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expat employees

International Payroll Tips for Expat Employers

Global Payroll Tips for Expatriate Employers

Paying expat employees is increasingly more common as companies expand their businesses into global markets. There is not one straightforward way to ensure you’re paying your expat employees given that laws are different in every jurisdiction.

What is certain, however, is that human resources and payroll professionals are required to acquire knowledge of international payroll management systems, which are becoming more complex since they vary from one organization or company to the next.

Therefore, there are varying procedures and methods for how international employees are paid.

We’ve put together a list of our top five tips for dealing with international payroll so you can avoid legal problems. While our firm does not provide global payroll service, we are happy to provide some helpful tips that may assist your organization. We can even refer you to a global HR firm if required.

But first, what exactly is international payroll?

What is international payroll?

International payroll refers to the list of a company’s expatriate employees and includes information on how and when the money they are owed will be paid to them.

There are, generally, two aspects of global payroll obligations to remember:

  1. Withholding the correct payroll taxes.
  2. Income/tax reporting.

“Withholding tax” is the amount of an employee’s pay withheld by the employer and sent directly to the government as a partial payment of income tax. These concepts are essential for you to understand so you can avoid problems.

If your expatriate employees are required to travel often, then it is critical to design a payroll policy about how long an employee must stay in one state before withholding must be taken into account.

Remember also that specific expatriate payroll-related concepts include foreign currency exchange transactions as well as US payroll.

Given you need to be compliant with specific laws, rules, and regulations that vary in different areas and are sometimes quite complex and overwhelming, it is recommended that you hire legal or tax professionals to assist you and your firm.

Legal and tax professionals have extensive knowledge of the specific taxation, employment laws, and fluctuating foreign currency trends. These professionals would be able to support you in achieving the best method for setting up a successful international payroll system that works best for both you and your firm.

 

The International Compensation System

Recognizing international compensation plans when reporting expatriate employees’ income and tax is important.

An international compensation plan may include base salary, benefits, and other incentives as part of the expat employee’s monetary and non-monetary return for work.

Some aspects of international compensation plans include contributions to foreign pension plans, foreign trust reporting, and foreign deferred compensation arrangements.

Some US expatriates working for foreign corporations may participate in international pension plans. However, the tax arrangement may not meet “qualification rules” in the US, so this must be taken into consideration.

Discussing how best to treat contributions to your foreign compensation plans with tax professionals is recommended highly, as they can also advise on reporting requirements that may apply in addition to an expat employees’ tax return.

You’re not alone if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or even confused about where to start or how to structure or enhance the HR policies in your company or organization to better facilitate the international payroll for expat employees.

We have compiled five tips for you to keep in mind as you go forward.

  1. Understand the difference between various mobility policies 

It is important to hire professional consultants who can provide guidance on a variety of mobility issues by identifying benefits available in the new location. These professionals will also be able to structure a new global employment strategic plan, as well as developing a worldwide expatriate compensation and benefits plan. In some nations, local benefits coverage and medical facilities may be limited. Local currency fluctuations and the financial stability of the local insurance company are significant concerns for expatriate employees. Expat Financial can source international group insurance plans from a variety of large and respected insurance companies for multinational companiesNon-government Organizations, non-profits, governments, and international schools.

Several benefits are available, such as Group LTD, AD&D, Life Insurance, Health, Dental, and Emergency Medical Evacuation & Assistance Insurance. The risk and the administration for numerous operations and countries are pooled under one plan. Benefits can be paid in several major currencies. For companies with less than three expatriate employees or individual expatriates, we can also provide individual International Health Insurance protection as well as individual life and disability plans.

  1. Tax knowledge is a must

It is critical that you understand the foreign payroll withholding requirement and are able to determine whether the various compensation aspects are taxable or non-taxable. Our firm can often refer clients to expatriate tax specialists and even global payroll firms with excellent global tax knowledge.

Expat Financial may be able to provide international pension plans from large and established insurance company. These plans are usually free of taxes on accumulations, and there are no withholding taxes on benefits paid.

In addition, a variety of investments can be made available. The administration costs are also typically much lower for the company and the employees than setting up individual plans. Check with your tax advisor to confirm your tax status at your location.

  1. Organize documentation of payroll operations

Managing the documentation of payroll is very important. It provides the payroll team members with operational standards and policies. Due to the complexity of international payroll, different staff members may have different payroll methods. Maintaining payroll documentation can help administrative staff to manage payroll operations efficiently.

A tailored international group insurance plan provides simple administration platform for your HR department. It can facilitate instant communication online between employees, insurance companies and HR administrators. This is most especially convenient for highly mobile expat employees.

It is imperative for your expat employees to move from one country to another without worrying about switching from one local health insurance plan to another. It is crucial that HR managers consider excellent administration when choosing a global medical plan for their expat employees.

Contact Expat Financial to learn more.

 

  1. Provide ongoing training for payroll team members 

The role of an international payroll specialist requires strong professional skills, as well as extensive knowledge of new technologies and software in an ever-evolving business environment.

Arrange annual training and professional upgrading programs in international payroll for all team members to enhance knowledge, learn trending methodologies, and stay up-to-date on the latest best practices. Training programs should ideally include a comprehensive range of webinars, seminars, and forums.

Opportunities to network are also a great plus. Building an international payroll network can be helpful in advancing your company’s HR team and their performance.

  1. Optimal payroll productivity

International payroll management usually requires a cross-department effort from the finance, administration, and HR departments. Therefore, it is vital to connect global payroll to the business administration process and continuously update your management strategy.

