Hong Kong is celebrating 20th return anniversary

July 1, 2017 is the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong‘s return to China after many years under UK rule. President Xi Jinping is visiting the Hong Kong for the 20th return anniversary. After around 100 years as a British colony region, Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997 under the “One Country, Two Systems” agreement. Hong Kong is known for its advanced healthcare system, excellent transit system and an active nightlife. It is a popular expat destination around the world and many expats coming from western countries find it relatively easy to adapt.

Cantonese and Mandarin are the dominant languages in Hong Kong, but English is also widely spoken so it can be an easy place to adjust for expatriates living there. As a global city, English is taught at schools. In fact, there is a constant need for expat native English speakers at both international schools and adult English learning institutions. Hong Kong is also recognised as a prosperous global business district in Asia. If you’re used to a fast-paced lifestyle, then Hong Kong is the place for you. It also has an excellent health care system for expats and locals alike. 

Communities and organisations across China mainland will be celebrating the 20th return anniversary, from gala shows and culture festivals, to fireworks, sporting events, exhibitions, etc. Expats living and working in Hong Kong are encouraged to explore the various events and celebrations. All travellers are welcomed to discover Hong Kong by participating in major events and activities taking place in the region.

For more information on celebration events and publicity materials, please visit the official site of Hong Kong’s 20th return anniversary or click here for events brochure:

Digital nomad career options while living abroad as an expat

Digital nomads are often referred to as people who earn income remotely and mostly online, rather than from a physical permanent office. Today, digital nomads can be found in many industries such as writing, IT, media, tutoring, medical service, blog writer, consulting and more. For expatriates living and traveling abroad, the flexibility and freedom of a digital nomad is the ultimate global lifestyle. In this article, we will discuss why expats are becoming digital nomads along with the careers that are ideal for this exciting lifestyle.

Why So Many People Are Eager to Become Digital Nomads – A Freelance Career in a Globalized Economy

One of the most advantages of the digital nomad life is the freedom to travel and live in new places without restrictions. This is especially attractive to expatriates who are already living overseas. Expatriates working as digital nomad can earn money as they travel and may be open to more career opportunities. For expat spouses living abroad with their employed expat partners, a digital nomad career is often a perfect solution for not having permission to work in the new destination country.

Another reason  why people become digital nomads would be differences in currency values and cost of living. For example, if you are earning US dollar but living in Thailand, you will benefit from the currency conversion as $1 USD equals to $34 Thai Baht. Therefore, your income could lead you to a better quality of life and let you have more time for leisure. As would be expected, the cost of living in many developed and third world countries can be a fraction of the costs in North America or Europe.

Digital Nomad Career Options for Expats

We have compiled a list of you will need to acquire the right skills & contacts. Please check the list of skills & careers that are ideally suited for expatriates living abroad:

  • Computer Based Expats: As online businesses are growing much faster than traditional retail stores, eCommerce website platforms are in great need. learning computer skills doesn’t mean you have to become a programmer. If you start to learn the basics in web page design, you will be able to develop a website for clients in a few weeks. You don’t need to know how to code, there are many website templates available. Lastly, you will need a laptop with fast internet access, not dial-up.
  • Travel Writer: To write well about travel requires passion and local friends. Travel writing is not just includes destination tour guides or hotel recommendations, it is all about the stories and experiences during your stay. Many travel writers start their writing a blog site. From there, some of them get offers of book publishing and may even be offered free travel. It is recommended to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with your potential readers and editors.
  • Writer – copy-writing: To become an online freelance copywriter requires proven similar work that you’ve done before and identify your ideal clientele that may be scattered around the globe. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a much sought after skill, so there is great demand for online content copywriters, such as website copy-writing, SEO copy-writing, and other forms of social media writing. Make sure to find out what type of copywriter you want to be and understand the role you are applying for, then pitch yourself to an ideal client.

