You are about to accept a job offer overseas.
It sounds exciting and your friends are extremely envious. After
the initial ecstasy is over, you suddenly realise that you do
not have much information about what life and work will be like
out there! You also have a lot of unfinished work to attend to
here. You don't seem to have much time. What should you do?
You may have heard of or been through such an experience. Working
overseas can be extremely challenging, but it would help you if
you went for your new assignment well prepared. After all, you
will not only be in a new work environment but also in a new country
with its own unique culture.
Whether you are going to join a new company, or are moving on
a transfer with your existing employer, there are certain issues
you need to consider before making the shift abroad.
In this article, we intend to highlight the areas that you need
to look into before going to work abroad. We presume that you
will be in a position to go for a reconnaissance (look and see)
visit before making the move overseas.
Get details of all financial aspects prior to your departure
What this refers to is details of not only your salary
and benefits, but also other relocation expenses such as airfare,
housing, children's education etc.
It is important for you to clarify two points with your employer
regarding these relocation expenses:
The answers to these two questions will help you in your choice
of house or school for the children when you go for your "look
and see" visit.
The kinds of relocation expenses that you need to check out on
Of these certain need a thorough research like cost of living,
education and housing. You may be able to decide on a house or
the children's school during a reconnaissance visit. On the other
hand, decisions on these may take time so you should get as much
information as you can. This will enable you to plan in advance
and make the move abroad easier.
In some countries like USA, opting for a public school for your
children, will require thorough research into the different school/neighbourhood
districts. You may need to choose the public school first, depending
on which is a good school district, and then your choice of residence
will automatically be in the same school/neighbourhood district.
Regarding details of your salary and benefits package, you need
to clarify the following issues:
Regarding health insurance, you should clarify the details of
the coverage of your policy/plan. What does it include? Does it
cover routine medical expenses, hospitalisation and emergencies?
Does it also cover expenses such as dental care?
How about a situation where medical evacuation may be required
e.g. in the event that you get seriously sick or injured and cannot
work but need to return to your home country for prolonged treatment?
Are these expenses included in your policy? When does your medical
coverage come into effect? When you leave your home country or
when you arrive abroad? How long is the insurance valid for?
You need to get information on all these aspects prior to your
departure for your new assignment.
Ensure that all documentation is appropriately done
This would include getting all legalities and formalities done
like passport, visas, work permit employment contract and an international
driving licence. The work permit is an important document which
your employing organisation has to get for you. They have to approach
the government of the country that you are moving to certifying
that you will be working for them and so acquire a legal work
permit for you.
Regarding your employment contract, make sure that all agreements
are in writing. These would be issues such as when your contract
expires, when it is to be renewed and on what conditions, is there
a release clause, when can your services be terminated, who will
arrange for the exit visas etc. With most professionally run companies
operating overseas, there should be no need to worry on account
of false promises where you could be left high and dry in a foreign
land. However, such documentation is just a good back-up for you
in case anything does go wrong.
To be able to drive overseas, you may initially need an international
driving licence, officially known as an international driving
permit. This is a recognised document world-wide but it can only
be a stop-gap arrangement until you get a national licence issued
in the country that you are moving to. The international driving
permit has a validity period of one year from the date of issue,
it can be obtained from your home country where you already possess
a legal national driving licence(you could contact the Automobile
association or the Traffic police for more information in this
Find out about the laws and customs of the foreign country
Information on laws and customs in the foreign country would
help you adjust easier to the new living and working conditions
there. You would know what to expect. You could try and find out
experiences of others i.e. friends, colleagues and maybe get some
tips on how they worked things out.
Remember to have a medical check-up for you and your family before
departure as well as all necessary immunisations/vaccinations.
Depending on the country that you are moving too, these vaccinations
could include cholera and yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, menangitis
etc. Some countries may even require you to go through an HIV
test before departure as part of your complete medical check-up.
An additional tip -in case you are carrying any medicines along
that you are taking on a regular basis or are carrying for any
emergency, be sure that you carry them in their original containers
alongwith a medical prescription from your doctor. This should
avoid any complications or chances of confiscation.
Talk to colleagues already there or who have visited that country,
to give you information on the work environment in the organisation.
Though there are definitely many benefits in working abroad like
an attractive salary and opportunities for international travel
just be sure you get your homework done before it's time to move!