How do I invoice my international customers when I myself live abroad long-term?
Thread poster: Fredrik Pettersson

Fredrik Pettersson  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Jul 2, 2009

How do I charge my international customers when I myself live abroad long-term?
I am a Swedish citizen with a Swedish passport (born in Sweden), living in P.R. China since September 2008. Now, I am going to translate manuals, webpages, etcetera. It is from Chinese into English, and from Swedish into Chinese, and from Chinese into Swedish. On some of the projects, I will cooperate with a Chinese citizen. Both of us have no registered company yet.

So I wonder how we should invoice our customers? I think that noone of our customers would like to pay to us as private persons, is that correct? It would be too complicated for them. So my Chinese colleague and I would either have to register a company, or find another solution.

Concerning taxes: I have lived in China for 10 months now, and will continue to live here. Where will I be liable to pay taxes? And my Chinese translator colleague, will he be liable to pay taxes in China, even if we together invoice our customers?

I will continue to live outside my home country Sweden, so I wonder, in the long-term, would the best solution for me be to register an offshore company (tax excempted company) with a bank account on Cyprus for instance?

To invoice our customers, what is the best solution? Open a common PayPal account? Register an offshore company and use a bank account on Cyprus (with attached credit cards)?


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:35
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
probably best to hire a tax consultant.. Jul 2, 2009

... we are "only" translators...
So for tax advise maybe it's best to check with the chamber of commerce or a tax advisor... Or the Swedisch trade office in China

===
Ed


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chica nueva
Local time: 21:35
Chinese to English
Ask in the Chinese Forum (?) Jul 2, 2009

Ask in the Chinese Forum (?)

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:35
Flemish to English
+ ...
The right people Jul 2, 2009

hermesalpha wrote:

How do I charge my international customers when I myself live abroad long-term?
I am a Swedish citizen with a Swedish passport (born in Sweden), living in P.R. China since September 2008. Now, I am going to translate manuals, webpages, etcetera. It is from Chinese into English, and from Swedish into Chinese, and from Chinese into Swedish. On some of the projects, I will cooperate with a Chinese citizen. Both of us have no registered company yet.

So I wonder how we should invoice our customers? I think that noone of our customers would like to pay to us as private persons, is that correct? It would be too complicated for them. So my Chinese colleague and I would either have to register a company, or find another solution.

Concerning taxes: I have lived in China for 10 months now, and will continue to live here. Where will I be liable to pay taxes? And my Chinese translator colleague, will he be liable to pay taxes in China, even if we together invoice our customers?

I will continue to live outside my home country Sweden, so I wonder, in the long-term, would the best solution for me be to register an offshore company (tax excempted company) with a bank account on Cyprus for instance?

To invoice our customers, what is the best solution? Open a common PayPal account? Register an offshore company and use a bank account on Cyprus (with attached credit cards)?



A try: Isn't it so that if you live outside a certain block (EU-block, North-America) you are a guest on a visa in a country and to work in that country you need a work-permit? Are you even allowed to work in China?

Your Chinese colleague will have to pay taxes to China (one of the capital offences in the PRC is tax-evasion).

On the other hand, one of my Chinese acquaintances mentioned that if you set up a company in China, you don't have to pay taxes the first three years

As for off-shores, isn't Hong-Kong also one of those places where you can set up an off-shore?

If I were you, I would consult the local Chinese authorities first to know what I have to do to be able to work on a visa? After that, I would gather information to set up a joint-venture. I would also inform about off-shores. How reliable is a company based in Beijing with its seat of fortune in Cyprus. Why not choose Hong-Kong, a business centre, par exellence.
In short, consult the right people.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:35
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not sure Jul 2, 2009

But first of all I'd ask the Swedish authorities around. I have an inkling there is a minimum residence requirement for tax registration, presuming you're registered in the EU, but my experience of this is limited to Spain, the UK, France and Germany.

If it turns out that you've exceeded the limit (which is something like 6 months in the above cases), THEN you'd best ask the Chinese authorities. (If you're working in a partnership or are about to form a company, it may not be that hard to get a permit).

Hope it helps.


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Fredrik Pettersson  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Until I have no registered company, can I get customers here at Proz? Jul 4, 2009

Until I have no registered company, can I really get customers here at Proz?