For example, implementing a reviewing process within each party involved (such as HR & Finance) before delivering the review process results to employees is a great idea that can be used to avoid mistakes and improve expatriate employee satisfaction. Continuously building your communication with employees is critical to a great international payroll procedure.

A Reminder About Global Insurance Requirements

While international payroll is a very complex and vital requirement for expatriate employers, it is also important to consider the insurance needs of your globally mobile employees.

Expat Financial offers international group insurance plans for expatriate employees. We can even source expat group insurance plans for multinationalsNGOs and governments that have groups of three to 1000 expatriate employees working overseas. We offer numerous global benefit plans that are available to meet almost any budget requirement you may have.

With extensive global experience, knowledge, and contacts, Expat Financial is a leading source of group international health insurance plans that offer global health insurance coverage from various leading insurance providers that offer only the best plans.

For companies with only one expat employee, we have excellent global health plans that you can obtain a quote and also apply for completely online. We also offer xpat life and disability insurance plans as well as source special risk plans including war and terrorism insurance.

We are also a major provider of international insurance solutions to companies across many sectors of the economy and regions of the world.

Contact us today to obtain a quote, learn more, and we can answer your global insurance questions. If you require a global payroll specialist, we may be able to refer you to a company which can assist your HR Department and of course your expatriates.

Read more to learn why an international group insurance plan is superior to placing your expat employees on domestic policies.

The top 5 countries to raise expat children in

Are you planning to move abroad with your family? According to a recent survey report, the top 5 best countries to raise expat children in 2017 are Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. The rankings are based on various factors such as quality of life, political influence, business friendliness, cultural heritage, entrepreneurship, and ease of obtaining citizenship. In this article, we will introduce these top 5 countries to raise expat children abroad.

  1. Switzerland
  • Introduction: Switzerland is among one of the most developed and wealthiest countries in the world. Bordering Germany, France, Austria and Italy in Europe, Switzerland ranks at top globally for its quality of life, government stability, healthcare standards and economic development. The overall standard of living is high.
  • Healthcare: Medical services are considered to be of the highest standards in Switzerland. Expats living in Switzerland will find many English speaking medical staff and doctors. However, expats are strongly recommended to purchase international health insurance plans before relocating to Switzerland, especially for those who plan to give birth in the country.  International health insurance will fully cover the medical costs of giving birth, including medical check-ups to baby’s hospital stay, plus post-natal care. Without appropriate health insurance, the medical bills can be very high.
  • Safety & Security: Switzerland has been consistently obtaining high marks for safety and a healthy lifestyle. According to the Government of Canada, the public transportation in Switzerland is excellent. Expats living in Switzerland should exercise normal precautions as petty crime could happen in public areas.
  • Children’s Education: According to the survey, the education system in Switzerland gets top marks on a global scale. This is not only because the schools in Switzerland cater to international families, but also the flexibility of its education system. According to The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), each of the 26 individual regions has its own education department and own school curriculum. Local state schools are free of charge. However, many expat families prefer international schools to help their children with the ease of transition and continue their education in a familiar language and curriculum.

        2. Canada

  • Introduction: Known for its cultural diversity and natural beauty, Canada is the second largest country in the world. Few countries can compare with the geographic diversity of Canada. The official languages are English and French. Canada is a high-tech, developed country with a high standard of living. The country’s economy mostly relies upon energy, agriculture and minerals.
  • Healthcare: The provincial medical plans provide Canadians with excellent emergency and non-emergency care, and it is publicly funded. Expatriates who are not covered by provincial medical care should obtain international health insurance plans. The medical cost for inpatient care at hospitals without it can be very expensive.
  • Safety & Security: Being one of the safest destinations in the world, the crime rates in Canada are low. Expats living in Canada should maintain common-sense precautions however, such as not leave valuables unattended to protect the security of your property.
  • Children’s Education: The standard of education in Canada is high. There are many public-funded schools and private schools including language schools, career schools, community colleges and secondary schools. Since Canada is a bilingual country, English and French language schools are available throughout the country.

        3. United Kingdom

  • Introduction: The United Kingdom contains four countries united under one government. The countries are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. With an area of around 242,500 square kilometres, the nation has a population of 65.1 million people. The capital and the largest city of the United Kingdom is London. There are also many cultural heritage sites across the UK, due to the nation’s long and rich history.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare service in the UK is generally of high standards. It provides patients with primary care, in-patient care, dental care, etc., and it is free of charge. There are also private medical facilities throughout the country. Most expatriates living in the UK would want to seek medical insurance coverage globally. Additionally, it is important to obtain an international health insurance plan that will allow the private medical facilities access, due to long queues at public facilities.
  • Safety & Security: The public transportation in the UK is excellent. According to Government of Canada, the risk level of travlling to the UK is “exersise a high degree of caution” due to the threat of terroroisim. Although terror attacks can strike in any nation, due to the recent increase in attacks across Europe, expats should be weary of the increased risk.
  • Children’s Education: More than a quarter of the world’s top 200 universities are located in the UK. The education system in the UK is famous for its high quality, excellent education methodologies and research facilities, as well as academic freedom. Across the UK there are five stages of education: early years, primary, secondary, further education and higher education. After a student reaches the age of 16, he or she may choose to continue studying. Further Education is not compulsory. The UK school system is more lecture-based, with a few assignments throughout the semester. The cost of education in the UK is high, but not as expensive as in the US, as the government sets limits for tuition fees.

