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AOC Expat Check List - our relocating abroad guide

Useful information concerning important issues that should be covered to ensure that expatriates, students and travellers are well prepared for a successful expatriation.

Location of offices and where duties will be performed

This should be set out in detail - not just the country but also the location of the offices and geographical area that the expat activities will cover. Will they be expected to travel to other countries in the course of this assignment? If so, how often and what is the likely duration of such trips?

Duration of assignment

Whether the expatriate is unaccompanied or relocating with their family, a firm idea of the contract period, the duration of the assignment must be specified. If this is to be determined by the completion of a specified objective, an estimated duration will need to be given. The contract should also specify whether there is a trial period and, if so, how long that period lasts and how it is evaluated.

The job function

The contract should specify exactly what the employee’s duties are and give details of all responsibilities and the goals they will be expected to achieve. If there will be subordinate employees for whom the expatriate will be responsible, this should also be detailed.


The contract must specify the gross annual salary, any likely or possible bonuses and the salary structure in terms of increases. On what factors are any increases based? Is there a corporate policy of annual salary increases for all employees or are this performance-based only? If performance-based, the employee might want to know who will be making the decision, will it be their immediate superior or a financial officer back at HQ?

Housing and interim living allowance

The contract must give precise details of what the relocation package includes. The type of housing to be provided must be specified and how long the employee will be expected to spend in short-term housing. Who will be responsible for finding the accommodation, the employee/student or the company/university? If the destination country is not too far, a home search trip should be included in the contract. Will the cost of short-term housing be paid directly by the company or will the employee pay it from the interim living allowance? How much will the interim living allowance be and how long a period does it cover?


Is a company car provided for the duration of the assignment? If so, details should be included in the contract. Is there a company carpool or will the employee be allocated a vehicle for their use? Will this also include personal use? If the vehicle breaks down for any reason, will there be a substitute available or will a hired vehicle be necessary? If so, who pays? Who has financial responsibility for routine maintenance or for any mechanical problems that the vehicle may develop?

Tuition fees

Many companies provide assistance with tuition fees for expatriate families, as international schools are expensive. The contract should include details of whether this assistance is partial or total reimbursement of fees.

Annual leave and home visits

The amount of annual leave must be detailed and how many paid home visits for the employee and family are included during the assignment. How long must a period be spent in the destination country before qualifying for a paid home visit? Are the airline's tickets provided for all the accompanying family or will the employee be expected to contribute towards part of the cost? What national holidays do the company and employees in the destination country observe?


What provision will be made for the employee’s pension and protection in the case of unemployment? What contribution is expected from the employee? What health insurance is provided and will it also cover accompanying family members? Is the employee required to contribute towards health insurance for their family and, if so, how much?


Will the employee be a fiscal resident of the host country? Will the various allowances and payments are ''grossed-up'' by the company to cover tax or will the employee be paying the tax? Some benefits (i.e. car, housing, etc.) may be considered as taxable income.

Moving costs

The contract must include details of the reimbursement of moving-in costs; the authorized amount for the removal package both outbound and inbound. Will the employee be expected to pay for insurance covering transportation of goods and personal effects? Will any documentation be required for the importation of goods into the destination country? Is it the employee’s responsibility to obtain any such documentation or will the company undertake the task?

What if relocation goes wrong?

Nobody wants to contemplate such a costly exercise going wrong, but relocations are not always successful. It is only sensible to have details of what constitutes a breach of the contract included in the contract itself. Clarification should be given as to what are acceptable reasons for any such breach and what are the likely repercussions or penalties. The applicable legislation pertaining to the contract and the courts with jurisdiction for determining any conflict should also be detailed.

In case relocation goes well...

Supposing all goes to plan and the employee and family wish to stay on. Is the contract renewable - and under what terms? At what stage can renewal be decided and will the terms remain the same?


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