji, catering for residential properties, commercial, industrial and the tourism industries. The Water Authority of Fiji provides piped water and sewerage facilities to the public. The main commercial centres of Fiji are linked by road, air or sea. Presently the road infrastructure is developed and generally well maintained with tar-sealed highways linking various cities and towns along the southern/western parts of the island. Buses operate scheduled services within and between cities, towns and other populated areas all around Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, Fiji’s two main islands. The Nadi International Airport is used by most international airlines operating on the transpacific air routes. Fiji’s International airline, Fiji Airways, operates scheduled flights between Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Los Angeles (USA), SanFrancisco (USA), Hawaii, Singapore and Hong Kong as well as through other regional countries of the South Pacific namely, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu. There are regular daily flights between Nadi and Suva through Fiji Airways domestic airline, the Fiji Link. Fiji also has international shipping services. Suva is the main port and its wharf facilities are capable of handling large cargo and passenger vessels. Lautoka and Levuka are the other smaller ports of entry.

16) Are there regular shipping/air services to Fiji?

Fiji's strategic location in the South Pacific makes it an ideal trading port, which is serviced by international shipping services. Fiji's ports of entry provide Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (Biosecurity) services. The country’s international airport is based in Nadi and is equipped to handle all types of aircrafts including the Airbus330-300s. The Nadi International Airport services Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand, Jetstar Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Niugini, Air Vanuatu, Air Calin and Our Airlines provide international services through Nadi Airport.

17) What is the minimum wage rate in Fiji?

The minimum wage rate in Fiji is FJD $2.68 per hour. However, there are separate minimum wage rates and terms and conditions for specific industries.

18) How do I go about obtaining a work permit to conduct my business?

The Department of Immigration is responsible for the issuance of work permits. There are two types of work permits:
(i) Key-post work permits (Investor Permit for Non-Citizen Investors) - are granted to non-citizen investors to be engaged in a business project approved by the Investment Fiji. Investment Fiji approval is via the issuance of a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC). Authority is under Section 9(2)(c) of the Immigration Act, 2003.
(ii) Time post work permits (Work Permit for Non-Citizen Skilled Contracted Workers) are issued to employees (non-shareholders) of Fiji registered companies or organisations. These include non-shareholder company directors. For these you may enquire directly with the Department of Immigration.

19) Would I be able to bring in foreign workers to work in my business?

Yes. You may liaise directly with the Department of Immigration for requirements and approvals to bring in foreign workers. For more information please refer to the Department of Immigration website -http://www.immigration.gov.fj/

20) I currently hold a time-post work permit. Will I be able to conduct a business and work at the same time?

No. According to Immigration policies, foreigners cannot be issued with more than one type of permit. A foreigner, holding a time-post work permit who wishes to conduct business, may do so however, the time-post work permit will have to be cancelled. For more information please contact the Department of Immigration. 

21) Can I as an investor obtain loans from commercial banks in Fiji?

Yes. Foreign Investors can apply for loans from commercial banks in Fiji. However, the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) will monitor commercial banks’ lending to different sectors. Loan applications will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

22) Can I as an investor invest in a personal property?

Yes. However, non-citizens will not be able to purchase land within the town and city boundary. If the freehold property, outside the town or city boundary, is larger than one acre than the approval of the Minister for Lands is required first.  For the first residential property purchase under one acre investor permit is not required, but residence and/or Work Permit on the property is required. You also need to register with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services (FRCS) for tax purposes. 

23) Is it easy to transfer capital and income out of Fiji?

Foreign investors with established businesses in Fiji can readily make payments overseas. Payments for imports and service related charges are made directly at the commercial banks without Reserve Bank of Fiji(RBF) approval. Payment types such as “Prepayment of term bills for goods already landed and cleared by Fiji Customs” and “Advance Import Payments prior to shipment of goods” require RBF approval. Details on the requirements can be found in the Reserve Bank of Fiji 2016 Exchange Control Policy.  

24) What sort of approvals do I need for developing vacant land for construction of buildings?

Most developments, especially large-scale developments, require an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report from the Department of Environment.  All land developments need to be approved by the Department of Town and Country Planning.

25) How are individuals taxed?

Resident - tax income from all sources. Non-residents - tax only on income derived in Fiji. The determination of residency depends on several factors such as:- period of residency in Fiji;
- whether the person has a permanent home in Fiji- in the case of a Company, voting rights by residents etc. A person who migrates and no longer maintains a home in Fiji would be treated as a Non –Resident.

26) What is the Corporate Tax per annum?

Corporate Tax Rate is 20%. A foreign company that establishes/relocates its Head quarters to Fiji will be subject to a low corporate tax rate of 17%. A listed company on the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPX)will be subject to a low corporate tax rate of 10%. Income earned from trading of shares in SPX will be exempted from Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

27) How do I apply for a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC)?

Every foreign investor will need to complete one FIRC application form and submit the completed form along with other required documents to Investment Fiji. Please refer to Page 2 of the Investment Guide.
The documents listed under (1)Application for a FIRC – New Business, are required for processing the application. If approved, the applicant will be issued with a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC).

28) Are there any fees or charges for the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC)?

