Do you need to have an address in the UK to be registered as a freelancer (sole trader) in the UK?

Tax residence is moderately complicated, but depends on how much time you spend in each country. Essentially, if you have income from a variety of places and are seeking to be taxed on all of it in the UK rather than somewhere else, it’s the other places’ authorities that will need to be satisfied that you are not resident in their jurisdictions for income tax purposes.

To quote HMRC themselves:

Whether you’re UK resident usually depends on how many days you spend in the UK in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the following year).

You’re automatically resident if either:

  • you spent 183 or more days in the UK in the tax year
  • your only home was in the UK – you must have owned, rented or lived in it for at least 91 days in total – and you spent at least 30 days there in the tax year

You’re automatically non-resident if either:

  • you spent fewer than 16 days in the UK (or 46 days if you haven’t been classed as UK resident for the 3 previous tax years)
  • you work abroad full-time (averaging at least 35 hours a week) and spent fewer than 91 days in the UK, of which no more than 30 were spent working

They will be quite happy to collect monies due from you from anywhere in the world (transfer fees at your expense), but you will need to show that you have been somewhere in the UK to keep other interested countries’ authorities off your back. I’ve not been in that situation but I recall a freelance translator in Belgium who had to show that he owned property in the UK (and none in Belgium) and spent substantial periods there – I don’t think it was six months a year but probably the 91 days specified above – before the fisc’ would allow him to take the UK as his tax domicile. Proving you have a home here would, de facto, require an address.

In practice, the UK’s minimal requirements (no paid up capital, etc.) for setting up a limited company may make that an easier option – there’s no reason you can’t live on the moon and own a UK company – although you would have to deal with tax on your income from it in the place you actually do live. I’m not a tax advisor, though, so do your homework properly.

If, instead, you are trying to split your tax liabilities between different countries where you work, good luck; I think you’ll need to talk to accountants in both places before you even think about it.

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