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Implications of moving country
Thread poster: Rob Grayson

Rob Grayson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:32
Member
French to English
Mar 16, 2009

Hi,

This is not a start-up question as such, put I felt this category was probably the most appropriate.

Having launched and built up a successful business over the last three years as a freelance FR>EN translator based in France, we are considering returning to the UK (for non-business reasons). If and when we do return, I'd like to continue working as a freelancer. I'm wondering whether anyone has any experience of how easy or otherwise it is to keep hold of regular clients (mainly agencies) when moving from country to country. Virtually all my work is through agencies, and I would say about 75% of it comes from agencies based in France, with the remainder in Ireland, the UK and one or two other countries like Luxembourg and Switzerland. In these days of globalisation, and with just about all of our work being done remotely, on the face of it there's no reason why existing client relationships should be disturbed, but I'd be interested to hear if anyone has any direct experience to back this up.

I'm especially keen to hear from you if you've made the move from France to the UK, but would be interested in hearing about similar relevant experience from other countries.

Thanks in advance,

Rob


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Francesca Roiatti
Italy
Local time: 20:32
German to Italian
+ ...
time zone Mar 16, 2009

Hi Rob,

I think you shouldn't get too concerned about your business, just because you are moving to another (EU) country; if clients are satisfied with your qualities and the work you provide, they will look for you anyhow. On the accounting side, I can't tell you much if clients will be worried of you changing residency (I am talking here of banking costs, etc).
When I moved back to Italy from Australia, I just warned my clients that I was back to their time zone and was not available for a week due to the relocation situation and they were fine with this.

Good luck!

Francesca


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:32
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
One possible disadvantage Mar 16, 2009

I can see one (psychological) disadvantage: agencies and clients on the continent might prefer to be billed and pay in euros, rather than pounds. Keep a French bank account, if you can.

Cheers,
Gerard


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:32
Portuguese to English
+ ...
No serious problem Mar 16, 2009

I spent a year in the USA recently and then returned to Brazil. I kept in touch with my clients, and they made adjustments about payments, etc. There was only one Brazilian company that said they couldn't pay me any more while I was in the USA because the banks fees had gone way up and they didn't use PayPal, but since by that time I had a feeling I'd be coming back to Brazil I had them deposit the money in a friend's account here. The only other client that stopped working with me while I was in the USA had had me proofing books (actual paper books) and found it was too expensive to mail them to me, but when I returned to Brazil I resumed working with them.

So, every case is individual of course, but since our business is a global one, there are usually ways of working things out.

Good luck!


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
No problems for me Mar 16, 2009

I relocated to the other side of the world (from Europe, Italy, to Western U.S.) and kept all my clients without any problem.

France-UK is not that long of a haul so I don't believe you would have any problems at all...


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:32
French to English
Piece of gateau Mar 16, 2009

Rob Grayson wrote:
I'm especially keen to hear from you if you've made the move from France to the UK, but would be interested in hearing about similar relevant experience from other countries.

I did it, no problem, kept the clients.

Added bonus - no more VAT chargeable for cross-border services (I paraphrase the regs).

Some agencies actually prefer people to live in target language countries (and to be honest, I can see why sometimes).

Keep your Fr bank account, AFAIK there should be no prob having a foreign address (although you may have to close some residents-only savings etc accounts) - certainly that was my experience with Soc Gen in Paris.

Edit to add that those clients were in fact all direct - at the time I had not managed to snare any agencies at all.... but now I work pretty much only for French agencies so I can only think that they see no significant drawbacks to my location (and probably quite like the VAT-free nature of the relationship).

[Edited at 2009-03-16 20:04 GMT]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:32
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Gerard took the words out of my mouth Mar 16, 2009

Gerard de Noord wrote:

I can see one (psychological) disadvantage: agencies and clients on the continent might prefer to be billed and pay in euros, rather than pounds. Keep a French bank account, if you can.

Cheers,
Gerard


I believe the currency issue is quite a barrier, between mainland Europe and the UK. Don't close your French bank account, whatever you do!


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Maaike van Vlijmen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:32
Member (2009)
Italian to Dutch
+ ...
bank account Mar 17, 2009

Hi Rob,

The past years I moved a lot, also to the other side of the world, and it was never a problem. I always told my clients about the timezone, and everything went well. Recently I moved to the UK but I'll definitely keep my bank account in the Netherlands, as all my client pay me in euros.
Good luck!


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Héloïse King  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:32
French to English
+ ...
Currency and banking... Mar 17, 2009

I am in the UK and about 90% of my work comes from France. I just bill in euros, it gets paid into my UK bank account in euros, and the bank automatically converts it to pounds. It costs, as far as I can remember, a quid or two a time, but nothing to worry about. Not sure why there would be a problem... Am I just lucky with my bank??

