Exporting to Australia

Australia is the 14th largest economy in the world (IMF, 2019). Australia’s market is similar to the UK’s, so if your product or service is successful here, you’re likely to be successful there.

Strong foundations for business

Australia’s stable institutions, sophisticated financial systems and good governance make it a good place to do business.

Similarities to UK

The UK and Australia share a common language and culture, as well as business and legal practices such as intellectual property (IP) protection and the rule of law. This makes it a relatively easy place for British companies to do business.

Ideal test market

Australia is a sophisticated, wealthy and tech-savvy market. Its 25 million people, including one million Britons (Australian Government, 2018), make it an ideal place to test and develop new products or services. Around half of the total population live in Australia’s 4 major cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, making it easy to prioritise where to do market research of your product or service.

Ease of doing business

18th

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2019)

Currency

Australian dollar

Business languages

English

GDP per capita

$56,350

UK is $42,560 (IMF, 2018)

Economic growth

2.8%

(IMF, 2018)

Time zone

GMT + 10

Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. The other time zones are GMT +8, GMT +9.5

Opportunities for exporters

Australia is the UK's 14th largest export market, and trade between the UK and Australia totalled more than £15 billion in 2018 (ONS, 2018). Opportunities exist for UK companies across a wide range of sectors, including financial services and fintech, ICT and cyber security and infrastructure.

Doing business in Australia

Preparing to export

VAT

You can zero-rate the sale of goods exported to Australia. You must get evidence that the goods were exported and keep it as part of your records. There’s also a 10% tax on the sale of most goods and services.

Find more information on VAT in non-EU markets.

Corporate tax

The corporate tax rate in Australia is 30% for income after July 2015, or 28.5% if you are a small to medium size business.

Read more about corporate tax in Australia.

Import regulations

The Australian Border Force regulates all goods imported into Australia. You’ll need to provide import declarations and documents and pay all relevant duties and taxes.

You should check you’ve paid excise duty on any alcohol, fuel, tobacco or other excise equivalent products you send to Australia.

Quarantine regulations

Australia’s biosecurity measures aim to prevent disease and pests entering the country through a strict inspection or treatment regime. There’s little you can do if your shipment encounters quarantine issues at Australian customs.

Check whether your goods are subject to biosecurity import conditions in Australia and its external territories.

Product standards

Though Australia has adopted international standards where possible, there are Australian standards with no international equivalent which may require your product to be modified, or impact how your product enters the market.

Check Australia’s voluntary standards, mandatory standards and codes of practice to make sure you’re meeting legal requirements for products.

Packaging and labelling

Packaging must meet Australian consumer health and environmental legislation. There are specific labelling requirements for:

  • chemical products
  • cosmetics
  • electronic goods
  • foodstuffs
  • most therapeutic products

All labelling must use the metric system.

You can read guidance on food labelling from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Operating in Australia

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property (IP) lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

Find out about Australia’s IP laws from the Australian government guide to investing.

Payment terms

Payment conditions should be set out in your contract and must be factored into prices. For business-to-business transactions these can range from immediate payments on receipt of goods (often with a negotiated small discount) to a negotiated 60-day payment. You need to use secure terms of payment in Australia through a letter of credit, cash, or partial payment in advance.

Logistical challenges

Australia’s sheer size and distance from the UK means you may face challenges around:

  • travelling (24 hours from the UK by plane)
  • the time and money needed to ship or send goods
  • the time difference (7 to 11 hours ahead of the UK)
  • vast distances between states and cities within the country

Business culture

It’s important to note that Australians are informal in their business interactions. First-name terms tend to be the norm in most business situations. Directness and plain speaking are valued.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.