Questions re moving to Australia
Thread poster: Kristina Wolf

Kristina Wolf  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 10:04
Member (2004)
Spanish to German
+ ...
Sep 6, 2012

Hello,

my husband has been offered a job in Canberra and we will be relocating to Australia next spring for at least 4 years. We currently live in the UK.

I have already read previous posting re relocating to Australia in this forum, but would appreciate any input re my specific situation. My husbands job comes with a work permit for me and I would like to continue working freelance.

My main language combination is English-German.
At present I work 50% of the time as conference interpreter (English-German-English) and 50% of the time as translator. It seems to me that my best bet is to try and keep my translation customers as there will be very little demand for this language combination in Australia itself. I am wondering whether there is any requirement for conference interpreting at all in this language combination?
From what I read the NAATI registration does not seem to make sense for me under these circumstances as I don't plan to work in Community interpreting or to offer sworn/certified translations.

Can anyone shed any light on invoicing procedures? How do you proceed with foreign clients? Of course I would have to continue charging my UK customers in GBP, I am not VAT registered here. It would be interesting to hear more from people who have also been in the same situation.

Lastly, this is a bit off-topic, but I am a new mum to a 4 month old and have just sorted out child care arrangements here to start of November, so haven't tried out how the whole procedure works in practice, especially with me being away over night. If any of you work as interpreter and have experience with this, I'd appreciate your input.

Kristina


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Patricia Will  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 07:04
Member (2004)
German to English
Moving to Australia Sep 6, 2012

Hi Kristina,

Good luck with your move to Canberra. You are right that there will be little demand for your language combination English-German, so if I were you I would definitely be trying to bring my customers with me. After all, it doesn't matter where you are located. I don't know what the demand would be for conference interpreters for that language combination either, although I would think there may be more opportunities in Canberra for that type of work because of all the government departments, so you'd probably do well to register with various agencies there and elsewhere in Australia for those interpreting jobs that do come up. I agree with you that it's not worth you acquiring the NAATI accreditation, you only really need it for official documents e.g. for immigration department and they would be into English anyway. Again, there wouldn't be much demand for community interpreting for English-German or even for German-English, perhaps in aged care where people revert to their first language again. I willl ask among my colleagues at AUSIT and try to get you the name of some relevant agencies in Canberra. It may well be worth approaching government agencies directly with regard to interpreting.

Regarding invoicing procedures you can continue to invoice in GBP or other currencies, you will just have to declare the income in $ when you complete your tax returns. You should acquire an ABN Australian Business Number and register as a sole trader so that you can deduct the usual business-related expenses from your taxes. I work mostly for customers in Germany translating from German to English and I invoice in both AUD and EURO. You do not need to register for GST (same as VAT) unless you earn a specific amount (not sure how much it is exactly, you'd have to contact the tax office) and you do not charge your European customers GST/VAT if providing a service from here.

Don't know much about the availability of child care but there seem to be plenty of daycare centres around, also casual daycare and what is called family daycare which is the same as childminders in the UK.

All the best, don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further help.
Trish Will
German-English translator
Perth, WA


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Anna Herbst  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 10:04
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
NAATI accreditation Sep 7, 2012

[quote]Kristina Wolf wrote:


"From what I read the NAATI registration does not seem to make sense for me under these circumstances as I don't plan to work in Community interpreting or to offer sworn/certified translations."



Hi Kristina,

In my view it would be worth getting the NAATI accreditation if you are planning to stay in Australia for four years, unless you already have a sufficient number of clients to bring with you from the UK, as most agencies here will put only NAATI qualified translators on their books. There are also quite a lot of jobs apart from community interpreting that require NAATI qualifications, for example, anything having to do with migration or other legal matters will require a NAATI number as will a simple thing like the translation of a driving licence. Being listed on the NAATI pages is also a good way to advertise your services, as NAATI accreditation is seen by many as a form of quality assurance.

Best wishes with the move and with the new baby,
Anna

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Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia
Australia
Local time: 09:04
English
+ ...
relocations Sep 7, 2012

Hi Kristina,

Good luck with your move to Australia! And sorry that you are going to just about the most boring city on the continent I spent 4 years there, I should know...

I don't know about the German language market in Australia (my combination is Russian-English), however some of the rules are the same.

I would DEFINITELY keep your clients when you move, there is nothing stopping you from continuing to work with them - 50% of my income comes from various companies in the UK, EU and USA. To reassure them, tell them about the benefits of the time zone difference - they can send you work in their afternoon and will have the translations back the next morning as they come to to work. 10 hours difference works in our favour here, although you do have to check your emails at 9-10 pm, to catch the lunchtime projects.

NAATI certification covers both translators and interpreters, there are 2 separate exams for these and you have to sit the translation exam twice if you want to work in 2 language directions. It's expensive, but it's the only way you can get yourself registered with the Australian agencies and get any work with the government. If you are going to do most of your translations with EU clients and try to get interpreting work locally, I would just do the interpreting exam. You can try to get on the books of Aussie agencies, but I strongly suspect that they will tell you to come back after you pass the exam - they cover themselves by only employing locally certified professionals. That's what they told me, despite the fact that I've been translating full-time for over 6 years. On the other hand, you will get paid much better than most translators in the EU or UK - Australia is an expensive country and people expect to pay much more.

