How to relocate overseas with minimum effort and still leave people amazed.
About one million Aussies are currently living overseas and working. There are various reasons why they want to do so – new job opportunities, being closer to family or a change of scenery – but no matter what the reason, you need to get your finances sorted before you arrive.
If you're moving overseas, you'll need to get your Australian money into your new overseas bank account. Rather than send it through your bank, take a look at the options below and see if you can get a better deal.
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Read more about relocating overseas
|Before you leave||Staying overseas||Banking overseas||Expert help|
Before you leave
There are certain matters that require your attention before you move overseas permanently. Let's look at some of the most important things that you need to do in order to ensure a safe entrance in the new country.
When you plan to move abroad, you should always consider purchasing an insurance plan to cover your financial risk and there is no better plan than to purchase travel insurance. If you are moving abroad because of a better job offer, confirm whether you have an insurance coverage in your employment contract. It is important for you to make sure you are covered for all the possible risks that you can face, such as damage to your luggage, interruptions to your scheduled flight plans due to bad weather condition or other technical reasons, medical expenses in case of injury, theft of your personal possessions and many other possible risks.
However, if you get injured or get severely ill, it will be very hard for you to pay your thousand dollar medical bills. So don't forget to compare the policies and make sure the plan you choose is suitable for your needs as long as you stay overseas. About a million Australians are living abroad and working in different countries around the world and being one of them, you have to be fully prepared to live overseas in order to make the relocating process less stressful.
These guidelines also give you precautions you can take while relocating overseas. Travelling abroad does not come without surprises especially if you are travelling for the first time. Whenever your plan is when relocating overseas or travelling abroad for business reasons or any other purpose, make sure you go through the travel advice for your specific destination. If you search on the internet, you will find that there are guidelines available for a variety of regions that gives you a reasonable piece of advice or tips on how to manage the risks you may face, including the legal and health issues you may face in the country you are visiting or living in.
Why you should register your travel
When there was a civil unrest in Kenya, registered Australians were frequently contacted by the Australian High Commission Staff to check how well they are doing and to offer consular support. One of the Australian families was not registered and so, had no information when the area they were residing in was attacked. As a consequence, they placed themselves at risk and had to flee across the border without any assistance from their government. If the family was registered with the Australian Government, the High Commission could include them in their coordinated evacuation plan and could have provided them a safe exit.
Being an Australian citizen, it is your duty to carry a valid passport with you at all times when you are travelling overseas. Even newborn infants should have their own passports.
Your passport is one of your most important documents and every country has different passport validity requirements. Make sure your passport is at least valid for a period of six months from your planned date of return. Moreover, keep extra passport photos with you in case your passport is lost and you need to replace it.
If you are a citizen of more than one country, you are said to hold a dual nationality. According to the rules and regulations of certain countries, you are generally offered citizenship if they marry a citizen of that country or if their grandparents or parents were born in that country.
When you plan to work in a country where you may be considered a national, it is important for you to be aware of the local laws of that country related to issues, such as child custody, military service and divorce. However, it is a wise decision to seek advice in writing with the consulate or embassy of that country in Australia.
When you relocate overseas, you should meet certain requirements in order to keep yourself on the electoral roll and hence, to avoid the fine in some cases.
For example, in Australia you are required to be registered as an overseas elector with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) if you are enrolled to vote. Depending on the state you live in, you are required to fill out separate forms. Moreover, you can also elect to remove yourself from the electoral roll while you are residing overseas. You are required to have a fixed postal address in your new country if you want to be a postal voter because you need to provide those postal details, so it may be best to wait until you have a permanent address overseas.
When you plan to relocate overseas for employment purposes, you can find yourself trapped in a situation where you are required to make superannuation or equivalent contributions twice under the legislation of both countries for the same work. To avoid this, the Australian government has bilateral social security agreements with a number of other countries that remove the issue of double superannuation for those employees who work temporarily in another country.
Before moving to another country, talk to people who have been to the country you are planning to live in about the existing health and medical conditions. It will help you familiarise yourself with the current local health issues and standards of medical care and will enable you to make a reasonable decision in case any health issue arises.
If you are looking to move overseas for an extended period of time, it is critical that you ensure you have adequate life and disability insurance in place. You may find that your current insurer is not willing to provide cover for while you are in your new country of residence. You may need to look for cover from another insurer in Australia or find an insurer in the country that you are moving to. Each insurer will have different terms and conditions for how policyholders moving overseas are covered. Cover may be impacted by:
- Country policyholder is moving to
- Period of time they intend to stay overseas
- Nature of occupation
- Legal requirements of country
Taxation is one of the most important factors that require your attention wherever you are. Being a taxpayer, you are responsible to make a regular contribution to the well-being of your nation by paying taxes regularly. You are required to settle your tax affairs when you are leaving Australia.