Yes. The processing fee for a FIRC application is FJD$2,725(VIP). The payment of the application fee must be made upon lodgement of the FIRC application. Payment is accepted only in cash or bank cheque and is non-refundable.

29) Do all the shareholders need to be present (in the country) to sign off the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) application?

Yes. In case they can’t, then a letter of authority from each individual shareholder should be sufficient.

30) Is there a standard business plan format required by Investment Fiji?

Yes. For guidance as to what kinds of information will be required for assessment of the application, the seven key components you must have in your business plan include:
·     Executive Summary
·      Business Description
·      Market Analysis
·      Organization Management
·      Sales Strategies
·      Funding Requirements
·      Financial Projections

31) How long does it take to evaluate and approve the application?

The standard processing time is five working days, provided all relevant documents as per the checklist are submitted at the time of the application and the application forms are correctly and completely filled. Investment Fiji will conduct due diligence and credibility checks for verification purposes.

32) How can I check on the progress of my application?

Once the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) application is lodged, the application is directed to the Investment Facilitation Division where an Advisor is assigned to process the application. You may liaise directly with the designated Advisor to enquire on the progress of your application.

33) Once the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) is granted, can Investment Fiji send/post the original FIRC approval overseas to its shareholders based abroad?

Once the FIRC is granted, the company representatives or agents will be contacted for the collection of the FIRC approval from an Investment Fiji office in Suva, Lautoka or Labasa. The company reps or agents can then share the original FIRCs overseas to their shareholders. Investment Fiji will not be liable for lost or damaged FIRCs and does not issue replacement FIRCs.

34) On what grounds would a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC)application be declined?

According to the Foreign Investment Act 1999, the application can be declined if: (i) In the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the application is incorrect or misleading or does not comply with the Act or regulations.
(ii) The foreign investors or any other person associated with the foreign investor is an undischarged bankrupt, is under management or is in receivership or liquidation under the law of the State or any other country.
(iii) The CEO has reasonable grounds for believing that the application is not genuine.  

35) If the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) is not issued by the Chief Executive officer (CEO) of Investment Fiji, how can I get around the FIA to do the project?

There is an appeals procedure in place. The conditions in the Foreign Investment Act must be met, however if the investors are not happy with the decision, they are entitled to appeal to the Minister under section 15 of the Foreign Investment Act-2004. 

36) What are the next steps to setting up my business once I have obtained a Foreign Investment Registration Certificate(FIRC)?

An issued FIRC is always accompanied with an approval letter and it is critical that the foreign investor goes through the approval letter thoroughly as it includes a list of approvals that will need to be obtained after receiving the FIRC. It is advisable to submit copies of the approvals from other regulatory agencies to Investment Fiji in order to keep your records updated.

37) I would like to change my business activity. What should I do?

The investor must write a formal letter of request for “Change in Business Activity” to Investment Fiji. The formal letter must include valid reasons as to why the foreign investor wants to change the business activity. The formal letter must also be accompanied by compliance documents as listed in the Investment Guide.

38) I have begun business operations and implemented the project. Do I need to inform Investment Fiji?

Yes. Once the business has begun operating according to the approved activity, the foreign investor must fill in the Declaration Form (D1 Form) and submit the completed form to Investment Fiji to declare that the business has begun operating. Unless the foreign investor provides Investment Fiji with the D1 form, the status of the project will remain as “Unimplemented.”  

39) Do I need Investment Fiji approval for change in shareholding structure?

Yes. According  to Section 11 (1) of the Foreign Investment Act (FIA) 1999, Foreign Investment (Amendment) Act 2004 and Foreign Investment(Budget Amendment) Act 2016, “If a foreign investor that has been granted a certificate (other than a foreign investor that is a public company and is listed on a securities exchange) proposes to change its ownership or shareholding particulars, the foreign investor must make an application to the Chief Executive seeking an approval for a change in its ownership or shareholding particulars before the change is effected.” 

40) I am selling my business to another foreign investor. Can the Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC) be transferred to his name?

No. According to the FIA 1999 Section 11(3), a certificate granted to a foreign investor is not transferable to any other person or body. The new owner of the business must apply for a new FIRC in order to take over the business.

41) I have yet to implement my registered project. Will I be able to venture into other opportunities and extend the activities on my Foreign Investment Registration Certificate (FIRC)?

For any foreign investors to extend the activities on the FIRC, the investor must write a formal request for extension of activity and provide all supporting documents listed in the Investment Guide. Approvals for such requests will not be considered if supporting documents are not provided.

42) Can I include an additional trading name to the registered company name?

Yes. Companies or businesses may have additional trading names as long as Investment Fiji approval is obtained. The foreign investor must provide Investment Fiji with all documents listed in the Checklist
(2) CHANGE IN COMPANY OR BUSINESS NAME (Investment Guide).

43) What is the process for obtaining a Progress Report for extension of my investor permit?  

For any foreign investors to extend the activities on the FIRC, the investor must write a formal request for extension of activity and provide all supporting documents listed in the Investment Guide. Approvals for such requests will not be considered if supporting documents are not provided.

44) Is a foreign investor allowed to hold shares in more than 1 company in Fiji?

Yes. For a registered foreign investor to further hold shares in another company, Investment Fiji requires a support letter from the already registered company signed by all shareholders approving the investor to enter another business.