Can translation professionals really achieve true international mobility?

Hoy os traemos un artículo de Louise Taylor. Disfrutad.

We hear a great deal about the freedom that the modern world offers, with freelance working and technological advances opening up the possibility of enjoying the nomadic lifestyle while still having a flourishing career. But before you pack your sun-cream and book those plane tickets, it might be worth doing a bit of research online to find out how truly mobile we are when it comes to living and working overseas.

Professional translation is a career that naturally lends itself to the idea of working overseas. Fluency in two or more languages can certainly open doors and make the transition to a new country much more smooth. From chatting to the locals about the best natural swimming spots to uncovering hidden gastronomic gems too tiny to make it onto the likes of TripAdvisor, speaking the local language will allow you to experience international travel in a way that monolinguals rarely can.

However, there’s a big difference between enjoying travelling and achieving true international mobility, where you’re not tied to any particular country and free to take off at will for foreign shores. Sadly, we live in a world driven by bureaucracy and paperwork can present a huge barrier to mobility. Whether its visa requirements or residency paperwork, national and local officials in many countries seem to delight in putting would-be free spirits through the wringer when it comes to having the right stamps on the right bits of paper. Not many of those who dream of flitting their way around the world picture queuing inside poorly air-conditioned government buildings for hours on end, but this can be the sad reality in many cases.

Una persona lanza un avión de papel en mitad de la naturaleza.
Wanderlust by Anne Marthe Widvey

Fiscal matters present another barrier to true freedom of mobility. Regardless of where you travel and with what frequency, you have to be a tax resident somewhere. That means complying with local filing requirements and deadlines, no matter where you may be working from or which country your clients are in. In fact, cross border working can be a financial minefield, particularly when it comes to matters like sales tax and social security payments. A good accountant can be a real help, but truly international financial support services are hard to find. Many accountants specialise in their own country’s taxation laws, not those of two or more countries.

While all this may sound somewhat negative, it is sadly realistic. To have a professional career means paying taxes, which means paperwork and deadlines. For those who work freelance, the burden falls on them as individuals to sort these things out. In the same vein, to head overseas in order to work and/or live means satisfying certain visa and residency requirements.

That’s not to say that the nomadic lifestyle is impossible. Not at all. It’s just that it involves rather more research and planning than the dream of sipping cocktails while sunning oneself in a hammock brings to mind, if everything is to be done properly. It’s worth doing much of this research upfront before you set off. After all, why spend hot afternoons paying to sit in crowded internet cafés when you could sort out many of the details from home before you leave?

Real international mobility is a wonderful dream and it’s true that technology has brought us much closer to achieving it. Those who provide translation services are well positioned to pursue that dream. Their linguistic expertise puts them ahead of many would-be globetrotters in terms of the experiences they can look forward to. While paperwork requirements and fiscal matters will no doubt consume a fair amount of time for those planning to work their way around the world, they shouldn’t prove to be an insurmountable barrier. We might not have achieved true international mobility yet, but we’re certainly getting closer.

Louise Taylor is the content writer of the Tomedes Blog.
Tomedes is a provider of professional translation services for business customers and individual clients.

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