Preparing to Freelance Abroad

Freelancers have the world at their feet. Possibly the biggest attraction of working for yourself are endless possibilities as to where you can work from; a constant holiday is the perfect start to your freelance career!

Once you’ve decided to work abroad, there can be a number of hurdles to overcome before you even step on the plane. Before you think about sorting out your finances and tax, you need to consider whether it will be practical client-wise.

With so many factors working against you it might seem off-putting, but it shouldn’t be! If you stick with it, working as a freelancer abroad could be one of the most rewarding periods of your career.

Finance and Tax

The messy part.

Figuring out how your finances will work abroad is one thing – figuring out how to do tax is another. No one wants to face a double taxation while away, so invest in an accountant who will explain everything to you and find the most suitable option.

Some of the basics you need to understand before you leave should give you a helping hand and decide who you should be paying your tax to.

If you work for more than 183 days in a country, you become a tax-resident and are liable for tax on worldwide income. So if you’re planning on staying for 183 days or more, you should check out the tax laws specific to the country you will be in.

International bank transfers can also be costly when you’re thinking about contracting abroad, so consider keeping a UK bank account or check out an app that lets you move your money around with no cost.

If you’re still baffled, head to our Ask an Accountant page for some specialist help.


The next big step; taking your clients with you.

When you announce that you’re moving abroad the majority of your clients will probably won’t be phased. You have often little to no face to face contacts with many clients, so news of your relocation won’t make much of an impact other than the change in how they will pay you.

For some however, they won’t be happy that they can’t meet with you face to face. Don’t be offended if you can’t keep all your clients with you when you move abroad; some will simply feel more comfortable with a freelancer who they have the option of meeting up with.

You should make some plans to gain new clients when you are on your travels in this event. Get an action plan set up so you can target new clients and build a base abroad.



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Time Difference

Vital to consider when you’re thinking of moving.

If you’re only planning on staying somewhere with only a couple of hour’s difference this isn’t too much of an issue. A couple of hours will only mean remembering your deadlines aren’t the actual time your clients said. Other than that European travellers don’t need to sweat.

For those wanting to explore further afield, you need to take into account how this will work around your current clients and their deadlines. You will have to be a thousand times more organised in order to get projects done an sent off in an hour when you’re awake, and for the first few weeks it could mean many late nights.

One way to help ease you into the process are keeping a calendar (online or offline) with all your deadlines on your time. This will save a lot of confusion – especially if you keep them updated as new projects begin and end.

Internet Access

Knowing how you’ll speak to clients is another matter. Before you leave consider your accommodation and if it will have internet access. If you plan on going to work on the beach, the garden or even relaxing next to your pool it could become problematic to get WiFi without waving your laptop around.

A wise investment for all freelancers contracting abroad is a dongle or mobile WiFi. It’ll save you a lot and time and hassle when it comes to searching for the nearest shop with internet, and will let you get on with your work in any location of your choosing.

Work vs Play

When you move abroad it gives you the opportunity to explore new cultures, places and people. A whole door opens where it becomes more acceptable to drink wine and eat cheese in the middle of the day (not just in France!) – So how do you stay focused?

Just like working in the UK, you’ll need a certain amount of hours to complete your work. This time should be set in stone as the time when you absolutely must complete your work. For more menial tasks, you can integrate these with an easier tone – complete them when you’re lounging around watching TV or in between trips to the beach.

The rest of your time should be used however you want to – but remember, there’s a lot more to freelancing than simply completing your work to deadlines. Don’t forget to check in with your accountant, update your records and try and find new ways of building your client base. Don’t neglect your wider mission in favour for a dip in the pool!

How are you preparing to freelance abroad? Or are you already abroad with some helpful tips? Leave your comments in the section below!

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