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Consequences of "no deal" Brexit for freelance translators in the UK?
Thread poster: Samuel Espinho-Alves

Samuel Espinho-Alves  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 12:06
English to French
Dec 12, 2018

Hi everyone,

I have found an older post about this topic but it didn't seem to answer my question so I took the liberty of posting a new one.

I am a freelance translator currently living in Belgium. Due specific circumstances, I might be moving to the UK sometime in Summer of 2019. My clients being mostly Europeans, I would have to invoice people outside of the UK. Due to this, I have started looking into the consequences of Brexit on the Services industry but what I fo
... See more
Hi everyone,

I have found an older post about this topic but it didn't seem to answer my question so I took the liberty of posting a new one.

I am a freelance translator currently living in Belgium. Due specific circumstances, I might be moving to the UK sometime in Summer of 2019. My clients being mostly Europeans, I would have to invoice people outside of the UK. Due to this, I have started looking into the consequences of Brexit on the Services industry but what I found was not very clear.
I would like to make an informed decision about this move so I am trying to figure out what the worst case scenario would be for people in the industry when translating for Europeans, especially when it comes to income and taxes.

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, The default framework for International Trade will be that of the WTO, England will be considered as a "third country" when it comes to trading. Does anyone know the specifics of this particular situation for the industry? I assume VAT will become a thing and that translators will (finally) be required to register for VAT?

Thanks

[Edited at 2018-12-12 11:25 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-12-12 11:46 GMT]
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:06
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Nobody knows Dec 12, 2018

Nobody knows, Samuel. It's all speculation

All of my clients are in other EU Member States. I intend to continue invoicing them as usual. I hope they will be able to pay me, but I have no idea what will happen with the banks.

Nobody knows. Don't believe anyone who tells you they do.

[Edited at 2018-12-12 11:26 GMT]


Paulinho Fonseca
Peter Shortall
Richard Varga
Philippe SALMON
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
None for British nationals Dec 12, 2018

I have customers both in the EU and elsewhere and the only difference is a little extra paperwork for EU countries (EC sales list), which I might be able to skip in the future.

There are no customs charges/duties/taxes/quotas etc to worry about. You just charge your price and count your money, wherever your client is.

There is no VAT on translations for clients outside the EU even now.

I cannot comment on your specific position as an EU citizen resident in
... See more
I have customers both in the EU and elsewhere and the only difference is a little extra paperwork for EU countries (EC sales list), which I might be able to skip in the future.

There are no customs charges/duties/taxes/quotas etc to worry about. You just charge your price and count your money, wherever your client is.

There is no VAT on translations for clients outside the EU even now.

I cannot comment on your specific position as an EU citizen resident in the UK, but I would imagine that very little will change. Money talks louder than politics.

PS Third country, not Third World country, I would hope





[Edited at 2018-12-12 11:42 GMT]
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Jennifer Forbes
 

Samuel Espinho-Alves  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 12:06
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Dec 12, 2018

I have customers both in the EU and elsewhere and the only difference is a little extra paperwork for EU countries (EC sales list), which I might be able to skip in the future.

There are no customs charges/duties/taxes/quotas etc to worry about. You just charge your price and count your money, wherever your client is.

There is no VAT on translations for clients outside the EU even now.


Ah thanks! That actually helps a lot


PS Third country, not Third World country, I would hope


Oh yes, sorry, that is so not what I meant !!


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Probably not much change Dec 12, 2018

As Tom says, nobody knows. Least of all the British government, it seems.

But it's difficult to see how translation should be impacted, as translations don't go through customs, and translation is generally not a regulated profession.

Either the UK remains in the VAT area, in which case there is likely to be no VAT change, or it doesn't, in which case the EU is likely to be treated as any other third country, unless Theresa May dreams up some fancy scheme such as keepin
... See more
As Tom says, nobody knows. Least of all the British government, it seems.

But it's difficult to see how translation should be impacted, as translations don't go through customs, and translation is generally not a regulated profession.

Either the UK remains in the VAT area, in which case there is likely to be no VAT change, or it doesn't, in which case the EU is likely to be treated as any other third country, unless Theresa May dreams up some fancy scheme such as keeping the UK in the VAT area on even dates only – if she's still PM tomorrow.

As for payments, they will continue to flow freely unless one or more countries introduce restrictions such as capital controls. As one of the world's major financial centres is in London, it seems quite unthinkable that the UK would do that. The EU could do it, but why? Many companies in the EU need access to the City, so they would shoot themselves in the foot. Payments already flow freely between the EU and third countries (except if a third country has restrictions), so it would seem unlikely that payments to and from the UK should suddenly be restricted, not least as it would be easy to circumvent such a restriction by passing through a third country.