A friend of mine used to do Community interpreting (Mandarin Chinese -English), she got paid $50-70 an hour for that, and up to $100 an hour for government-oriented community interpreting. I don't know what conference work costs, but if this is the bottom line...

Invoicing - it's the same. Get yourself registered for ABN (it's free and compulsory for sole traders, which is what you are as a freelancer) and use invoicing software. Open a local bank account and set it up for foreign payments (takes 5 minutes on the phone with the bank). I charge in USD, EUR, USD and AUD, depending on the client. They pay me by bank transfer or Paypal and I record their payments in AUD in my spreadsheet. Just for the record - USD is not so good the moment, AUD is actually riding higher, so you have to either be careful with your rates or charge in Euro.

I would not try to swing things 'under the counter', even though Paypal, if you know what I mean. The Australian Taxation Office has the right to audit any amount that goes through the banking system, and they pay special attention to the foreign transfers, however small. If you don't pay the tax man, you will get a 'please explain' letter from the ATO and then a nasty bill and a fine.

Most Australian companies work on 30 day NET, although sometimes you can negotiate 14 or even 7 NET. You don't have to pay GST (Goods & Services Tax, aka VAT - its 10%) until you gross over $100,000. The financial year is 1st July to 30th June, so it's a good time to move.

I would strongly suggest that you find yourself a certified accountant and ask him lots of questions about setting up a home-based business and then pay him to do your taxes in the end of the year. Australian taxation law is very complex and business taxes are a royal pain. Make sure that s/he is a 'certified accountant', not a 'tax agent'! Mine charges me about $400 to do my tax return in July, however it's a tax deduction off the next year's income. And it's honestly worth it, I hate taxes and forms.

As a freelancer, you can claim a LOT of stuff as a tax deduction - e.g. last year I was able to claim about $8000. If you are going to be renting, it's a good idea to set up a separate room as an office, then you can claim a portion of your rent, gas, heating and power (as a percentage of your floor area); portion of your internet and phone line; travel to/from clients and accommodation; any stationary (all for business... obviously, haha!); computer hardware and software; furniture for your office etc. There is also a relatively unknown Entrepreneur Tax Offset - that alone saved me about $800 off my tax bill! A good accountant will explain everything to you.

On the other hand, there are such unpleasant things as the Medicare levy (compulsory contribution to the government-sponsored healthcare) and the Medicare surcharge levy (another compulsory tax which kicks in when your household income tops $160K a year - if you are expecting to earn that much, you really should get private health insurance! If you have it, you don't have to pay the surcharge levy and you get a discount, too. The levy is 1% of your income, and at 160K that means $1600 per year; but with private health insurance and discount it's about $1100, and you get private health benefits, see?)

Australian taxes are high in general and go up a ladder depending on your income; on average, expect to pay 20-25% of your income in taxes. It's a sensible idea to set aside some of your income in a separate savings account - most banks offer free 'piggy banks' with 4-5% interest, no fees or cards so you can only access them online, but it's just an easy way to accumulate another reserve to pay your tax bill in the end of the financial year. And, of course, you will have to pay tax on the interest that you earned on those savings. This is the tax man we are talking about, after all.

Sorry, can't help you with the question about kids... google parenting forums in Australia, I'm sure there is plenty of information! I do know though that the baby has to be immunised to be accepted into daycare - there are still occasional instances of whooping cough and other not-so-pleasant illnesses.

Otherwise, this is a helpful site - http://www.aussiemove.com/costofliving/ . Also, you may want to consider joining Internations - http://www.internations.org/ - an excellent and very busy social network for various expats. I think there is a Canberra charter, they would usually have meetings once a month or two. A nice place to start making friends! Email me if you need an invitation


Email me if you'd like any other help, I'd be glad to! My email is on my Proz profile page.

Good luck with the move!

Daria


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Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia
Australia
Local time: 09:04
English
+ ...
another thing Sep 7, 2012

Apart from work - since you are moving to Canberra, make absolutely certain that the place you rent has decent heating!! It's bloody freezing there in winter, excuse my French Australians in general have no idea how to build houses for the cold - double glazing is almost unheard of here, and quite often older houses are built from single brick or simply fibreboard. The locals just shiver through the winter, even in Canberra where the weather on July nights can drop to -6C and barely go above zero during the day! And as you are a freelancer, working from home, heating is essential, obviously.

Underfloor gas heating is the best, the newer houses often have it. Otherwise, a wood heater will be a good inexpensive alternative - I go through about 2 tonnes of wood each winter, that's $200-250. Heating the house with electricity would cost at least $600-700 for the season. If you move into an apartment, make sure it's a first or second floor one, Australian houses have no basements to insulate them from the cold.