  • Consultants: If you are knowledgeable and experienced on a particular subject, then to become an online freelance consultant would be a good choice for digital expats. Popular industries and sectors of online consultants including education, music, marketing, accountancy, security, engineering, human resources, science and finance. In some industries, a consultant may be required to develop customized report and presentation online. To become an external online consultant, you may to acquire the certain certifications and qualifications, and choose your target market wisely.
  • Social Media Expert: Nowadays, almost every company is realizing that they need social media specialists for content marketing and multi media management. If you know social media channels and campaigns, such as Facebook campaigns, email marketing, social advertising, etc., you may be able get a job as a freelancer while living overseas. Many clients won’t mind that you are a digital nomad.
  • App Developer: This type of work requires solid software development skills and knowledge such as SQL, JavaScript, C# or C++, Python, etc., no matter you are building mobile Apps for either the Android platform or Apple’s IOS system. There are short intense programs to teach future programmers skills and knowledge in as short as 8 to 12 weeks, however, to become an App developer requires constant and long hours of effort. Some of the most popular careers in App developing include IOS for creative enterprises and mobile cloud computing with Android.

  • Translator: If you speak at least two languages including your native language, a career in online translator might just for you. There are many kinds of translation works such as novel translation, movie translation, legal documents translation and conference/specialized material translation. One of the first steps to become an online translator is to get accreditation or certification. If you have specialty in fields like electronic engineering, computer science, or biology, then you may even have the advantage of translating technical documents.
  • Web Site Development: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) specialist careers are ideally suited to digital nomad experiences – it is a often viewed as a great self-employed business to run from almost anywhere. In addition to web and computer knowledge, you will also need analytical skills to deliver the results.
  • Graphic Design: Using a wide range of  media and software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. to design visual layouts and corporate magazines can make you a digital nomad and work anywhere you want, especially you have proven graphic designing experience. It’s a job that can easily be completed anywhere in the world with good internet access.
  • Online Teaching: As the English teaching market is growing, it is a great way to travel and become an expat English teacher. Compared to traditional in-classroom teaching, online teaching has many advantages such as flexible and efficient. Online teaching allows you to teach from anywhere. Learning English is very popular in Asia. If you are a native English speaker, the possibilities are endless.

 

Don’t forget International Health Insurance if you are a digital nomad

For digital nomads living abroad, it is important to note that you will be responsible for obtaining your own international health insurance plans as you won’t be supported by an employer and the country you live in may have little or no medical coverage or even adequate healthcare facilities. Domestic plans may not even cover you or will only cover you in that one country, which is not ideal if you wish to travel or obtain health coverage abroad. You will probably lose your current health plan coverage if you live abroad or it may not cover overseas travel. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. Also don’t forget to obtain individual life and disability coverage as well if you are a digital nomad. 

5 Things you should know about being an American expatriate

When making the decision to move abroad and become an expatriate, about 83% of the US Americans are generally satisfied with life abroad, according to a recent survey by InterNations. Among the US expat respondents, over two-fifths want to stay in their destination country forever. As more and more Americans tend to live around the world, we are going to discuss some tips and facts to help future and current long-staying US expatriates to better prepare for the steps into the unknown.

  • Make Sure You Know US Expat Taxes

One of the most important things that US expatriates should know about is US Expat Taxes. The US is few of the countries which requires tax filing to its residents after they have moved abroad, even if you are paying tax in your destination country. In order to prevent penalties and earn tax credit, US American expatriates must file US tax obligation on time. Special regulations may apply when using foreign taxes paid as a credit against US tax obligations. It is important for future and current US expats to understand US tax programs and talk to a expat tax professional.

  • Take Advantage of Social Security Agreement Between US and Your Destination Country

According to US International Social Security Agreements, The US has established many bilateral social security agreements that allow American expats to only pay social security taxes to one of the two governments. Some of the eligible countries are: Italy, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Chile, Japan, etc.  This regulation can help eliminate dual social security taxation. When working expatriates retire, the contribution to the social security system of other country may count as well.

However, the exact regulations may have certain exclusions and rules such as self-employment rules, territoriality rules, etc. US American expatriates should examine your destination country’s agreement descriptions to make sure that you are covered while you live abroad. Again, talk to your tax and legal adviser.

  • Apply for New Driver’s License In Your Destination Country Maybe Required

If you are thinking about driving in your destination country, please be aware that road conditions and driving regulations can be different from those in the United States. Insurance and a valid driver’s license are required in most countries. Many countries may not accept a US driver’s license, so you may want to apply for  an International Driving Permit (IDP) or local driver’s license.