- If your resident status does not change and you remain an Australian resident, you must file an Australian tax return and state your worldwide income even if tax was deducted in the country where you earned your income. You will experience a lot of changes in your tax situation if your residency status changes.
- Moreover, you can file your tax return early if you plan to leave Australia permanently before the end of the financial year (30 June). But if you continue to be an Australian resident while travelling to other countries around the world, you should lodge your return online using MyTax during the normal period, from 1 July to 31 October.
- When you leave your house in Australia on a temporary basis, you can continue to treat it as your main residence for at least six years for the purpose of capital gains tax. But if you cease to be an Australian resident, it is your liability to pay capital gains tax on some of your possessions.
- In case you cancel your health insurance plan while travelling abroad, you are liable to pay Medicare levy surcharge if your income exceeds the threshold. Also, if you took a debt for higher education, it will keep on indexing each year until you pay the entire amount. However, you can choose to make voluntary repayment of the loan amount from overseas.
Quick tips for relocating overseas
- Make yourself a "moving overseas checklist" of all the things you need to do that can be access from anywhere around the world. It could be an app on your smartphone, or a file on dropbox just in case.
- Complete all the necessary paperwork at least two weeks in advance if you can. You'll need to contact the banks, superannuation funds, the Australian Tax Office and perhaps your billers.
- Travel insurance is paramount to any travel. Always protect yourself with the right policy and always read the fine print.
- Get your health check up from your local GP. Travel insurance usually doesn't cover non-emergency related events, so it's best to be prepared.
Employment conditions offered to you is a critical factor in deciding whether to accept the job offer or not. Confirm the currency you will be paid in, check if there are any restrictions on repatriating funds; make sure you have made necessary arrangements that are required to contribute to your pension or superannuation scheme. It is possible that you may face certain issues in your job when you are offered employment overseas.
You should do some research on staying overseas before accepting the offer. Once you move abroad, there is a limited assistance that can be offered by Australian consular officers if the working conditions are not as expected.
Moreover, obtain information about the local labour laws, ask people or the Human Resources team who have worked for the organisation, speak to current employees and take information about the insurance and visas you are required to take, make sure your employer pays for your accommodation or that it's organised, transportation and other basic utilities, such as telephone calls.
You should review the terms of your contract carefully and if required, have it reviewed by your legal representative before proceeding with the job offer so that you could fully understand its financial and other conditions.
Make sure you have enough funds to settle in a new country before you leave Australia. If you are relocating overseas for employment purposes, your employer may give you a settling-in allowance but it may not be paid to you for a few weeks so you'll need to rely on other funds.
When you are setting up a new home overseas, there are many expenses that you need to take into account. Try to find out what your obligations are so that you can settle down without any complication. You should also check with your new employer to see if they will pay for the relocation of your personal possessions or if they will provide you with the necessary items once you move there. Also, review the import and customs regulations to make sure if you are allowed to bring certain items to the new country you are settling in.
Also, keep in mind that you'll need to exchange your money into the right currency. You can do this and save on fees by using a money transfer company.
If you are planning to stay overseas for a longer period of time, you may want to open a bank account in that country. Banks in Australia may also recommend certain banks overseas. You should check with your bank about the ease of international money transfer between the bank accounts in Australia and the country you will be living in.
It is possible that host country may have certain restrictions that will limit the amount of fund transfer between your host country and your Australian bank accounts. It's a good idea to consult a qualified accountant or the Australian Taxation Office if you want to open a bank account overseas.
Research whether if you are required to have any health checks or vaccinations before you leave for your destination from Australia. Make an appointment with the travel clinic or your physician for a routine check up at least six weeks before your departure.
If you are travelling with medication, make sure those medicines are legally allowed in the country you will visit by contacting their foreign mission in Australia. Carry your doctor's letter detailing what the medication is, the dosage you are required to take and mentioning that it is for your personal use. Keep your medicines in its original packaging with the dosage instruction and your name clearly labelled on it.
If you pay foreign tax in another country, you become entitled to an Australian foreign income tax offset, which avoids double taxation. Some allowances may not be exempt from tax, such as living away from home allowance paid by your employer. The bilateral superannuation agreement in Australia helps avoid double superannuation coverage when you are working overseas on a temporary basis. Also, if you're a member of an organisation that is engaged in aid work or part of the Australian defence and police force, you may not have to pay tax on your income from foreign employment.
