Remote work is becoming increasingly common, opening up location flexibility for both employees and employers. Whether you’re staying with your current employer while working abroad or accepting an entirely remote position in order to live in a country you’ve always dreamed of, there are some hurdles to clear first. Below are some considerations and actions to take before boarding the plane.
Transitioning to an entirely new country is exciting but has its challenges. Start preparing early to minimize stress. This includes planning the travel and transition itself, setting up housing ahead of time, gathering paperwork, and setting expectations and an action plan with your employer. The more you schedule ahead of time, the fewer issues you’ll have, and the more flexible you can be if problems arise.
In many cases, obtaining a work visa will be necessary before working in another country. Requirements for obtaining visas can vary and may include receiving invitations from the destination country or host business, covering fees, and obtaining proper personal identification. Some of these steps can be completed relatively quickly, while others can take weeks or months.
Understanding visa requirements ahead of time and gathering those documents early helps you meet the necessary deadlines. If your employer is sponsoring the transition, they likely have resources and procedures for helping you through the process, so be sure to inquire about those.
Additionally, it’s important to know the rules and limitations of your visa. You may be required to carry it at all for identification purposes, and you may be limited to staying a specific amount of time in the country before being eligible to renew it.
You’ll want to have a good understanding of local laws and regulations where you’ll be moving to. Don’t assume that any policies are the same as your home country. Failing to follow the rules of the road while driving or obtain the right passes for local transportation could land you with a heavy fine. Get acquainted with the laws to help you assimilate without any issues.
Health insurance is an important part of day-to-day life in the US to make sure you can cover medical expenses or any unexpected emergencies. Look into the insurance requirements and typical costs and coverage options for your destination. There may be options available for international health care plans through your company or a third party.
Some employers make resources available to help with employees’ transitions to other locations. For example, they may provide funding for relocation costs, such as travel, room and board, or equipment. They may also offer training on cultural differences and business customs abroad, and language classes, or they might recommend self-guided resources. Coordinate with leadership to see if any of this support is available to streamline the process.
You’ll likely need access to a local bank while you’re working abroad long-term. If your current bank has offices in the country you are moving to, you may have more flexibility. If that’s not the case, you’ll need to determine how best to transfer your money or have it deposited in a new banking institution.
Talk to bank representatives about potential caveats, such as limitations, fees, and the impact exchange rates can have on transfers. There are other options for making purchases, such as using credit cards that have no foreign exchange fees, but you probably won’t be able to use those for all your expenses.
Taxes can become complicated when working abroad, and you’ll need to determine whether you’re going to owe taxes in your new country of residence in addition to taxes in your home country. Find out what you’re likely to be liable for and how taxes are deducted from your paychecks. This way you won’t be surprised with a high tax bill at the end of the year that you aren’t prepared to pay.
If you work abroad for only part of the year, that will likely change your tax liability as well. The best course of action is to consult a tax advisor knowledgeable in tax laws for each country.
Moving abroad can be a difficult endeavor. Not only can this affect the logistics of your work, but you’ll also encounter cultural differences in everyday life, from social norms to language barriers. Combining the potential for culture shock with the challenges of a new work environment can feel overwhelming. Developing a support network can help you overcome these obstacles.
Coworking spaces are gaining popularity as office spaces for remote workers to meet up. There are also communities of individuals who gather to work together. These groups can be made up of expats as well as people from your host country, making it easier to meet people to work alongside as you integrate into your environment.
If you work in an international company, you could be coordinating with colleagues in different time zones. It’s important to understand the related time differences, whether the rest of the team is just one time zone away or many. This ensures you don’t miss any meetings and can be available to the team when expected.
Some computer email platforms will automatically account for time zone differences on calendar invitations, so take advantage of this feature if it’s available. Coordinate with your coworkers and management ahead of time to make sure everyone is aware and on the same page about your expected availability and the best times to contact you. Setting expectations early helps both parties minimize miscommunication and any confusion over requirements.
There are a lot of resources out there for internationally located remote workers. Oyster’s Global Employment Pass is a centralized location with tools, programs, and events for remote workers and those looking to become one. Spend some time reviewing the available resources there and seeing what might be right for you.
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