Posted by: patenttranslator | October 23, 2020

How to Move Yourself and Your Translation Business to Another Country without Too Many Hassles

It has been two years since I did what I put in the title of my post today. People who follow my silly blog regularly may remember that after I moved, I was kind of running out of steam and inspiration when I was asking whether I should continue with my blog at all. I am happy to say that nobody told me, Steve, give it up already, 10 years is long enough to be running a blog about translation.

You must have exhausted all mildly interesting subjects. You had your moments of exaltation when the view count went through the roof, such as with this blog post, as well as your fair share of nasty trolls that you should have ignored … but didn’t. It took you a while to figure out that ignoring them is the best thing you can do. One woman who followed my blog and incidentally still does, I think, offered to marry me … but then she said that it was a joke, hahaha, common in her country. Back then I was still rather unhappily married anyway, and would remain so for a few more years, so it really was just a joke.

But I should write about moving a translation business to another country, another continent and maybe I will write about the cosmic jokes that life plays on each of us some other time.

If you are a translator who works mostly for translation agencies, it’s really quite easy to move to a different town, or even a different country or a different continent. You just do it and then let them now your new address and phone number. They don’t care where you live, work is received and translations are delivered through email, so you might as well be living on the Moon and if you had good wifi connection in your new abode among the stars, nothing would change.

But since I mostly work for direct customers, and nowadays I work more as an agency than a translator, I knew that I had to be careful to make sure that my direct customers would be able to reach me and work with me as easily as when I still lived and worked as a translator and then also as an agency in US, which was from 1987 until 2018. So I kept my Virginia phone numbers, including my 800 number in US. I also kept a mailing address in US. It is in fact my son’s address in Chicago and hardly anybody ever sends anything there. But if something important had to be mailed there, he would let me know.

It’s not very expensive to keep my old US numbers even though I don’t live there anymore. I keep three US phone numbers through Ooma so that they ring in my office here in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, which costs me $45 a month. Once your direct clients know that they can reach you in case of a problem with a translation as easily as before, such as a very tight deadline or a missing email, they don’t really care where you live either, just like translation agencies.

One problem that all US citizens have is that they have to file a tax return not only in the country where they live, but also in United States. Most people don’t have it as good Donald Trump, who has not paid any Federal income taxes in many years and is proud of it … that is a perk that is available only to very rich people. I think that none of the multi-millionaires and billionaires pays income taxes in US, not just Trump. But even regular people like myself get a generous credit for taxes paid in another country, so the hassle consists mostly of having to file two tax returns.

My US phone numbers are also important for maintaining my two bank accounts in United States, because the bank computers know the original number and I don’t have to go through the hassle of proving my identity to them. Since my old age Social Security pension is also sent to my US bank account, I recently found out how important my business debit card is. I lost access to my money in the US bank after my debit card was past the expiration date, which I completely forgot about.

It took me two months to get a new card: First, the bank sent a new card by regular mail to the right address, except that it was mailed by regular mail to a country called Czechoslovakia, which ceased to exist three decades ago. So the post office did know where to send it.

The second time, the bank sent the card to the right address by Federal Express, but because it was addressed to the name of my business, which is not listed at the door registry, and the phone number listed on the envelope was the number of the bank instead of my number, the poor Fedex guy had no way to deliver it. So it was sent back to America again.

I finally received the debit card last week by UPS when all the information listed on the UPS package was correct. Three times is the charm as the saying goes.

I can also use regular checks written on my bank account in Virginia to avoid high fees and other hassles when paying through Paypal subcontractors who work for me and live in US or Canada. I just stick a check in the envelope, put it in the mail box and I’m done. But I still have to pay through Paypal freelancers who live in other countries. It’s expensive, but fast and easy.

There will be some things that will work differently after you move to another country. But in most cases, only a minor adjustment will be required to make your translation business functioning as before, while the most important data (as far as your business is concerned), such as you email, website and blog address, and even your telephone number will not change at all.

Actually, by far the most important thing is your intimate knowledge of the translation business market in the country where you used to live for many years or decades, and your relationship with the best translators that you have known for many ears.