 

  • Understand International Health Insurance 

One of the most important considerations for American expats is obtaining global medical coverage, especially where local plans may be non-existent or adequate medical care may not be available. Your domestic health plan in the USA probably won’t cover you abroad so you need to search out an international plan assuming you will become a non-US resident. Therefore, it is critical for US expatriates to purchase an international health insurance plan. A good plan should provide a large direct pay medical network so you and your family wont have to pay out of pocket fee in multiple currencies. In addition, many international health insurance plan providers offer international medical networks with English speaking doctors and medical staff for those who don’t speak the local language.

If you are an US expatriate who is living abroad and travel often back to the United States, it is also important to get the USA coverage option in your international health insurance plan. Most American expats residing abroad will seek out a global medical plan that includes the USA because if they suffer a serious medical illness or injury, the expat will most likely want to seek medical treatment back home in the USA. It is important to contact your international health insurance needs with an expat insurance expert such as Expat Financial and weigh the costs and benefits of having an international health insurance plan that provides full coverage in the United States of America. 

  • You May Have to Report You Foreign Bank Accounts When Living Abroad

Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) is a report of foreign bank accounts that based solely on your overseas account balances. This may be the case if you have a balance that exceeded $10,000 or more in your foreign bank accounts at any point during the year.

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and excellent service and support to clients around the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual  American expats and expat employers worldwide. We offer a variety of excellent global medical plans that can meet almost any need and budget. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. If your organization has a group of two or more expatriate employees, our firm can source international group insurance plans.

 

 

Is your company meeting it’s “Duty of Care” obligations to it’s expat employees?

An Expat Employer’s Fiduciary Duty of Care for Expats

Sending employees abroad is a big financial, moral and legal responsibility for expatriate employers. Many professionals are constantly talking about the importance of providing a “duty of care” for expat employees sent to work abroad and even when sending employees for long or short term assignments and meetings. What does this mean? In my view, it basically means that the global employer needs to take all steps required to safeguard and prepare for the safety, well being and health of their employees. It is the fiduciary responsibility that experienced global mobility managers realize is so important regardless of the legal implications – its a moral responsibility. This is especially true today in a world where conflict and terrorism can strike almost anywhere. It makes sense to plan for what your employees may face abroad.

Employers Should Examine Their Obligations

It is critical that expat employers meet the overseas obligations of their employees, whom can find themselves in new and sometimes hazardous regions and countries that they may not be adequately prepared for. It is vital that HR managers carefully read over the employment contracts to make sure that the company is fulfilling its obligations to their employees. This means that employers should examine their employees’ needs and country location to prepare for contingencies. Our firm has access to very detailed country information that can provide global mobility managers with key insights for each destination, including security reports. 

Expat Employers Should Identify Risks

When your HR department is sending employees overseas, it often make sense to ID risk and adopt prevention measures and train employees. You can’t hope that nothing terrible will happen. You can’t account for all the risks that your employees and their dependents may face working or traveling abroad, but you can take steps now to plan and mitigate those situations. We recently had an employer who finally agreed to implement a comprehensive kidnap and ransom program with security evacuation and in the first year of the policy it was used after a group of employers were kidnapped by bandits. Luckily with the assistance of on-sight negotiators paid by the insurer and a ransom being negotiated, the hostages were released unharmed.

heart rate monitor and doctors in an emergency room

Inadequate Insurance Coverage for Expats

A recent report from Cigna mentioned that 50% of expatriate employees feel that their expat employers are not meeting their duty of care requirements for the global assignments that they are on. Furthermore, three quarters felt that they did not have sufficient funds to support their healthcare expenses. We often run into situations where new and even existing expat employers will send employees and their dependents (spouse & children) on overseas assignments with inadequate planning and especially insurance coverage. With more an more companies and non-profit organizations sending employees for short or long term assignments to high risk countries such as Iraq & Afghanistan, the requirement to provide a secure and safe work location is vital. Our firm has extensive experience in working with employers operating in such areas where civil strife and conflict are commonplace.

