Skip to main content

Advice

Export professional and business services to Australia

Free trade agreement export guide

Overview

From legal services and engineering to accountancy and audit, the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) creates new opportunities to increase the £2.4 billion of insurance, legal and professional services the UK exported to Australia in 2021 (source: UK trade in services: service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted Q3 2022).

Overall, the FTA could increase the gross value added of business services by around £210 million (source: DIT UK-Australia FTA Impact Assessment, May 2022), including through facilitating the recognition of professional qualifications, making business travel more certain, and facilitating greater access to billions of pounds’ worth of government contracts.

The professional service sector is a vibrant and growing sector of the Australian business community and an important contributor to the Australian economy both in terms of employment and productivity improvement. This sector cuts across many industries including legal, accountancy, building and construction, architecture, town planning, engineering, recruitment and more.

Accounting and legal services continue to be 2 of the more consistent sectors in Australia, with employment, revenue, and wages all increasing at a steady rate. Whilst the big, international, and well-known providers in these sectors are very active, there are also a large number of sole proprietors and boutique firms in the industry which typically service individuals or small businesses. The UK’s sophisticated and well-established accountancy and legal sectors are well placed to capitalise on the opportunities in a more open Australian market.

For professional services tech companies, the growing use of technology and data has seen the growing trend of engaging specialised providers for their technology needs. The advent of a new technological era has brought with it disruption, creating opportunities for professional services firms. Legal-tech entrants have quadrupled in the past 2 decades and Cloud, AI, and cryptocurrency technology have all spurred changes in the accounting sector. The UK’s booming tech industry can capitalise on these opportunities, building on the landmark UK tech sector valuation of USD $1 trillion reached by end of 2022 (source: Tech Nation, 2022: A year of the UK tech ecosystem in review, January 2023).

UK Finance Icon

£2.4 billion of UK insurance, legal and professional services were exported to Australia in 2021

Growing Business Icon

Overall, the FTA could increase the gross value added of business services by around £210 million

Technology Services Icon

The UK tech sector reached a valuation of USD $1 trillion by the end of 2022

What opportunities are there in Australia?

Are you an accountancy firm, based in the UK, with offices in Australia?

Your accountants will be able to work across the two countries more easily, with greater certainty on short-term business travel.

Are you an architecture firm, based in the UK, who wants to provide architectural design services to the Australian government?

You will have legally guaranteed access to Australian government contracts for the first time when these are procured by bodies covered by the FTA. You will also benefit from the new mutual recognition agreement agreed between the accreditation bodies of the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Are you a UK law firm with a branch in Australia?

Your UK lawyers will have the guaranteed ability to practise foreign and international law in Australia using their ‘home’ title and qualification, without having to requalify as an Australian lawyer.

How can the FTA help you seize these opportunities?

Recognition of professional qualifications

Professional services are a major UK export and play an essential role in facilitating broader trade and investment. To support this important sector,the FTA commits the UK and Australia to encourage their regulators to agree mutual recognition arrangements in order to streamline and remove costly and burdensome requalification requirements.

The Professional Services Working Group will help to monitor and drive results on the recognition of professional qualifications by facilitating engagement between the UK and Australian governments and relevant regulatory bodies.

Enhanced certainty

The FTA provides greater certainty for the UK services industry, securing access to the high-value Australian market on equal terms with Australian companies and reducing risk from investment decisions.

Australia has, for the first time, provided a ‘negative listing’ of reservations at the federal and sub-federal level of government, meaning that all supply of services has this certainty unless specifically stated. This provides greater transparency and legal certainty for UK service suppliers operating, or seeking to operate, in the Australian market.

Easier business travel

Companies providing a service in Australia operating in a significant number of important sectors, including travel agents, engineers and consultants can more easily send British staff to Australia for work, without being subject to Australia’s changing skilled occupation list.

