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4 min read

How to Hire and Pay an International Contractor

How to Hire and Pay an International Contractor

Increasingly, firms are opting to collaborate with contractors based abroad, a strategy that brings several advantages. It not only facilitates access to a pool of specialists from around the globe but also enables cost savings on the recruitment process, potentially paving the way for entering new international markets.

However, while this approach offers increased adaptability, it necessitates a deep understanding of the labor regulations and systems prevalent in different countries. This article aims to provide insights into the compliant hiring and remuneration of foreign contractors.

Guidelines for Recruiting Foreign Contractors

To successfully and lawfully hire and compensate an overseas contractor, one needs to adhere to a series of steps. These guidelines are designed to help you collaborate with international talent seamlessly, irrespective of geographic boundaries.

Ensure Accurate Contractor Classification

Embarking on hiring a contractor from a different country involves a detailed process where understanding the classification norms of both the country of your company’s establishment and the contractor’s residence country is paramount. This classification, grounded in a series of rules formulated to safeguard the contractor’s rights, is fundamental to accurate tax filing.

Misclassifying an employee can result in your company facing repercussions such as bearing unsettled taxes, paying penalty charges, and reimbursing a part of the employee’s earnings, among other liabilities.

To circumvent these complications, several firms entrust the task of classification to a partner specializing in this domain, assisting in steering clear of inaccurate tax declarations and potential legal penalties.

How do I Write a Contract for an International Contractor?

After pinpointing the international contractor you desire to collaborate with and settling on the requisite terms, the next step is to craft a formal agreement safeguarding the interests of all involved parties.

In every contractual document, it is pivotal to delineate:

  • The scope of the assignment (defining precisely the deliverables expected from the contractor)
  • The range of services offered (detailing the exact tasks the contractor will undertake)
  • The duration of the contract (either a predefined time frame or pegged to the fulfillment of a certain task)
  • Specification of the Intellectual Property (IP) rights pertaining to the work produced
  • Consensual payment terms including the method and currency of payment (take into account that some contractors might insist on an advance, either partial or full)
  • Stipulations regarding confidentiality or non-disclosure, where applicable
  • Provisions relating to liability or indemnification

It is essential to note that when dealing with international contractors, customization of the contract to align with the legal norms of the contractor’s domicile country is a must.

To facilitate this, seeking the assistance of a local legal firm is a viable option, albeit a potentially expensive and time-consuming one given the intricacies involved in selecting and integrating a reliable ally.

Gather the Necessary Tax Documents

One cannot overstate the importance of gathering pertinent tax documentation when it comes to classifying your foreign contractor accurately.

For businesses headquartered in the United States, this involves disseminating Form W-8BEN for the contractor to fill out. This document discerns their foreign worker status and non-U.S. citizenship, verifies that the contractor will carry out all tasks in their home country, and aids in the correct determination of tax filings and deductions.

Utilize a Contractor Payment Platform

Leveraging a contractor payment platform can streamline the process of onboarding and remunerating contractors in various global markets. This automated tool encompasses foreign transaction fees in the payment process, facilitating seamless fund transfers to contractors situated abroad. Some platforms even provide templates for contracts that comply with local regulations, albeit their service confines to payment facilitation without overseeing classification adherence.

Ensure Adherence to Regulations with a Contractor Management System

To maintain regulatory compliance swiftly and efficiently during overseas contractor engagements, a contractor management system is indispensable. Functioning similarly to a global employer of record (EoR), albeit for foreign contractors, this solution takes over the comprehensive management of contractor collaborations, encompassing tasks such as onboarding, classification, payment facilitation, and ensuring adherence to international compliance norms. This partner acts as a guardian ensuring that all interactions with the international contractors are in line with the requisite legal frameworks.


International contractors are generally not obligated to remit taxes to a country differing from their place of citizenship and residence, irrespective of the origin country of the company compensating them. Their tax liabilities are principally dictated by the tax regulations prevailing in their home country.


Taking the U.S. as a case point, firms in the U.S. are exempt from withholding U.S. tax amounts or detailing the earnings of their foreign contractors in tax reports. As stipulated by the IRS, incomes accrued by non-residential aliens for work executed outside U.S. boundaries qualify as foreign-sourced incomes, which bypass U.S. tax withholdings and reporting mandates.


Nevertheless, contractors relocating or dwelling in a foreign nation for protracted durations may incur tax liabilities in the host country. To illustrate, a contractor could attain U.S. tax resident status if they satisfy the substantial presence criteria within a calendar year, which entails residing in the U.S. for a minimum of 31 days in the ongoing year and 183 days across a span of three years, encompassing the present year along with the preceding two years.

Absolutely, U.S-based firms possess the liberty to engage contractors from foreign nations. This procedure diverges considerably from the recruitment of foreign employees, necessitating the formation of a corporate body in the respective country or collaborating with an Employer of Record (EoR) to lawfully recruit, compensate, and oversee foreign employees. It’s prudent to weigh the advantages and shortcomings of employing foreign staff against contracting foreign contractors to discern the optimal approach for your organization.

While initiating a collaboration with a foreign contractor, adherence to appropriate classification procedures is imperative, coupled with the formulation of contracts compliant with local stipulations and the acquisition of a completed Form W-8BEN. Additionally, incorporating a contractor payment or management solution can facilitate the process efficiently.

At RemotePad, Lech draws on his professional experience to write about employment taxes and payroll (both remote, and in-office). Lech holds a Bachelors’ degree from the University of Kent, a Master of Arts (MA) from Kings College London, and professional payroll and tax qualifications. He has 20 years experience advising on all manner of tax and business planning matters.