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International Relocation: The Ultimate Guide

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International moves let multinational corporations make the most of their human resources and strengthen their operations in different parts of the world. Just as these organizations strive to place the right people in the right location, they must also partner with the right type of relocation provider with networks and knowledge in international relocations. Relocating employees internationally calls for a higher level of expertise in areas such as logistics, culture, government, and planning.

Professional corporate relocation providers with global networks offer several benefits to their clients’ relocating employees thanks to their wide range of international moving services, cutting-edge technology, and extensive experience. Those responsible for relocating these employees must understand the tools and services provided by global relocation providers with whom they may collaborate to ensure successful relocation experiences for their employees.

What Services Can Global Relocation Companies Provide?

Keep in mind that not all of the below services are exclusive to international moving. A few of these options are also available for domestic employee relocations. When similar services are used internationally, however, they are tailored to the specific region, culture, and language of the given relocation.

Cultural Training

Providers offer a range of cultural training services for overseas moves, often in collaboration with a specialized firm hired by your relocation agency. These services are typically provided before an employee relocates to a new country to ensure they have the necessary cultural knowledge and skills to be successful upon arrival.

Utilizing these services can reduce the internal administrative effort required to provide your relocating staff with the necessary attention and training. These programs are taught in different ways, in half-day or full-day segments, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as:

  • An average day in the host country
  • Managing travel and culture shock
  • Cultural impact on society, history, religion, and government
  • How culture affects daily life
  • Business etiquette training
  • Social etiquette and cultural norms
  • Understanding the general attitudes and values of the foreign country
  • Local holidays, education, and traditions
  • Etiquette, gift-giving, and dining experience
  • How to overcome language barriers
  • Host country “dos and don’ts”
  • Gender roles in key aspects of business life

Language Training

As with most professional relocations, your employee will have a dedicated consultant to plan their training sessions. Depending on the company’s policies, consultants can set up language classes for the relocating worker and their family members. Similarly to the cultural training sessions, language courses are typically provided by independent expert firms with which your relocation company has partnered.

While most lesson plans are standard, language training specialists can customize their classes to meet the specific requirements of relocating employees and their families. Initial and continuing assessments are conducted to ensure that those learning a new language begin at the proper level and advance correctly to accomplish their learning goals. It is possible to provide language services in either the country of origin, destination country, or online.

Help with Relocation and Employment for Spouses

Spouses and partners of relocated employees often receive assistance with job searching and settling in from major relocation providers. As with culture and language training, accredited global suppliers and partner companies may assist spouses and partners in job searches and acclimation. There are three basic types of support for relocating employees’ spouses and partners:

1. Transition Counseling and Assistance

This includes regular counseling sessions to address any challenges or worries the spouse or partner may have during the relocation process. These counseling services are backed up by community research to locate services and social and recreational activities and connect the spouse or partner with charitable and volunteer activities.

2. Support During the Job Search

This includes assistance to the partner or spouse of a relocating employee in securing employment in their new country. Interview preparation, goal-setting, wage expectations, and practicing answers to challenging interview questions are all part of the package.

Training is just one component of a comprehensive job-search aid program; partners may also receive assistance in crafting a resume and cover letter, with ongoing feedback. The partner organization of your relocation provider may also offer support for job search through role-playing preparation, debriefing, post-interview assessment, and pay negotiations.

3. Career Guidance

This option has the same basic services as the “Job Search Assistance” option, plus extra help figuring out the partner’s background, goals, concerns, and timelines. The job search support is ongoing, and a professional consultant keeps the transferring employee’s spouse or partner updated with relevant new information.

Partner or spouse will also receive assistance in locating and expanding professional networks, contacts, referrals, and access to networking opportunities at important events. To jumpstart the partner’s success, introductory contacts are provided from the outset.


Dealing with the complexity of immigration, including expatriation and repatriation, is one of the key challenges distinguishing international relocations from domestic relocations. Repatriation is the process of returning to and resettling in one’s native country after living abroad, while expatriation is the process of leaving one’s home country, whether temporarily or permanently.

Relocation providers can manage the entire visa and immigration process. They often use an in-house immigration expert in cooperation with other preferred providers to deliver a wide range of services to their client’s relocating employees, such as:

  • Case management/authorization
  • Evaluations and counseling
  • Collection of relevant documents
  • Translating, notarizing, and apostilling documents
  • Visa preparation, work permit, international driving permit, or residency permit applications (including renewals) for the employee and their family
  • Permit and visa status tracking
  • Managing home and host country processes, such as consular processing, residence authorizations, social security, tax registrations, and police or town hall registrations
  • Terminating or deregistering residency permits
  • Informing the client company’s business management on all key issues
  • Visa, permit, and residency document expiration tracking

International Settling-In

Your relocating employees and their families will greatly appreciate the “international settling-in” services your relocation company provides. Destination service specialists are employed by the provider company or a reputable international partner. Depending on the needs of the employee and the requirements of the company’s relocation policy, these experts will spend anywhere from one to three days giving the relocating worker a comprehensive tour of the neighborhoods, communities, amenities, and attractions.

In addition, destination service specialists inform the relocating family of essential facts about local cultures, social norms, expat organizations, and other things to help them settle in. The area tour stops depend on each employee’s requirements assessment, but they generally include the following:

  • Medical and Emergency 
  • Shopping
  • Place of Worship
  • Parks and recreation
  • Cultural
  • Transportation
  • General

Aside from local tours and support in the host country, the consultant usually gives the employee access to a web-based information resource that covers all major aspects of life in their new location. Employees are also provided a “welcome package” that addresses essential family concerns such as sports, organizations, youth groups, and school options.

