The (possibly) soon(ish) to happen exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, now universally known as Brexit, has consequences in many areas throughout the bloc. For some it is a catastrophe. For others, liberation. Regardless of the often strongly held personal opinions, in this article we will try to deal with the possible consequences of Brexit for certified translators.
As we all well know, at the end of March 2017, the European Union received from the British authorities the dreaded letter in which the United Kingdom announced its intention to leave the European Union. After more than 56 years, first as member of the European Community, and later the European Union, the United Kingdom is making its way alone and the consequences of its decision are spreading across all areas of European life. And of course, the figure of the certified translator is not exempt from the ups and downs of this fact.
Simplification of procedures related to sworn translations and multilingual documents
Years ago, well before the Brexit referendum took place, it was feared that the implementation of a proposal to simplify the acceptance of certain public documents in the European Union would make a mockery of the system and produce a sharp drop in demand for certified translations. This proposal opened the door for the acceptance of documents translated by anyone, even the applicants themselves, without the need for a certified translation. This proposal was finally modified, eliminating this nonsense (there is no other way to describe it), and in the end only making reference to the need for multilingual documentation and certificates issued by the official authorities of the Member State to be accepted, and clearly stipulating the need to submit a certified translation of the rest of the documents not included in this category. The regulations have now been approved without the absurdity that had been initially proposed, and in the case that the UK does leave the European Union, we would have a guarantee that no further modification could affect certified translations carried for use between the newly departed member and the remaining EU countries. Even if such a crazy European proposal regarding non-certified translations was accepted in the future, the British would of course be exempt from its application, no longer being in the EU. Likewise, the United Kingdom would have no obligation to prepare multilingual versions of its most common documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, criminal record check etc.), so certified translators working on documents of UK origin would be able to continue to work on these types of documents for use within the EU. However, this does not mean that in a post-Brexit world the British authorities would not decide to develop their own regulations that favour native translators and translation agencies by requiring documentation to be translated and certified by qualified professionals in the United Kingdom. In other words, what Spain once did with certified translations to be used within its own borders. We will have to wait to see what happens in this regard in order to find out if the results will be beneficial or otherwise for certified translators working in the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Increased workload due to increased bureaucracy
With regards to Brexit it may not be all bad for certified translators, since the increased bureaucracy and paperwork between the United Kingdom and the Member States of the European Union with surely lead to increase in work required. There could also be an initial flood of work as EU citizens attempt to get their papers in order so that they can remain in the UK after Brexit. Likewise, Brits living in the EU will likely have paperwork to sort out to ensure they can remain living legally in the chosen adopted homeland.
As for travel to and from the UK after Brexit takes place, we’ll have to wait and see. We hope for ease of movement, but it is possible that additional documentation or even visas may be required, along with any customs documentation. All this will depend on the agreements that the British establish with the EU, but it is possible that obstacles will be put in place, and if so, this would suggest a notable increase in the volume of work. For the moment this is all conjecture, although changes are already taking place in some of the key sectors of the economy, such as the property market, with a slowdown in the purchase of property by British citizens. Another of the sectors affected could be the food industry, as its actors fear that the complexity of operations between the UK and the countries of the union will increase considerably, which could be a source of quite a lot of work for certified translators.
The volatility of the pound
For many years, the pound was an attraction for foreign translators seeking to invoice British companies or individuals, since the currency was always strong in relation the euro, and certified translations were often better value abroad than in the United Kingdom. However, current events and the devaluation of the pound sterling herald periods of uncertainty for British translation agencies who hire certified translators based abroad, since their margin has shrunk. Historically, the pound has always been a strong currency, so despite an initial period of uncertainty and weakness, we would expect that the pound will return to its previous levels if an acceptable Brexit solution can be found. With recent events making a no-deal exit look much less likely, we have our fingers crossed.
Taxation outside the European Union
Another consequence of Brexit for certified translators working from outside the country would be the change in UK taxation on leaving the European Union. At present, certified translators, depending on the laws of their particular country, often have to invoice other EU individuals with VAT. If the UK leaves the European Union, the addition of VAT would no longer be required. This would affect translators working both in the UK and in the remaining EU countries, so cheaper prices all around.
We can see that there are many factors affecting the work of certified translators in the case that Brexit eventually occurs. Although many of us with an internationalist perspective would like for our British friends to remain with us, it seems that from a strictly work based perspective, Brexit may well help the certified translator by providing more work, the eventual reestablishment of the strength of the pound, and more competitive pricing thanks to the removal of the necessity to charge VAT.
Whatever happens, we’ll always be here continuing to provide top quality certified translations at the lowest prices, guaranteed. So, if you need a certified translation, for whatever reason, just get in touch. Thanks for reading!