Last update on March 11, 2019

It’s up to you to get the best deal for your family and career when it’s time to repatriate. There are a few tips to aid a successful repatriation into your work environment.

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?

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 realise it but your expectations have also changed. In order to be content when you return home, you need to negotiate a repatriation package with your employer.

The plain truth is that your company has invested a lot in you. On the 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 global era, employers are realising that repatriation issues need to be addressed if they don’t want you to take your new skill set to another company, a frequent problem with repatriated employees.

Returning home: repatriation

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 your 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 skill sets, 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: the change in cost of living and the change in responsibilities.

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

Cost of living

While overseas, you may have gotten use to a very 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 third world country after living in a first world 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 buy a car (or two).

Possible negotiation points: interest-free loans or loans at favourable rates to buy a house, car or for other living expenses; assistance for re-housing; free meals in the company restaurant.

Family benefits

Keep in mind that the whole family is affected. If your spouse or partner has a job in the host country or has started a business, this will have an impact on family relations and finances. If your children have been attending a private or international school, you may want them to continue enjoying the benefits of this level of education.

Returning home: repatriation

Possible negotiation points: cost covered or partially covered for children’s education at private or international school; help to get a scholarship (including private tutoring if necessary); support for the spouse to find work; compensation for the loss of your spouse’s income.


You may have a partial tax year in each of two countries and deductions to consider, such as relocation expenses, buying a house and education. You will probably need tax assistance. If possible, you may want to consider ending your contract in sync with tax periods.

Some countries allow you 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: tax consultation; tax compensation; flexible contract end date.

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: repatriation training; an assimilation period before going back to work.