Guide to Relocating Employees Overseas

Relocating employees abroad can be a huge benefit to both the business and the individual. However, international relocation can be complex, so its essential that the right steps are taken for it to be undertaken successfully. In this comprehensive guide, we explore how a business can best relocate employees overseas, so everyone can reap the rewards.

Why might a company relocate employees?

There can be many reasons why a company would need to relocate an employee or multiple employees abroad. A business might want to relocate employees if they have an office abroad that has a skill shortage in a certain area. If local recruitment has been unsuccessful, relocating existing employees could be the solution. Or perhaps an employee has specific knowledge and experience that will be needed in an overseas office.

A business might relocate an employee on the individual’s request. An employee might want to move abroad for financial or lifestyle reasons – if the business has an office in the country they want to move to, it can be a way of retaining good talent to relocate them rather than have them resign.

Benefits of relocating employees overseas

A business can benefit from relocating employees in various ways. Although there will be a price involved with relocation, often the rewards can outweigh the costs.

Skill and knowledge sharing

Relocating an existing employee means you can utilise their specific skillset, knowledge, and experience. Rather than employing new talent that might not have the necessary experience, you can simply relocate an individual to the office that needs their skills. They will then be able to pass on their knowledge to the employees in that location. This can be especially helpful if the business is setting up a new office abroad. The extra support can ensure everything goes smoothly.

Recruitment and retention

Offering relocation opportunities can also help with employee recruitment and retention. A business that has offices across the globe could be extremely attractive to an individual, especially those who want to travel and network internationally. As stated, relocation can be a huge benefit if an employee want to move abroad, as the business can keep them on the team and the individual can achieve their dream of living overseas. Employees who are more satisfied are generally more productive, engaged, and committed to their role.

Business expansion

Having a robust employee relocation programme in place can allow for further business growth in other locations across the world. The business will be able to capitalise on their existing team’s skillset and expand internationally, ultimately leading to increased profits.

Challenges of relocating employees overseas

There are a few challenges that will arise when a business relocates employees abroad, but they can all be negated with proper planning and support.

Employment law

One challenge is that employment law varies from country to country. An individual who is used to UK employment law may balk at some USA employment law, for example, that employees in the US are not entitled to paid holiday. This problem can be reduced by ensuring the employee knows what their contract will be before they commit to moving.

Reluctant employees

Another challenge can be when a business needs to relocate an employee but that employee is reluctant to move. Ideally, a business will only ask employees who are happy to move abroad to do so, as it will have such a huge impact on their life. A business can help to make the case for relocation by making the process as simple as possible.

The business should cover the moving expenses and also assist with finding suitable accommodation for the employee and their family. This could even include finding education for children who will be moving with the employee.

Good employee benefits and compensation can help to encourage an employee to move abroad. This could include not only pay, but an attractive career path, as well as extra benefits such as international medical insurance for the individual and their dependents. 

Relocation costs

Relocating an employee can be costly. When a business has requested an employee to relocate, it will typically need to cover their moving costs, including flights, accommodation, and perhaps moving their personal belongings if they will be moving on a long-term basis. However, when an employee has made the request to move abroad, the business has no obligation to cover their costs.

There may also be extra costs associated with supporting an employee overseas, such as school fees for their children, and language lessons so they can learn the local language.

What to consider when relocating employees abroad

There are several key factors to consider when a business is relocating employees overseas.


Getting the right visas in place is essential. Each country will have different processes and systems for applying for working visas. In many locations, a working visa can be applied for by a local business on behalf of the individual – if your business has an office operating in that country, this could be the best option.

This is generally a good way of ensuring a successful application, as the business will act as a sponsor for the individual. It will also make the process simple for the employee, which can be of benefit if it is the business that has requested the move.

The business may be responsible for monitoring the visa and ensuring it’s kept updated. A lot of working visas are only valid for a period of time, i.e. one or two years, after which they can be renewed.


An individual moving overseas to work will have tax implications, that will vary depending on the country they’re relocating to. Sometimes, they may need to pay tax in the new country as well as their original country of residence.

A business can help to streamline the process by offering guidance and advice on how the employee should be paying tax, to ensure they’re compliant. Local tax law can differ hugely, so it’s important that the business and the individual know exactly what is expected from them to avoid fines.

Local employment laws

As stated, each country will have different employment laws. Your employee will typically need to sign a new contract to ensure the business is compliant with the laws of the country they are moving to.

If the business already has an office in the location, there will already be contracts following local laws that you can use for the individual who is relocating. The contract may need to be tweaked so it is relevant to the specific employee’s situation, including any benefits that they will receive as part of their relocation package.

Relocation plan

A business should have a detailed relocation plan in place for employees. This should set out the exact roadmap for moving abroad to work, so the employee knows what to expect. The roadmap should include everything from the initial moving plan to the goals and aims that the business expects from the employee once they’re set up in the new location.

The business should ensure an open line of communication with the employee. People will undoubtedly have questions and concerns, especially if they are moving with dependents. They should have ample opportunity to discuss their lifestyle needs, such as preferred type of accommodation and schooling for children.

Your company relocation plan shouldn’t end when the individual has moved. They may require ongoing support to help them settle into a new life and new culture abroad, as well as keeping productive in a new working environment.

How to support your employees when relocating them abroad

There are various ways that a business can provide ongoing support for employees who are relocating overseas.


The company can offer training to the employee/s who will be relocating. This can include everything they might need to know about living and working in the new location.

You could organise language lessons, so they have an understanding of the language before they move. You could also pass on information about day-to-day things such as local cuisine, climate, and local customs.

As mentioned, you should ensure there is an open line of communication with the employee. You should discuss with them their specific needs, especially regarding accommodation and the needs of their dependents, such as education for children.

They should know what will be expected of them in a work capacity once they move overseas. Having clear goals will make the transition much easier and give them a clear focus. Even so, you should expect to give employees some time to settle into their new home and new role overseas before they start producing results.

Once relocated

Employees will undoubtedly need ongoing support once they’ve moved and are set up in their new home. They may experience culture shock and homesickness, but there is plenty a business can do to support their employees through this.

Establishing a welcoming company culture in every office can help to ensure employees can settle in quickly. The business can organise social events for both local employee and relocated employees, so everyone can get to know each other in a more informal setting.

It may be helpful to appoint someone in the office to be on-hand to assist relocated employees with local laws and customs. Having one point of contact for people to go to if they have questions about local systems can be a huge help and ease the pressure of learning new laws and customs.

Expatriate Group is an expert in international healthcare. We provide international health insurance for expats all around the globe, including working abroad insurance specifically designed for corporate clients.

You can get a quote online today, view our plans, or contact us for more information.

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