Moving Abroad: Expat Career Issues

Expat Career Issues - Negotiating Your Expat Benefits Package

Negotiating Your Expat Benefits Package

If you're being offered an international assignment there are often many issues involved in making the decision to move or stay. One of the most important issues for any person or family that is sent abroad by their company is the expat relocation package. Negotiating a relocation package can be tricky. Some companies have never or rarely send employees abroad and look to the employee to figure it out -- they expect you to do the research and request what you and your family will need for your relocation. Other companies send thousands of employees abroad and have a very set idea of what a relocation package should include -- you must negotiate any extras. It's important to do your homework and determine your family's needs before you negotiate and sign your contract.

Regardless of your situation, talking with other expats in your destination country about their experiences and relocation packages can be tremendously helpful. Our online country forums are a great venue for that discussion. Click here to find your country forum, take a few minutes to search for any existing discussions on relocation packages and benefits (searchterm suggestion: benefits) and post any questions that you may have.

With Cigna Global Health Options, you can create an international health insurance plan that's perfectly tailored for the needs of you and your family. We provide the reassurance of comprehensive core cover, and the flexibility of adding as many extra benefits as you want to ensure you have a plan perfectly suited to your needs.

Key Points to Cover During Expatriate Contract Negotiation

Achim Heuser, Heuser & Collegen, wrote a very popular article for ExpatExchange. It provides an overview of key points to be covered during contract negotation. Below is a brief version of the full article entitled, Negotiating the best package for your next assignment.

1. Duration of assignment: Whether the expatriate is unaccompanied or relocating with his spouse and/or family, he needs a perspective of the assignment's duration. If this is to be determined by the completion of a specified objective, at least an estimated duration, including a minimum term, should be given. The contract should also specify whether there is a trial period and how long that period lasts.

2. The assigned capacity: The contract should specify exactly the duties and give details of the responsibilities and the goals expected to be achieved.

3. Salary: The contract should at least specify the gross annual salary, any likely or possible bonuses and the salary structure in terms of increases. Any possible hardships should be considered as well and possibly included in the salary provisions.

4. Tax liability: Who will be paying taxes and in which country? Will the expatriate become a fiscal resident of the host country or still be liable for taxes in his home country?

5. Social Security: What provisions does the company make for pension and protection in the case of unemployment?

6. Moving costs: The contract must include details of the reimbursement of moving expenses. Will a transportation insurance be granted as well? Who will take care of the necessary customs declaration?

7. Housing and interim living allowance: What type of housing will be provided and how long will the expatriate and his family be expected to spend in short-term housing should be specified in advance and should be kept in mind by both parties. Who is responsible for finding suitable accommodation?

8. Transport: Will there be a company car provided for the duration of the assignment? Will this also include personal use?

9. Tuition fees: Contracts should include whether this assistance is partial or total reimbursement of fees.

10. Annual Leave and Home Leave: National holidays and annual vacation periods differ from country to country. The expatriate should be able to verify how much annual leave he will receive.

11. Legislation: What is the applicable legislation pertaining to the contract and which courts have jurisdiction for determining any conflict?

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Recommended Links:

Ward C. Naughton and Doug Johnson

Griselle Cardozo

Kelly Blackwell

Marc J. Strohl, CPA

Achim Heuser

Convinus International Employment Solutions

This Issue Written by Betsy Burlingame

Betsy Burlingame is the founder of She launched in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at New York University. Over the last 13+ years, has become one of the largest and most well-respected online communities for expatriates and international transferees.

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