Building Permits

Building in the Cook Islands is legislated for by the Building Control and Standards Act 1991, the Building Control and Standards Regulations 1991 and the Building Code 2019. A new Bill and regulations are in development and we expect to see them enacted during 2024.

Any building proposal less than 150 square meters of total floor area that is beyond 50 nautical miles of where building control staff are stationed does not require a building permit. The Building Controller is based on Rarotonga which means most other buildings in the islands outside Rarotonga will not require a building permit from the Building Controller unless he has designated power to the Island Government. However we encourage everyone to submit an application to ICI to ensure buildings are designed according to accepted health and safety standards (the Building Code).

The process for all building proposals starts at the National Environment Service. If the building proposal includes a wastewater treatment system, the proposal will also require a Sewage Construction Permit from Te Marae Ora. After you have NES and TMO approvals, you then submit your building application to ICI Building Control. View the whole process here.

We have a Development Guide that details helpful information for you to think about as you start to plan for your development. The guide also includes guidance through the permitting process as well as arranging connection to power, water and telecommunications. Download the guide here or collect one from ICI or the National Environment Service.

In planning for your building project, the Building Code has planning requirements. These must be incorporated into your building plans by your draftsperson or architect. Click here to read more about planning requirements. Click here to see a list of registered drafters and architects in the Cook Islands.

Do you need help finding a builder? Click here to see the list of registered builders in the Cook Islands.

Download a Building Permit application form here, call 20321 or email to obtain a form.

The diagram below shows the process for the building permit application review process. The process usually takes 21 days.

There are several other applications you may need to make as part of your build or renovation. Check them to see if they apply to your project.

  • Will someone else be supervising your build? Click here to download a form for designating a supervisor or visit ICI reception to obtain the form.
  • Will you have to use public space like the road or a public footpath during your build? Click here to download a form for applying to use public space or visit ICI reception to obtain the form.
  • Are you changing the use of your building? Click here to read more about Certificates of Suitability and to download a form for changing the use of your building. Alternatively, visit ICI reception to obtain the form.

The cost of a Building Permit is based on the area of the building and to cover the costs associated with the inspections, up to ten on average. There are more for more complex builds like above one storey or large commercial based structures. 

Inspections by Building Control are required during your build. Click here to read about building inspections.