I have bank accounts in the eurozone, the UK and Denmark to make it easy for my clients in different currency areas to handle payments and to reduce payment fees (this does not change the fact that income tax is due in the country of residence).

As for the right to remain in the UK, I'm not sure what the latest proposals say.
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Paulinho Fonseca
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:06
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Immigration rules... Dec 12, 2018

will be stricter, regardless of deal or no deal... so it might even be difficult to move here for EU nationals...

Kay Denney
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
We can all just speculate Dec 12, 2018

Samuel Espinho-Alves wrote:
I am a freelance translator currently living in Belgium. Due specific circumstances, I might be moving to the UK sometime in the summer of 2019. My clients being mostly Europeans, I would have to invoice people outside of the UK. Due to this, I have started looking into the consequences of Brexit on the services industry but what I found was not very clear.


It all depends on the deal that the UK makes with the EU. I'm no expert but it appears as if the UK is trying to retain some of the benefits of EU membership, including benefits that simplify trade between the UK and the EU, and no-one knows what this will entail. Since VAT is part of the "simplification" that exists between EU countries, it may well happen that the current "intracommunautaire" VAT system is retained as-is or with only minor changes.

I'm no expert at UK tax affairs but I do get the impression that UK tax authorities generally try to keep things simple for smaller businesses, so my guess would be that they would retain the principle of not requiring VAT registration if your turnover is under a certain threshold, regardless of whether the UK stays within the EU VAT regime or not.

You'd have to speak to an immigration expert w.r.t. the question of whether the fact that you are already registered for VAT in Belgium would mean that you would be required to register for VAT in the UK as well, even if your turnover is below the UK registration threshold. I doubt it, though, since you'll be "emigrating".

If the UK leaves the EU VAT regime, then my guess is that your EU clients will get to treat you just like they would treat an American, etc. translator, and from your perspective you'd treat EU clients just like you would currently treat an American, etc. agency. If you have good contacts with some of your current agencies' PMs, why not ask them how they deal with American etc. translators (finance-wise)?

I am trying to figure out what the worst case scenario would be for people in the industry when translating for Europeans, especially when it comes to income and taxes.


A potential (though IMO unlikely) worst case scenario may be that you would be required to pay double tax for as long as you retain your Belgian citizenship (-:

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, ... I assume VAT will become a thing and that translators will (finally) be required to register for VAT?


Why do you think that?

(I assume your turnover is more than €25000, which is the current Belgian threshold; the current UK threshold is £85000.)

[Edited at 2018-12-12 14:37 GMT]


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Income tax not a matter for the EU Dec 12, 2018

Samuel Murray wrote:
You'd have to speak to an immigration expert w.r.t. the question of whether the fact that you are already registered for VAT in Belgium would mean that you would be required to register for VAT in the UK as well, even if your turnover is below the UK registration threshold. I doubt it, though, since you'll be "emigrating".


It seems unlikely that VAT should have anything to do with immigration status.

Samuel Murray wrote:
A potential (though IMO unlikely) worst case scenario may be that you would be required to pay double tax for as long as you retain your Belgian citizenship (-:


Unlikely, as the EU has nothing to do with income tax, which is a national matter subject to bilateral agreements (the so-called double tax agreements) when two or more countries are involved. The US is just about the only country that obliges their expats to file tax returns.

Social security contributions and benefits, on the other hand, are coordinated by EU regulations, so people who depend on both the UK and an EU/EEA Member State (cross-border workers, multiple residences, temporary working in another country, etc.) are likely to be affected by whatever is agreed in relation to the coordination of public pensions, child benefits, healthcare cover, etc.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Worry more about your own personal status and right to work Dec 12, 2018

Chris S wrote:
I cannot comment on your specific position as an EU citizen resident in the UK, but I would imagine that very little will change. Money talks louder than politics.

This whole sad affair was largely based on the idiotic (IMO) presumption that a vast number of EU citizens were about to join the millions already supposedly sponging off the state. If that type of attitude continues then you have to ask yourself whether you want to be an immigrant there. What will you need in the way of resources and papers in order to register as a legal immigrant? Will you be allowed to set yourself up in business there? Will you find housing? The onus is now - already - on landlords to ensure that all non-UK citizens have a right to residency. To avoid the possibility of prosecution, many are of course opting for the easier route of slamming their door in the face of anyone who can't produce a British passport.


