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How to Transfer Money from USA to Australia

Daniel Webber
Summary written by Daniel Webber


There are no restrictions when you need to send money to Australia from the USA, whether for importing, investing, or repatriating salary and income. The US is the second most popular destination after the UK for Australians living overseas. The Australian consulate in New York estimated in 2010 that the number of Australians in the US at around 200,000; some 99,000 US nationals are believed to be living in Australia, the 11th largest population of Americans overseas.

Buying property in Australia

There exist some restrictions for foreign non-residents; in most cases, a foreign non-resident can only purchase new build properties and land that they then develop, but they may not purchase existing residential units. The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) oversees the approval of these purchases and approval is also required when selling the property if leaving Australia. Non-residents are obligated to sell their property upon leaving the country. The rules governing the FIRB approval can be complex, and it is always recommended to seek additional specialist advice in the area before committing to purchase a property in Australia if you are a non-resident and before you send money to Australia to fund the purchase.

Investing in Australia

Australia is an important destination for foreign investment, with inward investment levels much higher than outgoing flows from Australia – US$49.8bn and US$6.4bn respectively in 2013 – and the government allows unhindered access to foreign investors. Most investment originates from Asia, particularly China, but US investors are increasingly looking to the country. According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, total US investment in 2013 stood at AUD657.9bn, of which a quarter was foreign direct investment (FDI) in local firms. American FDI in Australia is led by non-bank holding, mining, finance and insurance companies, as well as manufacturing firms.

Investment in non-sensitive sectors over AUD244m must be pre-screened, but this threshold is set much higher, at AUD1.078bn, for investors from the US and New Zealand. All other capital inflows are unrestricted. Outgoing capital transfers related to investment proceeds, loans or lease payments in Australia are also unrestricted.

Importing from Australia to the US

The US and Australia have a very close trade relationship, manifested in the United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) which entered into force in January 2005. Under AUSFTA, trade in goods and services and direct investment have grown considerably; more than 99% of US exports of consumer and industrial goods are now duty-free. While merchandise imports into Australia from the US are nearly three times those heading the other way, Australia’s exports to the US have grown by 23% over 2004-13 to US$9.3bn (AUD10.5bn), although the country is only the 37th largest source market, accounting for 0.4% of total goods imports. In contrast, the US is Australia’s 4th most important export market, accounting for 3.7% of the total in 2013. The top five Australian products imported into the US in 2013 were: metal ores (17% of total exports to the US), meat, mostly beef (15%), gems, precious metals and coins (9.8%), medical equipment (7.3%), and alcoholic beverages (5.6%). In services, too, Australia buys from the US more than it sells, by a factor of two. Excluding travel and tourism (for which international money transfer services are less often required) the US imported AUD5bn of professional services from Australia in 2013.

Importing into the US from Australia is usually straightforward, subject to standard requirements to declare imports to customs and to pay VAT and duty on them. Some goods may require an import licence. There are many ways to finance imports, transfer money from USA to Australia and organise shipping and logistics, which helps to facilitate the process.

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