Hiring independent contractors in 8 Steps | Complete Guide | 2023

Mike Renaldi

Hiring an independent contractor is now a part of everyday business. 53% of hiring managers say that the pandemic increased their willingness to hire remote freelance workers and contractors¹. Independent contractors have become a key part of both small and large businesses.

This article includes what you need to hire an independent contractor and the key parts of the hiring process.

We also discuss how Wise business gives employers an easy way to pay their independent contractors without hefty conversion fees

Wondering how to pay an independent contractor in the US or abroad?

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Table of Contents

What information to prepare before hiring an independent contractor

It can be difficult sometimes to understand the different areas of compliance that use must look to before hiring an independent contractor.

Let's take a quick look at some information you should prepare beforehand.

The Federal EIN: Do You Need One When Hiring an Independent Contractor?

In short, no, you don’t need one.

The Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number) is your business’s unique identity code, through which the IRS can identify you for tax purposes. This number is used while filing your business’s income tax returns.

On the other hand, you may not always need an EIN to operate your business. For example, Single-member LLCs and sole proprietorships without employees, for example, are not required by law to have an EIN.

You can consult the IRS website to find out if you need an EIN.

Register with your state

Ensure that your business is registered with state and local authorities and following the proper guidelines. What is considered operating as a business within a certain location?

Typically, you’re considered to be doing business activities in a state when:³

  • Your business has a physical presence in the location i.e, buildings or equipment.
  • You are in the state when meeting with clients
  • A large part of your earned revenue is from the state
  • One or more of your employees work in the state

As a result of this business activities, you may be liable to file and pay taxes within the specific state or local tax jurisdiction.

What is an independent contractor?

An independent contractor is an individual or business that provides services to another company without having a formal employer-employee relationship.

They’re typically paid on a project basis, rather than receiving regular wages from one employer.

For example, a web designer may work with a company to create their website, but they aren’t considered an employee – they’re an independent contractor. And if you’re an American company hiring a foreign contractor in the UK, they would be responsible for their taxes and benefits as per UK laws.

In other words, an independent contractor is self-employed and not subject to the same legal requirements as a hired employee. When it comes to taxes, health insurance, and other benefits, the independent contractor is responsible for ensuring they are in compliance with local laws.

While the definition of an independent contractor may vary depending on location: there are a few ways you can differentiate them from employees:

  • Can work for many companies at one time
  • Non-essential, i.e., your business can operate without this person
  • Not always available when you need them
  • Don’t work the same amount of time as an employee (typically) and often work irregular hours depending on your agreement
  • Are subject to less control from the hiring company
  • Only paid for the cost of their labor
  • More flexible with the ability to work on contracts at their own discretion
  • Paid for specific projects or tasks


General Guide: How to hire independent contractors

There are several methods for hiring an independent contractor for your business. You can use popular job boards, such as Indeed, Monster, and SimplyHired to find independent contractors.

You can also use websites, such as Upwork and Fiverr, to find freelancers and independent contractors for your business. Another option is to use job networking sites such as LinkedIn to find and hire an independent contractor, and they also have a job board function that you can utilize in your search.

Step 1: Weigh the pros and cons of hiring independent contractors

If you’re wondering whether you should hire an independent contractor, there are some considerations to bear in mind when deciding whether it’s best for your business:

Flexible – you can end and begin contracts as needed (e.g., for seasonal workers)Independent contractors may not be available when you need them to be
You can save money overall as you only pay for the cost of laborMay need to plan hiring around independent contractor schedules
Independent contractors are generally highly skilledMay not work as many hours you might need, depending on commitments

Step 2: Understand the difference between an employee vs. independent contractor

As you might see in the pros and cons above, the primary consideration for businesses hiring independent contractors is the distinction between their role and an employee’s role.

Understanding the difference between an employee and an independent contractor is crucial (You need an EIN to hire employees), as it will help you decide what you need most for your business.

