Working in the UK as a self-employed professional
- Marco van Hagen
- 3 Apr 2019
- Edited 12 Oct 2023
- 4 min
- Managing and growing
The United Kingdom (UK) has not been an EU country since 1 January 2021. If you start working in the UK temporarily as a self-employed professional, there are rules. For example, you need a visa and charge VAT for the services you do there.
Travelling to and staying in the UK
- There are several things you have to arrange before travelling to the UK. To work in the UK temporarily, you need a Temporary Worker visa. You apply for this visa 3 months before departure.
- You must show that you have a minimum of £1,270 in your bank account to support yourself.
- You must have a Certificate of Sponsorship, which is a registration that your client must arrange in the UK. This Certificate will remain valid for 3 months.
- If your client agrees to support you and warrants that you will not be applying for benefits in the UK, you will not have to prove that you have at least £1,270 in your account.
- When travelling with your own car, you need a valid green insurance card. You must have this with you.
- British customs provides information on what personal possessions you may take with you. When travelling to the UK with your own car, you need to have a valid green insurance pass and bring it with you.
The experience or knowledge someone needs for a particular profession is called a professional qualification. In the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the EU and the UK, there are no agreements on accepting each other's professional qualifications. As a foreign self-employed professional, you therefore follow the UK rules for this.
The British government has, however, published a list of services that you can only provide if you are qualified to do so (from page 54). The general requirements you have to meet as a Contractual Service Supplier (CSS) is on pages 59 and 60. Starting on page 61, you can find a list of sector-specific requirements. You can find out which limitations apply to which sectors in the columns. Contractual Service Suppliers are the UK equivalent of Dutch ZZP’ers (self-employed professionals).
Should you charge VAT?
The default rule for supplying services to UK businesses is that you charge the UK VAT rate, but this depends on the customer’s Place of supply of services. When providing services to private individuals, charge the Dutch VAT rate.
In most cases, you can have your UK customer pay UK VAT on your behalf. To do so, include your customer's UK VAT number on the invoice, along with the phrase ‘reverse charge mechanism’. Your customer will then pay UK VAT in the UK.
If you supply services to UK individuals from the Netherlands, you charge Dutch VAT. If you provide these services in the UK, then UK VAT applies. You then register yourself for VAT in the UK. You charge VAT to your UK customer and pay it to the UK government.
Another possibility is that you ask for help from a UK agent, a fiscal representative. This will arrange and pay VAT in the UK on your behalf. You do not then register your company in the UK. Discuss with your accountant or bookkeeper whether this is wise and how to go about it.
Want to know more about VAT when doing business with the UK? Then contact the KVK Advice Team: 0800 21 17.
Avoid double income tax
If you earn money from employment or make profits as a self-employed professional in the UK, you have to pay tax on that income. However, you also pay income tax in the Netherlands. To avoid situations in which people pay double income tax, the UK and the Netherlands have signed the Double Taxation Agreement. You have to submit forms to the UK government to prevent paying double income tax. Fill out the form yourself or ask your accountant for advice.
National Insurance contributions
The UK has so-called National Insurance. Everyone pays National Insurance premiums, which entitles them to various benefits such as a pension, unemployment benefits, and maternity pay. Self-employed professionals also have to pay NI contributions.
The British government does not require all self-employed professionals to pay National Insurance contributions in the UK, provided that they mainly work in an EU member state (such as the Netherlands) and are only working in the UK temporarily. With an A1 certificate, you can prove that you already pay the Dutch equivalent of National Insurance contributions in the Netherlands.
IR35: rules for payrolling
There are also self-employed professionals working in the UK as freelancers through a payroll arrangement. The UK government has rules for working via payrolling. With this, they want to prevent clients and contractors through payrolling from not paying compulsory taxes. Such as National Insurance and income , similar to Dutch payroll tax.
These off-payroll working are also called IR35. It should be clear that you are self-employed. Are you working as an employee? Then the client will deduct National Insurance and income tax from your pay. Use the UK government's online to check whether or not you are an employee.
With payrolling, you find your own client in the UK, but the payroll company pays your salary. You are not registered with KVK as a self-employed professional and do not have a VAT number. The payroll company sends the invoice to your client. They arrange between themselves who pays UK VAT.
When you make agreements with a customer, you usually set them out in a legally binding contract, so that you and your business partner both know where you stand. Contracts provide clarity and certainty. Check out our tips on legal matters when doing business internationally.
What to arrange with UK customs
Suppose you get a contract for a photoshoot in London and bring your photo equipment along for the shoot. In this case, you should apply for Temporary Admission with UK Customs, as you will also be taking your equipment back to the Netherlands. The ATA Carnet is an easy way to apply for temporary admission. You can request an ATA Carnet from KVK.
If you plan to sell goods in the UK, you have to formally import them and export them from the Netherlands. You will have to pay import duties and VAT on these goods in the UK.
Applying for licences
You do not usually need a licence to supply services in the UK. There are, however, some exceptions, such as if you work in asbestos removal or get a job as an educator. In both of these cases, you will have to request a licence from the UK government.
You must have basic health insurance in the Netherlands. If you fall ill while working in the UK, your Dutch insurer will not automatically cover costs outside the EU. The UK and EU have included agreements in the TCA that entitle you to emergency health care during short stays in the UK. You may use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in the UK until its expiration date, which you can find on the back of the card.
To make sure you have all the latest information, visit this page on the website of the Dutch Government (in Dutch). You can also check with your own insurer to see if your health insurance provides coverage outside the EU. It can also be wise to check whether your other insurance policies provide UK coverage.