Global Guides

How to Freelance Around the Globe: Australia

By Colton Cox November 7th, 2018

This is the fourth in a 10-part series on freelancing around the world. The Freelancer chose the top ten most popular countries of residence among contributors in Contently’s talent network, excluding the United States, and researched visa requirements, tax regulations, and other useful information for freelancers considering a move.

This week we’re exploring the land of Oz. The gig economy is on the rise down under. Many freelancers are drawn to the warmer climate, remarkable biodiversity, and three of the world’s most livable cities. The transition is a bit easier for workers arriving from English-speaking countries.

Here’s our breakdown of what you could expect as a freelancer making it work in Australia.

freelance Australia

What do they call freelancers?

Like in the U.S. and UK, expect to be called “freelancer.” You may also hear the word “slashie”—as in those who are bloggers slash web designers slash videographers.

How many freelancers live here?

A 2015 study by Upwork put the number of freelancers in Australia at 4.1 million, which is about a third of the workforce. A majority of freelancers indicated that they would not quit and return to traditional work, even if it paid more.

What industries do freelancers work in?

A report from the Australian Industry Group, “The Emergence of the Gig Economy,” estimates that the majority of freelancers down under work in web, mobile, and software development, with significant numbers also working in design/creative industries, customer and administrative support, sales and marketing, and writing.

Visa requirements?

Working Holiday visa is a very accessible (but temporary) option for applicants aged 18-31, allowing the visitor to stay and work in Australia for up to 12 months.

Planning to stay permanently? You’ll want to check out the Skilled Independent visa, which grants permanent residency to eligible applicants who are of a relevant occupation, pass a points-based assessment, and are younger than 45 when they apply.

Registering for taxes

Registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN) will make it easier to secure work with domestic clients. If you’re planning to file a tax return in Australia, and are above the (very low) $4,000 AUD income threshold, you can make installment payments throughout the year, which can soften the blow of taxes at the end of the fiscal year. This article from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia covers a few of the other essentials.

Additionally, you may be liable to pay a Goods and Services Tax, which needs to be accounted for in all client transactions.

How about insurance?

Look for the basics—professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance, and, if applicable, employers liability insurance.

Please note — Contently does not offer legal advice, and those who are interested in freelancing internationally should complete their own due diligence, including research of visa laws, consultations with lawyers and consulates, and advice from other freelancers working in the area. This guide to International Employment from Clyde & Co. is a great place to start.

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