Do you sell translation services to the EU from a non-EU country?
Thread poster: Dan Lucas

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:25
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Oct 10

I have been chatting to others in my language pair about what happens when the UK leaves the EU. An article published in the Guardian has this to say.
UK companies and British citizens living in the EU who rely solely on EU rights to work, will no longer be able to provide services on the same ... See more
I have been chatting to others in my language pair about what happens when the UK leaves the EU. An article published in the Guardian has this to say.
UK companies and British citizens living in the EU who rely solely on EU rights to work, will no longer be able to provide services on the same terms in the event of no deal.
That seems uncontroversial to me. Those rights will lapse, things will change, and there will be disruption.

However, what happens to translators based in the UK who sell services into the EU? My interpretation is that as there is little if any cross-border regulation covering translation, nothing happens. I assume that freelancers in, say, the US, Australia, China, and many other countries that do not have an FTA with the EU just go about their business as they always have. I further assume that translators in the UK will adopt the same approach, whatever that is.

If you live outside the EU - the US is a prime example - and sell translation services into it, I would welcome your comments. Do you need to do anything special when dealing with EU clients? If so, what?

Regards,
Dan

Please note: this is not intended to be a thread to declare your undying support for or opposition to Brexit - it will turn nasty, and there are plenty of other forums on the internet we can use for that purpose...
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Kevin Fulton
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Confusing Guardian information about services Oct 10

Here is the whole Guardian section about services:


Services
UK companies and British citizens living in the EU who rely solely on EU rights to work, will no longer be able to provide services on the same terms in the event of no deal.

In practice this means companies exporting services, which have not established a legal entity elsewhere in the bloc, will not be able to continue to do so.

Britons living in the EU who trade services ... See more
Here is the whole Guardian section about services:


Services
UK companies and British citizens living in the EU who rely solely on EU rights to work, will no longer be able to provide services on the same terms in the event of no deal.

In practice this means companies exporting services, which have not established a legal entity elsewhere in the bloc, will not be able to continue to do so.

Britons living in the EU who trade services such as accountancy, translation services and architecture will not be able to continue to do so outside the country of their residence unless they have acquired such a right through alternative routes such as citizenship.


I cannot see any link to the 159-page report, but it's probably this one:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/837632/No_deal_readiness_paper.PDF

The Guardian: 'UK companies will no longer be able to provide services on the same terms in the event of no deal.'

Correct for some, not for others. It depends on any regulations for the sector in question. As far as I'm aware, there are no such regulations for translators (there may be for sworn translators).

The Guardian: 'British citizens living in the EU who rely solely on EU rights to work, will no longer be able to provide services on the same terms in the event of no deal. Britons living in the EU who trade services such as accountancy, translation services and architecture will not be able to continue to do so outside the country of their residence unless they have acquired such a right through alternative routes such as citizenship.'

Where did the Guardian get that information? Either a given individual is allowed to run a given business or they aren't, and either a business is allowed to trade normally or it isn't. Once a given individual is legally operating a business, such a business operates on equal terms with any other business in the same country. Perhaps what the Guardian mean is that EU Member States have not yet officially stated how they will treat UK nationals legally living in the EU, whereas the UK has already started confirming the settled status of EU nationals in the UK. However, it seems very unlikely that EU Member States should suddenly penalise millions of UK citizens legally resident in the EU. This 'information' looks false.

The Guardian: 'In practice this means companies exporting services, which have not established a legal entity elsewhere in the bloc, will not be able to continue to do so.'

Where did the Guardian get this information? It does not seem to be correct, except perhaps for certain highly regulated sectors. The government document specifically points out that UK nationals in the EU will continue to be served by UK financial institutions.

A journalist's compacted and distorted interpretation of a government report is of little use as a decision-making tool. We need to go to the source to get correct information.

