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12 Things You Need To Know Before Deploying Abroad

Monday, Aug 27, 2018
by Humanitarian Institute

12 things

Seeing so many of our graduates working globally, we’re no stranger to providing advice on preparing before you go.

Are you interested in joining them and tackling an international job?

We’ve identified what you must know from people across the humanitarian and global development space. Here’s what they had to say. 


1. Ensure Your Organisation Helps You Navigate All the Changes

“Most professional humanitarian and development organisations support new employees with travel, visas, and immunisations to ensure your transition is smooth,” says Cory Steinhauer, who has spent over 15 years working abroad.

A good employer will not only help you obtain the appropriate visa, but may offer relocation support in the form of a temporary accommodation stipend, shipping costs, and - depending on the situation i.e. accompanied postings - job search help for your significant other.

Understanding local laws, taxes, and leasing arrangements, especially if there is a language barrier involved, can be challenging.

You should expect support from your employer.


2. Know What You’re Getting Into

In the humanitarian sector you’re usually expected to give employers three months’ notice before leaving a position. Also different organisations from different countries have different norms when it comes to leave packages and work-life balance.

Be sure to ask about this and other terms and conditions before signing up – don’t let the excitement of a job offer cloud your judgment.


3. Know Your Visa Conditions

Be aware that, depending on the type of work visa you have, you may have to return to your home country if you resign or are fired.

More often than not, you cannot look for a job elsewhere after you arrive.

Each country has varying types of work visas! Desktop research is your friend here. Understand the regulations on one you’ll be under.

Your employers will take responsibility for obtaining your work visa due to the complicated nature of the process. If your employer isn’t leading on this... be wary.

Having said that, you’ll still have plenty of paperwork to fill out, so get ready!


4. Tax Time

A different country means different tax laws and banking practices, so do your homework to circumvent surprises.

Most importantly, get a clear answer as to whether you’ll be a resident or non-resident for tax purposes in your home country, and whether you are exempt from tax in the country of deployment. Advice from an Accountant is recommended as there may be declarations that you may have to undertake.

Do the work now! As this will affect how much of your income you’ll be taxed – now and into the future.


5. Future Credit

Getting credit can be difficult in a new country, so before you leave home, get a credit card with an international recognised institution.

Transferring that card will be easier than getting credit once you’re there.


6. Banking Is Complex

Get frustrated with your bank at home? The trend is likely to continue overseas. Therefore, research how to set up an account abroad!

Become familiar with local banks’ minimums, timing on transfers, fees and online capabilities. And make sure to get a reference letter from your home bank.

However, note that more often than not you’ll have your salary deposited into your home bank (if you so choose). But it is your choice where your income goes. Discuss with your home bank the best options for you.

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It’s natural to focus on the professional aspect of your move. But your emotional and psychological health is just as important. So don’t forget about the personal and social aspects of your life.


7. Get Acquainted With Local Culture – Modern & Traditional – Before You Depart

Read magazines, watch locally popular shows and check out local news before you get there. You’ll get a better understanding of humour, lingo, and what’s going on.

Being effective means more than doing your job to the best of your ability! Being happy and healthy sets you up for success.


8. Prepare For The Language Barrier

Before moving build some basic conversational skills so you can navigate right away.

However, in the humanitarian and development space you’ll often be deployed to locations, such South Sudan, where your area of operations encompasses multiple languages. You’re not expected to be proficient in them all!

But learning some basic phrases can break the ice, build relationships and make your experience more enjoyable and your work more sustainable.


9. Use Your Extended Network

Reach out to anyone you know!

And anyone your group knows!

Most people who have been to your new country ahead of you, whether they are in the same profession or not, will offer support. They may offer expert insights or even introduce you to potential friends.


10. Begin the Visa Process in Advance... Far In Advance!

You’re heading into unknown climes. Bureaucratic processes vary. And the visa process will not happen overnight. Forms, medical certificates and other notarized evidence are likely to be requested.

As soon as you accept a position, you and your organisation must be proactive about starting the visa process.


11. Take Less Than What You Think

Even if your organisation offers to ship all your stuff, we’d recommend packing as little as possible. Don’t let stuff weigh you down!

You’ll often rent or are provided furnished accommodation, and it’s a lot easier than having to pack, move and track all your belongings.

Channel minimalism.


12. How Will You Get Around

Driving? Be driven? Have access to public transport?

Safety and security procedures from your new employer will guide how you’ll get around. But get ahead of the curve and research things like how long it takes to get a local driver’s license. What’s the Uber situation like? And even basic road rules that vary from your home country.

Deploying overseas takes careful preparation, and this, of course, is just a short list of to-dos.

If you’re truly contemplating international work, be sure to do the research - on the country and organisation - and talk to others who’ve made the move before you.

But the hard work is worth it.

Got the courage to tackle complex change? Register now.

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