step by step - expatriation

preparing

Relocation is the idea of moving a person, a firm, from one place to another. Relocation services are the services specialized in helping firms and employees from one place to another.

This section will focus on family relocation. Therefore, whether you organize the relocation internally or through an outside firm, you will be able to familiarize yourself with some of the elements to be taken care of: housing, administrative papers (visa, work permit, etc), schools for children, search for a job for the spouse, having the employee learn the host language…

Relocation companies can provide services directly to the families, or employers who will then pay for services provided to their employees expatriated. For practical reasons (i.e. knowledge of the local rental market), many relocation companies work on a small market (i.e. only Paris or only Ile-de-France, only London area, etc) but they can work with other agencies in the country.

In this section, we will try to provide the maximum information on different aspects of relocation, allowing you to make a better choice in the type of relocation services you want for your employees.

Formalities tied to moving abroad

There are numerous formalities to complete when moving abroad. Your tranquility and that of your employee will depend partly on how properly these formalities have been completed. These formalities can be completed either by the employee or by a relocation company. Either way, we recommend that you provide your employees’ with a list of formalities that they need to complete before departing. You will below a non-exhaustive list of these formalities :
Lease cancellation
If the employee rents his apartment in the home country and does not wish to keep this apartment during his assignment, he needs to inform the owner of his departure. In France, if the request to leave the home location is for professional reasons (i.e. at the request of the employer), the employee can inform his owner one month ahead of his departure, rather than the regular three months as per French law. For this reason, certain expatriates will request an “attestation de mutation” which is a document signed by the employer confirming that, at your request, the employee was asked to move.
Change of addresses with the administrations
The expatriate must inform the different administrations of his change of address: tax, social security, private health insurer, etc). The French administration has put a service online which allows the expatriate to inform many different administrations simultaneously (https://mdel.mon.service-public.fr)

This site allows to inform the tax authorities, different social services (health, retirement, unemployment agencies, etc), national administration, the post-office, EDG and GDF of your change of address.
Inform family and friends of change of address
It is recommended to inform the post-office of your change of address and request that your mail be forwarded to you wherever you are in the world.
Schools
Families must inform the different children’s schools of their departure.
Membership cancellation
The expatriate must remember to cancel all his memberships in the home or host location (i.e. television, phone, internet, club, magazines, etc).
Bank accounts
The expatriate must inform his bank of his change of address and possibly, his change of residency. It is often even better if the expatriate can meet face-to-face with his banker. Indeed, this will provide time for the banker to explain clearly the consequences of the change of residency status and the obligations the expatriate will have from now on. Finally, certain accounts may have to be closed upon your departure from France.

Moving

In general, when an employer requests from one of its employees that he moves abroad, the moving expenses are at the expense of the employer. For this reason, it is necessary to set the budget and the volumetric limits of the move. Since you can set the volumetric limits depending on the number of family members of the employee, the duration of the assignment and the destination, it is possible for the employer to obtain different fee quotes from different companies.
Moving fee quotes
In France, when you sign a moving fee quote from a moving company, note that this fee quote is similar to signing a contract. Therefore, both examples of the quote need to be signed and in case of extra expense, you need to make an addendum to the contract. The final bill needs to amount to the quote first provided, along with any addendum to this fee quote.
General moving conditions
It is suppose to clarify the responsibilities and the obligations of each party. This part needs to be clearly explained to the expatriate, in order for the employer to not become a replacement to the moving company if there is any problem.
Declaring the value
The value declared will be the basis when calculating any indemnity in case of a theft or damages. It is the expatriate’s responsibility to declare the value since it represents the employee’s personal wealth. Therefore and in order to respect the privacy of the employee, the employer needs to make sure that the employee understands the importance of this section to avoid having to intervene.
The letter recapitulating the move
The moving company needs to provide you this letter, which must include the breakdown of all the stops and confirms that the move is over. This letter must be signed twice: once at the beginning of the move (i.e. giving therefore the go ahead to the moving company) and at the end of the move to confirm the end of the move.

This letter will also allow the moving company to justify why it is in possession of these goods during the move in case of questions being asked by the custom’s authorities. Finally, it will be used in case the employee needs to be reimbursed for any damage or theft.

Housing

When expatriating an employee, it is important for both the employee and the employer to have the employee be working at his full capacity as quickly as possible.

This is the reason why calling on a relocation company to assist the employee can be helpful. These relocation companies choose apartments based on the employee’s requests prior to his arrival, plan visits for the employee and once the apartment has been chosen, handle the lease, getting electricity, telephone line, etc.

