Five overseas hotspots for UK contractors in 2019

With uncertainty surrounding Brexit surely reaching the high watermark, it can be difficult to predict the future for UK contractors based in the UK.

But in recent months, we have seen that there are indeed lucrative opportunities for motivated and talented contractors overseas.

In this piece exclusively for ContractorUK, we have pinpointed where those opportunities abound in 2019, in both ever-popular Europe, but also Latin America, writes Nick Broughton, on behalf of overseas contracting and payroll specialists Sigma Management Services SA.


Ireland is becoming a popular destination for contractors all over Europe. As one of the fastest growing economies in the Eurozone, there are plenty of opportunities for keen contractors.  Sectors such as pharma, construction and IT are looking for talented contractors to work in Ireland.

The country has many valid reasons why you should consider living and working in Ireland. Firstly, due to the attractive taxations rates, many of the worlds’ biggest and most successful companies have offices or even their headquarters located in Ireland. Furthermore, no work permits are required for EU citizens which means that you can freely move. Finally, the climate in Ireland is mild, the crime rate is low, and the Irish people are generally very friendly.

The Nordics

As a group, the Nordic countries continue to be popular work destinations for UK contractors. This is not a surprising given the fact that Norway, Sweden and Denmark are well-developed countries with stable political and economic environments. For people wanting to work there, they offer great opportunities and a good work-life balance. In fact, the Scandinavian countries consistently rank top in the global UN Human Development Report and OCED Better Life Index.

The Nordic region is a hub for innovation in new and emerging industries. Historically, Norway was known as a world leader in oil and gas. Yet, in recent years, the country has been investing heavily in renewable and energy. These new and emerging innovative sectors make it a popular choice for specialist contractors.

Denmark is another popular destination for contractors looking to move abroad and ranks one of the happiest nations in the world. There are plenty of opportunities for contracting in the high tech and the industrial sectors with big players such as Maersk. Neighbouring Sweden is also home to a strong IT, bio-tech and pharma industry for specialist contractors looking to work in this field.


The other freelance-friendly European destination that should be targeted by UK contractors in 2019 is Switzerland.

Switzerland is known for its stable economy, innovative industry and it’s constant need for highly-skilled and experienced contractors in the IT sector, as well as engineering, pharmaceutical, bio-technology and bio-pharma. The living standards in Switzerland are enviably high, and employers favour a work-life balance.

So far, all the countries listed are all within a two-hour flight time from the UK, making them easily reachable for contractors. There are, however, a range of other ‘hot’ destinations further afield for UK contractors to seek opportunities during 2019, where demand is tending to match their typically soaring temperatures. 


Colourful Latin America houses them all right now, and often suits contractors looking for a real change. Brazil for some time now has been considered a land of opportunity thanks to many growing sectors, and the introduction of the new Labour Reform in 2017 has led to more jobs for locals and expats alike. Opportunities for international contractors are in specialist IT, engineering and telecommunications roles. 


Another vibrant Latin American country that offers similarly strong opportunities for British contractors this year is the second largest economy in South America, Argentina. It’s only the first quarter of 2019, and we’re already seeing increased demand for expats who have niche technical skill-sets! That specialisation is not altogether surprising, as each major centre tends to specialise in a certain field.

For many contractors, Argentina is attractive because it boasts relative stability, a considerable internal market size and an expanding high-technology sector. But it’s attractive on the eye too, with a wide array of natural resources and a ‘great outdoors,’ from beaches and glaciers to bustling cities and mountain wilderness.

But wherever you work overseas…

For an expat to work compliantly in Latin America, the correct visa and work permit must be secured. And similarly, whether you chose to work in Europe or further afield like Latin America, it’s important to have your taxes in order.

So look not just for any operator, but for a payroll and employment company that a bit like you probably, is a specialist, able to help avoid all administrative hurdles. As a minimum, we recommend choosing a company that has experience in the local legislation of the country that you’re eying a contract in. Remember, each country has its own set of rules -- ranging from the bizarre and quirky to the downright taxing, meaning you’ll want peace of mind that your company is looking after you from both a safety and compliance perspective, allowing you to focus entirely on your contract, whether it’s in Bern or Buenos Aires.

Thursday 14th Feb 2019
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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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