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Should you retire abroad?

Learn About Retiring Abroad – Determining Your “Expatibility,” or Candidacy, for Retiring Abroad

A lot of us wanted to travel abroad while we were younger or were interested in taking time off work to explore and see more of the world. You may or may not have had the chance to see as much of the world as you wanted. But now you nearing retirement. And you always thought you’d travel once your career was complete. Now you are considering going abroad – and staying abroad permanently as a retired expat.

How do you determine if retiring abroad is right for you?

For one thing, going abroad for retirement is an adventure. Another thing is that it may make total financial sense to leave your native country, with costs of living climbing. And it’s never been easier to pull off expat living – with resources at your fingertips around the clock through the easy facilitation of information-sharing online. You can look up what others have done and read about their experiences online, and even connect with them as well.

Determining your expatibility is the most important step to deciding if you should retire abroad.

Here are two steps you can take in order to determine whether you’re a good candidate for this adventurous expat lifestyle.

Step 1. Take a good look at yourself and profile whether you have the personal disposition to retire abroad.
Retiring abroad takes a desire for adventure, yes. But it also means embracing change, difference and meeting difficulties with an open mind. Do you shy away from obstacles that may arise, like language barriers and a different way of life? You should also consider the following disadvantages of moving abroad:

  1. You will not be able to see your friends and family as much
  2. You may have to sell your house and give up health coverage back home
  3. You will have to give up some activities at home which may not be available in your new location – such as skiing if you are moving from Vancouver to Barbados.
  4. Will you have enough money to last for your life no matter how long you live?

Also, are you ready to immerse yourself in a different culture, including the food, the type of dress you’d be donning? If not, then retiring abroad may not be for you. Or you’re not just yet ready to take the leap into expat life at the moment.

Step 2. Ask yourself what you truly need – what are your necessities in life?

What are some things you absolutely can’t live without? Do you need to be able to speak the local language in your new home country or get away with speaking English? Do you have to have the ability to live with very low costs, or peace and quiet, or a car or internet? Evaluating your needs will help you decide if you’re able to live abroad, and where.

Whether or not you decide to retire abroad, and wherever you go, remember that you’re going to need international health coverage as it’s very likely that your domestic plan will NOT cover you during your retirement abroad. Medical expenses incurred abroad can be extremely expensive and as we all know, our health does not improve with age. It will make sense to lock in a global medical insurance plan when you are living abroad from a well known and respected global insurance company, such as the expat health plan we offer from Cigna.

Finding the right international medical insurer is an extremely complex issue. There are many different levels of healthcare around the world, as well as vastly changing local regulations. Therefore, it’s very important to ensure you’ve selected an international health insurance plan that fully protects you and your family. You should also consider a global health plan that will cover you for life as some plans will termiante after you reach age 70 or 75.

Contact Expat Financial for expert advice and to discuss your international insurance needs and requirements.

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.

 

 

7 Tips for School Groups Traveling Abroad

Are you preparing for School Group Travel Abroad? 

There are many exciting opportunities for students to gain international experience while working towards their degree or for high school student groups going abroad on short school trips. Many universities provide either an exchange program or field school, as well as short-term summer programs. If you wish to spend one or more terms on an external program such as volunteering overseas, international employment, school group travel, international Co-op, etc., it is critical to making preparations, such as obtaining a travel medical coverage. In this article, we will provide seven tips for students and school group leaders when preparing for a short or long-term trip overseas.

 

Tips for Students and School Leaders 

  • Vaccination is critical for school group travel overseas. Many universities require standard immunization before arriving, especially for students who come from countries identified as having more infectious diseases and outbreaks. If your school group is visiting the USA, you may be required to complete a TB screening test.
  • Research your destination country for travel advisories and healthcare facilities. No matter where your school tour intends to travel, make sure you check the Travel advisory sites before you leave. This is because a travel advisory may affect your travel health insurance. In some regions, healthcare facilities may be limited. It is critical to understand any terms and conditions in your insurance policy for medical claims made for injuries in your destination country.
  • When selecting a travel medical insurance plan, you should make sure that the plan provides continuous coverage for the duration of your stay. It is also essential to check whether the plan pays for foreign hospitalization and provides the up-front payment of bills.

  • Be sure to obtain an emergency medical plan with a 24-hour/7-day emergency contact number in your language for health care providers in your destination country. Medical evacuation coverage is critical, especially in regions where medical care is not up to first world standards. Ensure that your medical insurance provides coverage for medical evacuation to the nearest location with appropriate medical care from your destination.
  • Preparing your school members for travel is essential, so it makes sense to plan ahead and also bring a first-aid kit. Travelers with any chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or other problems need to carry medications with you on your trip. Moreover, it is always recommended to bring an extra prescription in case you want to extend your trip or have a delay.
  • Regardless of where you are going, you school members should always carry your prescription copies, allergy medication, antibiotic ointment (for more remote areas), sunscreen, etc. It is recommended that students consult a healthcare professional for some extras you should carry if heading to more remote regions or areas.

