The Basics of Overseas Employment


You may browse through your social media news feeds, catching a few words and photos from your friends’ open lives and find some of your old friends seem to have found paradise and life fulfillment as expats overseas, you see their face reflected the excitement of expat life. Since hearing positive and encouraging news from your friends now scattered around the globe, you’ve now been encouraged to prepare for your own journey as a working expat. But while working as an expat is a worthwhile experience, it is not as easy as it looks. Here are some of the things you should know about the working expat life.

First, there is the challenge of seeking a suitable job. Some join companies in their home countries and relocate with them, but this may take time. Some companies do have global mobility portals so ask your HR department where to check for openings, for example these are dedicated global mobility portals from companies: Danone , SLB and PWC.

Most aspiring international workers apply for jobs through recruitment agencies or directly to employers. Information about recruitment consultants and vacancies in companies are freely available online. Governments also provide linkages to accredited agencies and employers that hire foreign talents.

Second, know the legal consequences of earning abroad. Securing the right working visa is not the end of a worker’s legal obligations. Governments impose varying tax schedules for their citizens who earn active (salary) and passive (investment) income overseas. Some tax laws allow the imposition of double taxation, which is being levied both in the host and home countries. Other jurisdictions, however, extend relief through legal tax avoidance measures. It is highly recommended to seek professional assistance on this matter.

Third, explore your insurance options. Most employers subsidise their workers’ coverage, but there are some that do not. As such, your benefits package might be tampered by moving overseas. Your health coverage benefits as well as your retirement plan. Moreover, not all countries are able to fund a universal healthcare system. It is advisable to secure your own coverage to supplement whatever is being extended by the employer or host country. For an instance, there are some activities excluded from company-sponsored plans that may be covered by a separate insurance. High-risk activities such as mountain climbing, motor cycling, kayaking and diving may be enjoyed without worries of out-of-pocket expenses in the unlikely event of accidents. It is also worth-noting that some calamity-prone countries, especially in the Asia and Pacific, that offer non-life insurance for force majeure. Expats may now purchase non-life insurance plans that for impairment and loss of properties due to earthquakes, floods and other natural calamities. For more information check out our Global Insurance Guide.

Fourth, and probably the most important, create a short- and long-term budget plan. The varying costs of living in different regions may surprise you, so it is imperative to do some research. The US dollar is gaining strength while currencies in Russia and former Soviet territories are continuously depreciating. Thus, a piece of item in Moscow is more affordable for an American expat than for a Russian consumer. Currency specialists are the right person to talk to when it comes to foreign exchange and budgeting.

Find the suitable job, know your tax obligations, secure insurance coverage and create a budget plan. After these basics in preparing for a working life abroad, having the perfect selfie beside Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay should be peanuts.


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