The A-Z of freelancing abroad: Part two


Start with the London Freelance Branch website at londonfreelance.org. Paris, Brussels and Netherlands branches have websites at nujcec.org/paris, nujcec.org/brussels and netherlands.nujcec.org.

Paris-based Annabel Simms says that if you write for the UK press from abroad, you can keep abreast of other freelances’ experiences by joining the Quality Street mailing list via the London Freelance Branch website.

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The US National Writers Union (nwu.org) has published the Guide to Freelance Rates & Standard Practice. The Association of European Journalists is at aej.org. Photographers could start with epuk.org, for Editorial Photographers UK, and nppa.org, the National Press Photographers Association in the USA.

Words people might find something interesting at swet.jp, for example, the website of the Tokyo-based Society of Writers, Editors and Translators.


You need to research publications and other outlets that may take your work. Benn’s Media Directory, Willings Press Guide and Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory provide multi-volume listings of publications in the UK, Europe and the world at large. BRAD, British Rate and Data, lists UK publications with their advertising rates.


You will need to explore how you are going to receive payment from other countries and in other currencies. Some organisations will post you a cheque made out in their currency. Talk to your bank before paying it in to make sure the charges for handling it are bearable.

Finnish freelance Heikki Jokinen points out that within the European Union Single Euro Payments Area, which includes both euro and non-euro countries, the banking fees when paying in euros from abroad have to be the same as in domestic transactions.

Alternatively, you might think of opening a bank account in a country from which you expect to get regular payments. Multi-national credit cards and electronic payment systems may also be worth looking at. Expat Brits can set up offshore UK bank accounts in the Isle of Man or Channel Islands.  

Press cards

Your National Union of Journalists press card will get you a long way. (Non-NUJ members may be able to access a British press card through other gatekeepers). Also, if required, the International Federation of Journalists can supply an international press card accessed via the NUJ.

National press cards may also be available – France, for instance, has a commission charged with issuing journalistic identity cards.


Le Guide des Journalistes, published by one of the French journalist trade unions, the USJF-CFDT, devotes about a third of its more than 250 pages to printing laws that relate to employment as a journalist.

Some countries require journalists to be registered or licensed. This may well apply even when you are only planning to visit a country for a short time.

If you intend to work as a journalist while on a trip to the USA, for instance, you will need to apply for an ‘I’visa, rather than relying on an ordinary tourist visa, or you risk being turned back at immigration.

Stringers and Local Correspondents

In his book The Freelance Journalist, Christopher Dobson advises trying to develop as many strings as possible. The best deals give you a retainer for each one, thus providing a basic income, but allow for extra payments for anything not covered by the retainer.

Tax and Social Security

Make sure you are engaging with the tax and social security systems of the country where you are living and working. The Paris branch of the NUJ has advice handouts on the situation in France which can be downloaded from its website (nujcec.org/paris) once you have made contact with them and been given the password.

Be warned: Only once you have begun the minuet of registration will you realise the truly frightening signification of the phrase ‘pas de problème”.



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