Works solely for your companyCan work for many companies at once
Essential to your businessNon-essential, i.e., your business could survive without this person
Always available, as they are a permanent employeeIndependent contractors may not be available when you need them to be
Are subject to specific local rules regarding working hoursMay not work as many hours you might need and might work irregular hours depending on your agreement
Under the direct supervision of the hiring companyFree from control and direction of the hiring company
Additional costs, such as training, equipment, taxes, etc.You can save money overall as you only pay for the cost of labor
Ongoing contractsFlexible – you can end and begin contracts as needed (e.g., for website design)

If you are not sure how to hire independent contractors, consider your current costs, staff levels, and where you and employees may need support. Hiring an independent contractor may be a cost-effective solution to help your business grow or to offer employees more support with their work rather than asking them to take on more tasks.


Once you have decided to hire an independent contractor, the next step is to see what paperwork you need to hire an independent contractor. Here’s a checklist of the steps to ensure your hiring process goes as smoothly as possible.

Step 3: Figure out if your new independent contractor is living abroad

When hiring an independent contractor, consider their location. Many independent contractors work remotely, which usually means that you may need a different type of contract depending on their location and any tax obligation your business may have. Whether the independent contractor is living abroad or located where your business is, you can use a freelance contract to solidify the agreement, ensuring that you have covered any key timezone differences and responsibilities the independent contractor has.

Step 4: Have your independent contractors fill out any relevant tax paperwork

If you have hired an independent contractor that lives abroad and is a US citizen or resident, they will need to fill out Form W-9 before they can undertake work for your business. For independent contractors living abroad and that are not US citizens or residents, they will need to fill out Form W8-BEN. You should also check with independent contractors to understand if any other forms need to be filled out for tax reasons, depending on the country they are located in.

See how much you can pay your international contractor with Wise's transparent fees:

Step 5: Prepare a well-defined contractor agreement that meets legal requirements of your local laws and those of your contractor

Working with an independent contractor is different to hiring a full-time employee. As they are likely being hired to fulfill specific responsibilities and tasks, it is crucial to have a contract that includes all relevant details.

The contract should include the following information:

  • What kind of tasks or role the independent contractor is being asked to do
  • The time commitment needed (e,g., part-time, per hour, flat fee per month)
  • Payment amount
  • The length of time you are looking to hire them for

Important: Your independent contractor contract should also take into account any laws around independent contractors, both in your location and the independent contractors.

When putting together a contract for your independent contractors, a few different components should be included as part of the onboarding process. Here are some of the key documents needed when hiring an independent contractor:

Additional clauses for contract when hiring an independent contractor

Non-disclosure agreement/Confidentiality agreement

To protect your business and proprietary information, you should have the independent contractor sign a non-disclosure agreement and agree to keep discussions and work confidential.

Ownership rights

If part of the tasks (or all) are to create content or some kind of product for your business, you should have the independent contractor sign the rights of ownership to you

Payment and billing terms

Independent contractors may have their own payment and billing terms, so once you agree to a type of method and form of payment (e.g., bank transfer once a month, bi-monthly payments)

Termination clause

If either you or the independent contractor deem that it’s not the right fit, having a termination clause in place protects both of you from continuing further.

Step 6: Ask your contractor to fill out Form 1099-NEC

As part of their onboarding, independent contractors should provide a filled out Form 1099-NEC for your records.

Step 7: Ask for invoices

An independent contractor should give you an invoice with the following information:

  1. A work description
  2. Their rate
  3. Their bank account details for payment.

Having an invoice makes business payments smoother and ensures you have something on documentation and a record of what you have paid for.

Step 8: Pay independent contractors with Wise

The Wise Business account is a great choice for businesses looking to pay independent contractors. Wise offers 40+ currencies to send and receive money in, making it easy for you to pay independent contractors with lower fees.

Batch Payments: You can also take advantage of batch payments, which help you to pay up to 1000 invoices in one click. This feature comes free with the Wise account.

Wise API: Wise Business has a free tool to help you automate and schedule payments to make your business more efficient. The coolest part is that comes free with your business account. This feature comes free with the Wise account.

Start paying your contractors
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Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

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  1. Upwork - Future Workforce Report 2021
  2. https://www.trustpilot.com/review/wise.com
  3. https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/register-your-business

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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