Registering as a company
Thread poster: Anne Greaves

Anne Greaves  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:30
French to English
Oct 26, 2012

Like most freelance translators in the UK, I assume, I am registered as a self employed translator with HMRC. One of my new clients in France, a university, has said they can't pay me unless I'm a "traducteur officiel", which they define as having either a Siret number, not possible in the UK as far as I know, or being registered as a company with the Trade and Companies Register; I assume that the UK equivalent would be Companies House. Has anyone else any experience of this situation? I think they would accept a UK company registration, but forming a company seems a bit extreme as it's not necessary for the bulk of my work, and to be honest I know very little about it.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Can't possibly be correct Oct 26, 2012

Anne Greaves wrote:
Like most freelance translators in the UK, I assume, I am registered as a self employed translator with HMRC. One of my new clients in France, a university, has said they can't pay me unless I'm a "traducteur officiel", which they define as having either a Siret number, not possible in the UK as far as I know, or being registered as a company with the Trade and Companies Register

They are probably simply totally unaware of how to deal with a supplier outside France, but it could be difficult to convince them of that.

Universities do seem to have incredibly strict and inflexible rules about things. I fell foul of that once when I lived in France: I gave EFL lessons to students but when it came to paying me, they said my social security papers weren't in order. First I'd heard of it - after 12 years as a frelancer! In the end, I had to involve my lawyer, who threatened to involve the EU...

I do advise you to get this one totally sorted and their agreement to everything in writing before you do any work for them, otherwise you could find yourself with an expensive battle on your hands.


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Anne Greaves  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Registering as a company Oct 27, 2012

Have already run into a problem as I was commissioned to do a job, which was to be funded by them, by an academic from a different university who didn't fully explain all the requirements. I obtained a letter from HMRC to prove I was legit but that wasn't enough for them. But now yet another university has contacted me and seems to be asking the same. I'm convinced that as you say they're simply not set up to deal with anything outside their system.

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Steven Segaert  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 06:30
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
A friendly French colleague? Oct 27, 2012

Just a thought, but as you are unlikely to change their minds: perhaps you can find a colleague here who is set up in France and who would allow you to do this work under his or her umbrella? The French colleague would merely have to invoice the university and pay you. I'm sure a suitable arrangement for that could be found.

More structurally, you probably would have to hunt for the legal department of the university or of the tax authorities in France (not in the UK) and have them make a decision the universities are confident in adhering to. As your university in France is probably a public institution, you might want to try http://ec.europa.eu/solvit/site/about/index_en.htm

And as to the content: this is not about the free movement of services for you as a provider, but about the possibility to buy services abroad for them as purchaser (you are not going anywhere to do the work). They may have internal rules complicating that, or something in the French tax system may prevent them from booking it right (e.g. they might have VAT issues).

They may refuse to give you the job because it gets too difficult for them (you can't really fight that), but once you delivered, they can't refuse to pay on the basis of this. You issue a proper and legal UK invoice, and they just have to deal with whatever that means in their own back-office.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
SOLVIT is a good route Oct 27, 2012

Steven Segaert wrote:
Just a thought, but as you are unlikely to change their minds: perhaps you can find a colleague here who is set up in France and who would allow you to do this work under his or her umbrella? The French colleague would merely have to invoice the university and pay you. I'm sure a suitable arrangement for that could be found.

On the other hand, why should Anne have to go that far to accommodate a bizarre and ridiculous restriction? If a perfectly legal UK invoice is OK for everyone else, why not for this university?

More structurally, you probably would have to hunt for the legal department of the university or of the tax authorities in France (not in the UK) and have them make a decision the universities are confident in adhering to. As your university in France is probably a public institution, you might want to try http://ec.europa.eu/solvit/site/about/index_en.htm

That definitely makes sense, IMO. If they are saying that the only problem with paying you is that you live outside France, in another EU member state (which seems to be the case), you can (and should, IMHO) fight them through the EU structure. I've got SOLVIT working on getting my husband state health cover here in Spain and I can tell you that they are amazingly approachable. I thought I'd be "a number" dealing with "a job title" but I got a personal reply from Chris K. within a few hours, giving me her personal fax and phone lines and an email address with her name in it - and no reference number at all!

It might also be worth your while contacting a lawyer who specialises in EU matters. They might be be prepared to take on this case for the kudos - my French lawyer was positively drooling and was clearly quite disappointed when the university found a way to pay me.

They MUST pay you for the work done, Anne, even if they refuse to use you for another job. If you refuse to make it easy for them they'll find a way - they'll have to.


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John Holland  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:30
Member (2012)
French to English
Purchase order Oct 27, 2012

You need to find out which service of the university will be requesting the purchase order - the bon de commande and/or ordre de service - that will allow your invoice for this work to be paid. Note that the service that requests the purchase order is generally not the same service as the one that ultimately will pay you.

Whoever will request the purchase order will most likely know exactly what information you'll need to provide. If the responsible person doesn't have experience with foreign-based service providers, they most probably will know who to ask.

Generally speaking, for a foreign service provider, all that should be needed is your contact information and your European VAT ID or TVA intracommunautaire. But there can be different procedures (i.e. forms with different names depending on the institution, etc.) for providing this information.

Normally, you should do all of this before beginning any work that is to be paid by the university. As with agencies, you should have a (signed) bon de commande with a billing address first. Because a university is a large institution with a lot of services involved around budgets and payments, it's particularly important to get all of this worked out at the outset.

Hope that helps!


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Anne Greaves  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
getting paid Oct 27, 2012

In fact the academic concerned has agreed to pay me which I think is fair enough as she failed to pass on all the information, but I would like to sort it out so I can continue to do this type of work. I didn't manage to get a bdc as it was a rush job in August when everything seemed to be at a standstill in the university, but I had previously done several jobs for another uni without any of these problems. Will know in future! Will definitely investigate the solvit site, thanks to all for the information.

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John Holland  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:30
Member (2012)
French to English
August Oct 27, 2012

I personally would be extremely reluctant to do any rush job in August if you hope to be paid in a timely manner by a university that has never paid one your invoices before and thus has yet to recognize you as a fournisseur.

Remember that you do not have a relationship only with the academic. If the university is paying you, then your relation to it (or rather, to the different people who constitute it, including administrators) is just as important as your interaction with the academic.


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Anne Greaves  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Agreed Oct 27, 2012

[quote]John Holland wrote:

I personally would be extremely reluctant to do any rush job in August if you hope to be paid in a timely manner by a university that has never paid one your invoices before and thus has yet to recognize you as a fournisseur.

I entirely agree! Am putting this one down to experience.


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