Compliance with government sanctions and regulations
Exporters should be aware that Australia maintains United Nations Security
Council sanctions and bilateral sanctions in respect of a number of
countries. These sanctions require Australian organisations and individuals
to comply with a range of measures and, in general, also apply
extraterritorially to Australian nationals overseas.
Sanctions may include export and import restrictions, prohibitions of
technical assistance, training and financing, travel sanctions, and
financial sanctions against specific persons and entities.
United Nations sanctions
currently in force is available by the Department of Foreign Affairs and
For information about the operation of the defence and strategic goods
export control regime, visit
Defence Export Control Office
Intellectual Property (IP) Registration
If you are ready to start exporting or have recently launched your new
website it is time to think about how you are going to protect your
intellectual property (IP) overseas. IP protection overseas cannot be
understated, it is vital to protecting your business in foreign markets.
You may already have IP protection in Australia but you must remember that
Australian IP registration only provides protection in Australia. Once your
Australian registration is filed, the clock starts ticking and you need to
think about filing your foreign applications within 12 months (for patents)
and six months (for trade marks and designs).
As soon as you have identified the foreign markets you wish to trade in,
you need to decide whether to file separate IP applications in those
countries directly or make use of international agreements, which allow you
to seek protection in several countries at once.
Protecting your IP overseas can seem overwhelming, and that is why IP Australia
has developed a suite of fact sheets called IP Passport. The fact sheets
outline foreign IP regimes and focus on some of the IP issues and
challenges which may be faced by Australia exporters.
The extensive suite covers
including - Canada, China, Korea, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan,
New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the United States of America.
Dealings with terrorists - what the Australian business community should know
The Government has passed laws making it a criminal offence to hold assets that are owned or controlled by terrorist organisations or individuals, or to make assets available to them, punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Consolidated List to search for individuals and entities listed by the Government for the purposes of terrorist asset freezing.
In addition to the Consolidated List, the Australian Government also maintains a list of groups that are proscribed as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code. For the listed terrorist organisations visit the National Security Australia website. If a group is listed as a 'terrorist organisation' it is an offence to:
- Direct the activities of the organisation
- Recruit persons to the organisation
- Receive training from or provide training to the organisation
- Receive funds from or make available funds to the organisation
- Provide support or resources to the organisation
Issues which may affect your ability to trade and operate offshore include:
- Differences between legal systems
- Question of which laws will apply in disputes
- Rules of competition
- Patent registration
- Extra-territoriality of overseas legislation
- Product liability
International contracts for the sale of goods can be very complex. This includes specially prepared contracts. It also includes contracts that have ‘standard terms and conditions’ that are often in small print on a standard order form.
Before you negotiate an international sales contract, ask for advice on the legal implications from a professional who specialises in international contracts. This includes information about:
- Defining key terms (e.g. Incoterms 2010), which are the standard trade definitions most commonly used in international contracts. Please note: Incoterms 2010 is due to be replaced by Incoterms 2020, effective 1 January 2020.
- Limiting agreement to the contract
- Describing the goods
- Contents of the payment clause
- The ‘retain property until payment’ clause
- Trade terms (shipping terms, as with Incoterms 2010)
- Force majeure
- Dispute resolution
- Applicable law and jurisdiction
- Fees and charges - including what you are responsible for and what your buyer is responsible for
Australian companies need to ensure that they have checked the credentials of overseas partners and buyers. Australian companies also need to be aware that there are scam operations working in some markets and again this emphasises the need to conduct background checks. Before signing or accepting contracts, it is in your interests to seek professional legal advice from legal firms specialising in international work.
The Australian Government is often called upon to provide assistance to
Australian companies involved in commercial disputes – very often there is
little that it can do to assist.
The Australian Government can provide companies with assistance such as
providing referral lists of local law firms and arbitrators, sharing basic
information on potentially applicable trade agreements and providing advice
on relevant business practices. However, the Australian Government is not
in a position to provide Australian companies or individuals with legal
advice, neither can it interfere in foreign legal processes and law
enforcement – including in relation to the return of stolen property or the
refund of deposits/payments for goods and services rendered in foreign
As this is a legal matter involving a commercial dispute, you will need to
seek legal assistance. Australian exporters registered with Austrade can
obtain a list of referral service providers. The Embassies and High
Commissions of various countries in Canberra often maintain lists of
attorneys who may be able to assist with commercial disputes in their
respective countries. You can also consult the
Law Society’s directory of legal practitioners.
Information on frauds, scams and dishonest conduct
An unfortunate outcome of the advancements in technology and electronic
payments is the proliferation of international business scams and
illegitimate trade deals. International business scams are of several
types. One of the most common one is known as the Nigerian scan where
Nigerian national purporting to be officials of their government or banks
will approach Australian businesses and individuals seeking their banking
details as they have large sum (usually tens of millions) to be deposited
in a foreign business account. We are also aware that Australian businesses
are being targeted by some scammers presenting themselves as government
agencies from the Middle East placing significant orders.
Scammers are getting sophisticated and are using latest forms of technology
to produce documents, letters and email that appear almost authentic. Scams
usually follow a pattern – contact is made via the internet, an order for a
large amount of product is quickly agreed to, and the buyer wishes to pay
via credit card or have the exporter visit them in-country. They would
generally communicate using LinkedIn or generic company email addresses,
ask for copies of identity documents (passport, bank statements) and have
email extensions mismatching official websites. This is not to say that all
enquiries that exhibit these characteristics are scams but most probably
A buyer who insists that you bear the cost of product registration in a
given market is an example of an advance-fee fraud. The key to this is that
the transaction from the victim to the scammer will be untraceable and
irreversible. Wire transfers via Western Union and MoneyGram are ideal for
this purpose. International wire transfers cannot be cancelled or reversed,
and the person receiving the money cannot be tracked. Other similar
non-cancellable forms of payment include postal money orders and cashier's
checks, but as wire transfer via Western Union or MoneyGram is the fastest
method, it is the most common. Usually asking whether the buyer is
requesting payment by Western Union is sufficient to convince a would-be
victim to let the “opportunity” go.
Determining the legitimacy (due diligence) of an enquiry include obtaining
, obtaining references, and/or insisting on full upfront payment via
telegraphic transfer prior to shipping (or even production) of goods.
Checking the SCAMWatch website
which has been set up by the ACCC will allow you to check if any similar
scams have been reported.
Austrade may able to refer you to specialists in overseas markets who might
be able conduct a background check and authenticate the nature of enquiry.
Up-front payments and advance fee fraud are a common scam targeting Australian exporters. This involves paying some money upfront in order to facilitate finalising a purchase order or contract with a foreign entity. Warning signs include unsolicited emails, requests for large orders, and a request to contribute money towards something. For more information, see SCAMwatch.
Bribery of foreign public officials is a crime. Australian individuals and
companies can be prosecuted in Australia for bribing foreign officials when
overseas. More information on this subject is available within the
bribery of foreign public officials section and the foreign bribery page on the
Attorney General's Department website.
Austrade does not endorse or guarantee the performance or suitability of any introduced party or liability for the accuracy or usefulness of any information contained in this Report. Please use commercial discretion to assess the suitability of any business introduction or goods and services offered when assessing your business needs. Austrade does not accept liability for any loss associated with the use of any information and any reliance is entirely at the users’ discretion.