What you Need to Know About Overseas Contracts

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Finding a good job isn't just about enjoying the work you do; it's also about the employer and, crucially, the contract. The details of the contract are especially important when it comes to working overseas. Why is that the case? You're dealing with a new culture, and new people, and you stand to lose more. So, what should you be looking for in a contract with an employer in an another country?

Duties/Employment terms

This section should specify who you are responsible to and your working hours, which may include unspecified overtime. Regulations regarding payment for overtime varies from country to country, with many places expecting unpaid overtime as the norm. Employers in other countries may be strict about your out-of-work practices, such as volunteer activities, private work and your place in the community. Read the section about 'breaking the contract' carefully to see what is expected of you both in and out of work.


 In this section, look out for such things as the currency of your salary, and that your salary is commensurate with the local cost of living. You may also want to negotiate for a fixed exchange rate to the currency of your native country, which takes out the problem of fluctuating markets. Your employer should be willing to help you set up a bank account. See also 'Income Tax/Pensions' (below). 

Passages/Relocation expenses 

An international move can be seriously expensive, especially if your family is moving with you. It's usual for your employer to offer some level of reimbursement for relocation expenses. If your contract is on a fixed term then try to get your return expenses reimbursed as well. Other issues to think about here include cultural lessons and language training for you and your family if necessary.

Commencement/length of contract 

The logistics of an international move can take a long time to plan. So, check that the specified start date is reasonable and ask for help if needed. Also, beware of the penalties if your contract is terminated – will your relocation expenses still be paid for? What constitutes a breaking of the contract from the employers' perspective? What are the stipulations regarding working for other companies after your contract ends?

Income Tax/Pension

 Some countries have a reciprocal arrangement with the UK when it comes to taxes, but for other countries you will be liable to paying tax in the UK and abroad. It depends on your location and on the length of your contract. You also need to consider your pension. What will happen to your current pension scheme? Does your new employer offer a pension? If you leave the country after a specific period, will your pension payments be repaid? Get all the information you can from your employer, and do your own research too.


Moving to another country often requires that you obtain a visa. Having a job does not guarantee that you will procure a visa. Check your contract for the details of immigration assistance for you and your family, and keep your visa renewal in mind too. Visa applications can take a long time, so this is another thing to factor into your date of commencement.

Education allowance 

If children are involved, will your employer pay for or assist with educational fees? Attending an international school can be costly, so make sure that this is stipulated in your contract. You may also need private language lessons. Many employers will provide such training for foreign staff.


 In order to ease your transition, employers in other countries may provide accommodation. If so, your rental agreement and rental period will be tied up with your work contract, which can simplify things at first. Alternatively, if you are expected to find your own accommodation, will the employer act as guarantor for your rental agreement?

Check your contract

 More details about contracts, and negotiating terms can be found in our article Negotiating a Salary. 


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