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Sanmar
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:32
English to Dutch
+ ...
Am I just lucky with my bank?? Mar 17, 2009

I think you may be, Heloise. I also live in the UK but my bank charges a lot more than a couple of quid for the conversion. I now use paypal. I am quite interested in which bank you use if you don't mind telling me...

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Anja Weggel  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:32
Member (2007)
English to German
SEPA Mar 17, 2009

I recently relocated from Germany to Austria and so far I had no problems keeping my clients. Most of them hardly could remember where I live in Germany since I do almost all my business via internet. A lot of customers do not care where you live anyway as long as your service is good. In addition, some of them are in different countries anyway.

The only difficulty I see (as everyone else does) is the currency. So keep a Euro account for one.

As for the money transfer... Since 1 January 2008 there is SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area). All of the EU countries are members in this union and in theory this means that every money transfer within the European Union will cost the same as a transfer within a country. However, you have to ask specificially for SEPA and you have to fill out a SEPA formula (instead of the usual transfer formula).
Having customers in the UK, I very often see that none of them has ever heard of SEPA. In addition, lots of UK banks are (so far) reluctanct to accept SEPA. Therefore, please ask your customers for SEPA. And to all UK residents, please go and bug your banks. Hopefully, they will start to accept SEPA once enough people ask for it.


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Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:32
Italian to English
+ ...
Euro payments Mar 17, 2009

I'm UK-based and invoice my eurozone clients in euros. I never have any problems with payments, I just receive notification that my account has received .... euros which has been credited as £.....
I receive the full invoice amount with no charges. I bank with SMILE btw.


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Sally Winch  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:32
Italian to English
+ ...
Moving and Banking Mar 17, 2009

Hi,

I moved back to the UK from Italy for family reasons five years ago. The pound was stronge, and my UK bank charges £6 to receive payments in euros, not to speak of the poor exchange rate. Happily the euro is now stronger. I am not sure of the tax position of receiving your money in France. In any case you'd surely need it in the UK, or would you set up a monthly transfer? That could be the cheapest way to do it, but you would be tax resident in the UK after around 6 months. The Inland Revenue are great at giving clear advice actually. Call your local office in the UK.

I believe the UK tax system may not be as advantageous at France. However, as a sole trader you will have a good personal allowance before tax, have to provide accounts for turnover over around 15k, and be able to charge a lot of business expenses before caculating profit.

You need to also transfer national insurance payments you have made in France to the UK. This has certainly been straightforward from the UK to Italy.

As far as clients are concerned I am not sure if they will baulk at paying to a UK account but you could try the above system of monthly payments to the UK - I would check that with the Inland Revenue too.

Best of luck!

Sally


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:32
French to English
None of us is lucky :-) Mar 17, 2009

Heloise King wrote:
I am in the UK and about 90% of my work comes from France. I just bill in euros, it gets paid into my UK bank account in euros, and the bank automatically converts it to pounds. It costs, as far as I can remember, a quid or two a time, but nothing to worry about. Not sure why there would be a problem... Am I just lucky with my bank??


I kept my Fr bank account (as I said) and I transfer lump sums over from time to time. Soc Gen (not a plug, honestly) allow free online transfers from France to the UK up to 4,000 euros. For large amounts, you have to write to them and they take the sort of cut you would expect.

Although it is hard to prove without requesting 2 transfers on the same day, I suspect that the exchange rate all banks use for free or low-cost transfers may not be as attractive as it could be....


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:32
French to English
Couple of points Mar 17, 2009

Sally Winch wrote:
I am not sure of the tax position of receiving your money in France.

Our chums at hmrc are interested in worldwide income, wherever it is received. Being paid in France does not mean you don't pay tax until you transfer it to the UK - you pay tax on the amount invoiced in the financial year, full stop (strictly speaking, I think the cash basis for the self-employed has stopped now)

You need to also transfer national insurance payments you have made in France to the UK. This has certainly been straightforward from the UK to Italy.

Interesting point - not sure quite whether it works like that the other way round, because of the difference in the way the systems are run and funded.
But it is certainly worth remembering to check your NI status, that is a very good point.
You basically get paid a pension on the basis of the number of complete years you have paid into the system. If you miss more than about 5 years, then you won't get a full state pension.
On the plus side, you can pay retrospectively for a year or two if you have made a certain amount of contributions but not enough for the year to qualify.
IIRC, you can also be "credited" with years that you contributed to a mandatory scheme abroad - I'm sure something along those lines happened to me after I left CIPAV (was it?) after coming back to the UK. Not sure I got the contribs refunded - not sure you can, to be honest. But those nice people in Newcastle will know


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