Repatriation Assistance: Help in Returning to and Resettling in the Home Country

While relocation businesses provide varied levels of repatriation help, they can accommodate companies’ diverse needs for talent repatriation by collaborating with trustworthy global partners. Some relocation providers offer a one- or two-day program designed to help returning employees adjust to life in their home country and deal with any potential shifts in perspective brought on by their time abroad.

Any cultural changes that an employee’s home country may have undergone while they were away, as well as other important aspects of the repatriating employee’s stay abroad, are explored here. The repatriation program focuses on the value, attitude, and behavioral differences between the countries involved in specific repatriation and provides an action plan to ensure the smoothest possible reassimilation. This program can also evaluate the employee’s time overseas and how it has benefited their career and, as a result, your organization.

By recognizing and then using the employee’s newly acquired skills and knowledge, repatriation assistance programs like these ensure that your organization realizes a reward for the cost of the employee’s assignment. Employees who have worked abroad often decide to leave their jobs a year or two after returning home.

Therefore, businesses should prioritize careful repatriations to get their money’s worth. Experts found through professional relocation providers may help companies with two important tasks: evaluating their assignment data and developing a repatriation program to prevent talent loss.

Home Sale Programs

Selling a property while preparing for an international move might strain your relocating talent, diverting even more of their attention away from their professional tasks. The stress of coordinating with a real estate agent, making repairs, and selling a home within a specified time limit may be enough to deter top talent from accepting assignments abroad.

By placing the responsibility of selling an employee’s home on the shoulders of the relocation provider, you can increase the likelihood that home-owning employees will accept an international assignment.

There are various home sale programs, each with its mix of risk and pricing modalities. Most of them are common cost-plus home sale programs. However, many big relocation providers have recently begun offering fixed-fee house sale packages, which may be more appealing to your company depending on your relocation needs.

Companies that choose fixed-fee home sales pay a single fee to the relocation provider per home sale, streamlining the budgeting and accounting processes. Fixed fee programs also move the client company’s burden of owning unsold inventory to the relocation provider, minimizing the client company’s tax liability.

International Relocation of Household Goods

Household goods moving is commonly included in the services offered by global relocation companies. These firms can put their customers in touch with reputable, experienced movers who provide competitive rates and seamless international transport.

Such movers have the experience, resources, and infrastructure their client companies require to give their employees a smooth, transparent, and predictable relocation. Major household goods movers with established global reach typically provide the following features and benefits:

1. Cost Control

Working with international household goods movers is beneficial because of their ability to provide excellent relocation service at a reasonable price. One way they achieve this is by leveraging their size and extensive networks to offer preferential service and pricing to their clientele. These companies may also help your relocating employees regarding the best shipping containers, the most cost-effective ways to transport their belongings, and which items might not be worth the trouble.

2. Expert Packing

Your employee can relax knowing that their belongings have been packed, handled, and transported with the utmost care. Professional movers always use new packing tape and other quality materials, wrap fragile items individually, and accurately label shipping containers for your employees. The shipment is then double-wrapped and placed in a crate to protect the contents. For your relocating worker, this means less worry and fewer problems when they arrive at their new location.

3. Industry-leading Tracking

Tracking is especially important when shipping internationally. During the major stages of the move, your relocating employee and their family will be able to track their shipment. When long distances are involved, they must have the information necessary to plan for the shipment’s arrival.

4. Options for Containerized Shipping and Transportation

As indicated in the cost control section, there are alternatives for the type of containers used for the shipment and the mode of transport available to deliver the product to its final destination. Relocating employees can trust their relocation consultant to help them choose the finest containers and shipping choices for their needs and budget. For air shipments, wooden or corrugated containers are employed, and for ocean shipments, weatherproof wooden lift vans and steel steamship containers are available.

5. Full Valuation and Protection Plans

Moving companies will do their best to deliver your employees’ belongings without incident, but accidents do happen. Reputable international movers provide full appraisal and various protection options to address such concerns.

Your relocating employee will feel more secure knowing that their belongings have been fully valued in case of loss or damage. Relocating employees work with the moving company to determine the appropriate shipment coverage level based on the information provided in their valued inventory form. The employee is then reimbursed for the full replacement cost of the lost, stolen, or damaged item.

Storage protection plans are exclusive to international relocations and give additional coverage while the shipment is held in customs. If your employee is moving their car, they can also get transit protection coverage to cover any potential losses should anything happen to the vehicle during transit.

6. Knowledge of International Trade Procedures

When looking for the best international moving company for your organization’s relocations, ask if the moving firm is a C-TPAP member. The United States Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAP) assures that its member companies follow high safety and security standards, which are enforced through audits, on-site visits, and examinations. C-TPAP membership speeds up customs clearance, saving time and money on customs storage fees.


Relocating abroad is a significant life event for your employees and a strategic business decision. Using a trustworthy relocation partner and its broad networks of immigration specialists, household goods moving suppliers, cultural experts, language instructors, and others allows your company to get the right talent in the right places without burdening your relocating employees or internal resources.

More importantly, global relocation policies and the benefits you provide to relocating employees can give you a competitive advantage in today’s highly competitive talent market. Choosing a reliable corporate relocation partner with international experience can pave the way for more efficient relocations, more satisfied and dedicated workers, a more positive acclimation process, and a greater return on investment.