What You Need to Know When Working in a Foreign Country

Many people move abroad to work online for a few weeks or months without ever changing their tax arrangements in their home countries. There may be local laws prohibiting any kind of work activities, even volunteering, without the correct visa, but many people decide to take the risk anyway.

However, if you are planning to stay abroad for longer, or you become a resident in your new country, you will have to make arrangements to pay your taxes. Here are a few things to remember about taxes to help you to sort out yours when you move abroad.

Choose Your Country Carefully

Attacking Difficult Questions © by CarbonNYC

It is always difficult when discussing taxes because every country has different rules. Using the UK as an example, however, if you decide to emigrate and start paying taxes on your earnings in your new country then you often won’t have to pay taxes back in the UK as well.

This is different to US citizens who are expected to continue filing tax returns on their worldwide incomes wherever they live, so it really does depend on where you are a citizen.

Wherever you live, it is a good idea to do some research on this area before you choose your new destination because this could have a significant impact on how much tax you pay.

Find A Good Accountant

Calculator © by Images_of_Money

Always try to find a local accountant when you arrive in your new country. Every country will have different tax arrangements with strange and quirky rules that you may not expect but which are nonetheless very important. Navigating your way through a new system, which might even be in a different language, is not recommended.

Start your search for an accountant by making contact with the local expat community. You will often be able to get help with recommendations, and some expats may well be doing a similar activity to yourself, which is even better.

Earning money online in your home country while living abroad is not always a straightforward situation for accountants, so it is better to find one who has experience dealing with people in a similar situation.

Ask Other Expats

2010-10-02 _MG_5845-2 _ Ex-Expat treffen © by dieter_weinelt

If for some reason you do not want to find an accountant, ask around the expat community. Find other people who are doing something similar to you and see if you can work out from them what you need to do to get your taxes in order.

You will likely have to fill in lots of paperwork and maybe visit a government office or two to sign onto the system, and it can all be very confusing. But if you are planning on staying for any considerable length of time, it is nearly always a good idea to sort out your tax arrangements as soon as possible.

Get Your Taxes in Order

If you are going to be staying somewhere for any considerable amount of time, or you become officially resident in another country, sorting out your tax arrangements is ideally something that you should do as soon as possible.

And remember, a good accountant is one investment well worth making when you move abroad.


  1. Allen Ladd
    November 9, 2012

    I have your excellent and helpful e-book, “Head in the Clouds …,” on Kindle. I am keen on expanding my US immigration and tax practice in Europe and South America, with a long-term goal of moving to France.

    A specific question: Could you possibly refer me to a source for contracting my services to foreign law firms?


    • Phil Byrne
      Phil Byrne
      November 10, 2012

      Hi Allen
      Many thanks for your kind words and comments.
      In answer to your question, I don’t know of any specific legal market places online, however LinkedIn has always been my own favourite place for professional networking online. I find the groups on LinkedIn to be a very effective way of reaching a number of contacts within a specific industry or topic area. I recommend you write a couple of good articles on your topic area, publish these on your website/blog and then share them to a collection of law/immigration focused groups you will no doubt find on LinkedIn – see http://www.linkedin.com/search-fe/group_search?pplSearchOrigin=GLHD&keywords=legal as a starting point.

      You might also want to check out some freelancing sites when offering your services:

      Hope that helps? And hope to hear from you in France someday!



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