I have never heard about any restrictions for buying or selling translations internationally. Most of the countries in the world are not EU Member States, so in our sector it seems to change very little that a single country may leave the EU. The biggest problem is usually capital controls and similar restrictions in certain countries, which can make payments slower and more expensive.
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Dan Lucas
 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:25
German to English
No big deal from the US Oct 10

Some of my European customers pay into a German bank account I've had since I lived there 20+ years ago. I transfer the money from time-to-time. My largest direct customer pays directly into a US bank account.
However, I do have to include a statement on the invoice indicating that the translation was produced outside the EU and is thus not subject to VAT.


Dan Lucas
Vanda Nissen
Christopher Schmidt
Jeff Clingenpeel
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Reverse VAT Oct 10

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Some of my European customers pay into a German bank account I've had since I lived there 20+ years ago. I transfer the money from time-to-time. My largest direct customer pays directly into a US bank account.


And today, TransferWise make that even simpler with their 'virtual' bank accounts in USD, GBP, EUR and AUD.

Kevin Fulton wrote:

However, I do have to include a statement on the invoice indicating that the translation was produced outside the EU and is thus not subject to VAT.


We have to do exactly the same inside the EU when selling to another Member State. Strictly, the translation is subject to VAT, but the place of supply is at the client's address, so VAT is due in the client's Member State and the client has to account for it. We have to validate the VAT number in the EU's VIES system and keep the validation result. We also have to state the client's VAT number on the invoice and mention that VAT is subject to the reverse VAT procedure.

If the UK leaves the EU, it becomes a third country, in which case translators in the EU's VAT area no longer need to collect VAT or validate VAT numbers (although it has been reported that the Netherlands seems to be infringing EU law by requiring Dutch translators to collect VAT when selling to third countries, but that's another matter) – subject to the provisions of any Brexit deal.


 

Gina Centanni  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, I am based in the US and work exclusively with EU customers Oct 10

I work almost exclusively with agencies based in Europe, mostly Spain. The invoices I issue to those agencies are no different than the ones I would issue to anyone else, i.e., no mention of reverse VAT, etc. They pay me in EUR into a Spanish bank account and I use TransferWise to bring the money over once or twice a month. I've been doing this since I returned to the states from Spain 12 years ago.

That being said, I do believe, although I have no hard evidence, that there have be
... See more
I work almost exclusively with agencies based in Europe, mostly Spain. The invoices I issue to those agencies are no different than the ones I would issue to anyone else, i.e., no mention of reverse VAT, etc. They pay me in EUR into a Spanish bank account and I use TransferWise to bring the money over once or twice a month. I've been doing this since I returned to the states from Spain 12 years ago.

That being said, I do believe, although I have no hard evidence, that there have been plenty of times when I've been passed over for translation work precisely BECAUSE I am not an EU tax resident. It's unfortunate but it makes sense to me - less bureaucracy.
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Translating or interpreting services? Perhaps they don't know there's a difference? Oct 10

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

Here is the whole Guardian section about services:


Services
UK companies and British citizens living in the EU who rely solely on EU rights to work, will no longer be able to provide services on the same terms in the event of no deal.

In practice this means companies exporting services, which have not established a legal entity elsewhere in the bloc, will not be able to continue to do so.

Britons living in the EU who trade services such as accountancy, translation services and architecture will not be able to continue to do so outside the country of their residence unless they have acquired such a right through alternative routes such as citizenship.


That doesn't seem right at all for those of us who provide translations from our own registered place of work (often our home) and send invoices made out in the name of that registered business. I suppose it's a bit less obvious in countries where you don't have to register (e.g. the UK, I believe) but it seems clear-cut in places like France and Spain. However, if a Brit with residency and self-employed rights in Spain travels to France on an interpreting mission and is paid by the France-based client for whom they provide the service (rather than by an agency), that might not be allowed in the future. I don't know the details as I'm not an interpreter.

The Guardian: 'UK companies will no longer be able to provide services on the same terms in the event of no deal.'