And invest in woolly jumpers, socks and fingerless gloves - you'll need them. Or learn how to knit

In fact, http://www.woolovers.com/ is quite good for jumpers and they post stuff to Australia. The prices in shops here are very high, we usually pay 30-50% more for things that the Americans or even the British, so internet shopping is your friend.

I know this sounds weird, but that's Australia for you. Burning hot in summer, freezing in winter (unless you live on the coast). Canberra has a very dry, continental climate - it goes to +40 in summer and well into subzero in winter. But then it's relatively close to some very nice skiing fields ("close" for an Australian is 2-3 hours drive. 30 mins - 1 hour is an usual daily commute).

[Edited at 2012-09-07 02:53 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
NAATI certification makes sense Sep 7, 2012

(I confess I haven't read the other colleagues' replies. This is just a quick opinion.)

Given that the NAATI certification has an influence in a potential work permit for yourself, not linked to that of your husband's, I reckon gaining NAATI certification would do no harm. Life is long and things change!


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Kristina Wolf  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 10:04
Member (2004)
Spanish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your replies! Sep 18, 2012

Massive thank you for your helpful replies!
Kristina


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Michelle Hertrich  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:04
German to English
+ ...
Child care Nov 20, 2012

I´m an Aussie currently living in Germany but planning to return to Australia by 2016 with my husband and son. I´ve been quizzing all of my friends back home re child care for the same reasons as you. I was back in Australia earlier this year and there are private child care centres/kindergartens on every corner. There are a few public child care centres around as well, but I was under the impression that they are not quite as good other than the fact that they´re free (or at least cheaper). The current rate for casual private child care is around AUS$70/ day in Melbourne (I almost died when heard that, but as someone said, Australia´s got expensive) and is cheaper if you have your child enrolled in a permanent placement. The opening hours are a lot more friendly than here in Germany. My brother said it shouldn´t be a problem getting a placement near your future home, but it may not be your first choice. He seemed to think that you would only be able to enrol your kid once you have arrived in Australia and have a home address that is part of their "catchment" area. The child care centres generally accept babies 6 weeks of age and older.

I don´t quite know what you´d do if you had to leave your child in care overnight, so I can´t help you out on that one. There are quite a few good expat/relocation sites on the internet with good start-up information and I did find a brochure on moving to Australia on the Department of Immigration website. I don´t have the link anymore, but I downloaded the booklet, so if you want me to send it to you, send me a quick message. The Aust Govt has other good info sites with good links that might interest you, such as http://australia.gov.au/topics/benefits-payments-and-services/family-payments-and-services/child-care .

As far as Canberra goes, as the others said, it is COLD in winter. My parents have moved to the coast south of Bateman´s Bay (about 90 min drive from Canberra) and that area is lovely and a little warmer if you need to warm yourself up a bit and see the sea. It´s a few years since I stayed in Canberra, but back then the night life wasn´t all that great. With a little kid it´s hard hitting the town every night anyway. One thing your child will love when he/she is a little older is Questacon (an interactive science museum). The only problem is getting your kid to leave Questacon at the end of the day.

One other thing is to get the fastest internet connection possible when you want to start working. I found the internet incredibly slow and unreliable at a lot of the stops we made around Australia.

Good luck with your move!


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Kristina Wolf  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 10:04
Member (2004)
Spanish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Michelle! Feb 22, 2013

Thanks Michelle for your helpful contribution.
The UK is also quite expensive in terms of childcare, so the prices didn't surprise me, it's not that much more than what we pay already. Just thought I'd let you know that at least in Canberra I was able to sign up Sophie on the waiting list as soon as I enquired. Not quite sure whether this had to do with the fact that my husbands position is at the University, in any case I was able to sign up for University and private nurseries. I signed up in September, and now end of February there is still no place available in any of the six nurseries we signed up for. Just thought it might give you an idea about what to expect when you return yourself.

Best wishes

Kristina


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Patricia Will  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 07:04
Member (2004)
German to English
Moving to Australia Feb 23, 2013

Hi Kristina, you might want to get in contact with the local branch of the Australian professional association for interpreters and translators (AUSIT) to make contact with local colleagues in Canberra. Contact act@ausit.org

Hope this helps
Trish Will


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shirley damazo
Local time: 23:04
English to Portuguese
+ ...
European nationality moving to Australia as a freelance translator Dec 3, 2013

Hello, I've been reading about this subject either here or via the immigration website but there is no specific information for freelance/independent contract who wants to move to Australia. Does anyone here know how to apply for the visa?

I want to research/study the mineral market in Australia and surrounding areas and live there on the East coast and will continue to work as a freelance translator.



Thank you in advance and regards


Shirley Damazo


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Kristina Wolf  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 10:04
Member (2004)
Spanish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Visa Dec 4, 2013

Hello Shirley,

I'd give Immigration a ring or consult a Migration Agent. My work permit came with my husband's visa, so this will not be of much help to you. Australia keeps changing it's immigration rules and they have tightened them a lot, so you need to check. It is becoming quite difficult from what I can gather unfortunately, and costs more than I ever imagined... thinking the UK was bad when looking at their fees... no very mistaken...
Sorry, I can't be of more help.

Best of luck!

Kristina


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