How to pay international contractors in Venezuela

Published

Sep 5, 2023

For US and international companies looking to engage with talented Venezuelan contractors, understanding the intricacies of the local payment system and labor laws is paramount. Venezuela’s local currency (the Venezuelan Bolívar) is frequently subject to fluctuating exchange rates, making it all the more important to grasp the local economic landscape.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through properly classifying, managing, and paying your independent contractors in Venezuela to ensure you remain compliant with the nation’s regulations.

Step #1: Classify your workers in Venezuela

Navigating Venezuela's labor landscape can be complex. The Organic Labor Law for Workers (LOTTT) establishes clear regulations on employment relationships. With the intricate labor laws and sanctions imposed on the nation, ensuring your workers are correctly classified is essential. Misclassifying an employee as a contractor can lead to penalties and back payment of unpaid social benefits. 

Here are some distinctions between contractors and employees to consider:

Contractors

Employees

High level of worker control. Contractors maintain a high level of control over their work and significant freedom in scheduling.

More direction from the employer. Employees work under the direction and guidelines of the employer, usually with a specific working schedule.

Contractors typically use their own tools and equipment.

Employees often operate using tools or equipment provided by the company.

Less integrated. Contractors typically operate independently, work remotely, and don’t partake in daily company operations.

Highly integrated. Employees’ roles are integrated into the company's hierarchy, resulting in a more structured working relationship.

No entitlement to benefits. Contractors handle their own benefits and tax responsibilities.

Entitled to benefits. Employees are entitled to certain benefits, like paid leave, holidays, and overtime pay.

Time-bound engagement. Contractors’ engagements are often time-bound or project-based.

Indefinite agreement. Employees often enjoy stability through indefinite contracts.

Assume liability. Contractors are typically liable for professional risks.

No risk of loss. Employees are shielded from risks and liabilities by the company.

Subcontracting. Contractors have the freedom to delegate or subcontract their tasks.

No subcontracting. Employees can't delegate their responsibilities without company approval.

Step #2: Determine the best way to pay your contractors in Venezuela

Venezuela's economic landscape has its fair share of challenges, especially concerning the constantly fluctuating exchange rate of the Venezuelan Bolívar. When it comes to payments, consider the following options: 

  • Bank accounts: While many global companies opt for bank transfers, Venezuela's controls on foreign currency exchanges and the Bolívar's instability can complicate this. Ensure your bank has SWIFT capabilities to facilitate international transactions.
  • Online payment platforms: Due to Venezuela’s economic conditions and sanctions mentioned above, international banking can be challenging. While global platforms like PayPal aren't officially available, locals often turn to alternatives like Skrill, Payoneer, and AirTM to facilitate international payments. Always ensure compliance with financial regulations when using these platforms.
  • Global payroll services: Typically, contractors handle their own taxes, so they aren’t included in payroll alongside employees. Global payroll services like Rippling simplify the payment process by streamlining employee and contractor payments, regardless of location.

Step #3: Use global payroll software to process payments for Venezuelan contractors 

With Venezuela's unique economic challenges and sanctions, using global payroll software like Rippling can be a game-changer. It streamlines payment processes and ensures compliance with Venezuelan employment laws and regulations.

With Rippling, you can pay employees and contractors across the world, in a single pay run. Here’s a preview of how Rippling’s global payroll system works:

Step #4: Ensure your Venezuelan contractor has the right tax information 

Understanding Venezuela's unique tax system is vital for smooth operations in the nation. Here are some things to keep in mind as you start to hire freelancers:

  • Progressive income tax system: Venezuela's income tax system is progressive. This means that the rate of tax increases as the amount of taxable income increases.
  • Social security system: Contractors in Venezuela have obligations under the nation's social security system. This includes contributions to pension funds, health insurance, and other welfare programs. 
  • Value-added tax (VAT): This is a consumption tax levied on the added value of goods or services at each stage of production or distribution. In Venezuela, VAT regulations have seen fluctuations due to the economic climate, but as of the last update, the rate was around 16%. 

Frequently asked questions about running payroll for contractors in Venezuela

Do you need to withhold taxes when paying contractors in Venezuela?

While there are instances where withholding might not be necessary, it's always prudent to consult with local tax experts to ensure compliance.

Does the Venezuelan minimum wage apply to independent contractors in Venezuela?

Independent contractors don't typically fall under minimum wage laws; however, ensuring competitive pay is crucial in retaining top talent.

Do Venezuelan contractors get benefits?

Independent contractors are typically responsible for their benefits. 

Can you pay contractors in Venezuela in your home currency?

While many contractors prefer USD due to the Bolívar's instability, you must be cautious of Venezuela's stringent foreign currency controls.

Can you manually pay contractors in Venezuela?

Manual payments are possible and are usually used in an effort to save on costs. But, considering the nation's unique financial environment and how time-consuming manual processing can get at scale, it’s best to find an automated payment solution.

Rippling automates your payroll and syncs all your business's HR data. Employees and contractors anywhere in the world can get paid quickly (and compliantly) in a single pay cycle.

How do you turn a contractor into an employee in Venezuela?

Converting a contractor to an employee involves adhering to Venezuelan labor laws, creating a legal employment contract in Spanish, and ensuring all employment rights and benefits are upheld.

Effortlessly manage contractors and quickly transition them to full-time employees with Rippling. Rippling handles paperwork, benefits, and payroll, so you stay compliant from start to finish.

Is remote work popular among Venezuelan contractors?

Remote work has gained traction, especially with Venezuela's connectivity and the global shift toward flexible working environments. 

Is outsourcing a viable solution for hiring in Venezuela?

Yes, outsourcing can help navigate the complex employment landscape, especially if you partner with providers who are well-versed in Venezuelan labor laws and practices.

Are there specific health and safety regulations for contractors in Venezuela?

While employees often fall under company health and safety guidelines, independent contractors must adhere to national regulations, ensuring their own safety.

What is the typical probationary period for new hires in Venezuela?

The probationary period in Venezuela can vary depending on the employment contract, but it's common to have a trial period ranging from one to three months.

Can you hire Venezuelan contractors through an Employer of Record (EOR)?

Yes, using an EOR can simplify the hiring process, as the EOR handles legalities and ensures compliance with Venezuelan employment laws.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: September 5, 2023

The Author

Carissa Tham

A British Columbia-based tech content strategist and writer, Carissa has lived and worked in Singapore, Taiwan, and Canada. Carissa lends her unique global perspectives to growing Rippling’s brand in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.