Correct for some, not for others. It depends on any regulations for the sector in question. As far as I'm aware, there are no such regulations for translators (there may be for sworn translators).

Good point about sworn translators, although I don't know if there are any working with courts at the EU level. UK businesses could also be affected by GDPR and VAT, but they aren't life-changers.

The Guardian: 'British citizens living in the EU who rely solely on EU rights to work, will no longer be able to provide services on the same terms in the event of no deal. Britons living in the EU who trade services such as accountancy, translation services and architecture will not be able to continue to do so outside the country of their residence unless they have acquired such a right through alternative routes such as citizenship.'


Where did the Guardian get that information? Either a given individual is allowed to run a given business or they aren't, and either a business is allowed to trade normally or it isn't. Once a given individual is legally operating a business, such a business operates on equal terms with any other business in the same country. Perhaps what the Guardian mean is that EU Member States have not yet officially stated how they will treat UK nationals legally living in the EU, whereas the UK has already started confirming the settled status of EU nationals in the UK. However, it seems very unlikely that EU Member States should suddenly penalise millions of UK citizens legally resident in the EU. This 'information' looks false.

I'm pretty sure too that that's total rubbish. I've never seen anything to the effect that it's only because I'm an EU citizen that I can trade with anywhere in the world. It got me the right to set up my business and trade with anyone anywhere; and I'll retain that right, I'm sure. Of course, it will be more difficult in the future for Brits to arrive and set up as self-employed in the EU (trying hard not to declare my undying opposition to Brexit at this point ).

But maybe it's just extremely poorly worded and means we won't have an automatic right to move to another EU country and start trading there??? However, it goes on to say:

The Guardian: 'In practice this means companies exporting services, which have not established a legal entity elsewhere in the bloc, will not be able to continue to do so.'


Where did the Guardian get this information? It does not seem to be correct, except perhaps for certain highly regulated sectors. The government document specifically points out that UK nationals in the EU will continue to be served by UK financial institutions.

That seems to make it clear, IMO, that they don't know what on earth they're talking about!

VAT, bank charges, maybe GDPR -- these things will possibly affect most us to some extent, but I doubt they'll cause most freelance translators too much grief. It's the interpreters who may face big problems if a lot of their business involves cross-border transactions .


Dan Lucas
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Cross-border services Oct 10

Sheila Wilson wrote:

However, if a Brit with residency and self-employed rights in Spain travels to France on an interpreting mission and is paid by the France-based client for whom they provide the service (rather than by an agency), that might not be allowed in the future. I don't know the details as I'm not an interpreter.



Yes, good point.

Third-country nationals married to EU/EEA nationals have the same rights as the EU/EEA spouse they depend on. So in their case, nothing will change.

Third-country nationals in the EU/EEA can apply for long-term resident status after five years of legal residence in a Member State. That gives them most of the same rights as EU nationals. However, I could not easily find information about self-employed third-country nationals with long-term resident status providing cross-border services in another EU/EEA Member State.

In January 2013, David Cameron announced his intention to negotiate a new relationship with the EU and then hold an in/out referendum. So since then, people have known that Brexit was a realistic possibility. As more than six years have passed, anyone already resident in an EU/EEA Member State back then can apply for long-term resident status now.

The decent thing for the EU to do would be to let UK nationals already legally resident in the EU keep the rights they already have, which is what the UK is doing unilaterally for EU nationals. It would also have been decent not to keep them in suspense. I think this says a lot about the EU's mentality.

Apart from that, anyone can easily ask for individual guidance at www.europa.eu. Unless it is urgent, it is probably better to wait until it is known if Brexit actually happens and how and when.

[Edited at 2019-10-10 16:59 GMT]


Dan Lucas
 

RobinB  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:25
German to English
No big deal Oct 11

Hi Dan,

I moved to the US (from the EU) a couple of years back. There are two only issues that could potentially affect my translation business with my clients, all of whom are located in the EU:

1) The time difference. I'm 7 hours behind Germany: it's not an issue.