4. Germany

  • Introduction: With a total population of 82,667,000 people, Germany is a leading European country. As the world’s second-largest exporter, the standard of living is high in the nation. The Official languages in Germany are German and English. The high-income capital city is Berlin. Germany is also known as one of the most industrious countries in Europe, with major industries including automotive engineering, technology, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare system in Germany is excellent. The government-funded public medical care system provides healthcare services and products to patients, and the private medical facilities make a considerable contribution to society. The medical staff and doctors in Germany have usually received extensive medical training. Many expatriates living in Germany will want to obtain international health insurance plans to cover their medical costs in private healthcare facilities.
  • Safety & Security: Violent crime in Germany is low. There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Germany, according to Government of Canada. Expatriates living in Germany should exercise normal security precautions if attending large crowds events or visit local markets.
  • Children’s Education: Germany’s education system is different from the ones in many other countries. Lectures in public schools are usually taught in German, where expat children will gain a high academic ability of German. After grade 4, the students are separated by their overall academic performance and are divided into three different kinds of schools: Realschule, Hauptschule or Gymnasium. Realschule focuses on theory learning from grades 5 to 10. Hauptschule focuses on practical skills more than theory. The Gymnasium is a path to the university. The education system in Germany is different from state to state. There are also many international schools. Among these private schools, Montessori education is one of the most popular teaching models in Germany.

5. Japan

  • Introduction: Located on the east coast of Asia and southwest to Taiwan, Japan is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. The capital city of Japan is Tokyo, with a population of approximately 9 million people in the area. The country has one of the world’s largest economies, and is famous for its highly skilled workforce and fast pace. As a developed country, expatriates will enjoy a high standard of living in the city. Also, Japan’s population enjoy the highest life expectancy rate in the world.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare system in Japan is among the best in the world. The universal health care insurance system offers citizens with fees set by the government. The healthcare insurance is mandatory and is required by law to all residents. However, hospitals are privately run and owned. Expatriates living in Japan for under a year is suggested to buy international health insurance to cover the medical cost.
  • Safety & Security: There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Japan, according to the Government of Canada. However, after the strong earthquake on March 11, 2011, reconstruction efforts are ongoing at Iwate, Fukushima and Ibaraki. Therefore, some transportation routines may be unavailable. Expatriates visiting these areas will want to make sure that you have secured accommodations and transportation. The overall crime against foreign nationals is low. Expatriates are advised to exercise normal levls of caution throughout their stay in Japan.
  • Children’s Education: According to a recent study, the Japanese education system leads the world in numeracy and literacy skills. The Japanese school system consists of 9 years of compulsory education period and 3 years of senior high school. There are many after-school workshops where students will learn more than in the regular classes. According to a recent survey, nearly 85% of the students feel happy in school.

Don’t forget International Health Insurance 

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across the world. We offer plans from several different international health insurance companies that are designed for foreign nationals living outside the country for which they hold a passport or some local national living outside the US or Canada. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or if you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.

Expat Tokyo - Why you need international health insurance?

The ultimate packing list for long-term relocation abroad

Top 7 Packing List for Expatriates Relocating Abroad

After you have done your research on your destination country’s healthcare, housing, and job market, you are ready to pack and move. The process of packing and loading can be very stressful and tedious. In this article, we will discuss our top 7 tips for creating the ultimate packing list for long-term relocation abroad.

1. Important Records and Documentations

Pack important records and documents such as airline tickets, passports, visas, your children’s school records, shipping documents, medical records, etc. in a safe place. Some crucial documents require both the original and a copy for each of your family members. Please make sure that you have packed you and your family’s:

  • Birth certificates
  • Passport and Visas
  • Medical records
  • Health Insurance documentation
  • Mediation Prescriptions
  • Credit Cards
  • Immunization records

2. Medical Supplies

Pack medications that you may need as soon as you step on the new city. If you have a medical condition that required continued medication, make sure you pack enough medical supplies. This will save your time and money in finding new substitutes in a new country. Other essential medications include:

  • First aid kit
  • Anti-allergy medicine
  • Prescription medicine
  • Water purification tablets
  • Tylenol for Children’s fever

3. Electronics

Proper electronics will be a necessity during your trip and expat life. Please check these essential electronics before you go:

  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • Home appliances (optional)
  • Laptop
  • Voltage converter
  • Portable charger
  • Smartphone
  • Headphones

 

4. Clothes

It is important to not only know where you are moving to but also what activities you want to do in your new destination when packing clothes. Below are the suggestions:

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Dresses or Suits
  • Bathing suits
  • Pyjamas
  • Sewing kit
  • Disposable towelettes
  • T-shirts
  • Winter coats
  • Socks & Jeans

5. Shoes

When packing, it is important to consider what footwear will be most appropriate for your various activities and destinations. Whether you are going to a meeting or hiking Kilimanjaro, it is critical that you plan ahead so you don’t find yourself wearing your trainers to close that deal.

6. Place Large Signs on Household Goods

For those who are packing heavy furniture, place large signs on these appliances. For example, if there are some items that you need immediately in your new home, place a “FOR IMMEDIATE USE” sign on it. This will keep you organized on moving days and avoid any complications. Your new employer abroad may provide you with relocation assistance.

On departure day, remember to close and secure all windows and doors, clean and vacuum the house, turn off lights and electronic appliances, and check all the closets, storage areas, and drawers to make sure that everything has been packed. Make sure you also have your mail forwarded.

7. Don’t Forget International Health Insurance

Perhaps we are biased, but you should definitely remember to purchase an international health insurance plan to fully cover yourself and any dependents who will be living with you abroad. A global medical plan cannot only cover large medical expenses, but it can also cover you for preventative health and medical tests that can help you maintain you and your family’s health. This is especially true of many countries where most local public healthcare facilities may not be up to western standards. Without an appropriate international health insurance plan, expatriates could end up receiving large medical bills that could put their financial status at risk.

