Working abroad as a contractor

You might also find our guides on Contracting in Belgium, Contracting in Germany, Contracting in France and Contracting in the Netherlands helpful.

Working as a contractor through your own limited company in the UK is commercially rewarding and also very tax efficient. It is easy to forget, but the UK has one of the lowest rates of Corporation Tax in Europe. Before you decide to leave the UK as a contractor consider the following:

  1. All countries around the world have their own tax laws, some are very different and have some rather unusual restrictions. For example the Netherlands, where you will not be allowed to contract through your own limited company.
  2. You can of course trade and invoice through your UK company in many other countries. However, to do this effectively you will need to:
    a) source expert tax help in the country you are working in, as you may be liable for additional tax, especially if you will be spending a considerable time overseas;
    b) consider the implications with regards to your UK corporation and personal tax if bringing money back into the UK;
    c) think about continuing your National Insurance contributions. If you don't keep these up to date you may not be eligible for NHS treatment or your state pension.
  3. In some countries, it is unlikely, unless you are provided with a local resident visa, you will be allowed to open a bank account in local currency. You will therefore need to investigate how your client intends to pay you.
  4. The good news is, it is very unlikely that you will be the first person to have been asked to provide your services as a contractor to the client.

Your client or agent should be able to answer most of your questions. Also, other contractors are usually more than happy to provide a helping hand when it comes to explaining how they work and what pitfalls to look out for.

Other things to think about are currency exchange rates (just look at the £ - $ rate, definitely not a good time to be paid in dollars) and the sometimes high cost of expert tax advice in the country you are working in. This coupled with potentially higher corporation tax may actually take the shine off those higher daily contract rates.

Our advice is if you are just working overseas for a short while i.e. a couple of months and are invoicing from your UK limited company and being paid by a UK client, there is little to worry about. However, if you are considering working abroad for any length of time, it would be in your best interest to seek specialist advice.

If you are thinking of becoming a contractor / freelancer or have any questions about working through your own limited company please call our New Client Services helpdesk on 01442 275789 or e-mail antony.edwards@internationalumbrella.com.

Further information
Have you downloaded SJD's Contractor Guides yet? If not, find below links to the key guides:

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SJD Accountancy

SJD Accountancy are the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, Limited company accountancy services to contractors; we've been acting for contractors across the UK since 1992 and have more than 15,000 clients.

We are the only national specialist firm of contractor accountants with offices nationwide. SJD Accountancy has more qualified staff than any other firm in our market with qualifications from the following major tax and accountancy bodies - ATT, AAT, CTA, ACCA, CA, ACA and FCCA.

  • Unlimited face to face meetings. This is a unique service only SJD Accountancy offers - unlimited face to face meetings across the UK - tax is complicated and sometimes only a meeting will do.
  • UK's largest contractor accountants with more qualified staff. No call centres, no outsourcing, no automated call handling. Simply telephone, email or meet your own dedicated accountant face to face.
  • Money back service guarantee. All your Emails received by 4pm on any normal working day will be answered the same day. Should it be necessary to leave a telephone message it will be answered same day/following day latest or we will make a full refund of that months fee.
  • Outstanding reputation. We have won more awards for customer service and accountancy excellence than any other firm in our market, including: Best Accountant for Contractors, Accountant of the Year and Best Professional Service Team to name just a few.
  • All inclusive low cost fixed fee accountancy package which includes completion of accounts*, payroll bureau, dividends and corporation tax computations, personal taxation, free bookkeeping software, your own dedicated accountant* and all company returns for a fixed fee starting from £120 plus VAT per month. Check our packages for more detail.

If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new business team on 01442 275789 or email: newbusiness@sjdaccountancy.com. Our new business team is open Monday to Thursday (8am to 8pm), Friday (8am to 7pm) and Saturday (10am to 4pm)

Appoint SJD Accountancy and never worry about your tax or accountancy affairs again.

Form your own limited company with SJD - our same day online company formation service includes company bank account set up, VAT/PAYE registration and advice on optimum share structure. 

You may also find the following pages, guides and case studies useful:

*If you would like us to complete your company year end accounts we simply ask that you have been a client of SJD for one year or have made 12 monthly payments. All accountants are part or fully qualified.