2) No VAT on my invoices. Not an issue for me: I just include a note on my invoices that my clients are responsible for any VAT due on my invoices (basically "import VAT", but it's basically a
... See more
Hi Dan,

I moved to the US (from the EU) a couple of years back. There are two only issues that could potentially affect my translation business with my clients, all of whom are located in the EU:

1) The time difference. I'm 7 hours behind Germany: it's not an issue.

2) No VAT on my invoices. Not an issue for me: I just include a note on my invoices that my clients are responsible for any VAT due on my invoices (basically "import VAT", but it's basically a cash-neutral charge because they reclaim input tax in the same amount at the same time).

I not only retained my existing EU clients when I moved to the US, I've even managed to acquire new ones. My experience at least is that clients don't actually care where you live.

It seems to me that the author of the Guardian article has been particularly successful in confusing the readers.

Robin
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Sheila Wilson
Michele Fauble
 

JOHN WINDER  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:25
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
THANK YOU FOR OPENING THE DISCUSSION Oct 11

I am sure I am not alone in giving this considerable thought over the last few weeks. As a UK based translator I seem to have recently been bombarded with radio and TV requests to "Get ready for Brexit". I finally got round to looking at the government web pages the other day. Unfortunately they were not particularly helpful for niche businesses such as translation services. Ultimately this is an extremely unusual situation and nobody really knows what might happen next and how it might impact u... See more
I am sure I am not alone in giving this considerable thought over the last few weeks. As a UK based translator I seem to have recently been bombarded with radio and TV requests to "Get ready for Brexit". I finally got round to looking at the government web pages the other day. Unfortunately they were not particularly helpful for niche businesses such as translation services. Ultimately this is an extremely unusual situation and nobody really knows what might happen next and how it might impact upon translators. It is heartening to read that my policy of making no real changes thus far is seen as appropriate by other translators. The government web pages suggest things such as appointing a lawyer in Germany to help businesses comply with certain regulations. I have no intention of taking such a potentially expensive step, particularly when matters are at present so opaque and open to different interpretations.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/germany-providing-services-after-eu-exit

One thing I have noticed is a considerable drop off in job offers in March (prior to the originally proposed date of UK departure from the EU) and again in October when once again businesses seem to be adopting a wait and see approach before committing to any investment in translation services. Fortunately I have some work to tide me over for the next couple of weeks but the uncertainty and brinkmanship are getting rather tiresome.

A big thank you to Dan for opening this thread. It will be interesting to see how translators both inside and outside the EU view current events from a business perspective and how people sell (or propose to sell) translation services to the EU from outside it. VAT registration still seems to be something of a conundrum looking forwards.
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Anne Maclennan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:25
Member (2010)
German to English
+ ...
Wait to see Oct 11

Thomas Frost wrote:

The decent thing for the EU to do would be to let UK nationals already legally resident in the EU keep the rights they already have, which is what the UK is doing unilaterally for EU nationals. It would also have been decent not to keep them in suspense. I think this says a lot about the EU's mentality.

From what I have been reading the system for registering for those rights is not quite so simple or generous as it might be.

However,
... See more
Thomas Frost wrote:

The decent thing for the EU to do would be to let UK nationals already legally resident in the EU keep the rights they already have, which is what the UK is doing unilaterally for EU nationals. It would also have been decent not to keep them in suspense. I think this says a lot about the EU's mentality.

From what I have been reading the system for registering for those rights is not quite so simple or generous as it might be.

However, as far as selling translation services goes, whether one is a EU citizen resident in the UK or a UK citizen living in the EU, there is really no alternative, but to wait to see. All the rest is speculation.
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Sheila Wilson
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
How much is UK "pre-settled" status worth? Oct 11

Anne Maclennan wrote:

Thomas Frost wrote:

The decent thing for the EU to do would be to let UK nationals already legally resident in the EU keep the rights they already have, which is what the UK is doing unilaterally for EU nationals. It would also have been decent not to keep them in suspense. I think this says a lot about the EU's mentality.