Common Expat Insurance Deficiencies We Have Observed

Here are a list of deficiencies that we often encounter:

  • No coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
  • No cover for pregnancy or a 12 month waiting period
  • Many expat employers have no disability coverage in place
  • Coverage is placed with insurers that simply can’t meet the needs of expats
  • Lack of adequate evacuation cover that is not fully insured
  • No war or terrorism coverage for employees residing in high risk countries
  • Inability of expats to find medical centers that can receive medical payment directly from the insurer

What Expat Insurance Coverage Can Help Your Company Meet It’s Duty of Care?

A group expat plan that is properly designed and sourced can provide a high level of global insurance coverage that will fully meet the duty of care for your expatriate workforce stationed around the world. We are able to source the following coverage for our group expatriate clients:

It is critical that your global mobility department fully commit to the duty of care philosophy and provide global coverage for your employees that exceeds what is required no matter where they are posted. Our firm can source plans for individuals and groups. For more information on the global benefit plans that we can offer your international workers, please contact us today.

global medical

When should you apply for international health insurance?

Moving abroad is one of the most important and exciting decisions you will ever make. Living abroad, either permanently or temporarily, can be a challenging and rewarding experience. To stay healthy and fit while living and working abroad, there are many health risks that you want to avoid. In fact, to better plan and prepare a safe journey before departure, one of the most important considerations would be an appropriate international health insurance plan. In this article, we will discuss steps that should be taken to apply for international health insurance before or after you have moved abroad.

Start Looking Early

Generally speaking, most insurance companies require health insurance application at least 30 to 45 days prior to departure. You should allow for a week or two for the health insurance underwriters to process your application, but also they need to check whether there is geographical exclusions that may apply depending on level of cover or due to a pre-existing medical condition. It is suggested future expatriates to start research your destination’s health care situation, and contact your employer and find out whether you are covered under employee benefit package.

Yes You Can Apply After You Move Abroad

Note that you can apply if you have already moved abroad – some people will purchase emergency travel medical insurance and then transition to a global health plan. Sometime you may simply want to move to another insurance company. Or you may be striking out on your own and have to leave your employer’s group expat benefit plan.

What to Look For in Global Medical Coverage?

International health insurance provides essential cover for inpatient, day patient care, accommodation costs, cancer care, mental health care, etc. The Cigna Gold and Platinum plans can also provide inpatient maternity care after a waiting period. The earlier you apply, the earlier that waiting period will be removed – which is key if you plan to have children when living abroad Some employee health insurance plans are focused on basic local coverage, and this is not applicable to expats who are internationally mobile. It is important for expatriates to obtain an appropriate international health insurance plan with flexible and comprehensive cover.

Doctor posing with a world globe.

What if You Have a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

There are many chronic medical conditions or pre-existing conditions that expats and their families may suffer from. The top 5 well-known chronic conditions are heart disease, arthritis, HIV, diabetes or depression. If expats with pre-existing medical conditions are travelling in a location where the healthcare facilities are substandard, it is all the more important to have full coverage. An untreated medical problem can quickly become serious. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is even more important that you apply as soon as possible. It will often take time to gather previous medical history and tests and the underwriters may have to write to your doctor to obtain additional information. This can all take a lot of time and you may not get a decision from the underwriter before you leave.

In many cases, pre-existing medical conditions should being placed on the group benefit plan prior to the effective date. Individual expatriate health insurance plans will either exclude previous medical condition, decline the application or raise the premium. However, we work global medical insurance companies who can provide full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions on the medical coverage for both the employees and dependents if the employer has more than 25 or 30 global employees – including both expats and local nationals. To learn more, please read our blog article “Expat Benefit Plans – Make sure pre-existing conditions are covered!

Talk to Expat Financial to Discuss Your Global Medical Insurance Needs

It makes sense to obtain a quote and apply as early as possible. It also is critical that you talk to an expatriate insurance expert that can discuss your requirements and provide quotes from a variety of global medical insurance providers based on your unique needs. We offer a variety of excellent global medical plans that can meet almost any need and budget. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. If your organization has a group of two or more expatriate employees, our firm can source international group insurance plans.