Tom in London
B D Finch
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:06
Member (2008)
Italian to English
20 years Dec 12, 2018

Sheila Wilson wrote:
This whole sad affair


Indeed. Thanks to the EU membership of the UK I have been able to spend my whole working life moving between the UK and other Member States, working in Italy and going to university there, coming and going as I pleased, holding an Italian driving licence, and everything else a person can do....falling in love/falling out of love, et tout le reste...

From now on I would advise any young British person: be careful not to fall in love with anyone from an EU member state. Don't marry them, don't have children with them. Don't think of studying in any university outside the UK. And if you really must go somewhere else in Europe, make sure you have private medical insurance. And don't think of working there, or anything like that.

[Edited at 2018-12-12 15:12 GMT]


Liviu-Lee Roth
helen howard
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:06
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Luckily... Dec 12, 2018

all my children have dual nationality and two passports... at least they will be free to move around as they like... regarding myself, still waiting to see what happens. After 28 years in the UK, I doubt I will be thrown out, but I'm not going to get a British passport... because... I'm not British and I don't feel British. ...

Laura P-
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:06
Member (2008)
Italian to English
dual nationality Dec 12, 2018

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

all my children have dual nationality and two passports... at least they will be free to move around as they like... regarding myself, still waiting to see what happens. After 28 years in the UK, I doubt I will be thrown out, but I'm not going to get a British passport... because... I'm not British and I don't feel British. ...


Luckily I have dual nationality and 2 passports (Irish/British). I feel Irish, British, and European but my translating business is domiciled in the UK. Moving it all to Ireland (i.e. into the EU) after Brexit would require an amount of effort and disruption I don't think I could face....so I hope that working from the UK will still be possible and simple. But the incredible thing is that NOBODY KNOWS.

[Edited at 2018-12-12 15:29 GMT]


Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL
Christine Andersen
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I've been a practising European for 25 years and fully intend to stay one Dec 12, 2018

Tom in London wrote:
Thanks to the EU membership of the UK I have been able to spend my whole working life moving between the UK and other Member States, working in Italy and going to university there, coming and going as I pleased, holding an Italian driving licence, and everything else a person can do....falling in love/falling out of love, et tout le reste...

I have photocopies of my old UK driving licence, and my Dutch one, and my French one, all stored with the copy of my current Spanish driving licence . I've worked in all those countries, although I think I only did 12 hours of paid teaching work after my training finished in the Netherlands. Fortunately that means I don't have to add that country to the list of those who'll be involved in sorting out my pension entitlements -- if indeed I have anything much in the way of entitlement left by the time the dust settles!

The chaos Brexit will cause to families who've taken full advantage of their right to Freedom of Movement is yet to be seen. My own family, for a start: My daughter has always lived in the UK. My son left at the age of seven and is currently running his own business in France, alongside his French life partner. He isn't about to lose his EU rights without a fight and will certainly take French citizenship. My husband and I have lost our right to French citizenship since leaving. We still struggle with the Spanish language, but we'll do everything we can to qualify for citizenship (in four years' time) if it's necessary to avoid losing our rights. In fact, if we could we'd renounce British citizenship tomorrow, very gladly, whatever the eventual outcome. Being denied a vote in our future has well and truly alienated us. So, one family with four members -- all born 100% British and happy to be that way until 2016 -- will hold three different nationalities (and no dual nationalities). I'm sure we aren't unique and there are families far more spread out through Europe. What a total mess !

Luckily I have dual nationality and 2 passports (Irish/British).

You are so lucky, Tom.


Tom in London
B D Finch
Kay Denney
Laura P-
Christine Andersen
Daryo
Isabelle Defévère
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:06
Member (2008)
Italian to English
INdeed Dec 12, 2018

Sheila Wilson wrote:
What a total mess


I still think it isn't going to happen.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My mood changes several times a day Dec 12, 2018

Tom in London wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:
What a total mess


I still think it isn't going to happen.

Every day seems to bring swings at the moment. I certainly hope it doesn't happen. But even if it doesn't the country will be badly damaged. Those that really believed the lies about the grass being greener outside the EU will be very bitter. And racists now feel empowered to speak and act as they wish. We even have Brits living here in Spain roundly condemning the "damned immigrants taking over the country" -- without a trace of irony even though they earn their living working "on the black" here and they proudly live "under the radar". I despair, I really do.


Tom in London
Christine Andersen
Isabelle Defévère
 
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