Bring Student Group Travel Medical Insurance with You 

And finally, with appropriate planning before a school group trip, your students enjoy their travels abroad without worrying about the costs associated with dealing with the unexpected injury or illness while on your tour. Expat Financial is a key resource for students who are going abroad to travel, attend a foreign university or volunteer for up to 1 year for emergency medical expenses. Here are two travel medical insurance plans that we can provide to students living outside the USA:

For students who are studying abroad and require a global medical insurance plan, we offer several international health insurance plans from several global medical insurance providers which are perfectly suited to studying abroad and offer excellent rates for young students, but not school members who are based in the USA.

Check out our international student health insurance plan and discuss with us your student health insurance requirements today. If your overseas education facility would like to discuss offering a plan for its students or even the expatriate staff, please contact us to discuss a group plan.

Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments

Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments – Language Tips for Expats

According to a recent survey that was carried out by Rosetta Stone, approximately three-fifths of global mobility experts believe that learning the local language is crucial to a successful expat assignment. Indeed, if an expat employee can communicate with the local business team and partners, then it definitely helps when building the bridge between local business leaders, expats, and the head office. In this article, we will discuss how expats can make learning their host country’s language easier.

Most Spoken Languages in the World

Out of the most popular languages, Chinese Mandarin is often seen as the most important language for expat employees, especially if residing in China, which is one of the largest economies in the world. Other common languages include Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Russian and Japanese. Spanish is the primary language of Central America and South AmericaCuba and parts of the U.S. French is also widely spoken in varies countries, including Canada, Belgium, and Haiti. Arabic is mostly spoken in the Middle East and Egypt. It is the sixth official language of the United Nations. For expatriates planning to live and work abroad, it is recommended to have a working knowledge of your destination’s foreign language. Learning the local language can advance your career by giving you have a much better chance to start a conversation with locals and employees.

How to Learn a Foreign Language

  • Join a language learning group or attend a course: There are usually many language learning groups available in major cities across popular expat host nations. Try to find a local colleague or friend who would be willing to help you learn the language. If you can not find anyone who speaks the language or there are no language learning groups, try to apply and attend a language learning course. Many language learning schools provide modern language teaching techniques and updated learning materials in a small classroom setting. Some of them even offer expat students the chance to take part in local cultural activities. For busy expats, taking private language lessons can be more suitable than taking group lessons. Private language lessons are flexible, with options to specify different fields, such as business communication. Another popular choice is to take an online language learning course, as they are flexible and location independent.
  • Employer-Sponsored: It is recommended that the expat employer provide some language courses both before and during the expat assignment. Even just learning a few words and phrases can help your expat employees better integrate into their new surroundings.
  • Self-studying: Some expats will try to learn a new language themselves by spending a couple of hours each week and using a dictionary to enlarge your vocabulary. According to scientific research, language learning is based on repetition. If you spend some time every day to study the foreign language, you are more likely to grasp it within a few months. A dictionary is a handy tool for you to consult when you are finding the necessary words. Expats can use either an actual dictionary or a translator app. There are also lots of great online courses, such as ones offered by Babel and Rosetta Stone.

  • Immerse yourself in the language: Being immersed in a foreign language means that you are interacting, listening and speaking in the language daily. There are many conversation examples and lessons on Youtube and live stream radio on websites. And these are all free to access. Reading the local language can be very difficult for expats, but try to start with local magazines or newspapers. Read a short article in the beginning, and look up any words that you don’t understand. This will allow you to recognize commonly used words and phrases.
  • Embrace making mistakes: The best way to learn a new language is by practicing. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Focus on the practicing process other than on perfection. The more you speak, the better chance you will get to the ideal level.
  • Learn important vocabulary: One of the most important things about learning a new language is vocabulary. Even if you don’t understand a whole paragraph or a sentence, knowledge about some keywords will help you to understand the general meaning of a conversation. It is better for expats to focus on learning the most common words, and figure out which category of vocabulary is most relevant to you. It is also key to carry the correct vocabulary to assist you in a medical emergency. In the case you do need medical assistance, you want to be able to describe your condition to medical staff.
  • Don’t Forget About Dependents: If you are an expat with a partner or children living abroad, it is also critical to assist them in their new language endeavours. Check if the neighborhood school will provide lessons in the local language, and suggest that your spouse enrolls in some courses as well.

