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How to do business in Australia

Legal considerations

The federal government of Australia legislates in areas such as trade and commerce, banking, foreign affairs, defence and taxation. Other areas of legislation are dealt with by individual states.

There are three major government agencies involved in the regulation of corporations in Australia:

  • the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) administers the national Corporations Act 2001 and enforces company and financial services laws to protect consumers, investors and creditors. See: www.asic.gov.au  

  • the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) administers the national Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and seeks to protect consumers and promote fair trading and competition in trade and commerce. See: www.accc.gov.au  

  • the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulates prudent management of deposit taking institutions, insurance companies, and larger superannuation funds. See: www.apra.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

The Australian Government’s business website contains information on planning, starting and growing your business. See: www.business.gov.au  

Standards and technical regulations
Suppliers and manufacturers have an obligation to make sure products are safe. Products must meet relevant safety standards, have clear instructions for proper use and include warnings against possible misuse. If you do not comply with mandatory standards, you risk action being taken against you under the Trade Practices Act.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) enforces mandatory product safety and information standards and bans on unsafe goods declared under the Trade Practices Act. Fair trading offices also have an important role in product safety within their own states.

Intellectual property (IP)
Trademarks, designs, patents and copyright are the principal forms of intellectual property protection available under common law. They are all governed by legislation. The common law also provides protection against a person passing off goods or services as those of another, as well as protection for confidential information or trade secrets.

IP protection in Australia is strong and an important consideration for UK businesses looking to do business in Australia. Under common law the principal forms of intellectual property protection available in Australia are trademarks, designs, patents and copyright. All of these forms of protection are governed by legislation. The common law also provides remedies against a person passing off goods or services as those of another, as well as protection for confidential information or trade secrets.

Find out more about Intellectual Property and other ways of protecting your business in Australia on the Austrade website: www.austrade.gov.au/International/Invest/Guide-to-investing/Running-a-business/Understanding-Australian-business-regulation/Australian-Intellectual-Property-laws/Australian-Intellectual-Property-laws

Read also the information provided on the UK Government’s Intellectual Property page: www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview

 

Tax and customs considerations

Goods and Services Tax (GST)
Goods and Services Tax is a 10% tax on the sale of most goods and services in Australia. Businesses registered for GST will usually include it in the price of sales to their customers.

Company tax
The company tax rate for an Australian resident company is currently 30% of its taxable income, or 28.5% for SMEs with an annual turnover of less than A$2 million. Taxable income is assessed on the basis of assessable business income less allowable business deductions.

Individual income tax
Different types of individual income can include:

  • salary and wages

  • pensions

  • interest

  • royalties

  • partnership and trust distributions

  • company dividends

If you decide to become a resident of Australia you will generally be liable to Australian income tax on income and capital gains earned in Australia and derived throughout the world (although there are a number of exceptions).

There is a double taxation agreement in place that should in most cases prevent any double tax liability from UK and Australian authorities over the same income.

If you are not a resident of Australia for tax purposes, income earned in Australia is subject to a higher tax regime. In many cases, no personal allowance is offered and tax is levied from the first dollar earned.

Customs
The Australian Customs Service regulates all goods imported into Australia. Customs duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) may apply to goods entering Australia. However, tax rates depend upon a number of factors, including the type of goods and the country of origin. All imported goods must be cleared with customs whether they are imported by air, sea or post. See: www.border.gov.au  

[Source: Department for International Trade/gov.uk (Aug 2015)]

UK Export Finance
The UK government can provide finance or credit insurance specifically to support UK exports through UK Export Finance – the UK’s export credit agency. See: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-export-finance

For up-to-date country-specific information on the support available see: UK Export Finance’s country cover policy and indicators at: www.gov.uk/guidance/country-cover-policy-and-indicators. Details for Australia are available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/country-cover-policy-and-indicators#australia

[Source: UK Export Finance/gov.uk (Aug 2016)]


 

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