Sun, sea and Zoom meetings. Sounds good, right? We find out how you can work from home overseas without getting in trouble.
When lockdown struck in March 2020, thousands of people were forced to leave the office for an indefinite period to work from home under strict government orders — and many haven’t gone back. According to the Office for National Statistics, 30% of the UK workforce now works from home full-time in 2022, up 7% since last year.
Working from home poses a lot of benefits: no commute, fewer expenses, increased productivity and less impact on the environment. Many companies have reduced their office space and changed to hybrid or flexible working patterns since 2020 as well, so employees can enjoy the best of both worlds.
However, our working patterns have changed so drastically from pre-Covid times that the conversation around flexible working continues to widen. Considering how the workforce has proven it can work effectively while at home, is working in an entirely different country the plausible next step?
If you’re thinking of absconding with your laptop to a sunnier corner of the world, there are a few important things to know to know before you sign in from a sunbed. We answer three crucial questions that will help you navigate remote working while overseas.
Should I tell my boss if I’m working from home abroad?
Definitely. One of the biggest road blockers to working from home while abroad is tax. That’s because if you start working from a different country, it could change the tax your company pays. So, if you haven’t been upfront about where you’re working from, it could land your employers in hot water with the tax man.
For example, if your job involves any legal work within the company, the country you’re staying in — let’s say France — could argue that you’re setting up an establishment there and you’d therefore be liable for tax.
This would also apply if more than one employee works remotely in the same country. With two employees in the same company working in France for weeks or even months, the local government can legally argue you’ve set up an office in the country — and dodged taxes while you’re at it.
Therefore, it’s important you’re transparent about your working patterns, and you can hopefully expect the same from your colleagues.
Will I have to pay tax in the country I’m working in?
It will likely depend on how many days you’re staying in that country for. In the UK, you’re eligible to pay tax if you stay and work here for just 46 days. Make sure to check the tax application process and rules before you leave the UK in the first place. But ultimately, the shorter your working holiday is, the less liable you’ll be for tax.
Do I need a visa to work remotely abroad?
Again, this will depend on how long you’re working overseas for and which country you’ve chosen as your temporary base. In light of the pandemic, many countries now offer a digital nomad visa to welcome foreign remote workers. While normal tourist visas do allow many travellers to work — for example, in a coffeeshop or office — the visa is temporary and, therefore, so is the job. However, a digital nomad visa allows the legal right to work remotely while residing in a foreign country.
Bear in mind that many governments don’t refer to these visas as digital nomad applications. For example, the visa equivalent in the Cayman Islands is called the Global Citizen Concierge Program.
Also, be aware that applying for these visas could set you back thousands of pounds. Many Caribbean countries have opened their doors to remote workers, but applications to Antigua and Barbuda cost £1,300 for one person and up to £2,650 for families. European visa applications are considerably lower, with Malta charging £262; Spain costing £122; and Germany’s visa process amounting to £87. Therefore, make sure you do your research about application costs before you get landed with a hefty bill.