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Poll: Would you say that it's difficult to be a freelancer in the country in which you live?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 02:25
SITE STAFF
Jan 4, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Would you say that it's difficult to be a freelancer in the country in which you live?".

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:25
Member (2008)
English to Italian
interesting poll Jan 4, 2013

Very interesting poll.
In Italy being a freelancer is a sort of nightmare, for several reasons:

- taxes taxes taxes, but in case you have a problem, no coverage.
- you are considered a "tax evader", just because you "might potentially have the chance to evade"
- you have to submit a lot of (useless) documents every year, which increase the cost of your accountant, but which offer the state a wonderful facade to hide the fact that politicians are not interested in fighting the tax evasion

Then we we speak about Freelance Translators, well there is also a number of "nice" comments you might receive, the nicest I have received just a few weeks ago is:

"this is not a job, it is just a hobby, and what is the effort?"


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
More disadvantageous... Jan 4, 2013

... in pension terms etc in Spain.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jan 4, 2013

At first, I found it very hard to get started up in Spain because of the need to pay a fixed monthly rate for social security and similar debits before I was earning anything at all from translation, never mind a regular monthly amount. However, now that I am up and running, I don't think it can be any harder than I imagine it'd be in the UK or France, at least officially.

You do need to know that some clients may take ages to pay, or try to dodge paying at all, and there is also a lot of competition in Sp-Eng (sorry, I can't remember the customary in-house abbreviation for my pair), but apart from that, it's not too bad. In fact, my year is off to a flying start already...

PS: As Noni says, the pensions issue here is a non-starter, but I gave up worrying about that ages ago.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 12:25
Turkish to English
+ ...
Definitely not Jan 4, 2013

If we are talking about taxes, bureaucracy etc., then definitely not. Cyprus is a business friendly place.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
No Jan 4, 2013

But I imagine it's pretty difficult to be a freelancer in a country you don't live in

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:25
English to German
+ ...
I can't tell. Jan 4, 2013

I founded a company in the midst of the collapse of the dot.com bubble and two weeks before 9/11 after which North America was frozen and put to a total halt for months. I think I have seen it all - which is why I haven't been much impressed by any so-called hysterical financial crises and recessions ever since. The survivors of those times are called the "bull dogs". Due to what I have learned during my decades of management positions in Germany I never came up with the idea of setting up business as a vulnerable freelancer.
We are going to celebrate our 12th anniversary this year. Wouff, wouff!!


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dasein_wm  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:25
Member (2009)
Italian to English
+ ...
Good question Jan 4, 2013

Gianluca Marras wrote:

Very interesting poll.
In Italy being a freelancer is a sort of nightmare, for several reasons:

- taxes taxes taxes, but in case you have a problem, no coverage.
- you are considered a "tax evader", just because you "might potentially have the chance to evade"
- you have to submit a lot of (useless) documents every year, which increase the cost of your accountant, but which offer the state a wonderful facade to hide the fact that politicians are not interested in fighting the tax evasion

Then we we speak about Freelance Translators, well there is also a number of "nice" comments you might receive, the nicest I have received just a few weeks ago is:

"this is not a job, it is just a hobby, and what is the effort?"



I agree with everything Gianluca wrote here (as I, too, live in Italy), but strangely my response to the question was 'No, not really'. I suppose I am simply resigned to the amount of taxes I pay. I'm not happy about them mind you but I definitely knew what I was getting into before taking the plunge a few years ago.

As far as other people considering what I do as a mere hobby, I comfort myself in the knowledge that the 'hobby' is supporting my family of four quite well and that if the other person doesn't understand my vocation it is simply because people in Italy are generally ignorant of other languages on account of the amount of media that is translated and dubbed for them. They have the benefit of the result of our labor without ever thinking about the effort that went into allowing them to remain monolingual.

I hope I don't sound too caustic with that last opinion, but I would say 95% percent of the people I know really have no idea what I do. It used to bother me, now it is more of a badge of honor.


