Freelancers’ Questions: How to freelance in the UK as an EU citizen after Brexit?

Freelancer’s Question: I'm an EU citizen who has been living in the UK for the last six-plus years now. But I want to turn freelance after Brexit, so how might the UK no longer being a member of the EU affect me and what’s the best way to freelance here as an EU citizen?

How to be freelance in the UK as an EU citizen after Brexit?

Expert’s Answer: If you are looking to set up as a freelancer in the UK after Brexit, it is not that clear exactly where you stand.

The current UK-EU situation

Even after today’s official departure of the UK from the EU, the UK will continue to be a member of the single market and customs union until December 2020. After that, the UK will become what is known as a ‘third country’ and the EU will be a trading block -- just over the water!

The government aims to negotiate the exact terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, including immigration, in the coming months. But both sides have been keen to calm the fears of residents already living abroad. How those without 'settled status' find work, however, is much vaguer, though this is high up the list of priorities in the negotiations.

Starting a freelance business post-Brexit, as an EU citizen

Currently, if you are not from the UK you can start a business here if you are either a resident with settled status or if you are here on the right kind of visa. This includes the new Start-Up Entrepreneur Tier 1 visa, launched by the government last year. However, for the time being the UK is still part of the EU, apart from its political arrangements. Thus, the rules around the single market and customs union still apply – for now.

During the transition period (which runs from Friday January 31st until Thursday December 31st), as free movement still applies, you are effectively treated as a citizen with the right to start a business. This will last until December this year, unless there is an extension to the transition period.


There are several different visas you can apply for if you would like to start a business. Along with the start-up visa (which recently replaced the ‘entrepreneur’ visa), there are also innovator and investor visas, for which you have to meet set criteria.

The start-up visa lasts for two years and requires a viable, innovative business idea. The innovator visa also requires £50,000 of investment funds and an endorsement from an accredited body. They require fees, including a healthcare surcharge and you will have to provide several pieces of documentation including proof of your level of English.

What next?

It is possible that after a trade deal is negotiated with Europe, there may be a different way for EU nationals to start a business in the UK. The government is currently reviewing its immigration policy.

And our organisation has recently given evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration and we will continue to make sure the governments understand the importance of providing appropriate future arrangements for the travel of both UK and non-UK based freelancers. The self-employed can’t be left to fall through the cracks while the government stays solely focused on employees.

The expert was Ryan Barnett, economic policy advisor at IPSE -- The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.


30th January 2020

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