Expatriates living and working abroad will benefit from an international insurance plan with day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, dental and vision care, international medical evacuation and repatriation. Please contact us today for a quote and to discuss your expatriate insurance requirements. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Five Advantages of International Health Insurance for Expats

Five Advantages of International Health Insurance for Expats

Moving abroad can be an exciting and life-changing event. However, expatriates working and living abroad may face diverse healthcare needs. In order to access the desired healthcare facilities and services, it is critical to obtain an international health insurance plan. In this article, we will explore five advantages of an international health insurance policy if you are an expatriate planning to live, work or retire abroad or are already an expat.

  • You Have Freedom to Choose Your Doctor Internationally 

An international health insurance plan provides an extensive medical care network. Therefore, you have the freedom to choose healthcare professionals and facilities globally. This is very helpful when your destination healthcare facilities do not meet your medical requirements, or your family members need certain medical specialists. Note that some plans will restrict you to receiving medical coverage in a particular region or offer global coverage. Most plans will offer you the ability to add treatment in the USA.

  • Avoid Long Lineups 

In most countries around the world, many public hospitals and clinics are often overcrowded, with long lineups and extended waiting periods. However, private medical facilities are often able to provide faster medical appointments and surgeries. With an international insurance plan, expatriates can use private medical facilities through a medical network and avoid long lineups.

  • No Language Barrier

One of the most challenging issues that expats might experience while abroad is the language barrier. Sometimes expats can’t access the local healthcare system because they don’t speak the language. For example, in China, though some public hospitals have opened international medical departments to serve expats, these healthcare facilities are only available in major cities. If expats are residing in smaller commercial centres or visiting some rural area, then they may fail to access the medical assistance they need. Note that private hospitals in China are very expensive, so make sure you have adequate coverage.

With an international insurance plan, you can be connected to local private medical facilities with English speaking medical staff and doctors. They often provide a higher quality of care and better service than public facilities. Most of them have also received Western training. Additionally, an international insurance provider such as Cigna can provide language assistance and interpretation service at no cost to you. This is very helpful for expats with an international background during every step in seeking medical assistance.

  • You are Often Covered Wherever You Go

Many expatriates may already be covered by their local medical plan; however, most local plans are not designed for expats. An international health insurance plan can provide complete coverage for you and your family around the world. This is very important for expats who often travel from one country to another. Obtaining an appropriate global medical insurance plan will not only protect you and your family from health risks but will also provide you with peace of mind. Note that expat health plans are not generally portable back to your country of citizenship or to some countries where local regulations don’t allow the insurer to maintain your coverage.

  • Avoid Financial Risks

As reported in the news, research, and surveys, the cost of medical care is increasing globally, especially emergency care. An international health insurance plan will help you avoid financial risks while living and working overseas. Most plans will provide hospital coverage, routine medical checkups, prescriptions, etc. You can also add dental, vision and wellness care. Expats should make sure that the insurance plan has medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. In some severe situations, evacuation is required to receive urgent medical care.

Obtain International Health Insurance from Expat Financial  

Whether you are living or working abroad, or planning to, Expat Financial is your trustworthy companion with proven expertise in financial and insurance services area. As a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd, we have extensive experience in working with individual and group expats to assess their global insurance needs. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across much of the world. We also provide excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. If you have any particular questions regarding expat health insurance, please contact us or complete the quote form.

 

 

5 Tips for expats to live like a local when moving abroad

In this article, you will learn about how expatriates can adjust to their new county by learning about the local culture, making friends and adapting to their new surroundings. We have put together five tips for expatriates who want to learn how to live abroad like the locals.

  • Learning the Language

Expatriates will find that learning the local language is crucial when trying to immerse themselves in another country and culture. Once you start to speak the local language, the locals will begin to open up to you. It is not just a way of communication; it shows your respect for the local culture. Don’t struggle to become fluent, try to start with some basic greeting expressions. You can get assistance with learning a language from a variety of online resources, such as Babel. Others will take language classes before and after moving abroad. However, there is no substitute for diving right in when you move to your new location. The less you use your native language, the sooner you will be conversing with the locals over a cup of espresso. Finally, it is important to learn the local customs of your destination country to avoid embarrassment and better integrate into the culture.

  • Making Connections

Many expatriates may tend to make friends with expats of similar backgrounds, especially if they are going to local expat pubs and gatherings. However, it is a good idea to try to make some local friends as well. It may be difficult at first, but having a few trusted local friends will enrich your expat experience and will help you adapt the cultural differences. Don’t expect to feel immediately accepted and comfortable in your new environment, but try to be open and friendly.

  • Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture

There could be many elements to make you feel that you are a foreigner, no matter in your daily life or at work. To get involved in the local culture, expatriates are encouraged to go out and attend local events such as a colleagues’ party, or high tea with your new neighbor,. These important social interactions will make you want to explore the new culture and keep the curiosity about the destination country.

  • Integrate Into Local Community

Some expat experts recommend that you try to live like the locals and integrate into local communities. As an expatriate, you have a lot to contribute such as volunteering and sharing your skills and experience at local educational institutions. It is also encouraged for expats to keep up their hobbies while living abroad. If you are fond of painting, then join a local artist club; If you love sports, you can join a sports team. Once you obtain local connections and a group of friends, you will start to enjoy the expat life.

  • Eat Like the Locals 

Enjoying food with new friends is one of the best ways to break the ice. That’s why we recommend that you try the authentic local cuisine at restaurants. If possible, avoid the familiar chain restaurants that you visit in your home country. When shopping at local grocery stores, try to imitate the shopping list locals make and buy locally produced food.