And this knowledge will stay in your head until … your brain is “verkalkt” as they say in German, or calcified as in eaten up by Alzheimer’s. But the longer you keep your brain busy by continuing to work on your translation business from your new location even though you may be technically retired, the longer you should be able to enjoy life in all (or most of) its glory despite the many changes that will come at you unexpectedly with advancing years for many, many years.


  1. I’d be missing something if you gave up your blog, Steve! Why should you? Just keep at it; we are enjoying your posts!

    It is interesting to compare notes on moving your translation business; I made a similar move about 10 years ago when I relocated my office and business to Istanbul. I still keep a desk and address in Germany, though, and kept my German mobile number and efax number (does anyone fax these days at all?) for ease of contact. I do have a Turkish phone number but use it for private calls inside of Turkey only.

    Since I travel a lot between Turkey, Germany, the Czech Republic and occasionally to Austria and Switzerland, I’ve kept my operations streamlined. I use VPN a lot, always carry a spare Notebook, fully set up, which is also used by my wife for her communication. Because, should my Notebook break down, say, in the middle of Turkey, I might have problems procuring another machine with a German keyboard.

    Money: I have kept all my bank accounts in Germany and use mostly debit/credit cards. They are the cheapest way to make payments, unbelievable as this may sound. Getting cash at an ATM is costly, plus the ecxchange rates are less advantageous than for card payments. PayPal are bank robbers, as we all know, but that’s the price we have to pay for using a near-monopolist This is why I carry as little cash with me as possible in my 3 wallets (EUR, TRY, CZK), and my wife, being the CFO of this operation, keeps a diligent eye on them.

    I’m afraid I don’t share your enthusiasm for cheques, Steve. I think they are only a small improvement over Babylonian clay tablets, and serve mainly to increase the money supply in circulation at the cost of the payee and to delay payment as much as possible. They take ages to get to you, then you have to go to the bank to clear them, especially in countries where postal services aren’t really reliable, and will then take up to 30 or more days to clear (my experience during the years 2005 through 2010; I’ve not been accepting cheques after that). At that speed, the payor might as well load the banknotes & coins onto a donkey and send them off to the payee in a caravan. And, if I draw on that money before the cheques have cleared, I pay interest to boot.

    For me, the main problem with cheques is that they would end up in my mail in Turkey and I might at that time be in Central Europe and not return soon. Although my Turkish accountant looks after my mail, he can’t endorse cheques for me.

    Other than that, I’ve kept my insurances etc. in Germany where friends and relatives will alarm me if there is something important in the mail. I’ve also started using a new service by the German Post that will inform me by email about letters addressed to me (“Briefankündigung”) but have yet to receive such a notification.

    Altogether, I’ve got this system organized to where it takes me no more than 10 minutes to pack up my office, as it were, and move on to the next place. Digital nomadism in its optimal shape, at least for me.

    Best wishes!


  2. Having said all of the above, I’m afraid that present circumstances won’t let me pursue my nomadic life as usual. I’m now stuck in Germany, and have been for quite a while now. Let’s see how things play out…


  3. I don’t like receiving checks either, but small checks in dollars are easy to deposit through my phone, so I don’t mind too much. But I do like paying translators who live and have an account in US, because all I have to do is mail a check to avoid PayPal, which is the other way I use to pay translators … if I have to.

    So if you could move again, which you should be able to do after the Covid nonsense dies down, and hopefully it will happen soon, which country would you go to?


  4. I’ve heard good reports about TransferWise, I think it’s called, for payment between translators. Might be worth checking out?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, I see, there have been advances for check payments!

    A wishlist of countries to move to? Well, there are two main criteria to consider:
    *Do I like the climate, infrastructure etc.?
    *Is it in the right time zone?

    I’m reasonably satisfied with the climate and infrastructure in Istanbul, although I’m thinking of moving to Southern Turkey (horrendous traffic in Istanbul, earthquake risk). As regards the time zone, I think I’m as far east as I would ever want to go. Most of my clients are located in Central/Western Europe and in the Eastern/Central US; communication with the latter keep me busy well past midnight Istanbul time. I don’t think I would want to sit up later at night than I already do.

    Other than that, I do prefer the meteorological and human warmth of Mediterranean countries. The decision would be difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I knew Prague was beautiful – although it’s been many years since I was last there – but the rest of those images are stunning. I really need to give myself a push and head down there one of these days. It’s not even that far from Berlin. Thanks.


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