Business travel in Australia: things you should know

Krizia Mojado
Krizia Mojado
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Australia is home to some very popular business cities, such as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, among others. It is, therefore, no surprise that the country is a highly-rated destination for corporate travel. After a brief hiatus following COVID-19 restrictions, airlines in Australia have experienced a 90% rise in corporate passenger trips in 2022. 

Part of this is because the Australian government itself dedicates a lot to supporting foreign business persons and even encouraging them to start and expand their business there. This includes grants, skilled staff recruitment support, tax incentives, as well as project facilitation for major projects. 

Beyond the business opportunities, Australia is a well-loved country with an accommodating culture. In many ways, it is similar to popular western culture and so many people will likely not experience any shocks contacting Australian traditions and practices. However, it is important to get familiar with what to expect as a non-resident corporate traveller going to Australia for business. You’d find that it doesn’t take much to achieve with these business travel tips. 

Taxes and payment

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According to the Australian Taxation Office, foreign temporary residents in Australia are required to declare taxes on income derived in Australia. However, they are exempted from paying income tax on overseas income except for earnings from overseas employment while temporarily residing in Australia.

Regardless, if you already pay tax in a foreign country, you may be entitled to a foreign income tax offset when filing for your returns in Australia as a temporary resident. Note that temporary residents are exempted from the Medicare levy and as such must arrange their own private health cover if required. 

When you need to conduct financial transactions, all the major credit cards are accepted for payments in Australia, including American Express, Visa, and Mastercard. Discover cards are not accepted in Australia. These cards are issued in Australian dollars by such banks as the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ, one of the country’s biggest banks), Citi, Bank Australia, Suncorp, and so on. There are also credit unions and other smaller banks providing credit card services. 

Tipping is not a frequent practice in Australia, but there is a 10% tax for spending transactions, but you can get a refund if you spend more than $300 in a single location. You must apply for this refund within 30 days of leaving the country. 

Business Etiquette 

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Beyond making early corporate travel bookings, businesspersons need to acknowledge that integral to any people’s culture is how they do business, particularly with foreigners. Australians love to be factual and straightforward. They are also typically reserved and may not betray their true reactions to your position until it is time to decide.

Therefore, when conducting business with them, you must be careful not to overplay your hand. That’s why you must exercise patience too since Australians love to take their time, especially when it comes to major business decisions. 

During your travel experience, there is no reason to be uptight and overly formal around Australians. A handshake and a smile are appropriate in most settings, including business and casual contexts. Greetings are mostly informal, even in formal settings. A simple “Hi/Hey” or “How’re you doing?” is enough when you’re in Australia. More so, when talking business, it is polite and appropriate to lead with small talk about the weather, or sports. 

Australian business culture typically does not include offering gifts, as that can easily pass for a bribe. However, if you come from a culture where it is usual to offer gifts in the business setting, it is okay to bring a small one (so small that it can’t be mistaken for a bribe; an executive pen, for instance). 

Overall, visitors to Australia will quickly find out that business in the country is not unlike what occurs in Europe and North America. So, if you are already familiar with western business etiquette, you are good to go. The business dress is conservative, and organisations respect the traditional 9-5 structure. If you need to visit for business, try to do so between March and November since December to February is usually considered tourist season. 

Sun protection

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If you are coming from Europe or anywhere else in the northern hemisphere, you will quickly find that the seasons in Australia do not occur at the same time as you are familiar with. For instance, summer occurs between December and February, while autumn begins from then and ends in May. June to August is the winter season and spring starts from September to November. However, note that the extreme north of Australia is a tropical region and seasons change from wet to dry. Include these considerations in your trip management processes.

However, despite these variations in differences, you must keep in mind that the Australian sun is harsh. The country is known for being the region with the hottest summer climate and the hottest sunshine duration. For those coming from temperate regions, it might be difficult to acclimatise to this weather. To cope though, you must come with loose-fit clothes, especially with fabric made of cotton, linen, or silk, as these are known to absorb sweat.

Also, don’t forget to protect your skin with SPF sunscreen and a moisturiser to keep your skin from dryness. Particularly, hydrate a lot by taking a lot of water when you are in Australia. Corporate travel managers should make provisions for these needs when planning employees’ trips. 

Know some Aussie slang

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English is the primary language in Australia, but you will quickly find out that there is a standard Australian dialect, with its slang and unusual terms. However, don’t feel compelled to join in the slang usage, lest you use them inappropriately and fail to amuse your partners and hosts. If possible, stick to the global English standard expressions or that of your home country. 

Regardless, beyond regular travel needs, it is good to familiarise yourself with the following terms and slang, just in case someone uses it with you.

  • Arvo – Afternoon
  • Barbie – Barbecue
  • Bogan – an uncultured or unsophisticated person 
  • Bonzer – great, awesome, first-rate
  • Bottle-O – Bottle Shop, an alcohol shop
  • Brekky – Breakfast
  • Brolly – Umbrella
  • Cabbie – taxi driver
  • Cakehole – mouth
  • Chook – Chicken
  • Chrissie – Christmas
  • Ciggy – a Cigarette
  • Cobber – A very good friend
  • Crikey – an expression of surprise
  • Crook – Being ill or angry
  • Dag – a funny and likeable person
  • Daks – Trousers
  • Deadset – True
  • Devo – Devastated
  • Exy – expensive
  • Facey – Facebook
  • Good On Ya – Good job
  • G’day – Hello
  • Maccas – McDonald’s
  • No Drama – No problem
  • Servo – gas/fuel station
  • Sky gator – aeroplane
  • Sunnies – sunglasses
  • Ta – thank you
  • Yakka – hard work

These are a few of the terms you may encounter. Full lists of Aussie slang can be found online. 

Getting Familiar

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Australians are very accommodating people, and business conversations can hold anywhere, even in non-official settings such as pubs, parks, beaches, people’s homes, or even over barbies (barbecue). So don’t get too surprised if a business partner invites you to their home to close an important deal. It is all part of cultivating friendliness and familiarity. However, you may not take that familiarity for granted, and lose yourself in the thrill of being cordial. 

For one, you have to pick topics you discuss carefully, although the off-limits list is not too long. For instance, Australians make jokes about their country a lot, but that does not mean you, a foreigner, are allowed to join them. Rein in whatever sentiments you may hold so that your hosts do not take offence. Instead, try to show genuine curiosity in discovering Australian culture. If you are a sports buff, some of the sports popular with Australians include rugby, Australian football (also called Aussie rules), cricket, golf, soccer, and tennis. Try to avoid controversial topics such as politics (both local and international), religion, and sex. 

Other Tips:

  • Australia has multiple time zones between UTC +8 and UTC +13. Also, some cities such as Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne use daylight savings time while others like Brisbane and Perth don’t. 
  • Australian electricity uses 220-240V and 50Hz. Ensure you carry along compatible devices.
  • The country dialling code is +61
  • The Australian government is democratic, using the federal parliamentary system like the United Kingdom, with King Charles III as the head of state
  • Popular holidays observed include New Year’s Day and Christian holidays. The national day is January 26. Some states have specific holidays. Confirm the list for your specific travel destination.
  • The most popular tourist attractions include the Sydney Opera House, Kakadu National Park, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, Royal Botanic Garden, Melbourne Skydeck, Australian War Memorial, etc.

Expanding your business to Australia soon?

Business travelling anywhere, and not just in Australia, can be intensive. Therefore, you need proper business trip management. Using TruTrip, you can book trips, manage transactions, and enforce company travel policies. Book a demo or sign up for free trial to experience how TruTrip can help you