If I can't display any Tax ID and Tax ID name on My Profile, will potential customers hesitate to use my translation services?

Also, if I would get customers, am I always the one who are liable to pay all taxes? Even if I would reveive jobs from translation agencies?


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chica nueva
Local time: 21:35
Chinese to English
Ask the Swedish Embassy in Beijing for business advice ... Jul 4, 2009

[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_system_in_China#Foreign_investment_taxation
China provides numerous preferential treatments in foreign taxation, and has successively concluded tax treaties with 60 countries (by July 1999): ...Sweden ... ]

Hello hermesalpha

I suggest, ask the Swedish Embassy in Beijing for business advice. How does that sound? Here is the Embassy's site: http://www.swedenabroad.com/Start____20709.aspx

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-07-04 07:38 GMT]


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chica nueva
Local time: 21:35
Chinese to English
Questions: do you have firm clients? can't you operate as a 'sole trader'? Jul 6, 2009

Hello again Fredrik

I do not understand.

1 Do you have work for specific clients at present, or is this simply a planned business?
2 I understand that you are intending to collaborate with a Chinese citizen. What have they suggested, in other words, what is the business relationship, how do they want to be paid,etc. Will/do you have a formal collaboration agreement with them. Will they be a contractor/employee or a business partner.
3 I understand you will not be working for local clients, but, rather working for offshore clients, therefore your question. This is interesting. Consult your lawyer/accountant in Sweden. Perhaps consider having payments made into your own Swedish bank account. Perhaps you could open a bank account in Hong Kong, but do get advice first about the pros and cons of each option.
4 Have you obtained clients already? Who/Where are they. Why would your clients not want to pay you as a 'sole trader', I wonder. In many countries 'sole trader' is an acceptable form of business.
5 Will this be a part-time or full-time thing. You need to check your visa and whether you are permitted to work. There is a thread in English in the Chinese forum relating to an individual free-lancing in Hong Kong which may be of interest. There is also a Chinese peer who is a 'partnership' such as yours operating out of China.

Lesley

[ There is something here about an 'Alien Employment Licence'. I do not know whether it is relevant to your situation or not ...
http://pandavisa.com/Application/AEL.aspx ]

[Edited at 2009-07-06 01:54 GMT]


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chica nueva
Local time: 21:35
Chinese to English
Ask professional colleagues (and foreign business contacts) in Tianjin (?) ... Jul 7, 2009

Ask professional colleagues (and foreign business contacts) in Tianjin (?) ...

OK, I have looked at your profile more closely. You are affiliated with the Professional Translators' Pool, Tianjin, it seems. I wonder, have they been able to give you any advice?

Also, how about asking your teachers/fellow students at Nankai (?) Good luck with the HSK exam BTW.

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-07-07 06:53 GMT]


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Maria Drangel  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:35
Member (2007)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Maybe you can send an invoice without registering a company? Jul 12, 2009

Hi!

In Sweden there are companies such as Frilans Finans (http://www.frilansfinans.se/t_index.php) who will send invoices on your behalf and you can invoice clients throught them without having your own company. Maybe there is something equivalent in China?

If not then I guess that you could use something like Frilans Finans in Sweden (but you would probably have to pay tax in Sweden then I guess, although I am not sure). I hope this helps!

Good luck!

Maria


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:35
English to Hungarian
+ ...
You are living in China Jul 13, 2009

Fredrik Pettersson wrote:
Concerning taxes: I have lived in China for 10 months now, and will continue to live here. Where will I be liable to pay taxes?

In China.
You are living there, working there, earning there. (well, hopefully I doubt that the Chinese authorities would let you do that and then let you pay your taxes in Sweden or anywhere else for that matter.


I think that noone of our customers would like to pay to us as private persons, is that correct? It would be too complicated for them.

Wrong. Why would it be too complicated? Does it matter to them, who they pay?
You can be a free-lancer, sole traider, or whatever, like most of us translators and interpreters, as long as the Chinese rules and regulations allow it.

And my Chinese translator colleague, will he be liable to pay taxes in China, even if we together invoice our customers?

Where else?
If you are serious about starting up as a translator, you will need to familiarise yourself with some basic business issues, sort out your status in China, and you will have to ask professional advice on what form your co-operation should take with your colleague, and on the matter of taxation, depending on your method of trading.

