The best countries for contractors working overseas

best countries for contractors

8th November 2022

While for many of us the prospect of a cold, rather costly winter spent in the UK is looking like a fairly bleak prospect, international contractors have their pick of destinations in which to choose to live and work from. But with 193 countries to pick from – give or take a few that it’s fairly unlikely you would want to work in at the moment – where are the best locations for contractors working overseas?




Perhaps a surprising entry on this list, Japan has historically been known as one of the most insular countries anywhere on Earth. In fact, from 1639 – 1853 the country upheld a policy of complete isolation, which is one of the reasons why its cultural heritage is so distinct and defined to this day.


Indeed, it’s only an ageing population and looming retirement cliff that has forced Japan to open up somewhat, and the number of contractors being offered the chance to work here is increasing. As anyone who has visited Japan will attest, the country offers a truly unique proposition and is like nowhere else on Earth. Working in Japan is an experience in itself and most contractors are blown away by outstanding levels of business and transport infrastructure, fast internet and a collaborative operational environment. However, unless you are well versed in both Japanese and domestic tax law, it’s highly recommended that you partner with a specialist firm before committing to a role here. As you may expect, the Japanese regulatory system is challenging to navigate and with punishments for tax evasion including 10-year prison sentences, it’s not worth taking the risk.




Australia is a much more common location for Western contractors looking for their next role, and it’s hardly surprising why. Most of the major locations in Australia are based on the coast, the weather is fantastic and – provided you’re not too afraid of snakes and spiders – it offers an excellent base for professionals across a range of sectors and industries. While the compliance landscape is slightly more straightforward than it is in Japan, it’s still challenging for those unfamiliar with international tax systems and there are many ways where regulations are vastly different to those in the UK. The Australian tax year, for example, ends on June 30 and before committing to a move you must ensure you have the correct working rights in place. Even for short term contracts you will need to obtain a business 457 visa and other documentation.




Trying to discuss a country as colossal and diverse as China is challenging enough but it’s safe to say you can find a significant number of opportunities amongst the 155 cities with a population of more than a million people. Chinese firms have increasingly sought Western-based specialists to enable firms to access new markets cross a range of sectors. However, legislatively speaking, working in China is about as complex as it comes. To operate here (and in Hong Kong) you must either be a Chinese national, or have a work permit which is usually sponsored by the employer in China. It’s also possible for a management company with Chinese affiliations and a presence here to sponsor work permits for those intending to work in the country. Once in China you must obtain a work permit and a residence permit; deadlines for securing these vary from province-to-province but the forms must normally be completed and returned within 30 days. Both permits are valid for one year but an extra year can be secured on an annual basis, if required. Unless you speak fluent Mandarin and have an understanding of the Chinese tax system it’s certainly unwise to attempt to manage compliance here without specialist advice.




Construction and Engineering contractors are particularly highly sought after in Turkey at the moment as a number of major development projects are either underway or at planning stages. Historically, Turkey hasn’t always attempted to actively recruit professionals from other countries, but that trend has shifted in recent years with a greater number of contractor opportunities becoming available, particularly in Istanbul and the surrounding area. In order to work here most professionals will need an employer sponsor in order to secure an appropriate work permit and work visa, however as with the other countries we’ve mentioned, the Turkish tax system isn’t particularly user-friendly, especially without a high level of language skills.


To see the full list of top contractor destinations visit here. If you’re operating overseas you should be aware that international tax authorities are ramping up their efforts to tackle tax evaders and other law breakers and will prosecute those they suspect of non-compliance. Most major contractor destinations have legal systems that will hit tax criminals with major fines and, in some cases, prison sentences meaning that if you’re at all unsure about your compliance and regulatory status, speak to the experts before it’s too late.


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