How to Handle Health Care When Living Abroad

To stay healthy and fit while living and working abroad, there are many health risks that you want to avoid. To better plan and prepare a safe and rewarding journey before departure, one of the most important considerations is international health insuranceExpat 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 expats.

6 Reasons to become an expatriate in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan metropolis located in Asia. As a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, it has a thriving economy with easy access to all major cities in East and Southeast Asia, including Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo, and Seoul.  As a critical and influential business center in Southeast Asia, a total of 115 countries have consulates in Hong Kong, surpassing any other city in the world. The official languages in Hong Kong are Chinese and English. Hong Kong has attracted international visitors and talents from across the globe. In this article, we will discuss five reasons to become an expatriate in Hong Kong.

Convenience 

If you ask expatriates, who are already living in Hong Kong about what their impression is of the city, they would tell you that Hong Kong is a vibrant city with the highest efficiency and convenience. According to CNN Travel, Hong Kong has the highest density of convenience stores such as 7-Eleven’s in the world. Most of them operate 24/7. Some restaurants offer late-night meals until 3 am in the morning. Hong Kong also has a very well established public transportation system. In addition to speed train and bus, Hong Kong has more than 18,000 taxies serving the public. Anytime you want to get around Hong Kong, choose a taxi or train, and you’ll have a fast and convenient trip.

It is important for expatriates to note that taxi fare information will be listed on the inside of the taxi. If encounter any problems, please take down the taxi driver’s name and license plate number for future references.

Healthcare 

The medical facilities in Hong Kong are considered to be of high standard. There are 11 private hospitals and 42 public hospitals in Hong Kong, and both are equipped with the most advanced medical technology. Most of the medical staff and doctors can speak English. The public medical system delivers a comprehensive range of medical services including emergency medical treatment. Private hospitals in Hong Kong have partnered with the United Kingdom under international healthcare accreditation. Most expatriates in Hong Kong would want to use the private medical system due to the extended waiting periods prevalent in the public system.

The medical cost in the region is very high. Expatriates living and working in Hong Kong would want to obtain international health insurance before departure. Many expats in Hong Kong will add optional dental care for their family. For more information regarding Hong Kong international health insurance options, please click here. The Allianz plan can offer excellent health coverage in Hong Kong.

Education 

Universities in Hong Kong are recognized as leaders in education in Asia, according to many global rankings. The education sector in Hong Kong is based on the British model, and even primary school is highly competitive. There are also many private international schools span from grade one to grade twelve. Most international schools use English-based curriculum and the International Baccalaureate program. Expatriates who want to enroll their children in private schools should start the application process as early as possible to secure the limited number of spaces available.

Expat Community

As an international business center in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong is known as a city with a large expat population. According to research, the majority of expatriates who are living in Hong Kong mainly come from the United States, Britain, and Australia.

Safety 

Hong Kong is a large city, and as with any metropolis of this size, crime is more prevelent. However, in our opinion, we would consider it a very safe city. As a traveler there, I have never felt unsafe. The city has an excellent police force and is a great place to live for an expat family. You should be careful to avoid doing a foreign exchange on the street and also be aware that some goods offered to you may be fake. You should keep your ID on you at all times just in case you are asked for it by local authorities.

A Great City of Business

Without a doubt, Hong Kong is a great city to become an expatriate. This bustling city is home to hundreds of corporate and branch offices of large global companies that are operating in Asia and around the world. An expat career in Hong Kong should be a highlight of any resume and should also allow you to move forward in your company. It is one of the most business-friendly cities in the world, and government red tape is at a minimum. If you are an expat searching or a great place to work or a business wanting to explore opportunities in Asia, Hong Kong should be your first stop.

7 Reasons to become an expat in Vietnam

Vietnam is the eighth most populous Asian country and is located in Southeast Asia, bordering China, Cambodia, and Laos. Tourism in Vietnam is a significant component of its vibrant economy. According to reports, the number of international visitors has increased from 7 million to 10 million in 2016. Moreover, tourist arrivals in Vietnam have continued to rise in 2017. For expats, Vietnam has become a popular expat destination in Asia. In this article, we will discuss top 7 reasons to become an expat in Vietnam.

Attractive Natural and Cultural Experiences

Vietnam has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi, Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, Complex of Hue Monuments, as well as natural sites such as Ha Long Bay. There are many beautiful cultural and historical heritage sites to enrich your expat experience in Vietnam. You can start a day by visiting the ancient civilizations in Hoi An, enjoy a leisurely bike ride through the region, and explore the night market to try local delicacies.

Lower Cost of Living 

According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Vietnam is about 43% lower than in Canada. A three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant would cost $17.61. A bottle of imported beer costs $1.32. Groceries are generally much less expensive than those in North America. Though prices vary amongst different cities, the average rent fee in Vietnam is almost 50% cheaper than in North America, according to Numbeo. For expatriates coming from a Western country, they will be pleased to discover that the cost of living in Vietnam of great value.

Friendly Expat Community in Vietnam 

Many expatriates are working and living in Vietnam. You can either reside in a typical expat neighborhood or choose to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture. For expatriates relocating with family and children, there are great areas that will cater to your requirements along with some excellent foreign schools. It would be a great idea to connect and become friends with the expat community and to join a local sports team.

Teaching English in Vietnam 

Education is very important in Vietnamese culture and expats can find many ESL teaching opportunities in Vietnam. The government of Vietnam implemented a National Foreign languages Project, aiming for most of Vietnam’s students to be using English confidently for work and study by 2020. There are numerous international schools, state-owned universities, privately owned education institutions, and language centers. Many of these schools are looking for hiring the qualified ESL teachers who come from overseas.