The apartments will be chosen based on the employees’ neighborhood request, number of family members, etc. A good relocation company can help an employee find an apartment within a day at very competitive prices (between 1,500 and 2,000 euros per day). These visits are often made when the employee makes his first trip to visit the host location.

For more details, please go to the section Housing/utilities on the page The expat’s package.

Schools

The type of schools available to the employee’s children, as well as the quality of these schools, are key elements for the employee. Often an expatriation will not take place if the children can not be guaranteed to go to schools in proper conditions in the host location.

Relocation agencies also propose as part of their services to research and enroll children in schools. It is important to ask for their assistance if your employee is going on assignment in a host location where there are already a great number of expatriates. The reason for this is that demand is high and waiting lists are long. Indeed, these relocation agencies have often contacts within the schools and therefore, may be able to obtain a spot where the employee alone could not.

For the expatriates who wish to have their children in a French school once abroad, you can find all the information you need on this website of the Agence pour l'enseignement français à l'étranger.

For more details, you can go on the section “schools” of the page the expat’s package.

Medical visit

A medical visit prior to the employee’s departure is an obligation. It is possible to have this medical visit at work through the work doctor or “medical doctor”. However, it is recommended that the employee meets with a doctor in a specialized medical clinic if the employee goes to an exotic location. For example, in Paris and Montpellier, you can contact CMETE.

Specialized medical clinics make sure that the employee and its family members are apt to working outside of France, inform them about the health risks and the precautions to take, the vaccines needed, etc.

By going through a specialized medical clinic, you also assure yourself, as an employer, that you have properly informed your employee of the health risks in the host country.

However, if your firm is situated in a small city or if the employer does not want to generate extra expenses by sending its employee to a specialized medical clinic, it is possible to either see the work doctor or the doctor the employee generally consults.

Certain host countries will also request that the employee go through a medical visit upon the arrival of the employee. Therefore, do not be surprised if the medical visit the employee went through in the home location is not recognized in the host location.

A relocation agency can take care of making these appointments. However, internally, these meetings can often be organized quite easily.

First visit abroad

The first visit abroad is usually recommended to expatriates that head to host locations exotic and far away from the home location. This visit is usually done by the employee and its spouse, allowing both of them to have a sense of what kind of place is the host location and make a decision about whether or not they want to move to the host location.

Therefore, it is recommended that this trip be properly organized with clear goals set. You will find below a list of things to be done during that visit (this list is not exhaustive):

- meet with the direct superior of the employee in the host location ;

- meet with the host HR ;

- meet with other expatriates to get to know the host location ;

- visit of the city, its neighborhoods, the region, etc. ;

- Visit the housing locations found by the relocation agency ;

- Visit the school and its headmaster if possible.

Immigration

Immigration is an obligation before any departure from or to France.

We will try to inform you of the main obligations in France and abroad. However, because each country has its own obligations, which can change depending on the nationality of the expatriate, we will be unable to go through each immigration rule.

To start, lets mention that employees of the European community, when sent to work in another country of the European community, do not have to go through immigration. This is due to the fact that one of the main principles applicable in the European community is the free traveling of citizens of the European community. This rule also applies to citizens of the European Economic Area.
Sending an employee outside the European community
Each country has its own immigration legislation depending on the home location of the expatriate’s and the length of the expatriate’s assignment.

A country can require the following documents upon arrival on its soil :

- Business visa (short assignment, less then three months for example) ;
- Short term or long term visa ;
- Work permit ;
- Working visa.

Once again this list is not exhaustive.

Certain countries can also request the following documents prior to the employee’s arrival on its soil, such as :

- A certain level of education ;
- Compensation level ;
- Proof that a local citizen could not have done the same work ;
- Work contract with a local company ;
- A portion of the compensation needs to be paid in the host location.

Certain additional documents may be necessary for the employee’s family members such as :
- Passports ;
- Birth certificate ;
- Etc.

You will be able to find the immigration obligations on each country’s foreign ministry website.

Careful the consequences of not handling properly immigration formalities can have serious consequences (financial, legal, etc). These consequences can impact the employee and the host company.

Finally, remember that these immigration formalities are obligatory to any departure abroad.
Other official documents
It is important to remind the expatriate that along with his immigration papers, he must also bring the following documents to the host location:

- National identity card ;
- Valid passport ;
- International driving permit;
- Voting card.

Relocation agencies can also assist in obtaining these documents. These agencies are very useful especially if the employee is already in the host location and has difficulties in obtaining certain documents.