If you are considering a promotion or work opportunity overseas, there are a few things to have in your expat contract.  First of all, a corporate move is far easier to handle than doing a move on your own.  The first reason is the immigration side.

The Paperwork

In order to live in another country, most countries require a good reason for you to be there.  You need to show them that you will be a working member of society and will contribute to the country by your presence. If you do a corporate move, your company will make the case for your relocation. You need to be sure that they have legal counsel in this area to assist your relocation. Access to that person is important in making sure you have all the proper documentation and know the procedure for obtaining a work permit. And note, if your spouse is going to work, you will need to look into that capability and the necessary paper work for him/her as well.

The Pay

Next you need to know what part of the move will the company pay.  I would recommend negotiating a move over AND back.  Most expats go over on a 2-3 year contract with the intent of returning at that time.  Many do not go back then.  Should you decide to stay and change companies, your current company usually will not pay the move back later if you are not in their employ.

What is the company willing to pay for while you are in the overseas assignment?  Many companies will pay your living expenses that include housing, utilities, a car, it’s expenses, and flights to and from USA.  If you are moving a family, some companies will pay for your children to go to an international school, so they can re-enter the USA school system easily when they return.  And of course, normal business related expenses should all be covered including entertaining clients.

It’s up to you to be aware of the options and make sure that the moves make financial sense to you as well.  Another thing to negotiate is trips back to the USA.  Often managers return quarterly to the USA for meetings at HQ.  Those can be great times to catch up with family back home on the weekends.  Will the company pay for your spouse to accompany you on such a trip?  That’s to be discussed.

Don’t Forget the Taxes

Taxes are a necessary evil in every country.  Some countries have tax treaties with the US.  Be sure that professional tax services are offered to you and paid by them in the country.  If not, it can get expensive.  Having access to a good accountant is essential.

The last item to ask for is an orientation trip for you and your spouse.  This will give you an opportunity to see the lay of the land, so to speak, and help you find a place to live.

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