Remember that when you live abroad, you leave behind Australia's capabilities such as social security services, emergency services and medical facilities. To make your sea change less stressful, try to be as prepared as possible.
As private health funds in Australia will not offer cover when you’re overseas, there will be no need for you to continue paying your premiums. Rather than cancelling your cover altogether and then having to sign up (and possibly losing out on discounts) when you return, ask your health fund about temporarily suspending cover and then resuming it when you return.
Dave’s Driver’s Licence
When relocating overseas, it’s important that you’re aware of the driver’s licence requirements in your destination country – as Dave found out. After securing a job posting in Barcelona, Spain for two years, Dave packed up his life and relocated to his sunny new home city. With a valid NSW driver’s licence and international driver’s licence in his possession, Dave assumed he would have no problems from a legal point of view when driving on Spanish roads.
However, what Dave failed to realise was that he had six months from the date of his entry into Spain until his Australian driver’s licence was no longer valid. By law, Dave needed to get a Spanish licence by this date, but failed to do so. So when Dave was involved in a three-car prang one weekend, not only did his lack of a valid licence void his car insurance policy, but it also meant he was charged with a criminal offence for driving without a licence.
What can I do to make myself seem like a good prospective tenant to landlords in my new home country?
Before you leave Australia, it’s a great idea to contact your real estate agent and ask them for a reference. This reference can explain how you always paid your rent on time, kept the property in excellent condition and were generally an excellent tenant. A solid recommendation, even from a real estate agent on the other side of the world, can bolster your tenancy chances.
The Importance of Organising a Bank Account
Jim and John are Australian brothers who are relocating overseas, Jim to the USA and John to the UK. As the more sensible of the two, Jim has planned ahead for the move and already set up a bank account in the USA with Citibank. So when he arrives in LA, Jim can easily access the funds he needs to secure accommodation, buy a SIM card for his phone, catch a cab and even buy meals.
John, on the other hand, hasn’t even considered what lies ahead. He arrives in London with £150 in his pocket, a big chunk of which he spends on a few beers and his first night’s accommodation, and has failed to set up a bank account in advance. With insufficient funds to get a new SIM card for his phone, let alone take care of a larger transaction such as paying a rental bond, John must scrape by on a shoestring budget for days while he battles to get a new bank account set up. After a few nights sleeping on couches and eating nothing more than pot noodles, John is finally able to access the finances he needs – but he learned a valuable lesson.
What is culture shock and how might it affect me?
When you leave Australia to live in a different country, it’s natural to feel disoriented, overwhelmed, lonely and confused when you try to adapt to a new culture. If you stay overseas long enough, you could experience similar feelings of homesickness when you return to Australia.
What sort of upfront costs should I budget for when arriving overseas?
Some of the initial costs you should plan ahead for when moving overseas include rental bonds, a new computer, work clothes, maybe buying a car, and a whole range of other potential expenses depending on your needs. Working out a rough idea of these costs ahead of time can help you ensure that you have enough funds available.
How can I sort out which possessions to take with me and which ones to leave behind?
The cost involved in shipping items overseas can be a great motivator to help you decide what you really need to take with you and what can be left behind. Be ruthless with your culling and leave as many bulky items behind as possible – it will save you a sizable amount of money.
I've just relocated overseas and one of my accounts is missing. What do I do?
You'll need to get in touch with your provider to diagnose the problem. In most cases your account may have been closed due to activity. If calling your provider is not an option, in most cases they will provide an online enquiry form.
Should I relocate overseas for tax advantages?
This decision is entirely up to you. If you would like to relocate overseas to take advantage of lower tax thresholds and the lower cost of livings, then this could be an option for you.
Does relocating overseas affect my Age Pension?
This depends on how long you were an Australian resident for and whether you've met the two year rule. Please see this page for more information.
Do I have enough to retire and live overseas?
The response to this will depend on your current financial and personal situation. You'll need to see a financial adviser or planner to see if you have enough for a "comfortable" retirement overseas.
Will I be able to get a credit card when I move overseas?
Generally you can still get a credit card if you're on a temporary or working Visa in that country. Speak to your local bank to discuss your eligibility or options.
How do I open an overseas bank account?
Most banks will let you open a bank account before you arrive in the country. You can approach an international bank such as HSBC or Citibank to open an account issued by the country that you're travelling to. This can be done over the phone or visiting your local branch.
Can I take my superannuation with me?
If you can prove that you're permanently departing from Australia, you can access your super early. To do this, please speak to your superannuation provider to get the process started. Your request will then be assessed by Centrelink.