Empowering the Freelance Economy

No-deal Brexit means ALL UK business travellers and service engineers to face hefty fines without permits – here’s what you need to know

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If you plan on carrying out work or services in the EU after January 1st, even if you are self-employed or a director of your own limited company, then you will need a special permit to do so. That includes visiting a conference or exhibition. Business travellers that do not hold special permits or fail to bring along proof of their professional qualifications could face fines of up to €20,000 (£18,240), it has been reported. The Freelance Informer reports on what you need to know to lawfully do business in the EU as of 1 January 2021.

The £95bn problem

The news comes as a blow to the thousands of service workers and their employers, especially those working in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, that are sent out to the EU each week from the UK to handle contractual service requirements.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that Europe is the largest export market for UK trade in services and accounts for 51% of the UK’s exported services. This is estimated to be worth around £95 billion pounds. The recent Make UK International Trade Report published in October 2020 in association with HSBC UK found that 35% of manufacturers who export also provide a service as part of the sale of a good to customers overseas. 

France, Germany and the Netherlands account for nearly two-thirds of all UK-related business trips, underlying just how important these three EU Countries are to the UK manufacturing sector, according to Make UK, the Manufacturers’ Organisation. 

Make UK, which represents some of the biggest manufacturers in the UK, has made it clear that they send their workers to the EU for business, and wish to continue offering services to EU Member States. Many UK manufacturers are sending workers with technical skills, below degree level – for servicing, installing and maintaining UK engineering equipment.

“What you can’t do post-Brexit as a third-country national is simply think that you can get on Eurostar and rock up as you did before when we were a member state of the EU, you can’t just do that,” said Tim Thomas, a consultant with specialist firm International Employment Mobility Consultancy in a Guardian news report.

“You get what you vote for,” said Nick Woodward, CEO of SaaS company ETZ, which specialises in recruitment timesheet software for contractors and staffing companies. “We voted for Brexit so why should we be surprised that it’s going to be as difficult to work in the Eurozone now, as it is to work in the US or Australia for example. Welcome to post Brexit Britain,” said Woodward.

Who should tell HMRC

Any employer from the UK will have to notify HMRC and also look into the specific social security regulations of the countries that a contractor or employee will visit. Detailed information about your worker will also have to be made available. Details of what you need to provide can be found here.

What if you are self-employed?

You or your agent, for example, can apply if you are self-employed in the UK and going to work temporarily in a country within the European Economic Area (EEA).

This form will allow HMRC to decide which member state’s social security legislation will apply.

If you are a director of your own limited company you should complete forms CA3821 and CA3822

Apply for a portable document A1 or E101 if self-employed in European Economic Area (CA3837)

If you apply for a Portable Document A1 or E101 before 1 January 2021 for a period of work that starts on or after 1 January 2021, you should use either a Portable Document A1 or E101 if self-employed so that the HMRC can work out if the worker is subject to the existing EU social security coordination regulations. You can apply for an A1 or E101 form online or by post. To apply online you will need a Government Gateway user ID and password. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you apply.

You will be given a unique reference number when you submit the form. Include this number with the additional information you send by post.

You can track the progress of the form online using the same reference number.

Fill in and submit the form online.

Apply by post

You need all the information before you fill in the form as you cannot save a partly completed form.

National Insurance if you go abroad Contact HMRC to find out if you need to pay National Insurance when you work abroad.

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