Last update on April 30, 2019

It’s up to you to get the best deal for your family and career when it’s time to move back to your home country. Here are a few tips to facilitate a successful repatriation process for your career.

When you first found out that you were being transferred to work overseas, you planned very carefully for your assignment overseas. Now you are finally going back home, repatriating. You are returning to your own culture, so it will be easy, right? Surely it won’t be hard to have a successful repatriation to the country that you come from.

Well, think again. You have changed, as a person and as an employee. Your intercultural experience, language skills and exposure to other management styles and ways of doing business have added to your value as a professional. You may not realize it but your expectations have also changed. In order to be content when you return home, you need to negotiate a successful repatriation package with your employer.

The plain truth is that your company has invested a lot in you. On average, a global employee costs the employer twice as much a domestic employee. You are a valuable company asset and they don’t want to lose you. In this globalized economy, employers are realizing that repatriation issues need to be addressed. Otherwise, they risk losing your new skill set to another company, a frequent problem with repatriated employees.

A successful repatriation isn't just about moving your belongings back home

Companies with global staff often have a standard relocation package but repatriation packages are usually put together on a case-by-case basis. The more information you bring to the negotiating table, the more likely you are to walk away with a contract that meets your needs. Have the courage to ask for the benefits that are important to you; they may not be offered unsolicited. Here are some factors to consider when you negotiate a successful repatriation package.

Your role in the company

You should not be returning to your old, pre-deployment position. Your new post needs to have a similar management level and autonomy as your overseas post. You should have opportunities to use the new skills, knowledge, and networks acquired in your overseas assignments.

A key factor in the dissatisfaction of repatriated employees is feeling undervalued and unappreciated. Your new salary should take two main factors into account: changes in living costs and changes in responsibilities. Accounting for these differences increase your chances for a successful repatriation.

Possible negotiation points can include: job promotion on return; structured career path; a returning salary higher than the local going rate; or time in lieu or paid overtime (which sounds standard but is not often the case).

Cost of living

While overseas, you acclimatized to a different lifestyle and standard of living. Adapting to life back home can be difficult and frustrating. This can be especially true if you move back to a developing country after living in a highly-developed country. It can also be an unpleasant shock if you have been living in a country where your money goes far and you move back to a country where the cost of living is high. In addition to the difference in housing costs, you may need to account for expenses that you wouldn’t have done in the country you just moved from.

Possible negotiation points can include: interest-free loans or loans at favorable rates for buying a house or other living expenses; assistance for re-housing; and free meals in the company restaurant.

Family benefits

Keep in mind that repatriation affects the whole family. If your spouse or partner has a job or a business in the host country, this will have an impact on family relations, finances, and careers. If your children have been attending an international school, you may want them to continue their education at such a school upon return.

Taking the plunge: negotiating a successful repatriation is also about your family

Possible negotiation points could include: whether education costs are fully or partially covered for children at an international school; help to get a scholarship (including private tutoring if necessary); career support for your spouse; or compensation for the loss of your spouse’s income.

Taxes

You may have a partial tax year in each of the countries in question. There also may be deductions to consider, such as relocation expenses, buying a house, and educational costs. You will probably need tax assistance. If possible, you may want to consider ending your contract in sync with the taxation periods.

Some countries allow a certain number of days in the country per year without income tax obligations. You may be able to receive compensation from your company for double taxation or if the tax in your host country was higher.

Possible negotiation points here could include tax consultation, tax compensation, and flexible contract end dates.

Reverse culture shock

You and your family may want to consider repatriation training to help readjust to living in your home country and returning to your original work environment. Training can help provide a smooth transition, particularly if you have spent a long time overseas. You might also be thankful for a month or two of assimilation time to allow you to get settled in before going back to work.

Possible negotiation points can include repatriation training and an assimilation period before going back to work.