Google Reviews

Need Help? Contact An Australian Business Lawyer Today 1300 003 077
Close this search box.

If Your Business Exports Services – Consider This

Reading time: 4 mins

If you own an Australian business that supplies services to overseas customers, there are a lot of things for you to consider. This article explores the issues and strategies that can help protect services exports and the businesses that supply them. It outlines some of those cross-border and commercial issues for services exports.

Farrah Motley wrote this article. Farrah is the Director of Prosper Law and an eCommerce lawyer. Farrah has helped online businesses for over ten years.

The Australian Landscape of Services Exports

The rate at which Australia exports services has been steadily increasing.

In 2017, Australia’s services exports accounted for 21.21% (as a percentage of gross domestic product). By 2019, services exports grew to 24.11% (as a percentage of gross domestic product).

And it shows no signs of slowing down. In 2021, the Australian government announced its services export plans to promote exports of Australian services. You can read the government’s services export plan here.

If COVID-19 has taught businesses anything, it’s that services really can be performed from anywhere in the world, to any buyer in the world (despite there being no physical presence). There are, however, some factors that businesses should take into account when exporting services.

The Top 5 Things for Service Providers to Consider

If your business is eyeing an opportunity to export services (i.e. services are performed in a home country and sold to a buyer in another country), you should take into account:

  1. Local laws aimed at protecting domestic businesses
  2. Taxation
  3. Free trade agreements
  4. Leverage for payment
  5. The identity of your client
  6. Foreign exchange
person holding small toy airplane against black and white map as concept of travel and vacation

Protectionist Laws

Many governments seek to protect certain local industries, particularly in developing nations where local businesses struggle to compete with their foreign counterparts.

These protectionist measures may include licensing requirements that can only be achieved with the involvement of local specialists; requirements to incorporate a local branch or subsidiary and local directorship and minimum shareholding thresholds.


If you and your business are considered Australian residents for tax purposes, it generally does not matter where in the world you earn income or revenue; tax is payable in Australia.

Your business may also need to pay local taxes.

Many countries have reciprocal taxation arrangements which require businesses to report revenue but the tax payable is offset by the tax paid in the business’s home country. This means that your business may not be taxed twice.

It is always important that if your business is looking to export services, you seek professional tax advice (in Australia and the country in which you are selling services).

There may be tax consequences in Australia that you weren’t aware of and, when it comes to taxation, surprises are never a good thing.

Free Trade Agreements

Free trade agreements are treaties between two or more nations that reduce trading barriers and increase investment opportunities between the signatory nations.

If your business is seeking to export services, you should first check to see whether there is a free trade agreement in place as these can provide significant advantages.

modern aircraft on runway in airport

Leverage for Payment

It’s important to have a strategy in place for dealing with bad debts in foreign countries; particularly where your buyer is located in a country where the administration of justice can be arbitrary.

To mitigate the risk of bad debts, ensure you retain all intellectual property rights in deliverables at least until payment is received in full, invoice at regular intervals with short payment terms and (where possible) seek parent company guarantees.

Client Identity

Unless your client is a trusted, long-term client, it’s important to know who your client is and resist the temptation to simply accept an opportunity.

Engage a local professional services firm to do some due diligence. They will be able to conduct searches to find out:

  1. is your client experiencing financial difficulties;
  2. do they have pending lawsuits against them;
  3. are they a new company; and
  4. do they have nominal paid-up capital.

Foreign Exchange

Aside from making revenue from selling your services overseas, your business may also be able to benefit from favourable foreign exchange rates. But the opposite is also true; you may end up with less money for your services when you exchange payment for Australian Dollars.

So if you are invoicing, being paid and transferring money in different currencies, consider your timing and ensure you keep an eye on foreign currency exchange rates.

How can Prosper Law Help?

If you need a lawyer to help your business with services export agreements and overseas business transactions, contact us today.

Our business lawyers offer fixed fee legal services for Australian and international companies.

Like this article? Check out:

Sales and Refund Terms and Conditions

Is a Foreign Contract Enforceable?

How To Protect Your Business When Importing Goods From Overseas

online law firm

About the Author

Farrah Motley
Director of Prosper Law. Farrah founded Prosper online law firm in 2021. She wanted to create a better way of doing legal work and a better experience for customers of legal services.

Contact an Australian Business Lawyer Today.

Contact us for a free consultation
Contact Us For A Free Legal Consultation
About Prosper Law

We provide legal advice to business and individuals across Australia, no matter which State or Territory you are located. Our easy-to-access, online legal services mean that you can talk to our lawyers wherever you are, at a time that suits you.


Google Reviews

Get Your Free Guide Now
Need Legal Assistance?

Don’t hesitate – reach out for your free legal assistance today. Your peace of mind is just a click or call away!

Check Out Our Latest Blog Posts

photo of woman looking at the mirror
Legal Advisory

What is the Reasonable Person Test?

The reasonable person test is a benchmark of behaviour for determining whether something is reasonable or not. The idea of a reasonable person is a made-up concept used to help

Online Legal Advice

Understanding Phantom Share Option Plans

Phantom Share Plans (PSS), also known as shadow equity plans or phantom stock plans, are designed to replicate the benefits of share ownership without granting actual equity to employees. it

contract drafting

Terms and conditions for your competition

As more individuals and businesses turn to online marketing, trade promotions and competitions have become a common tool for people and companies to connect with their audience, foster brand awareness