Providing this kind of certainty was a top priority for British businesses seeking to make further inroads into providing services in Australia. Businesses in Australia will also no longer have to prove they can’t find an Australian local to fill a job before they sponsor a visa for a UK professional. This process currently exists for all businesses in Australia hiring anyone from overseas.

Senior employees of companies will also find it easier to move on intra-company transfers to Australia. They will be eligible to apply for visas of up to 4 years instead of 2, and their spouses and dependent children will also have the right to work during a transfer for up to 4 years, subject to meeting the relevant immigration requirements. Find more information on business travel and mobility.

Prospective visa applicants should check with the Australian Department of Home Affairs for full visa details and eligibility criteria. Please note that final visa names are set by the destination country and may vary from the FTA business travel category.

Clearer regulatory environment

The FTA addresses behind-the-scenes access barriers by securing globally leading regulatory transparency commitments for all services sectors, as well as commitments to keep sector-specific rules and domestic regulation straightforward. This will ensure unnecessary bureaucracy does not get in the way of firms operating in Australia and makes it more attractive for services exporters to enter the Australian market.

Free flow of data

The free flow of data is crucial for services companies to effectively service their customers and achieve business growth. As a knowledge-based sector, access to data and information is essential to professional and business services firms both to transform their own business models and to develop innovative new services for clients.

The FTA ensures that data can flow freely between the 2 countries whilst retaining the UK’s high standards on data protection. This means businesses will not face unjustified barriers to data flows, such as the requirement to store their data in costly servers in Australia.

Legal services

The UK is the second-largest legal centre in the world and home to 5 of the world’s 20 largest law firms, with Anglo-Welsh law used in 40% of all global corporate arbitrations according to TheCityUK (source: Legal excellence, internationally renowned. UK legal services 2022. TheCityUK). The agreement has secured reciprocal access for lawyers wishing to practice law in the territory of the other Party. This guarantees that UK lawyers can advise on home (UK), foreign and international law in Australia using their ‘home’ title and qualification – that is without the need for requalification or having to undertake processes for their qualification to be recognised in the host country.

For example, lawyers in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland will now have certainty and clarity about their ability to give legal advice on home, foreign and international law in Australia, using their UK qualifications and title. This will also include arbitration, conciliation, and mediation services.

UK law firms will also benefit from having legally guaranteed access to Australian government contracts for legal services for the first time when these are procured by bodies covered by the FTA.

The Legal Services Regulatory Dialogue, established in the FTA, will be sector-led, with the aim of sharing expertise and addressing remaining behind the border barriers such as those relating to requalification.

Additional information for selling services into Australia

Providing services in Australia will have other consequences including for tax, intellectual property and local labour regulations. Please refer to the following for more advice:

Doing business in Australia

The UK and Australia share a common language and culture, as well as business and legal practices such as intellectual property protection and the rule of law. This makes it easier for UK companies to do business there.

With a population of over 25 million, including more than 1 million Britons, Australia is an ideal place to test and develop new products and services. Around three-fifths of the total population live in Australia’s 4 largest cities, making it easy to prioritise where to launch your product or service.

Legal disclaimer

The information provided on this webpage is for guidance only and should not be relied on as a substitute for your own research or independent advice.

No investment and/or business decision should be made solely on the basis of information presented on this page. It is recommended that an independent due diligence investigation is conducted before entering into engagement with any individual, firm, company or other organisation mentioned.

DBT accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage caused to any person as result of any error, omission, inaccurate or misleading statement on this page.

The accuracy, completeness or up-to-dateness of the content of any website mentioned in this document is not guaranteed in any way, implied or explicit.

Want to know more?

Learn how to start exporting with our easy-to-follow online course.

Sign up for free

Something went wrong. Please try again.

Was this page useful?

Thanks for letting us know

Can you tell us why this page was useful?

Do not share any personal or commercially sensitive information.

Cancel

Thanks for letting us know

Can you tell us more about your feedback?

Do not share any personal or commercially sensitive information.

Cancel

Thanks for your feedback