How to deal with international web design clients


We're a Canadian company and are talking with a prospective client from Nigeria, Africa. We've never dealt outside of our province, let alone our country, so we're not sure if there's anything to worry about with international clients. Some questions that definitely come to mind:

  1. We generally accept payment by check, PayPal, or email transfer. Are all of these still applicable?
  2. Should payment be accepted in our native currency or in theirs?
  3. We qualify as a Small Supplier, so we don't charge tax on our services (not yet). Does this change when working internationally? Do we have to take into account taxes from their country, some sort of international taxing, or anything else?
  4. Is there anything else that has to be worked out when working with an international client?


asked Nov 29 '11 at 04:24
384 points
  • It is not fair-- but the number of international scams emanating from Nigeria has spawned entire divisions of interpol. I have a client who is from Nigeria and has been repeatedly victimized. Make sure you do not provide anything of value until you have been paid. Do not put yourself upside down. Be extra diligent. I am sure you have a trustworthly client -- but do it anyway. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • @JosephBarisonzi Yeah, it's a shame, but we were iffy about it at first. But they're paying us and they're not asking for anything upfront, so all seems well – Mirov 12 years ago

2 Answers


  1. Checks won't work and PayPal may be a problem because of their location in Nigeria. I use wire transfers for all of my international payments. Just send them your banking details (name, routing number and account number) and they can arrange it through their bank. Be sure to specify that they are responsible for any charges.
  2. This is a toss-up but given the country you're dealing with I would stipulate that payments always be made in Canadian dollars. It removes the speculative component from your end.
  3. Sorry, I have no idea what the tax implications are for either Canada or Nigeria.
  4. Make sure you have a clear contract with deliverables and payment milestones. Get as much money up front as possible. The United States has a service called the Commercial Service that helps US companies export to other countries. Not sure if Canada has an equivalent but the US website has lots of free resources (including a Country Commercial Guide ) that might be of help.
answered Nov 29 '11 at 05:03
Jon Di Pietro
1,697 points
  • Thanks Jon. I've never done a wire transfer, so I didn't even think of it. Have to read up on it. – Mirov 12 years ago


First, I want to say I'm from Nigeria. Looking at your situation I'll advice that you check on this client of yours first before going into details about the transaction. Though it is hard to say but it's the truth anyway. Many online transactions emanating from this area does not speak well of my people so if you're dealing with a one-man or some unknown business please do a rethink. However, if you checked and it's a registered business with enough information about their operations, then you can proceed.

On payment options, paypal is out of the way. Of course, there are some people here who want to use third party services in acquiring paypal accounts but I don't trust them. Also accepting Check payment from here is highest risk you can take!

I'll go with JonDiPietro. Bank transfer will take away most of the risk. But with that ensure you seek the advice of your home country chamber of commerce or whatever service you have. You'll be able to have more information from them.

answered Nov 30 '11 at 23:57
21 points

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