Lost with invoicing / being paid / administrative stuff (Quebec)
Thread poster: Anne Raffolt

Anne Raffolt  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:22
Member (2013)
English to French
+ ...
Sep 16, 2013


I recently established myself as a freelance translator in Quebec after translating in-house so I am a bit lost with all the administrative and accounting aspect of translating.

I have browsed the forums and so far I have understood that :
- I do not need to register anywhere as long as I do not make more than CAD 30 000 per year (which seems unlikely for the 1st year) ;
- I do not need to charge taxes for clients abroad (so far, my clients have been mostly from the US + one client from the UK).

So basically, there is no paperwork to be done apart from the usual yearly income tax return declaration. Have I misunderstood or am I correct ?

For invoicing, considering that I do not need to charge taxes, I simply have to put my name, address, those of the client, the service rendered, the price and due date. I can use the same template as the proz tool and send them to clients my e-mail.

What I am the most unsure of is how to get paid :
- I have looked at wire transfer and my bank charges CAD 15 for the reception of the wire (not including any exchange rate fee) which I think is too much, especially for very small projects.
- I have been advised not to use paypal due to their very high rates but the people who told me that worked in/for different continents than me. Paypal seems to be lumping USA and Canada as one country, i.e. my payments from my US clients would not be considered international. In that case, would it be worth it ?
- If not, what can I use ?
- Or should I use paypal for small amounts (I have had some USD 15 to 30 assignments) and my bank for large amounts (over USD 500) ? Or just change for a more reasonable bank ?
- Also, if this has not been discussed with clients, who should pay the fees associated with the payment ? In the future, should I discuss it with clients or just pay them myself ?

Thank you very much



Michel A.  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:22
Member (2004)
English to French
+ ...
Précisions Sep 17, 2013

Bonjour Anne et bienvenue,

Tu as raison sur tous les premiers points que tu exposes (limite pour les taxes, taxes à l'étranger, facture).

Concernant tes questions, personnellement, j'utilise PayPal pour tous les petits montants (É.-U., UE et R.-U.) et des virements pour les gros; de toute façon, ça coûte toujours plus cher de travailler avec des clients étrangers (50 % de mes clients).

Ma banque, RBC, facture aussi 15 $.

TOUT se négocie (ou pas) avec un client, habituellement, chacun paie les frais bancaires de son côté.

Bonne journée,



Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Set up a paypal account anyway Sep 17, 2013

Hi Anne,

I see that Michel already seems to have answered your Canada-specific questions, which I have no clue about.

I would advise you to set up a paypal account whatever you do.

It's always good to have as many options as possible.
It's always more costly not to get paid than to pay something to get paid (if that makes sense). That's why shops/restaurants accept credit cards, despite the commissions charged for this service.

You never want to be in a situation where it's difficult for a client to pay you or where you have to turn down a job because of payment terms.

Perhaps you could try to negotiate with your bank on payment fees or check out some of its competitors. That sounds like a very high rate to be paying for incoming payments (although I'm not sure what the exchange rate is for CAD).

The "standard" procedures in terms of bank fees is that each party pays the fees on their own side.


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 14:22
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
PayPal Sep 19, 2013

Hi Anne,

I ask my Canadian clients to pay by cheque or Interac e-transfer. More and more people now have PC banking.

Overseas clients (Euros or GBP) pay by PayPal and the money is automatically converted to CAN $$. The fees are really not that bad for amounts under $1000 and particularly if you take into account the convenience and the cost of bank transfers. You also have the option of asking the client to split the fee.

For US payments PayPal charges and additional conversion fee on top of the exchange rate. To circumvent this, I have opened a US $$ account at my bank and I ask my US clients to preferably pay by cheque. That way I can deposit the money and watch the exchange rate for a good time to convert. Unfortunately, PayPal will not allow direct withdrawals to a Canadian US $$ account - you would have to have a bank in the US.

Any US payments still coming through PayPal I try to use for paying my proz.com membership, training courses, amazon books, and other online purchases. If I still want to convert some, I usually take no more than about $500 at a time and I watch the exchange rate to make it as painless as possible.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Annie Sapucaia  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:22
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
HSBC is a good option Nov 5, 2013

Hi Anne,

In terms of banks, I use HSBC because it allows you to transfer money between your international accounts. So I have a U.S. bank account and when I get paid by cheque or direct deposit from a U.S. client, it goes in the U.S. account and I can transfer it for almost nothing into my Canadian account.

I moved to Montreal not so long ago and am also trying to sort out Quebec/federal tax stuff for next year. Fun!


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:22
Member (2008)
French to English
Quebec details Nov 5, 2013

Like Michel, I use PayPal for amounts under $500 and Bank Transfer for amounts over that, to keep fees down. PayPal's fees are a percent, so are better for smaller amounts, while Bank Transfer fees are a flat fee, so more economical for larger amounts.

I usually absorb the payment costs, for the sake of simplicity.

I occasionally have trouble with EU clients who pay by bank transfer - some of their banks insist on an IBAN number, which our banks don't have. For these clients I have a Moneybookers (Skril) account, which is London-based and easier for them to pay into. Then I bring the funds to Canada from MB by bank transfer.

The rest of what you say appears to be correct. Bear in mind that you can make a lot more than $30,000 per year in translation in Quebec - going rates are a lot higher than the international rates. So you might need to be ready to get a sales tax number. In Quebec, both provincial and federal tax collections are processed by Révenu Québec, so there's only a single return to make.

[Edited at 2013-11-05 17:47 GMT]


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