BTW "The ugly duckling" is not an English fairy tale. I'll let you find out its origin for yourself.



[Edited at 2009-07-13 16:22 GMT]


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chica nueva
Local time: 21:35
Chinese to English
ProZ has an invoicing facility ... Jul 14, 2009

ProZ has an invoicing facility ... there is a thread about it in this forum:
http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom:_translator_coop-23.html


[Edited at 2009-07-14 09:26 GMT]


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chica nueva
Local time: 21:35
Chinese to English
PRC Foreign nationals' exit visa/permit conditions ... Jul 23, 2009

China has (or used to have) exit visas: OK, it has been in the back of my mind that it is possible that you (a foreign national) may be refused exit from China, and fined or detained, for various specified infractions of the law ... Here is a copy of 'Rules Governing the Implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Entry and Exit of Aliens' (1994). I do not know whether it is still current ... Perhaps it is a useful reference (?) http://journeyeast.org/INFO/LAW/law_ExitEntry_imp.pdf

[ You can see that the sort of thing I am referring to also applies to foreign nationals in Saudi Arabia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_(document)#Exit_visas 'The exit visa can also be withheld if there are pending court charges that need to be settled ... ' ]

What I am driving at is, perhaps it is possible to be detained in China for non-payment of moneys owing or taxes ... it might be worth checking. In any case, if you are going into business, you may need to register your business and gain a licence to operate ... law firms and accountants with foreign clients should be able to advise ...

[Edited at 2009-07-23 04:52 GMT]


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chica nueva
Local time: 21:35
Chinese to English
‘Fraternising’ (to be aware of) Jul 26, 2009

@ Fredrik: This may be out of order I suppose, but IMO it is just as well to know about the laws relating to fraternising, if you do not know them already. Some of the embassies have this advisory on their sites:

'Certain categories of Chinese citizens, such as diplomats, security officials, and others whose work is considered to be crucial to the state, are not legally free to marry foreigners. Chinese students generally are permitted to marry if all the requirements are met, but they can expect to be expelled from school ... Some work units have also demanded compensation for "lost services." http://shenyang.usembassy-china.org.cn/acs/getting_married.html

[Edited at 2009-07-27 00:05 GMT]


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chica nueva
Local time: 21:35
Chinese to English
Doing business as an expat language-professional Aug 1, 2009

Fredrik Pettersson wrote:

How do I charge my international customers when I myself live abroad long-term?
I am a Swedish citizen with a Swedish passport (born in Sweden), living in P.R. China since September 2008. Now, I am going to translate manuals, webpages, etcetera. It is from Chinese into English, and from Swedish into Chinese, and from Chinese into Swedish. On some of the projects, I will cooperate with a Chinese citizen. Both of us have no registered company yet.


@ Fredrik You have not posted again - I expect you will have been very busy with study. IMO your background and your ability to translate En->Zh are both very impressive. (There are translation competitions on site, I wonder whether you have seen them.)

I think the Chinese-language training in Sweden must be very good. (Also I am aware that Jan Myrdal is a Nankai graduate - so I am picking there must be strong country-to-country links.) With your background in international freight forwarding, I wonder whether you could consider a sort of small business 'affiliation' business-model, which might get around the invoicing question:

1 Bureau approach: Perhaps setting up as an offshore office (or being attached in some way to the existing offshore office) of an international freight-forwarder or translation/language services firm in Tianjin. Or being their 'representative/agent' in Tianjin, and 'farming out' the administration side to their 'head office' somewhere else (if you didn't want to deal with banks and invoicing etc yourself).
2 Partner approach: I believe that medium-sized freight-forwarders use an agent-partner model between similar-sized companies, or they have branches. It seems to me that the business models of international freight forwarding and translation might have some similarities, and sharing office-space could be attractive as far as overheads, communications, accounting, banking etc are concerned. What do you think?

In summary, perhaps it is not necessary to register your own company, or perhaps you can choose whether to register in China or in Sweden. Perhaps you could draft up some collaboration proposals and go door-knocking, or look out for companies and professional firms seeking 'ex-pat language services' as part of their range of business activities. If you didn't affiliate with a foreign company, then perhaps your Chinese colleague could seek similar opportunities with a Chinese company.


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