Entrepreneurship & Small Business

Traveling to different countries while doing online work

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 4th, 2015 9:36 pm
Jul 14, 2014
82 posts
New Westminster, BC

Traveling to different countries while doing online work

I want to do a bit of traveling in the new year. I am a self-employed internet entrepreneur and stock trader (just need my laptop and internet connection and requires a few hours a day to keep things running).

The primary purpose of travel would be personal, but I would also be doing work a few hours a day for my Canadian Companies.

I asked some of my traveler friends and they think I should be fine and that I wouldn't need any sort of work visa, but from what I've read it seems a grey zone even though it seems to be a common thing people do who run internet companies.

Anyone have any experience doing this? I may end up contacting a lawyer to get something clearer but just wanted to hear from others experiences first.

8 replies
User avatar
May 3, 2009
6148 posts
Just work from ur hotel...

Curiosity, what sort of online work/business do you do?
Sr. Member
Jul 10, 2005
757 posts
I travel as much as I can, and run my business from my cellphone. Have a collection of prepaid sim cards maybe from 10 countries.

As long as you are attending your affairs that are running "back home" it doesn't matter where you are. A different thing would be if you start pitching your business to locals while out travelling.
Deal Addict
Aug 28, 2007
1868 posts

Yes, it is no problem to do what you are planning. Like Dani, I am out of the country about a third of the year and do the same thing you are planning to do. You are not "employed" in those countries so you are free to conduct whatever activities you need to do in order to run your Canadian empire. I would even go so far as to say every entrepreneur should be aspiring to do this.

You are starting a train of thought that will inexorably lead you to a place where the big boys are playing. There is a challenge to governments these days called BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) - Google it and your eyes will be opened. It will start you seriously thinking outside the box. All the major businesses in the world start operations in extremely low tax rate regimes (tax havens), and then shift their taxable profits to those countries through the use of inter-billing between related corporations in the various countries. It requires careful orchestration to stay within the letter of the law in all the jurisdictions. But the cost to do it is trivial.

You may recall a few months back the Canadian Pension Investment Board was identified by CBC for doing this in Luxembourg & Germany. The story died because it was a perfectly legal business operation! There is urban legend that dozens of the largest companies in the US are doing this and essentially pay very little or no tax in the US. I believe Apple was one of them. This BEPS acronym arises because this profit shifting erodes the tax base of the western industrialized country and yet only enriches the tax haven country by a small fraction. The only serious enrichment is to the perpetrator business and hence contributes in a major way to the wealth gap disparity between the very rich and the rest of us. The crux of the issue is that it seems morally and ethically "wrong" but it is actually entirely legal. The accountants that dreamed it up are now in a panic. They did their job so well that they have opened Pandora's box. The only way to get the genie back in the bottle is to get all 200 odd countries in the world to cooperate on tax reporting... like that will ever happen. The BEPS project is all about that effort.

So if you are a reasonably intelligent business person, you should be saying right now, "If CPIB and Apple can do this, why can't my little business do it?" The answer is that you can. Happy travelling.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
3964 posts
I do this all the time when I travel. I do work on my laptop because people have to report to me for instructions all the time. As long as the work is for work in Canada it wont be an issue.
Aug 19, 2011
270 posts
If you're asked questions at the borders you're going to want to stick more to the tourist side of things. Same if the topic of funds come up, you have savings etc not working as you go.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 18, 2002
7007 posts
Agree with the above posters. Also something you definitely don't want to discuss with the immigration guard at your destination. You are a tourist.