While many of the aspects of a Brexit that could affect freelancers depend on any deals the UK government can negotiate with other EU countries, our current membership of the EU grants UK freelancers many automatic rights which could be affected.
Your entitlement to work in EU countries as a freelancer
As it stands, Britain’s membership of the EU grants all citizens the right to freely travel and work in any other EU-member country. For freelancers, this means it is as easy to work in other European countries as it is working in the UK.
However, this is unlikely to be the case in the event of Britain voting to leave the EU in the coming referendum.
Countries in the EU get to decide independently on their rules for allowing non-EU citizens to enter and work.
France and Germany, for example, require any freelancer to prove that their business will be of benefit to their country. Non-EU freelancers hoping to work in France or Germany also have to prove that they are able to fully finance their business, using bank statements as evidence.
On the other hand, there is the argument that if Britain leaves the EU we will have more control over employment laws and so try to make it more attractive for businesses to set up here.
Will British freelancers get the same deal as Switzerland if we Brexit?
Switzerland has symmetric freedom of movement with EU member countries. This means that any Swiss citizen is able to live and work in EU countries, and any EU citizen is allowed to live and work in Switzerland, so it is currently fairly easy for a UK freelancer to work in Switzerland.
If the UK doesn’t negotiate a similar deal to that of Switzerland in the event of a Brexit, it is unlikely we will be granted full access to the single market, which will hit freelancers.
Getting paid as a freelancer in the event of leaving the EU
If the UK votes to leave the EU in the referendum, getting paid will be more difficult for freelancers living and working in an EU country.
This is because being able to move capital freely is one of the four main principles of the EU, which means freelancers (as well as any other UK citizen) can currently use their UK bank accounts without any extra charges.
If the UK leaves the EU, there will probably be extra costs associated with money being paid into a UK bank account.
Living and working in the EU as a freelancer after a Brexit
If the UK leaves the EU, moving to and working in EU countries will be more complicated. As a freelancer you will likely need to obtain a special residence permit, which will probably only be valid for a short period of time before needing renewal.
What happens to your professional qualifications if Britain leaves the EU?
At the moment, the UK’s membership of the EU means that any other EU country will recognise any professional qualifications you have. This might not be the case if the UK votes to leave the EU in the referendum.
It could be more expensive for freelancers to travel to the EU if we Brexit
Our current membership of the EU means airlines are allowed to fly wherever they want within the EU without extra charges. In the event of a Brexit, freelancers could face increased travel costs if they want to travel to countries within the EU to work.
Shoaib Aslam is the co-founder of Pearl Chartered Accountants, a UK-based chartered accountancy firm that has multiple locations across London. They are experts in helping startups and established businesses with all aspects of growth, strategy, scaling up, accounting and tax planning.