Friendly People 

Like many other countries in Asia, everywhere you go, residents in Vietnam are friendly to foreign visitors. The Vietnamese culture is easy-going and hospitable. Most expats will find that the traditional culture and hospitality are quite welcoming.

Vietnam Cuisine 

The Vietnamese diet is quite attractive to expats living there and is also quite varied. Often, food will include influences from Chinese and Indian and French cuisine. Everyday Vietnamese dishes include fish sauce, lemongrass, fresh herbs, shrimp paste, and mint. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is mostly using fresh ingredients, such as the use of fresh lime instead of vinegar. One of the most classic Vietnamese dishes is the well-known pho. It is a rice noodle soup with either beef or chicken, served with Vietnamese lime, bean sprouts, mint and fresh chilies.

Convenient Travel from Vietnam

Another benefit of relocating to Vietnam is that you can have easy and inexpensive access to other Asian countries. Starting in Ho Chi Min, you can plan your travel itinerary as VietnamLaosCambodiaThailandChina. Generally speaking, Vietnam serves as a gateway to Southeast Asia and other Asian countries such as Japan. There are also excellent beaches and tourist opportunities for expats in Vietnam.

Don’t Forget to Bring your International Health Insurance 

The government of Vietnam is working to develop a universal health care system for its citizens. Although the standard of medical care is considered satisfactory in major cities, in rural areas it is still insufficient and not readily available. The standard of care in private hospitals in Vietnam is usually quite strong, and most private clinics have doctors from the US, Japan, and Europe. The cost of private medical care can vary considerably.

At present, most expats will usually opt to use private hospitals as these are usually equipped with English-speaking medical staff. Expats should ensure that they obtain international health insurance before moving to Vietnam. Many expats may want to seek medical treatment in Bangkok or Singapore for specialist care and medical emergencies.

For expat health insurance in Vietnam, it is crucial that you obtain a plan that will provide reimbursement for medical expenses through an extensive network of hospitals. Many expats should also obtain global life and disability insurance coverage while residing in Vietnam. If you require a quote for insurance coverage in Vietnam, contact Expat Financial today for a quote and to discuss your Vietnamese expatriate insurance requirements.

The impact of global disease outbreaks on expats and tips on prevention

With people travelling from all over the world and relocating overseas, expatriates should take extra precautions when it comes to health and safety. In the last few years, public health experts were on high alert due to the rapid spread of diseases such as the Zika virus, Dengue fever, SARS, Ebola virus, plague and more. In this article, we will discuss several pandemic disease threats and tips for expatriates to protect themselves from those diseases while working and living overseas.

Should Expatriates Worry About Disease Outbreaks? 

It is difficult to give a definitive answer to an expatriate’s chances of getting a disease if relocating to a region that has reported a disease outbreak. However, if there are a lot of people that have already been infected, then expatriates should pay close attention if visiting a specific area or region. One should note that diseases can travel vast distances because of increased global travel and mobility – it just takes a plane ride of an infected person to bring an outbreak to a new location.

According to the Public Health Watch Report, cholera, yellow fever and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are the potential health threat given the recent pandemic report in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. There have also been reports of plague disease in Madagascar, where over 20 lives have recently been lost.

Five Disease Outbreaks that Put Expats at Risk

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe diarrhea, dehydration, and even death if untreated. Cholera is caused by a bacterium called Vibrio Cholerae in contaminated food and water. It is a severe medical problem in many parts of the world. According to the latest report on Africa News, World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Cholera outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), claiming that 17,000 treated in DRC.

Yellow fever was declared an outbreak in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda between 2016 and 2017, according to WHO. The bite of infected mosquitoes transmitted it. The outbreak caused 962 confirmed cases across the three countries. Yellow fever is a disease with symptoms of fever, jaundice, muscle pain, vomiting, headache and nausea. Large outbreaks of yellow fever occur within heavily populated areas, with high mosquito density but lack of vaccination. Infected mosquitoes can transmit the virus from person to person.

Zika Virus has become a fairly widespread disease that has caused great concern for expatriates and locals alike. While Zika is not a new disease (it was earlier found in Africa in the 1950s) the disease that is spread by mosquitoes has spread to many regions around the world, including South America, Asia and even in the USA. In most cases those infected will not show any symptoms, but some can experience paralysis, or in pregnant women, it may cause birth defects in their children. There is no vaccine at this time along with no effective treatment.

Pneumonic Plague was recently declared as an outbreak in Madagascar. The Plague is a highly infectious disease caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria and is often found in the fleas of small mammals.  People can be infected by the flea bites or direct contact with infected persons or inhalation.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection ranges from no symptoms to severe respiratory disease and death. According to WHO, the outbreaks have occurred in several countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the Republic of Korea. And no vaccine or specific treatment is currently available for MERS-CoV. It has been reported that MERS is caused by Coronaviruses, which is a large family of viruses that can cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The typical MERS symptoms include a cough, fever, and shortness of breath. The virus can pass from person to person through close contact.

Disease Outbreak Prevention Tips for Expatriates Living Abroad 

  • As a general precaution, expatriates visiting markets, farms, jungles, or other rural regions with animals are present should practice high caution with hygiene, including hand washing before and after contacting animals, especially sick animals.
  • Avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products or products in developing countries, including unpasteurized milk or vegetables.
  • Based on infected cases reported, some people are considered to be at high risk of disease infection. Consult your doctor about your medical history before relocating abroad.
  • For diseases that haven’t been determined response priorities by health authorities, expatriates should maintain a high level of vigilance.
  • Avoid crowded areas if there is a disease outbreak.
  • Avoid direct contact with animals and wildlife, especially in regions where outbreaks often occur.
  • Do some research on the potential health risks in your destination country’s travel advisory page and obtain required vaccinations before departure – there’s a wealth of information from the CDC and WHO.

