If you are being transferred overseas with your current employer or have been recruited by an overseas company, you might expect a relocation package to be included with the offer. In this article, I have summarised some of the most common components of a comprehensive overseas relocation package to enable you to negotiate the best deal you can.
The difference between an overseas relocation package and an expat salary package
For the purposes of this discussion, we distinguish between two parts of a typical expat employment offer – the relocation package and the expat salary package.
We consider the relocation package to be the package of “one-off” benefits associated with moving from one country (or location) to another. We consider the expat salary package to be the ongoing benefits associated with an expat assignment.
Checklist for an Overseas Relocation Package
It is important to note that this should serve as a checklist for you to (a) make sure you have considered all the costs for your overseas relocation, and (b) to assist you in negotiating an overseas relocation package should you be offered a role working abroad.
Benefits offered by companies in terms of overseas relocation can vary markedly depending on the company, your seniority, your tenure of employment (contract versus staff), the destination, and the industry you are employed in. It may also simply be a function of supply and demand of available personnel at the time you are recruited. In addition, most large multi-national companies will have fixed relocation policies that are not subject to negotiation.
When negotiating a relocation package, consider which components are most important to you, which components are best provided by your employer, and what the costs involved are for each component.
1. Pre-move / Orientation Visit
A number of companies offer a pre-move or orientation visit to your new location. Sometimes this may be offered to enable you to determine whether or not you are prepared to commit to the new role, but usually is provided to enable you to prepare for your actual move – identify locations to live, review schools for children etc.
If you are being relocated, then this component is usually a given. You should confirm that the company will pay for your flights (as well as your family members) from your current location to your new location. In many cases, the company will provide business class airfares (or travel expenses to an equivalent value), unless your new destination is less than 5 or 6 hours flying where they may only fly you economy.
3. Moving Costs
As part of an overseas relocation package, your employer is likely to pay to pack and move your furniture and belongings along with the insurance of the contents during the move, potential storage costs whilst you wait to move into your permanent rental accommodation, and also any fees associated with clearing customs. There will usually be a volume limit on the amount of furniture they will transport (eg. one standard 40 foot sea container).
4. Temporary Accommodation
To give you time to clean your house and tidy up loose ends, it is common to receive temporary accommodation in your base location for a few days after the removalists have taken your belongings. In addition, on arrival at your new destination, it might be reasonable to expect a few weeks (or months) of temporary accommodation to give you time to find a new home (and also to await the arrival of your furniture).
5. Immigration / Visa Assistance
If your employer is sponsoring you into the country, then it would be expected that they provide support and assistance to obtain any relevant work visa or satisfy any other immigration requirements. You should also check whether this support will extend to your spouse and children, or whether the company expects you to manage their immigration requirements yourself.
6. Lease Termination Costs
If you have a fixed rental lease agreement in place at the time of moving overseas, then you might be able to negotiate that your employer pay for the costs in terminating the lease early. This would only extend to payment of rent and break fees, and would not ordinarily include costs that you would otherwise incur at the end of the lease (such as cleaning costs, and the cost of any repairs to damage you made during your tenancy).
7. Miscellaneous Relocation Costs
When moving overseas there are many incidental expenses involved that you don’t appreciate at the time
- cancelling mobile phone, gym membership or other contracts early
- seeking financial advice on the tax implications of moving abroad
- needing to replace appliances if the voltage in the new country is different to Australia
- replacing miscellaneous cleaning agents, gas bottles etc that you are prevented by the removalists to ship
- buying new school uniforms for a new school overseas
Some companies will allow you to claim expenses in relation to these types of items, while others may offer you a lump sum of money as compensation for these costs (and not want to deal with the administrative burden of managing dozens of small expense claims).
If there is a family pet you simply can’t leave behind with family or friends, then you may be able to request the costs of relocating your pet to be included as part of your relocation package. Don’t forget that for your pet to be able to return to Australia at the end of your time abroad, there are a number of things that need to be satisfied. You should check with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Services if there is anything you need to do before leaving Australia to ensure your pet dog or cat will be allowed back into the country on your return.
9. Car Hire
Timing the sale of your car(s) the day before you fly out of the country is not the easiest thing in the world, so many companies will provide you access to a car at each end of your relocation to give you some flexibility in the timing of selling a car in Australia and buying a car overseas.
10. Settling In Support & Finding a Home
Many companies will employ the services of a relocation service provider. These companies exist in most major cities and provide a variety of services to new arrivals including orientation tours of the city, help finding a rental home or apartment, registering at local council, advice on best schools and doctors.
11. Language Classes
If you are moving to a country where English isn’t the first language, many employers will reimburse the cost of language classes, or will provide an online language course for you and your spouse.
12. Repatriation Costs
While not strictly part of an overseas relocation package, in your negotiations regarding relocation and expat salary package, you may also want to raise the issue of repatriation costs. Now that you (your family and your belongings) have moved half way across the world, you don’t want to foot the bill when its time to move back to Australia. So you may want to ensure somewhere in your agreement the company agrees to relocate you back to your home city in Australia at the conclusion of your expat assignment (ideally with similar benefits to the overseas relocation package you negotiated to get you there).
Need to organise an international move yourself?
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