Getting started as a freelance translator in the UK
Thread poster: Johanna Bowman

Johanna Bowman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:10
English to German
Feb 7, 2010

Hey everyone,

I am new to proz, in fact I am fairly new to the translation business in general. I have a couple of pretty basic questions and I am hoping for your help with this.

I am German and I am planning on moving to the UK (London hopefully) soon. I am hoping for a full or part time employment in the translation/ localization business while gaining some translation experience (and earning some extra money) as a freelance translator in my free time.

I am a bit clueless though about how to do this.

Basically, could someone explain to me how/ if I would need to get registered of some sort and what kind of taxes will apply to the work I'll do as a freelance translator?

Would I need to inform my employer about my freelance work?

How would things look like for a full-time freelancer in terms of insurance/ taxes?

I appreciate any sort of tips and ideas, web links or experience to be shared on this subject.

Thanks a lot,

Johanna


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Freelance DK  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:10
English to Danish
+ ...
Information Feb 7, 2010

Johanna Bethke wrote:


Would I need to inform my employer about my freelance work?

Johanna


Hi

Yes this is very basic questions you ask here - the answers is almost the
same no matter where you make business in the EU. The local VAT/tax rates
can be different, so I will let the UK guys answer this..

About inform your employer...?? Nobody but you and your employer can
answer that! Look in your contract - it will state if you are allowed/not
allowed to do other work(in your private free time). If nothing stated - and no
reference to any collective agreement - then you can do as you like.


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Frances Leggett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:10
Italian to English
+ ...
Here are the starters as far as I know... Feb 7, 2010

You will need to register as self-employed in the UK which you can do by visiting www.hmrc.gov.uk and the process is quite simple.

If you are working as PAYE (employee) and self-employed, you just need to check that your PAYE contract doesn't state that you can't work with anyone else, but otherwise you can do both PAYE and self-employed work.

Self-employed tax and employed tax are generally the same as far as I know. You have a tax-free threshold of around £6430 (you can check this on the HMRC website) and after that you pay 20% on everything up to £38,000 more or less. You don't need to register for a VAT number until your self-employed business earns over £68,000 per year and this means that you don't have to pay VAT so you don't really need to invoice for it unless your company will be earning close to that amount.

When you do your self-employed tax return at the end of the financial year, there will be a section where you can enter all information from your PAYE job (from your P60 which they give you at the end of the financial year). This will show your tax code and all the tax you've paid with regards to your PAYE employment. Then you can add in what you've earned as self-employed and your expenses and the HMRC will calculate how much tax and National Insurance you need to pay at the end of the financial year. The tax year in UK goes from 6th April to 5th April the following year. You then have until October that year to do a paper tax return or until January the following year to do an online return.

But pay a visit to the HMRC website as this has all the information that you will need and contact details for tax offices so that if you get stuck or have any queries then you can contact them and they will help you out. In my experience they have always been very helpful and concise about what needs to be done.

Hope that helps!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:10
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
re VAT Feb 7, 2010

Frances Leggett wrote:
You don't need to register for a VAT number until your self-employed business earns over £68,000 per year


Although this is true, you will need to be allocated a VAT N° if you wish to invoice anyone in another EU country. This is a new requirement as from 01/01/10 and doesn't mean that you actually charge/reclaim VAT, you just need it for a declaration to the customs so they can check that both you and the client are treating VAT correctly.

By the way, there may or may not be any legal obligation to tell your employer about your freelance work (depending on the contract terms), but I would expect them to be very angry if they found out about it and to suspect you of using the privileged contacts and resources of your employment, in order to benefit your own business. I would strongly advise you to come clean and agree to a clause in your contract to the effect that this will not happen (or even suggest to them that they ask you to sign one).

A last thought - although I'm from London, I only became a translator after leaving the UK so I'm no expert on translators' working conditions there, but I doubt that salaried employment is easy to find. Certainly, most agencies employ a few translators, but I believe they are mostly trainees (i.e. very cheap) or highly experienced proofreader/translators. But don't let that put you off looking!


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Myriam Garcia Bernabe  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:10
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
Addendum Feb 7, 2010

"Self-employed tax and employed tax are generally the same as far as I know. You have a tax-free threshold of around £6430 (you can check this on the HMRC website) and after that you pay 20% on everything up to £38,000 more or less. You don't need to register for a VAT number until your self-employed business earns over £68,000 per year and this means that you don't have to pay VAT so you don't really need to invoice for it unless your company will be earning close to that amount."

As self-employed, you must also pay Class II National Insurance contributions (this works out to an amount per month you must pay by direct debit and then, 8% Class IV National Insurance contributions that is added to the 20% income tax base above-cited (because effectively you are employee and employer).


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:10
Italian to English
VAT registration Feb 7, 2010

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Although this is true, you will need to be allocated a VAT N° if you wish to invoice anyone in another EU country. This is a new requirement as from 01/01/10 and doesn't mean that you actually charge/reclaim VAT, you just need it for a declaration to the customs so they can check that both you and the client are treating VAT correctly.



I have not researched this myself but the consensus (as I have understood it) in this thread, where the issue was extensively discussed, is that VAT registration is not required:
http://www.proz.com/topic/153466?start=0


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Freelance DK  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:10
English to Danish
+ ...
Independent Feb 7, 2010

[quote]Sheila Wilson wrote:


", but I would expect them to be very angry if they found out about it and to suspect you of using the privileged contacts and resources of your employment, in order to benefit your own business."

There is no clue about conflict in this? There is other job positions in real life than translation jobs! You can have a normal office or cleaning job beside your freelance translation job...sure if there could be a cross link the best thing is to come clean with your employer before any misunderstanding. But else you are a free person. Think out of the box!


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Johanna Bowman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:10
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Feb 7, 2010

Thanks everyone for your helpful replies. I was actually hoping more for a job in the industry rather than a cleaning job fingers crossed...
So while the hmrc seems to be the address in terms of taxes, how about the whole insurance thing? I mean regarding this, would I count as being self-employed or employed (say, in the case of being employed at a company and doing freelance translation at the same time)?
Maybe some of you have some more web links/ literature on this subject to share. Is the ITI any good for help on these things? When I last looked, most of their workshop, or whatever they call it, seemed pretty overpriced to me...
Anyway, thanks again. I really appreciate it - especially as this must be all so basic for you...


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Bouchlaghem
Local time: 00:10
Registration Nov 6, 2012

Hi everyone,

I am a qualified translator, I would like to start working as a freelance translator. My question is do I register first, or do I try to get some work first. How does it work, please help.
Many thanks.

Salima


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
You need an accountant Nov 6, 2012

Johanna Bethke wrote:

Thanks everyone for your helpful replies. I was actually hoping more for a job in the industry rather than a cleaning job fingers crossed...
So while the hmrc seems to be the address in terms of taxes, how about the whole insurance thing? I mean regarding this, would I count as being self-employed or employed (say, in the case of being employed at a company and doing freelance translation at the same time)?
Maybe some of you have some more web links/ literature on this subject to share. Is the ITI any good for help on these things? When I last looked, most of their workshop, or whatever they call it, seemed pretty overpriced to me...
Anyway, thanks again. I really appreciate it - especially as this must be all so basic for you...


With all due respect to the colleagues offering useful advice here, there are important initial steps you need to take, to get set up properly and to ensure your book-keeping is being done correctly, etc. etc. If you're in London and need the advice of an accountant *with a human face who won't take all your money* message me privately.

[Edited at 2012-11-06 22:20 GMT]


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