Best European countries for expat self-employment

Published:  11 Oct at 6 PM
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Having the courage to quit your job and become and self-employed in your county of birth is scary enough, but for many the thought of doing it as an expat can be terrifying.

Working for oneself in an unfamiliar foreign location may seem like an impossible dream, but for those with entrepreneurial spirits it can become reality, especially in Europe. A few European countries even encourage expat talent by offering help such as tax breaks and set-up assistance.

Montenegro in the Balkans isn’t exactly a dream location for tech gurus, as its internet speeds make snail mail look fast, but for the adventurous it’s the real deal as regards 9 per cent income tax against the UK’s basic rate of 20 per cent. It’s easy to get started, as anyone with any budget can open a company and start working to fulfil their dream. Time out here is a delight, including deserted beaches and stunning scenery.

Romanians might well believe the country invented self-employment, as a third of its total population have their own businesses. Again, taxes are low, occasionally as low as three per cent, and the country’s cost of living is very attractive. Anyone from anywhere can easily open an account with a Romanian bank, with your passport the only required documentation. Its IT levels are the best in the region, but are nothing to get excited about unless you sense an opportunity.

Another Baltic destination sympathetic to self-employment is Estonia, offering straightforward start-ups and easy bureaucratic assimilation. However, if you’re not an EU citizen, you’ll need an attractive business plan and around 16,000 euros. UK expats might like to delay until they’re sure about Britain’s position post-Brexit, and warm-blooded entrepreneurs should take note of the country’s miserable, murky, freezing winters.

For many years Cyprus has been a tax hotspot for the self-employed expat due to its world-beating tax rate of zero per cent on annual earnings of up to 20,000 euros. Earning more than that will catapult you into British tax territory, meaning cash is king on this attractive island. Cyprus is a good choice for online entrepreneurs, with relatively fast, stable internet provision especially suitable for gaming, online retailing and digital services.
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