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Ilka Encheva
Bulgaria
Local time: 12:25
Slovenian to Bulgarian
+ ...
Bulgaria :( Jan 4, 2013

...and current situation in Bulgaria with sworn translators, authorized to translate official documents in Bulgaria

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria is the body which gives authorization and decides which translator can perform sworn translations, validated with a seal, based on his or her qualifications.

However, in order to be permitted to carry out sworn translations, the sworn translators must submit documents for translation to one of the onen thousand six hundred and eighty-four (1684) translation agencies with which the Consular Affairs Directorate of the Ministry has signed a contract for performance of official translations.

This means that the translator himself can never apply for such a permission on his own and that sworn translators completely depend on the will of translation agencies which may or may not choose to work with him and to submit his documents in the Consular Affairs Directorate of the Ministry!

Translators must thus submit documents to translation agency. For every translation agency the translator goes to, he must separately get a notary-certified copy of their diplomas, as well as a sworn declaration for each translation agency stating that the translator is fully and legally responsible for the translations performed. This means that translators in Bulgaria are constantly paying fees to notaries for certification of their diplomas and sworn declarations, but do not have any guarantee in return that the translation agency will submit these documents to the Consular Affairs Directorate and that a translation agency will decide to assign a translation to the respective translator.

A translator in Bulgaria becomes a sworn translator only within the specific translation agency which has submitted his or her documents to the Consular Affairs Directorate. Thus a translator can work as a sworn translator only for two or three agencies just because other translation agency might not be willing to submit his ot her documents to the Consular Affairs Directorate. On the other hand, a person holding a Master degree in English philology (or any other language) might never get a chance to work as a sworn translator if no agency cares to submit his or her documents to the Consular Affairs Directorate. This same translator has to be approved by each one of the one thousand six hundred and eighty-four translation agencies separately and can carry out sworn translations only and solely through the translation agencies. So the translator is supposed to prepare his notary certified documents for each translation agency separately, meaning that he or she will have to pay 30 BGN notary fees each time, for each set of documents. 30 BGN multiplied by 1684 agencies equals 50 520 BGN (27 222 E) - this is the amount for just one sworn translator.

Each translated document by translator is given from translation agancy to the Consular Affairs Directorate where the signature of the translator has to be certified in the absence of the the translator, because the translations are submitted by translation agencies, printed on a form of the agency with a logo and a stamp of the agency, but signed by the sworn translator who has performed the translation. For this certification of the signature of the translator the Consular Affairs Directorate charges a state fee. It turns out that in Bulgaria the environment for forging signatures of translators is very favourable. The sworn translator, whose signature is on the document, might have not translated the document, but his signature could be easily faked by a translation agency and submitted to the Consular Affairs Directorate for certification. Thus, the Consular Affairs Directorate certifies our signatures in return of a state fee and in our absence!

The Consular Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not sign contracts directly with the translators, meaning that we do not have the right to perform official translations without the intermediation of translation agencies, and we do not have the right to submit our own translations to the Consular Affairs Directorate where to certify our own signature. This means that the translation agencies dictate the cost of translation, usually charging over 50% commission, without any guarantee that the translator will get paid for his work by the translation agency.

Since we are in a situation of dependency, translatos in Bulgaria have to register their own firms – translation agencies – in order to perform official translations in the languages they have mastered. The situation changed in May 2012 when the Consular Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a new Decree that from the beginning of 2013 the Directorate will sign contracts for official translations only with firms, certified in BDS EN 15038:2006, which have a rented office and have contracted two philologists on a permanent employment basis.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs works with a very old normative base – it has not changed since 1958, and the new "changes" AGAIN put the translators in Bulgaria in a dependent situation. Is there any other country in the EU where the translators, who want to practice freely their profession, must have an agency, certified in a quality standard such as BDS EN 15038:2006 and also required to hire two philologist on a permanent emplyment basis? Translators in Bulgaria have the right to register as freelancers, to pay taxes, but we cannot work freely as certified translators. Our work should always be performed through the intermediation of a translation agency.




