Australia - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, etc.

Last published date: 2021-08-19

Conducting business in Australia is relatively easy for American companies due to the similarities in language, cultural environment, business practices, and customer expectations. Australians pay attention to advance planning, promptness, follow-up, and are generally direct in their business dealings. They typically conduct business on a first-name basis and exchange business cards for information purposes, but without any special ceremony. Token gift exhange is not common; however, luncheon and breakfast meetings are common. Australians do not typically schedule business functions on weekends. Business attire is the norm for the cities, and rural areas are slightly more informal.

Travel Advisory

Currently, due to COVID-19, Australia has imposed a 14-day quarantine on all incoming travelers when they arrive in Australia.  Please check the Australian Government websites at https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/and at the U.S. Embassy website for the latest information on entering Australia.  For further State Department Travel Advisory information on Australia, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel website.

Visa Requirements

Americans traveling to Australia for business and/or leisure must hold a valid U.S. passport and either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Information is available at:

  • https://usa.embassy.gov.au/entering-or-leaving-australia or
  • immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/entering-australia/can-i-go-to-australia
  • Department of Immigration and Border Protection website (for the location of the nearest Australian diplomatic facility) 

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has extended the use of SmartGate to U.S. citizens on arrival in Australia. SmartGate is a simple way for eligible travelers arriving into Australia’s international airports to self-process through passport control. Further information is available on U.S. Customs Trusted Traveler Program website.

U.S. Embassy in Australia (https://au.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/canberra/)

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign business persons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled

via an interagency process. For information, visa applicants should go to the following link(s):  State Department Visa Website

Currency

Australia’s local currency is the Australian Dollar.  Credit cards are accepted throughout the country and ATM’s are readily available.  Additional currency information is available on australia.com website.

Telecommunications/Electronics

Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure is well developed.  Cell phone network coverage is available across Australia, however coverage may be limited in some remote areas.  Australian telecommunications providers include: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. All the cell phone carriers run 4G networks. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have started to activate 5G networks in limited areas around the country and will continue widespread expansion.  You will need to make prior arrangements with your communications carrier or service provider to ensure you are able to use your cellular phone in Australia. Power voltage is 240 volts/50Hz.

Australia and New Zealand use power terminals that differ from those used in the United States. Adaptors can be purchased at airports or specific electronic stores.

Internet access is widely available at hotels, internet cafés and libraries. There are many Wi-Fi hotspots in the central business districts (CBDs) of the biggest cities.

Transportation

It is a 14-hour non-stop flight from the West Coast of the United States (San Francisco or Los Angeles) to the East Coast of Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane).

Several international airlines have serviced the trans-pacific route including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas Airways, and United Airlines with flights departing from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Honolulu to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.  Please refer to airlines’ websites for updated flight options, availability and information.

Most flights depart from the United States late in the evening and arrive in Australia early morning, with a day lost at the International Date Line. Travel to or from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America, and South Africa from Australia is also convenient.

Australians drive on the left side of the road. Major U.S. and Australian car rental agencies operate throughout the country. Reservations are available through airports, hotels, travel agents, or directly, using a credit card and a U.S. or international driver’s license.

Public transportation is well developed throughout urban areas. Convenient bus, rail, and air services are available between cities and country towns.

International Air Travel Times

Los Angeles to Sydney - 14 hours

New York to Sydney (via Los Angeles or San Francisco) - 21 hours

Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney – 16 hours

Honolulu to Sydney - 9 hours

Tokyo to Sydney - 9 hours

Hong Kong to Sydney - 9 hours

Singapore to Sydney - 8 hours

 

Air Travel Times Within Australia

Sydney to Melbourne - 1 hour

Sydney to Brisbane - 1 hour

Sydney to Perth - 4 hours

Sydney to Canberra - 35 minutes

Sydney to Adelaide – 2 hours

Melbourne to Brisbane - 2 hours

Melbourne to Perth - 4 hours

Brisbane to Perth - 6 hours


Language

Australia is an English-speaking country.

Health

Australia has no notable health risks and public tap water is safe to drink. There are active campaigns to encourage the population to protect themselves from exposure to Australia’s strong sun and to use sunscreen.  Medical and dental services, and all types of health facilities, are comparable with those in the United States. Visitors can easily receive medical attention, but may be required to pay for services immediately, either by cash or credit card.

Local Time, Business Hours & Holidays

Australia has three time zones: Eastern, Central, and Western. Not all Australian states observe daylight savings time and the dates for the switch to and from daylight savings time varies.

Office business hours are generally between 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Most shops in major city centers are open on Saturday and Sunday and at least one night a week for evening trading. Banks are open to the public from 9:00am to 4:00pm, Monday through Friday, with 24/7 ATM service. Restaurants and convenience stores are typically open for extended hours.

Australians generally take annual vacation in December and January, combining Christmas/New Year with the school summer vacation period. Consequently, business slows down and it may be difficult to schedule business appointments during this time. Business travelers should ascertain whether their contacts are available during this period before scheduling trips to Australia.

A list of Public Holidays in Australia can be found on the Australian Government website.

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

Certain goods may be brought into Australia on a temporary basis for a period of up to 12 months without the payment of duty or taxes. These goods are referred to as temporary imports.  Approval for temporary imports is granted under Section 162 or Section 162A of the Customs Act 1901.

Goods that qualify as temporary imports may also be imported under carnet, where a security is lodged with a carnet issuing body overseas, or under security, where a security is lodged with the Australian Customs Service (Customs) at the time of import. The nature of the goods, what they will be used for while they are in Australia, and who is importing the goods will determine whether or not the goods will qualify.

There are conditions placed on temporary imports.  The most important condition is that you export the goods within the time limits approved.  If the goods are not exported within the time limit you will have to pay to customs an amount equal to the duty and taxes that would have been payable if when you first imported the goods, the goods had not been treated as temporary imports.

For further information, please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.