Coronavirus: Can I work from home abroad?


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Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more of us are getting used to working from home. With social distancing measures still in place, some companies have hinted that workers may not return to the office until 2021.

So if you’re bored of the same four walls, are you allowed to pack up your home office and work remotely from another country?

Can I go anywhere?

Due to the pandemic, not all countries are currently hosting people from the UK.

Australia and New Zealand, for example, have closed their borders to anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident.

Many countries have other restrictions. For example, to enter Cyprus, a negative coronavirus test result must be presented on arrival.

If you like the Caribbean, however, this option is easier. Barbados has announced a one-year visa to work remotely which you can apply for online before traveling. It costs $ 2,000 (£ 1,500) or $ 3,000 if you want to take your family with you.

You can find the rules for each country on the Foreign Office website.

Should I tell my boss?

Yes. Working abroad can cause all kinds of tax and employment problems for your employer, says Tom Marsom, immigration lawyer at Macfarlanes.

“If you don’t tell your employer what you are doing, you may be violating your employment contract, and if a tax bill appears you could end up having to pay it,” he says.

It varies from country to country, but after a period of time (usually around 90 days) a country might decide that you now have to pay taxes there.

For some countries, it might be a tax on all your income, even if you pay taxes in your home country.

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Another problem could arise if several people from the same company decide to move to the same country. If this happens, the tax authorities may decide that you set up an office there – and this could have tax and legal consequences for your employer.

So if you are going away for more than two weeks you are definitely going to want to seek the advice of a tax lawyer or it could become a very expensive trip.

Do i need a special visa?

Whether you need a visa depends on the length of your stay, says Marsom.

“Checking your email while you’re on vacation is probably okay, as is having a weird meeting. But when you’re there for weeks or even months, a country might say, “This is not a public holiday. more, ”he said.

If you want to stay in Europe, the rules are relatively simple. From now until the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020, UK nationals still have the right to live and work anywhere in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Official figures suggest that around three quarters of a million Britons of working age currently live in an EEA country.

If you move before the end of the transition period, you should be able to stay afterwards. But you’ll need to make sure you’ve signed up to live there. Rules applicable to anyone arriving from 2021 are still being developed.

Outside of the EEA, each country has its own visa rules.

What should I know about the coronavirus?

What about data protection?

Working from home from anywhere can cause all kinds of data protection headaches, says Sharon Tan, data protection partner at Mishcon de Reya law firm.

This is especially true if you are going to be outside the EEA for a long time. Indeed, a company could be accused of transferring data internationally – in violation of data protection laws.

Ms. Tan says businesses need to get proper advice to make sure they don’t break the law.

What else do I have to pay?

Typically, travel insurance only covers you for short trips abroad, although it is an annual policy. So you will need to think about how you will pay medical bills while you are away.

Additionally, if you have private medical insurance as part of your work, it will usually not cover you outside of the UK.

If you have a company car, you need to ask your company if you can take it abroad with you – and there might be some paperwork involved.

If your salary is still paid in the UK, you may have to pay a fee to access this money abroad.

Many banks charge around 3% fees for withdrawing money overseas – and if you pay rent or taxes locally, it can get pretty expensive. All this before taking into account the latest exchange rate.

Are you working from abroad? Or are you an employer who encourages your employees to work from abroad? Tell us about your experience by email

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