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I'm considering contracting in Western Europe, with the most probable target - Germany or Switzerland. I'm making cost analysis, so I'd like to know what is the approximate/average cost of bookkeeping for contractor in that countries? I don't want to make all things alone in foreign country, in foreign language (requires studying laws).

I was contracting in Warsaw, when the cost of bookkeeping for contractor working on internal market was practically uniform (about 40€/month). I suppose that costs more on West, but how much more? 2 times more, 4 times more?

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In Germany, freelancers (Freiberufler) enjoy many freedoms. I am not required to pay for social security, I can freely chose between public and private health insurance, and it is not mandatory to use the services of a bookkeeper. In fact, the only bookkeeping that I need to do is for the department of finance: I keep track of income and expenses, I charge for VAT for customers in Germany, and I pass on the collected VAT. With business customers in other countries things actually get simpler: I don't charge for VAT at all.

I assume that for Polish citizens it's similar, meaning that there should be no additional bookkeeping required beyond what you are already doing. However, if you are working on-site in Germany, then after some months you have to change residency, and then the rules of your new home country apply. For example, during a recent stay in Spain, I was told by a fellow freelancer that he indeed has to pay for bookkeeping, and also for social security. He is an Italian who changed his country of residence to Spain.

In a nutshell: Bookkeeping costs vary greatly from country to country, and in the west they are not necessarily more expensive than in Poland.

I want to add: Health insurance can cost hundreds of Euro in Germany, and it is mandatory at least for German citizens living in Germany. Some years ago, for freelancers health insurance was not mandatory, i.e. you could decide to go uninsured, but that has changed.

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  • The difference is, you'd have to hire German, not Polish bookkeeping company, and the prices would be other – Danubian Sailor Sep 10 '13 at 11:36
  • @ŁukaszLech I don't understand. If I had a freelance job in France, for example, then I wouldn't have to hire any bookkeeping company. I would just continue doing bookkeeping as required by the German department of finance. In that case it would mean keeping track of payments that I receive from my French client. A bookkeeping company could not help me with that, and so I have never used one. Only once I have used a tax attorney, but that was because of some exceptionally complex issues related to past employment. Perhaps in Poland things are different? – feklee Sep 10 '13 at 11:43
  • It isn't about the problems with Poland but problems with German, I was warned that being in Germany more than 6 monts in year, I'd have to register firma in Germany. I think it's violation of EU laws, but anyway... The question was about costs of bookkeeping in Germany, not about costs of bookkeeping in Poland for contractors working abroad. – Danubian Sailor Sep 10 '13 at 11:50
  • @ŁukaszLech As said before, I don't have to pay any book keeping company. As a freelancer in Germany, I only have to pay taxes. There are no additional mandatory costs. If you want to found a company here, then things are different, but that's not freelancing anymore. Freelancers ("Freiberufler") have a special status in Germany. – feklee Sep 10 '13 at 11:54
  • @feeklee OK, so if I've understood correctly, you can be contractor in Germany, without registering company, and therefore you don't have to fill extra declarations monthly etc., and things are easy enough to cope with to manage that without bookkeeper? Please note German is not my native language, so going through laws is difficult for me... – Danubian Sailor Sep 10 '13 at 12:11

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