Mila Di Tullio wrote:
I have recently started to apply for translation agencies as freelancer and some agencies included me in their freelance databases but I haven't receive commissions yet.
The reason you haven't received any commissions is because there are too many translators for the number of available agencies. You are on their databases but you are at the bottom of the list, and it may take years before they contact you at all. Your best bet is to register at as many agencies as possible and to make yourself visible in other ways (e.g. improve your profile and its positioning on ProZ.com, etc).
I'm wondering when is the best time to register as sole trader and if I should do it immediately.
Well, according to this site and this site you don't need to register as a sole trader for as long as your income does not exceed GBP 1000 per year, but since you intend to be a translator, I would recommend registering as soon as you can.
I'm not sure how the financial year works in the UK, but I was unpleasantly suprised to discover that in the Netherlands it's actually better (financially/tax-wise) to register on 1 January instead of 1 December or 1 November, as tax thresholds in the NL do not apply pro rata.
You're fortunate in the UK that you're allowed to do cash-based accounting as a sole trader (registered or otherwise). In the NL, I'm required to use accrual-based accounting, even as a freelancer, which is only fine if all of one's clients pay within 30 days.
Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:
The agencies will not contact you for work until you have an official legal business structure of some sort. It would be illegal for them to do so.
No, that is mostly not true. Whether or not agencies can legally work with you if you are not registered in your country of residence depends entirely on the laws of the countries where the agencies are located. In most cases, I believe, agencies don't care about whether you're registered as a business or not.
From the agencies' perspective, they work with freelance translators, and whether these "freelancers" are considered businesses or private persons in their own countries is generally not relevant to the agencies (though again, this depends on the agency's country's laws).
Anyway, it's not required in the UK to be registered, in order to legally do business as a sole trader.