So, you are living in the UK and would like to enter the magical world of freelancing. Great! It is a worldwide trend for more and more professionals to become freelancers and for many people to take up simple freelance gigs to supplement their income with extra money working part-time on a flexible schedule.
And in big cities in the UK, like London, Manchester or Liverpool to name a few, the living expenses are so high people quite often need to have an extra income to make ends meet. Especially if they have recently immigrated to the UK, with no social and professional connections yet formed, or if they are studying, freelancing might be the only option – and not necessarily a second-class one either.
Some basic information on how to take up freelance jobs in the UK
If you have the right to work in the UK, you will need to first of all register as a freelancer with HMRC. You can choose to register as a sole trader, which means that you are self-employed, you answer to no-one, you are the sole responsible person for eventual losses of your business and you can keep all your post-tax profits. You can read more about working for yourself in the UK on HMRC’s website here.
If you are an expat, make sure you have the appropriate visa that allows you to work freelance in the UK. On Freelancers in the UK you can find analytical information on the kind of visa you will need. Tier 1 General is considered the ideal work visa for professionals who have immigrated to the UK and wish to take up freelance jobs.
If you are an international student in the UK, you probably have a Tier 4 visa. There are some restrictions on how many hours per week you can work when you have classes and there are also some jobs you are not allowed to take up. Read all the details in our relevant blog post here to avoid any surprises. And don’t forget to take a look at UKCISA’s website, UK’s national advisory body serving the interests of international students, for more relevant information.
How about taxes when you freelance in the UK?
When it comes to taxes you’ll have to take care of your own finances. You will need to fill and submit a Self-Assessment. The tax year in the UK is from 6th April one year to 5th April the next, and you must file your tax return by 31st January every year. As self-employed you pay income tax on your profits, not your total income. More information on self-employment taxes, you can find in this useful article.
In some cases it is recommended to seek professional advice from an organisation that deals with both freelancing in the UK and Immigration to avoid any dark corners or unclear issues in the process of registering as a freelancer or paying taxes.
What is great about freelancing in the UK and what is not?
Your obvious pros as a freelancer are the flexibility of your working schedule and the fact that you are your own boss. You can work when you want for how many hours you need and from wherever you are – which means you don’t have to necessarily commute around busy cities. Believe it or not, one in seven commuters in England are now spending two hours or more each day travelling to and from work! One less obvious benefit of registering as a sole trader is that you can significantly lower your tax bill, by offsetting specific expenses for your business, like office costs, advertising costs or travel costs.
Some of the cons are the sometimes loneliness that comes with working by yourself, the fact that your income might not be steady (you never know how many projects you will land on per month), that you need to make your own pension plans and your own taxes, which can sometimes be complicated. And another disadvantage is that you don’t have some basic employment rights, like sick pay, annual leave or maternity leave for example.
What kind of freelance jobs can I do in the UK?
Are you a professional?
Some freelance job categories you can look into are IT, Digital Marketing, Programming and Web development. No wonder, with the boom of Social Media and new technologies, they are popular. You can take up writing tasks, content management, subtitling, blockchain relevant tasks, art direction, chatbot development or data analysis, for example.
Are you looking for freelance tasks that do not require special knowledge?
You can choose to take up housekeeping, pet sitting, babysitting, handyman jobs, local guiding, driving jobs or delivery jobs.
If you need to get to know much more about freelancing and freelance jobs, let me invite you to the following blog posts:
- How much do online freelancers make and how do they get paid
- Our freelance student jobs suggestions
- Best freelance jobs – guidelines for students, expats and stay-at-home parents
- What does freelance mean
- How to work on freelance
- Work as a freelance programmer
- Work as a freelancer from home
- Freelance websites – where to find the best freelance jobs ever
- Ready to lift off your designer career?
- Are you good with words? Take up freelance writing job
- Freelance jobs online
- What kind of jobs can freelancers do worldwide?