To ensure you and your family are protected from costly medical bills outside the home country, it is strongly recommended to obtain international medical insurance. Most medical insurance plans will include coverage for sicknesses caused by most disease outbreaks. It will be important to make sure your global medical plan includes medical evacuation coverage and will cover you for treatment outside your country of residence.

Bring International Health Insurance with You

If you fear that you may have been exposed to an infection or virus no matter how many precautions you have taken, consult with a medical doctor as soon as possible; only your medical provider can provide definitive medical advice and treatment. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates. We also provide excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. 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.

 

Six social media platforms for expatriates living abroad

If you are an expatriate living abroad these days, it is important to keep in touch with family and friends both online and offline. Many expats turn to social media platforms as a great way to interact with their fellow expatriates and share their experiences online. There are many social media platforms in Asia, Africa, North America, Europe and around the world that expatriates will utilize. From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to Google+, Weibo to Wechat, finding the most popular social networking media that locals are on can not only ease the difficulties of expanding your business and extending your local networking group but can also strengthen your expat company’s branding. In this article, let’s discuss top 6 social media platforms that expatriates have to consider while working and living abroad, especially those in Asia.

1. Facebook

According to studies, Facebook is the most popular social network in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, especially for expats and locals alike. And according to reports, in 2016, 43% of Singaporeans use Facebook every month, comparing all other social media platforms. In Thailand, the statistic shows that around 18.9 million people are using Facebook throughout the day. It is reported that three in four Indonesians who use the internet also use Facebook. Note that Facebook is not available in China. If you are an expat interested in Facebook, we recommend that expatriates check out our Expat Financial Facebook page.

2. Instagram

As of 2016, 63% of Singaporeans are using Instagram. According to a recent study conducted by ConnectedLife, Malaysians are very active on Instagram as results show that users have gone from 59% to 73% in the past year. Another large Instagram usage nation in Asia is Indonesia. According to Instagram’s internal data, Indonesia is the largest market for Instagram in the Asia Pacific, with 45 million users. Unfortunately, Instagram is also banned in China, but some people can access the site via a Virtual Private Network. Don’t forget to visit our Instagram page.

3. YouTube

Research shows that YouTube is the most preferred and popular video platform in Thailand. YouTube Thailand is ranked as top 1 in Southeast Asia and top 10 in the world; 81% of Thais say YouTube is the first place they go for video. Other markets with the highest viewership in Asia are Vietnam, Japan and India. Check out our expat and insurance YouTube channel.

4. WeChat

WeChat is the NO.1 messaging app in China. Users can book cabs on WeChat, send and receive money, shop online, book restaurants, share moments with their friends, and perform daily business communication. Other than emails or phone calls, it is preferred to conduct business communication through WeChat in China now. The mobile application is available in many languages such as Russian, Spanish, Indonesian, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese. Many expats use this excellent communication and social tool.

5. Weibo

According to data released by Sina in 2016, Weibo has 100 million daily active users around the world. The majority of these users are in China mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Weibo is very similar to Twitter in the USA. One of the reasons why Sina Weibo is so popular is because many Chinese celebrities, movie stars, singers, famous business and media organizations joined the platform. The verification system works the same as Twitter for well-known officials and organizations.

6. Pinterest

 Pinterest continues its growth in Asia, and according to recent reports, the site has attracted millions of users in Singapore and Hong Kong. And in Malaysia, Pinterest hit 10 million monthly unique visitors faster than any independent site in history, according to research. Pinterest is also an important platform for businesses to engage potential customers in Asia.

 

Living abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience for expatriates around the world. It will allow you to connect to other expats in your new country location and also keep connected to family and friends back home. Whatever your social media interests, it is important that you stay connected as much as possible both via social networks and also by getting out and about, such as joining a club, attending your work parties and making sure you are meeting new people. Additionally, remember to check out our Social Media page. If you have a teen expat with you, make sure you educate them about the downsides of social media sites and if you can monitor their usage and interactions. Social media can be great, but there are of course dangers that you should watch out for.

We would be remiss if we also did not mention that you should remember to obtain global medical coverage that will include both prevention and medical care that will take care of you and your family while living abroad.

Top 10 common international health insurance mistakes for expats

If you are an expatriate and searching for global health insurance plans, it is critical that you select the right plan for you and your family. Without an appropriate health insurance plan, you may be putting your health and finances at risk. To help you make the best choices, in this article, we will discuss steps to avoid the common health insurance mistakes that expatriates sometimes make. The following common mistakes and advice relate to both individual and corporate expat health plans. Remember, we all make mistakes, but when it comes to expat healthcare, it makes sense to read the points below to help avoid the following:

Mistake #1: Not choosing a plan that can cover a pre-existing medical condition

If you or your family member suffer from a medical condition, one of the most critical questions to ask of any health insurance plan is whether it would cover pre-existing medical conditions. Most of the insurers will exclude pre-existing medical conditions; however, some will charge an additional premium to approve the application, but this depends on the severity of the medical condition. For example, how serious the condition is, how long you have been treatment free and the potential costs of treatment. There is usually an exception for group plans because the risk is spread among healthy and unhealthy people – such group plans can often cover pre-existing medical conditions if the number of employees covered is large enough (usually 10 or 20 employees.)