[Edited at 2013-01-04 11:46 GMT]


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:25
Member (2008)
English to Italian
agree Jan 4, 2013

dasein_wm wrote:

Gianluca Marras wrote:

Very interesting poll.
In Italy being a freelancer is a sort of nightmare, for several reasons:

- taxes taxes taxes, but in case you have a problem, no coverage.
- you are considered a "tax evader", just because you "might potentially have the chance to evade"
- you have to submit a lot of (useless) documents every year, which increase the cost of your accountant, but which offer the state a wonderful facade to hide the fact that politicians are not interested in fighting the tax evasion

Then we we speak about Freelance Translators, well there is also a number of "nice" comments you might receive, the nicest I have received just a few weeks ago is:

"this is not a job, it is just a hobby, and what is the effort?"



I agree with everything Gianluca wrote here (as I, too, live in Italy), but strangely my response to the question was 'No, not really'. I suppose I am simply resigned to the amount of taxes I pay. I'm not happy about them mind you but I definitely knew what I was getting into before taking the plunge a few years ago.

As far as other people considering what I do as a mere hobby, I comfort myself in the knowledge that the 'hobby' is supporting my family of four quite well and that if the other person doesn't understand my vocation it is simply because people in Italy are generally ignorant of other languages on account of the amount of media that is translated and dubbed for them. They have the benefit of the result of our labor without ever thinking about the effort that went into allowing them to remain monolingual.

I hope I don't sound too caustic with that last opinion, but I would say 95% percent of the people I know really have no idea what I do. It used to bother me, now it is more of a badge of honor.


Unfortunately what you say about Italy is true. And the consideration for this job is definitely low.
I have stopped explaining to people that even when they read the instruction for the new mobile, TV, stereo and everything in their own language, there is a translator behind it, which makes this possible, and also I always stress the fact that we are talking about a PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATOR, and not someone "who has studied a language at school and then translates when he/she has nothing better to do".

About the hobby thing, well same comfort here!


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NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:25
Portuguese to English
@ Chris Jan 4, 2013

Chris S wrote:

But I imagine it's pretty difficult to be a freelancer in a country you don't live in


Ironically, probably not; if you’re not a resident for tax purposes, i.e. don’t ‘technically’ live in a country, then you’re free from tax responsibilities. lol

Note: I was thinking of Australian tax regulations in this case – not sure what nasty laws may be in place in many other countries.

[Edited at 2013-01-04 11:43 GMT]


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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:25
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
from Copenhagen Jan 4, 2013

I answered 'not really', because I'm generally quite happy in my situation here in Denmark.

However, the costs of living are very high and we all pay a lot of income tax, which is balanced by the relatively high domestic salaries....So, as freelancer working on the international market it is impossible to work for the rates that some foreign clients offer.


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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:25
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
I forgot to add Jan 4, 2013

But even though it isn't so lucrative, I find it much more interesting to 'be on the international scene' as opposed to only working for local, Danish clients.

[Edited at 2013-01-04 12:17 GMT]


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Rocio Barrientos  Identity Verified
Bolivia
Local time: 06:25
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Within the culture in which I live... more than the country in which I live Jan 4, 2013

Hopefully people will catch on about the fact that "not going to work" does not mean "not working"

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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:25
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes ... I do Jan 4, 2013

But I think it is difficult to be freelance anywhere.
Especially today.
Not to mention that I live in Greece, so that colours my picture.
But if I were considering a start up today in Greece, being young free and single - I'd considering moving somewhere with a fair and transparent tax system where I would had reason to believe that that taxes which applied today (in January) would be the same that I'd be paying by the end of the year, instead of just randomly changing to make up to government's shortfall on whatever agreement was made with the powers that be.


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