Contract in Australia

Contracting in Australia - FAQ

What is the monthly cost of using an Umbrella Company in Australia? 

If sponsored they will earn approximately 65%. If they don’t require sponsorship they will net approximately 70% dependent on expenses.

Yes provided they meet the job title and earnings level requirements. The contractor needs to be earning at least A$400 per day and in a 6-12 month contract in IT / Engineering / Finance.

How long does it take to get a work permit in Australia?

2 to 4 weeks

What is the estimated net retention in Australia for a contractor earning USD 500 per day?

*update pending

What is the estimated net retention in Australia for a contractor earning USD 1000 per day?

Going through a standard PAYG (pay as you go) structure the contractor will NET approximately 69% of gross. Using an umbrella company this will increase slightly - especially if making use of legal tax reduction measures like a novated lease on their car. On a sponsored work permit they would net approximately 65%.

*doesn’t include fee for work permit or other immigration costs

More questions? See the rest of the FAQ for more information on the Australia work permit process

Getting Started

Taking a contract in Australia means tackling numerous administrative headaches. Before you even begin working as an independent contractor, there are complicated payroll, tax, and immigration issues to work out.

All this complex admin comes on top of any personal matters you need to sort, as well. Even worse, it can be a huge nuisance when you’re already in Australia, trying to adjust to a huge relocation – and a new contract!

Streamlining even a few of these obstacles can dramatically improve your experience.

Luckily, there are ways to simplify more than just a few…

Freelance Australia Requirements


One of your first hurdles will be securing the proper work permit. To get one, you usually need an employer to sponsor you. This means they take full responsibility for you while you’re working in the country.

That’s fine for full-time employees, but what about independent contractors?

Many clients won’t offer sponsorship for a temporary worker and, even if they do, you’ll need to apply for a new permit for each new contract. This creates a mountain of paperwork each time you want to work with a new client.


Additionally, you need to figure out what you owe (if anything) in taxes for your work in Australia.

Of course, there’s also your country of tax residency; you’re likely to owe something on that front, too.

You can take advantage of certain tax structures, but doing so requires a strong familiarity with expat tax law in Australia.

Benefits of working through an Umbrella Company in Australia

You can outsource a lot of these admin problems to specialists at an Umbrella Company (or contractor management company).

An Umbrella Company basically becomes your full-time “employer,” even though you stay in control of your workload, clients, and schedule. The Umbrella Company simply collects and processes your payments, filtering out social security and any necessary fees.

They can also sponsor your work permit, meaning you get to take on new clients without the aggravation of applying for a new permit each time.

Even better, most specialise in tax law for contractors in Australia and can ensure you’re keeping the largest amount of your earnings as possible. They can even assist you with reducing your tax liability back home.

In short, you get all the benefits of a working for an employer, without sacrificing your autonomy as a contractor.

How to get started with the right Umbrella Company

There’s a lot of Umbrella Companies out there; finding the right one for you can be daunting.

We’ve done the research on Umbrella Companies in Australia, and know how to match contractors with the perfect company. If you’ve already secured a contract, get in touch with us and let us know your situation. We can get you started with the best Umbrella Company for you, or simply offer feedback on contracting in Australia.

Oh, and we don’t charge anything. Drop us a line and get free, honest, simple advice.

Send your details for more information

Additional FAQ - work permits & payroll

Yes foreign contractors can get sponsored for 457 visas provided they meet the minimum sponsorship criteria. This is based on their job title, rate, experience and qualifications.

What is the cost of a Work Permit in Australia? The actual visa cost is $470 and the sponsoring company may charge a management fee on top of that. Our partners in Australia charge a fee that varies from 4-14% based upon the earnings level of the individual contractor.

What documentation is required for a work permit in Australia?

CV, passport scan and qualifications. Some nationalities may also have to pass a medical exam.

What is the work permit process in Australia?

The sponsoring company actually makes the application. For the individual contractor all they need to do is submit their CV, passport scan and qualifications.

Can you transfer from a business visa to a work permit in Australia?

Yes but you must leave the country to activate the work permit.

Can we organise a business visa for Australia?


How long does it take to process a business visa in Australia?

There is an electronic application for certain nationalities (Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, USA) which is processed immediately. Nationalities of these countries may apply through a visa agent, travel agent, airline or Australian visa office outside Australia: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vatican City.

How much does a business visa cost in Australia?

$20 for online application.

Can nationals of certain countries enter Australia without a business visa (ex. on an entry visa or visa waiver)?


Yes for citizens of Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, United States of America.


It varies by profession. For IT and Telecommunications it is AUD $8000 per month. For Engineering it is AUD $11400 per month.

How does payroll work in Australia?


The employer makes all deductions at source and pays the net earnings to the employee. There is a payroll tax of 4.75 to 6% which varies by state. Your employer (the company sponsoring your visa) pays the candidate on a monthly basis. The employer deducts medicare contributions of 1.5%, occasional compulsory deductions like the recent flood levy and income tax (which ranges from 0-45%) at source and then pays it to the Australian tax authorities. There is compulsory superannuation contibution of 9% which is made by the employer and paid direct to the nominated super fund. Candidates are able to offset their personal taxable income with some business expenses most notably travel and allowances for working from home. The World Bank estimates employers in Australia spend 18 man days per year to ensure compliance with payroll and labour taxes.

Client comment

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Shell International Trading & Shipping