Expat Financial works with 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. These excellent insurance plans can even provide full coverage for an expat group of only two or three expat employees. This is a significant advantage for any expat employer as almost all employees or dependents, especially older ones, will have at least one medical condition. To learn more, please contact us or obtain a free quote online.

Mistake #2: Obtaining a domestic policy

Some expatriates purchase health insurance plans that don’t provide them with an adequate amount of coverage when living and travelling abroad. Domestic government health plans usually provide coverage to access to private medical facilities. These plans are usually basic and will not allow for treatment outside your home country and are also not portable if you move to a new country. Therefore, expatriates will want to purchase international health insurance plan that covers them locally, regionally and globally. Most international health insurance plans will provide in-patient medical care, outpatient medical care, specialists care, routine scans, etc. If you are relocating to a region with limited medical services, you can select the medical evacuation option. Most of the global medical plans will offer dental and vision options. Finally, don’t overly rely on your health policy back home, as it probably doesn’t cover you abroad.

Mistake #3: Assuming you are young and healthy and don’t require cover

If you assume that you and your family are healthy and don’t need to obtain health insurance, you are putting your health and finance at risk. This is especially true in situations such as maternity care, cancer, accidents and emergency evacuation. Medical expenses in both developing and developed nations can be extremely expensive, and you don’t want to go bankrupt because of uninsured medical fees.

Mistake #4: Not obtaining maternity coverage

Maternity care in private hospitals in many countries can be very expensive. It is vital to obtain maternity coverage if you are planning to become pregnant as an expatriate. Most plans have a 12 month waiting period before maternity related expenses will be covered. We often get calls from expatriates who are currently pregnant and want coverage for that birth, but for individual expatriates this is not possible as you would have to have obtained a global medical plan that covered pregnancy and new child at least 12 months prior to conception. If your child is born with health issues, the baby will have to medically underwritten as a new applicant if maternity coverage was not in force 12 months prior – this can be a huge liability. If you are planning to have children or if there is a possibility that you may become pregnant, it is vital that your global health plan includes maternity care

Mistake #5: Not obtaining evacuation coverage

Emergency evacuation is another critical part of any expatriate’s medical coverage, especially if you are residing in a developing country where local medical facilities are not up to western standards. It will ensure you have access to high-quality medical facilities in the event of a medical emergency. Ambulances, helicopters, planes and travelling medical care can be incredibly high if you are not adequately insured. For many expats in the Caribbean for example, there are some excellent medical facilities, but an expat may have to obtain medical care in the USA for more serious medical conditions.

Mistake #6: Obtaining the cheapest global medical plan

Another mistake that expats sometimes make is choosing a plan based on price alone. If it is a lot cheaper than most plans in the market, there is probably a good reason for this. We are all guilty of looking for a good deal, but selecting the right plan is paramount when it comes to global medical insurance. If you are living or working overseas, you want an insurance plan that is going to be there when you need it. Quality is extremely important. Our most comprehensive policy with excellent service is the Cigna Global plan we offer on our website. We provide the same coverage and price, and you get the benefit of our agency support both before and after you purchase – we are your advocate.

The premiums of expatriate health insurance plan depend on a variety of factors. These factors help the international health insurer determine your initial and renewal premiums. Before picking an international health insurance plan, you should carefully consider co-pays, co-insurance or deductible level, depending on your health care needs. Don’t pick a plan just because of its low premiums. In fact, there are some ways to lower your health insurance premiums while still obtaining first-class access to your desired coverage level. Please read the blog article How to lower your global medical insurance premiums – Five tips for expats to learn more about it. Contact us to discuss your requirements and obtain quotes from the market.

Mistake #7: Not telling the truth on an application

Some expats may suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and not disclose it to the insurer. This is a serious mistake as it will allow the insurer to invalidate all your claims and terminate your insurance policy. Insurers will find out eventually, and it is vital that you provide full disclosure of your health when you complete the application online or offline. Insurers will often write to your doctor to confirm your medical health before or after a policy is taken out, so make sure you tell the truth when applying. If you have a condition, disclose it and provide as much detail as possible along with reports, tests and it is possible that the condition will be covered, depending on the insurer and the condition.

Mistake #8: For Americans, not obtaining a plan that covers treatment in the USA

Some American expats do not obtain a plan that covers medical treatment back home. If you are an American expat, there is a good chance you will want a plan that will allow you medical treatment back in the USA where you have family, friends and other support groups. Yes adding US care to your policy will cost you more, but surprisingly for some plans that cost is quite minimal – especially the Cigna Global Health Options plan we offer online.

expat healthcare if critical

Mistake #9: Not purchasing a plan that covers drugs

If you are an expatriate taking prescription drugs for short-term or under chronic medical conditions, it is vital to obtain prescription drug coverage. Many countries have very expensive drug costs, especially when treating major illness drugs or using a new drug. Many drugs, especially biologics, are extremely expensive so it is essential to purchase a plan with prescription coverage.

Mistake #10: Not checking the fine print

International health insurance is complicated and can be confusing for expats who are living and working abroad. We are all guilty of not reading the fine print or policy coverage details. It is essential when you are purchasing a global medical plan that you carefully read the fine print of the global medical policy. This can also include checking the medical network and administration details of the provider.

Expat Financial offers several global insurance plans that will provide excellent drug coverage for expatriates who are living abroad. Some of the global medical plans we offer can even cover local nationals in select countries. The international health plans from providers such as CignaMSH and IMG can provide prescription drug coverage for most expatriates. You can get a quote online and apply for the individual expat health plans we offer.