Contractors’ Questions: Which EU country is easiest for Brits to work in under the Brexit deal?

Contractor’s Question: Assuming covid-19 travel restrictions lift at some point, where would be easiest if I wanted to try my hand at contracting overseas, ideally in the EU, bearing in mind that there’s apparently no-one-size-fits-all solution since the UK got the Brexit deal? Costs and time frames would be of interest too.

Expert’s Answer: During the Brexit negotiations, the majority of EU member states had given guidance in the instance of a ‘No-Deal Brexit’ and how this would affect UK nationals seeking to work in their country after the end of the transition period (December 31st 2020).

Since the UK and EU struck a general trade agreement prior to the end of 2020, each EU country will now be going through the laborious process of negotiating with the UK individually, around the ‘Right to Work,’ any immigration restrictions and procedures for UK nationals working locally (and vice versa).


Current available guidance suggests, that until further negotiation has concluded, the UK is now seen as a ‘Third Country’ in the eyes of most EU member states. This means that Residency Permit, Visa and Work Permit-requirements stand as they would for any other non-EU national to successfully enter and to commence working legally. To add to the complexity, each EU member state operates slightly different processes regarding this, and others are still to give any specifics regarding UK nationals.

Our organisation is looking to take steps to be able to provide sponsorship (if required) within the countries we operate as an employer:

  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Ireland
  • Denmark (soon to be launched as another employment engagement service)

Doing this would offer the opportunity for contractors, recruitment business and clients alike to utilise UK labour.

A shining light

However, one currently shining light within the mesh of complexities associated with Brexit, is that British citizens can travel and work in Ireland without additional documentation required, due to the protection under the Common Travel Area Agreement. This might answer your question as to where is easiest to contract overseas, at least from an administrative standpoint.

As our business takes steps to provide sponsorship in the four locations listed above, we will be able to give more accurate updates. From our general research, we currently estimate that timeframes to gain Right to Work for UK nationals are between 2-3 months, with additional up-front costs of approximately €1500-€2000 using a temporary employment mechanism, the cost of which would need to be accounted for by the supply chain.

Start with the embassy

Additionally, for UK citizens who wish to register/work within an EU member state as a self-employed individual, there are now a number of further complexities depending on each individual and the business they will be looking to perform.To gain further clarity on the requirements and costs associated, an appropriate place to start is to contact the relevant embassy in the UK -- to discuss the specifics of the activities that you, as an individual, will be looking to perform.

You don’t ask about your counterparts on the continent, but for interest’s sake, EU nationals looking to commence work within the UK, the UK government has introduced a points-based immigration system of which 70 points would need to be achieved to apply for a visa.

The majority of the points required are awarded for the ability to speak English to an acceptable level and having an official offer of employment. The final points would be awarded based on the salary level being offered, shortage of this skill/requirement in the UK, and education. The individual would need to have an offer on this basis, by a Home Office-registered sponsor in the UK (which can include a UK umbrella company).

The outlook

As the current indication of timeframes and costing doesn’t bode well for end-client organisations requesting labour from the UK, we would hope that as time progresses further, agreements between the EU member states and the UK will result in less restrictions. Similar to how Norway and Switzerland currently operate.

The expert was James Barron, a director at Liberty Bishop International.

Thursday 4th Feb 2021
Profile picture for user James Barron

Written by James Barron

James has worked within the contractor service industry for over 10 years assisting thousands of contractors and agencies with international temporary placements and guidance on overseas compliance.

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