Can I charge the cost of freelance work on H2020 projects?

Collaboration with freelancers is common practice. Chances are your company already uses freelance professionals for some task or another. Thus at the start of your Horizon 2020 project you may wonder whether these costs are eligible or not.

First, some background

Back in the days of the 7th Framework Programme, which ended in 2013, there was the figure of “in-house consultant” who could be either self-employed or employed by a third party. This was the preferred method of charging personnel costs for freelance work performed as part of the project.


Current Horizon 2020 rules have changed this scheme. Now the only freelance work eligible as actual personnel costs is that performed by natural persons (not companies) contracted directly by the beneficiary in a non-employment regime.

Main difference

The main difference in terms of budgeting is that contracting a person through his or her own company is not eligible as personnel costs anymore.


To correctly claim freelance work as personnel cost the following rules apply:

  • The work performed must meet general conditions for eligible costs i.e. incurred/used during action duration, necessary or linked to the action, etc.
  • There must be a direct contract between the natural person (individual) and the beneficiary
  • The person must work under the beneficiary instructions
  • The result(s) of the work must belong to the beneficiary
  • The cost must not be significantly different from that of personnel performing similar tasks under an employment contract with the beneficiary.
  • The person must work under conditions similar to those of an employee

So don’t forget to check twice if your freelance collaborators fulfil these rules before charging their costs to the project as personnel costs. Otherwise, they could very well be rejected later in case of an audit.

Still have doubts about eligible costs in H2020 projects?

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