From what I have been reading the system for registering for those rights is not quite so simple or generous as it might be.

Indeed. It seems that although only two applications have been rejected outright, out of 1.5-2 million, over 60% of applicants have only been awarded "pre-settled" status. This means that in a very few years' time they'll need something extra to prove they're worthy of staying where they've made their lives and their livelihoods and where their family live.

I don't know about other states, but here in Spain all of those who already have the word "permanente" on their residency papers will simply be handed photo-ID as permanent TCN residents (third country nationals). No application needed - they'll offer it to us. The one tiny advantage of this catastrophe is that we'll swap bits of green paper for a proper plastic Spanish ID card with photo.


 

Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:25
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What rights? Oct 12

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

The decent thing for the EU to do would be to let UK nationals already legally resident in the EU keep the rights they already have, which is what the UK is doing unilaterally for EU nationals. It would also have been decent not to keep them in suspense. I think this says a lot about the EU's mentality.



I have been a Spanish resident since 1977 and I became self-employed in 1985, before Spain joined the EU. The UK had nothing to do with my residence and work permits and as far as I know, as a 'UK national legally resident in the EU', I have no rights at all.

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I don't know about other states, but here in Spain all of those who already have the word "permanente" on their residency papers will simply be handed photo-ID as permanent TCN residents (third country nationals). No application needed - they'll offer it to us. The one tiny advantage of this catastrophe is that we'll swap bits of green paper for a proper plastic Spanish ID card with photo.



In the 42 years I've been living in Spain, I've had a white cardboard residence permit, a maroon one, a plastic one that looked like a Spanish ID card and last of all a green sheet of paper that I can't use as identification, which states that I have been residing in Spain since 1996!

I'm sorry about not making any helpful comments but when I read Thomas's comments about rights, my blood began to boil!

Edited to change the number of years I've been living in Spain.

[Edited at 2019-10-12 19:06 GMT]


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Rights Oct 12

Helena Chavarria wrote:

I have been a Spanish resident since 1977 and I became self-employed in 1985, before Spain joined the EU. The UK had nothing to do with my residence and work permits and as far as I know, as a 'UK national legally resident in the EU', I have no rights at all.

I'm sorry about not making any helpful comments but when I read Thomas's comments about rights, my blood began to boil!


I'm only referring to verifiable rights such as the right to live and work in other EU/EEA Member States and the right to non-discrimination on the basis of nationality. There is also the right to live in another Member State without having to apply for a residence permit or the need to change your driver's licence. And there is the right to buy property and recognition qualifications.

You can easily look these things up, for example at
https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/eu-citizenship/eu-citizenship_en and
https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/eu-citizenship_en .

You may have obtained legal residence in Spain before Spain joined the EU, but such rights, whatever they were, were not based on EU membership and law.

However, when Spain joined the EU, you automatically obtained these rights, which means that you would be free to change your occupation to employment or something else and that you cannot be discriminated (for example be obliged to pay higher fees and taxes than Spanish nationals). If you were to marry a non-EU national, your spouse would have the same rights as you.

We don't know exactly what will happen to those rights after Brexit.

You are clearly upset about something, but that doesn't change verifiable facts. Emotions and facts don't mix well.

[Edited at 2019-10-13 11:21 GMT]


 

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 01:25
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Similiar Oct 13

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Some of my European customers pay into a German bank account I've had since I lived there 20+ years ago. I transfer the money from time-to-time. My largest direct customer pays directly into a US bank account.
However, I do have to include a statement on the invoice indicating that the translation was produced outside the EU and is thus not subject to VAT.

Our European customers (my husband also works as a translator) pay into my Swedish bank account. I use Transferwise three-four times a year to send money to our business account in Australia.
PS We do not even have a statement - I think our address is sufficient.


 


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