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Traditionally, emigration was a lifelong commitment to settle in a land far away for a chance of a better life.
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About the book
Traditionally, emigration was a lifelong commitment to settle in a land far away for a chance of a better life. These days, there are as many reasons as there are individuals. Whether love, money, opportunity, or career move, the actual step of packing up your belongings – or leaving them behind – and venturing into unknown lands, to survive in a different culture, requires a solid dose of courage and at least as much preparation. This very sensible concise guide addresses the issues that arise when moving abroad in an admirably clear manner. A version for EU nationals is also available.
Traditionally, emigration was a life-long commitment to settle in a land far away for a chance of, or at least hope for, a better life. These days, there are as many reasons as there are individuals. Sometimes it is love, other times money that feeds the drive. Or adventure. Escape. For some, a few years spent abroad improves the chances of advancing their professional growth. It may even be a prerequisite for their further career. Others follow a dream, grab an opportunity, or just “give it a shot”. Whatever your motive may be, the actual step to pick up your belongings -or leave them behind- and move abroad, to survive in a different culture, requires a solid dose of courage and at least as much preparation. You are, after all, leaving your comfort zone.
There are many issues you must prepare for before you leave. Some are of a general nature; others are specific to the country where you want to settle. Yet others pertain to work or the employer you will work for. Your new country may well turn out to be very different from what you anticipated. That idyllic holiday island might have been wonderful for a vacation but it is another thing to actually live there, to be part of the local fabric on a daily basis. Your company may have placed you at a prestigious post and given you a coveted title, but once you interact with local customs on a daily basis you may discover that the global network you are part of has local flavors which you are unprepared for.
Nobody seems to like administrative hassles. However, even though it is sometimes tempting to just pack up and go, neglecting certain administrative requirements can have serious repercussions a few years down the line. In addition to learning about the country, its language (or at least the basics) and its culture you need to obtain certain documents. Needless to say that each certificate, permit, registration or filing comes at a price, namely fees. Sometimes these can be charged to a credit card; elsewhere a check or cash is the only accepted method of payment. Some authorities may require certified checks, drafts, pre-registered payments, vouchers, stamps or other financial instruments you have never heard of. Somehow, they all involve waiting in at least one queue, somewhere, between 9:30 and 11:30… except on the day you had planned. As in: be prepared.
Other considerations pertain to family and housing. Your accompanying partner and children are often limited in their activities abroad. Some countries do not recognize partnerships other than registered marriages. And, of course, you have to work. Find work. Perform under the constraints of a different culture. Or, even more challenging, motivate staff that is not used to your culture and work ethos. No matter how you look at it, you look at it from your perspective, yet “they” are looking at it from their perspective – and very legitimately so.
Finally, this book calls for an exit strategy. The possibility that you return home is often disregarded. Occasionally returning home prematurely, or at all, is considered a failure. However, unforeseen circumstances do occur. During your absence life in your home country has, of course, evolved as well.
“You”, of course, means yourself and each accompanying member of your family, each separately. Every year dozens of families are separated because of neglected or ignored formalities. Under no circumstance may you assume that the relevant authorities conclude on their own volition that you and your family are an entity. Whenever you deal with official documents the rule of thumb is that official paperwork is only valid for the person whose signature is at the bottom of the form, or whose names are explicitly printed on that very same paper. Your family members may be entitled to certain rights, but if they don’t apply for them they don’t “get” them.
This book aims to provide you with information on handling these myriad details and help you to prepare for your journey. As each situation, each person and each country is unique this book cannot provide legal, financial or any other form of personal advice. Instead, it purports to prepare you for what you can expect and what may affect you before, during and after living and working abroad. On several occasions you may decide to seek advice that is tailored to your personal situation, both in the country you are a citizen of and the country where you will settle.
The European distinctions are at times substantially different from working in other parts of the world. For European nationals who enjoy the benefits of free movement within “Europe” a sister book on Working Abroad is freely available at
About the Author
2. Before You Leave
2.1 Basic Understanding of Culture and Language
2.2 Income Tax
2.3 Other taxes
2.4 Social Security
2.5 Frontier Workers
2.6.1 Immunizations and Examinations
2.7.1 Unregistering at the Registry Offices
2.7.2 Drivers’ License
2.7.3 Military Service
3. Required Documentation
3.1 Identification and Permits
3.1.2 Residence Permit
3.1.3 Work Permit
3.2 Additional Work Documentation
3.2.1 Diploma Recognition
3.2.2 Recognition of Professional Experience
3.3 Lost Documents and Proof of Existence
3.4 Dual Citizenship
3.5 Voting Abroad
4. Upon Arrival
4.1.1 Registering with the Foreign Police
4.1.2 Registering with the Registry Offices
4.1.3 National Identification Numbers
4.1.4 Registration with Consulate or Embassy
4.1.5 Informing Family and Friends
4.2.1 Buying Property...
4.2.2 ... or Renting
4.2.4 Domestic Help
4.3 Notes on Moving and Shipping
4.3.1 Shipping and Insurance
4.3.2 Electric and Electronic Devices
4.3.3 Bringing Your Car Along
4.4 Assistance Abroad
5. Culture Shock
6. Job Search
6.1 Type of Employer
6.1.1 International Organizations
6.1.2 Non-Governmental Organizations
6.1.3 Private Sector
6.1.4 International Commute
6.1.5 Employment in the Public Sector
6.1.6 Study and Work
6.2 Searching for Work Abroad
6.2.1 Searching Abroad from Home
6.2.2 Job Boards
6.2.3 Social Networks
6.2.4 Going There
6.2.5 Agencies and Recruiters
6.2.6 Employer Sponsored Permits
6.2.7 Continuing Education
6.3 Applying for Jobs Abroad
6.3.1 Cover Letters and CVs or Résumés
6.3.2 Applying On-Line
6.3.3 The Interview
6.3.4 Before You Accept
7.1 Banks and Payment Systems
7.1.1 Current and Domestic Bank
7.1.2 Currency Restrictions
7.1.3 Alternative Wire Systems
7.1.4 Paying with Cards and Electronic Wallets
7.2.1 Health Insurance
7.2.2 Other Insurances
8.1 Spouses and Partners
8.1.1 Marriage Recognition and Domestic Partnership
8.1.2 Marriage Dissolution Abroad
8.2.1 Children and school
8.2.2 Childbirth Abroad
8.2.3 Adoption and Custody
8.3 Wills or Testaments
8.4 Death Abroad
9.1 Voluntary Return
9.3 Illegal Souvenirs
About the Author
August G. Minke, Esq. holds degrees of Masters in Law (LL.M.) from Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands and from Pace University in White Plains, USA, where he also obtained a Certificate in International Law. Of Dutch and Belgian descent he grew up both in the Netherlands and in Belgium, as well as in Indonesia. In addition to his consulting, Mr. Minke has lectured on cross-cultural aspects of conducting business and occasionally serves as a resource for expatriate cross-cultural trainings for companies such as Berlitz. He is the author of a Dutch book on working abroad titled “Werken in het Buitenland”, ISBN 978-87-7061-084-3. (http://bookboon.com/nl/studie/carriere/werken-in-het-buitenland).
Mr. Minke is an independent advisor to European companies establishing presence in the United States and also works with U.S. law firms involved in international litigation with European parties or aspects. He has worked as a corporate lawyer and business manager in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, and briefly worked for the Dutch immigration services, before moving to the United States. Initially based in New York City currently operates from Newport Beach, California.
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Allen C. Maury ★★★★★
Great thing about the material is that it is complete that it has even covered the aspect - family. Anyone who has a great interest in working abroad must read this. A great guide.