IPSE’s July Member Meet-Up: Taking a Contract Abroad

July’s IPSE member meet-up focused on how freelancers and contractors find and keep work abroad – particularly in light of changes brought on by IR35 and Brexit.

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At meet-ups, members have the opportunity to connect with their trade body and network with other freelancers, as well as hearing the experiences of freelancers working in sectors other than their own. July’s meet-up had a good mix of those with experience of working overseas, and those considering doing so for the first time.

Has IR35 made contracting abroad more attractive?

The group discussed whether the damage caused by IR35 is motivating contractors to seek freelance opportunities in other countries, where the ‘Chapter 10’ rules that require end-clients to determine a contract’s IR35 status do not apply.

There was some agreement with this; for contractors, the prospect of continuing to be treated like a contractor – and not taxed like an employee – is an attractive one. With blanket assessments and bans on contracting by some clients due to the new rules, as well as requiring contractors to work through an umbrella, more contractors may be willing to take on the challenge of entering new markets.

It was also noted how, with the proliferation of home working during the pandemic, contracting with overseas clients can be as practical as working remotely for a UK client. It was acknowledged that this has its drawbacks; contractors may prefer to be ‘close’ to some projects, by meeting other people involved and witnessing processes in-person. However, border quarantine systems could pose a barrier to this for the foreseeable future.

Overall, there was a feeling that if UK clients don’t get to grips with IR35, they will continue to lose out on freelance talent to overseas competitors.

How do freelancers find contracts overseas?

Members also discussed how they find contracts abroad; once again, the importance of building and maintaining a professional network was key to this. Some reported that they found overseas work after other participants in the supply chain had recommended them to the client.

Also, up for discussion were the more technical but nonetheless important aspects of taking work from overseas, including being paid in different currencies, double-taxation rules and even registering another business abroad.

Get involved

IPSE will be hosting more meet-ups soon on other topics that are important to freelancers. These sessions are not only an opportunity to share and learn from other freelancers, but also for us to continue fine tuning our programme of research, campaigning, and partnerships.

IPSE Member Meet-Ups run on a monthly basis – we may start doing them more frequently as they are proving popular. Spaces are limited to 30 to keep the sessions manageable, so if you’re interested in joining, we recommend signing up early! Keep an eye out for an email about next month’s – coming soon.

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IPSE organises, supports and collaborates on over 100 events every year, from practical webinars, networking events and conferences. IPSE sources experts in their field to support the self-employed, with the events covering a wide range of topics.

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Meet the author

Fred Hicks

Senior Policy and Communications Adviser