Don’t Forget Your International Health Insurance 

Learning a new language and living abroad is a wonderful experience within reach of you and your family. That new language will assist you should you require medical care from a facility or doctor who doesn’t speak your language. A great medical plan will also provide medical insurance support in all of the major languages. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world who are about to move abroad or already there. In addition, we offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. If you have any questions regarding 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.

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.

Six tips for planning an international relocation

Moving abroad requires a great deal of preparation, especially for those who are planning for a long-term assignment, travel or retiring abroad. If you are planning an international move, you will find the process can longer than you think it will. To better assist you during the transition, we will discuss six quick tips on how to plan an international relocation for future expatriates.

  • Making Decision and Check All Important Documentations

It is critical that future expatriates should make a decision as early as possible. Once you have firmly decided to relocate overseas, you can move forward and make plans. Getting started a year or 10 months in advance will provide you with enough time to plan and react.

Another important reason for making an early decision is due to the processing time of work permit or visas required in your destination country. In some countries, it can take up to a year to process and approve a visa. Therefore, it is suggested that future expatriates apply and submit the required documentation as soon as possible. Make sure that your official documents, such as passport, birth certificate, ID card, driver’s license, etc… are all valid. Please check to see if your family member’s documents are in order as well if they are moving with you. In general, entry into any countries for tourism or business trip requires that your passport be valid for at least three months. If you are planning a long-term relocation abroad, it is better to have your passport with at least six months’ validity remaining.

Obtain other required documentation such as your children’s school report card, which is vital if enrolling in a new school in your destination country; and all legal documents that you plan to take with you: birth certificate, marriage certificate, medical records, bank drafts, medical insurance documents, etc.

  • Arrange for Necessary Vaccinations 

As international travellers, they may face many potential health risks and diseases. According to a new study published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of the international travellers in the USA did not get vaccinated between 2009 and 2014. This may result in severe infection in countries where many diseases are prevalent. It is critical to arrange for necessary vaccinations before departure. For example, if you are moving to Hong Kong, suggested vaccines to consider are: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Japanese encephalitis, Measles and Yellow Fever.

It is important to note that each country may have different vaccination entry requirements. It is recommended that future expatriates contact their doctors to verify additional vaccinations requirements of the destination country or region.

  • Job Search 

Another consideration is obtaining a job overseas. Most expats will want to start researching employment opportunities in your destination country long before leaving. It is essential to know whether you need any additional certifications or training, such as TOEFL/IELTS certification of English proficiency, research abstract (for early-stage researchers), teaching portfolio, a complete list of publications, second language skills, etc. We encourage future expatriates to apply for a job as soon as possible due to the processing time of work permit application.

For younger people who haven’t found a job but decided to move abroad, many countries offer a special programme to provide them with work opportunities. For example, in Canada, The International Experience Canada provides young people aged 18 – 35 from all over the world to work and travel in Canada. Future expatriates should try to do research and participate in this kind of programs and gain valuable working experience. Please keep in mind that in some countries there might be age restrictions. Please check carefully before you apply.

  • Financial Assessment

Before moving overseas, it is suggested that expats have a full financial accounting and take into account the cost of living in your destination country, including apartment rental rates, property purchase cost, school tuition fees, meals and more. Try not to forget any moving expenses such as boxes and packing materials fees, transportation of furniture. If you are lucky, your employer may provide some assistance and subsidies for your expat assignment. All future expats should also look into your expat tax obligations in both your home country and your destination country. Check out our links page for some great expat tax accountants. Contact your bank and get a global account for internet banking. If you have mortgage or loan payments in your home country, please also set up a direct payment account with your bank while you are away.

  • Language Training 

Communication is crucial for expatriates who want to live and work overseas. If expats are relocating to a destination country with language barriers, the interaction could be complicated for their integration and even career. This is especially true if expats are in dangerous situations or medical emergencies. Therefore, it is recommended that future expats receive basic local language training before departure. It will also accelerate the adjustment of foreign expatriates.

expat healthcare if critical

  • Obtain International Health Insurance 

International health insurance coverage is a necessity and should be the top consideration of future expats. Make sure you and your family are covered by a comprehensive medical plan in your destination country. Expat Financial offers a wide range of expatriate health insurance plans designed specifically for any expatriates of any nationality around much of the world. With expat health insurance plans, you and your family’s health are protected through an appropriate level of expat insurance. It is quite easy for expats to obtain a quote for one of our comprehensive international health plans. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. You can still purchase global medical coverage if you have already moved abroad.

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.