Contracting abroad: choosing a location

contracting abroad

5th October 2020

To say that the global pandemic had an impact on professionals contracting abroad is perhaps an understatement. However, while uncertainty may be hanging over us all still, more businesses and contractors alike are adapting to the new way of working that we find ourselves operating in today. As we’ve mentioned recently, the increasing number of employers that are being more flexible with contracts where feasible and enabling individuals to work remotely from their home country has been valuable in recent months.

While travel restrictions remain in place – and are constantly changing as Covid-19 cases grow in some locations – in the longer term we do expect to see a return to more professionals moving across borders and relocating for work once again. Aside from the fact that contracting abroad has been increasingly popular for experts looking for different job opportunities, the sheer demand for contractors is still prevalent and will need to be filled. Specialist skills which aren’t available in country are still needed and the shift to remote working is, in our view, temporary.

Once border restrictions are removed, we do expect to see movement of contract professionals once again. And for those looking at relocating overseas, opportunities are likely to be rife. So how can you decide where you should contract abroad?

An overview of the ‘best of’ guides

There are numerous ‘best of’ reports published every year that provide valuable information for experts seeking overseas opportunities. While 2020 has certainly hindered the publication of more of these due to border closures, there were a number of guides shared prior to the pandemic that can give contractors an insight into the countries they may want to seek work in.

The expat guide to the best cities in the world to live, work and make friends, for example, is a highly useful resource. Published by the expat network, InterNations, this list is developed based on how 20,000 global expats rank locations worldwide. The most recent report revealed that the top ten destinations were:

  • Taipei, Taiwan
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Singapore
  • Montréal, Canada
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Zug, Switzerland
  • The Hague, Netherlands
  • Basel, Switzerland

While each of these locations have their own appeals, they all made the top ten based on several key topics: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, family life, personal finance, and cost of living.

The Netherlands – best place for families?

Relocating internationally with your family can be challenging and for those parents and carers contracting abroad with children, knowing they will be happy in the new destination is key. And according to a recent report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), the Netherlands is the best place for kids.

In its study of the well-being of children and young people around the globe, the leading charity found that kids in the Netherlands are the most satisfied with their lives. Other destinations that made the top of the ranks include Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium and Ireland. Overall, countries across Northern Europe ranked highly on the list.

Top locations for start-ups

Experts looking at contracting abroad are also likely to consider the economic climate in a destination and quite often, reviewing which countries ranked best for start-ups can give you a real indication of the opportunities that could be available. And according to recent research Germany is a hot-spot of new business activity.

Back in August, finance and research company, NimbleFins, revealed the best locations for start-up firms based on data from the World Bank, World Economic Forum, UNESCO, OECD and global tax consultancies. As part of this study, destinations were given a score from one to 31, with a lower score indicating the country is a high performer. The categories each destination was assessed against were Economic Health, Cost of Doing Business, Business Climate and Labour Force Quality. Germany achieved the lowest (and therefore, best) score, with an average overall of just six.

The remaining countries to make the top ten in order were:

  • The United Kingdom
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands
  • Ireland
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Czech Republic
  • Sweden

Remaining compliant when contracting abroad

For international contractors the world really is your oyster. And while trends in skills demands and country guides will steer much of your decision to relocate, one element of this choice that should always be considered is the employment and tax regulations in a destination.

Working in a foreign country can lead to any number of unforeseen problems, not least where compliance is concerned. Without expert help, it can be all too easy to make mistakes regarding tax, social security and immigration laws when contracting overseas.

Legislation varies significantly across borders and contractors can face a real compliance minefield. Your country of origin and the location you’re delivering services in both impact what documentation and visa you are required to have to remain on the right side of the law while completing a project. And local, regional and global legislation is changing regularly as authorities seek to keep rules relevant in an ever-changing economic environment.

Staying ahead of the latest development across the globe is a real challenge but with potentially hefty fines or even prosecution a possibility for anyone that falls foul of local laws, it is critically important. However, contractors don’t have to manage this on their own. In fact, we highly advise that they don’t. Making a simple administrative mistake is very rarely – if ever – considered a justifiable defence for failing to comply with international tax laws. Partnering with an expert that not only has the knowledge of the global tax compliance landscape but also has the in-country connection needed to keep you compliant anywhere in the world, will remove the risk to you and let you get on with the job at hand.

Need more proof? Visit our contractor page to view some of the recent testimonials from individuals we support. Or contact our experts today to discuss your compliance needs.

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