Going overseas to work is an exciting opportunity that not everyone would have the good fortune to embark on. You’ll get to immerse yourself in a new country and culture, gaining valuable experiences professionally and personally.
However, unlike travelling overseas regularly for short periods or for an exchange, there’s much more to working overseas you need to be aware about, such as legal, tax, financial, and property matters.
Here are 8 critical things you’ll need to run through and sort out before flying off.
#1 Review Your Health Insurance Coverage
One of the first things you should do when preparing for an overseas stint is to orientate yourself to your destination country’s healthcare system and review your health insurance coverage.
This is important because as a foreigner, you won’t be enjoying the same kind of government subsidies you count on in Singapore. Furthermore, any health insurance policies you already have, including integrated shield plans and MediShield Life, will be useless unless you return to Singapore for treatment.
You can read this article for details and caveats on your MediShield Life coverage as a Singaporean based overseas.
Your company might be able to enrol you into an existing group employee insurance scheme as part of your benefits package, so find out from human resources what exactly are you covered for. If necessary, consider making an appointment with a financial adviser after you touch down.
#2 Review Your Other Insurance Policies With A Financial Adviser
With any major change in your life situation, it makes sense to speak with a trusted financial adviser for a review.
You’ll be glad to know that unlike health insurance, you’ll continue to enjoy the full benefits of your life insurance policies.
Have your financial adviser review your financial protection needs and clarify matters such as exclusions and the claims process for your existing policies.
#3 Decide If You Want To Make CPF Contributions
When you’re overseas, is not compulsory for you or your employer to make CPF contributions, but you can still make voluntary contributions to continue building up your retirement savings and enjoy the compounding effect of guaranteed, risk-free returns.
At the very least, it makes sense to contribute at least the percentage you’ll be contributing in Singapore, so you won’t be tempted to spend that additional cash on hand each month.
When you’re overseas, your employer would also not be required to make CPF contributions, so if you’re just contributing the same percentage voluntarily, expect to see a decrease in the growth rate of your CPF monies.
#4 Find Out What Are The Income Tax Policies In Your Destination Country
As a country with one of the lowest tax rates in the world, Singaporeans might be shocked to learn the tax they would be required to pay when working overseas.
It is even more crucial to find out what deductions you might be eligible for when working overseas. Some multi-national companies may offer to reimburse additional tax costs above what you’ll be liable for if you were in Singapore, so check with your human resources department.
In addition, while Singapore’s Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) allows Singaporeans to make interest-free instalments of their income tax, other countries may not offer that option, especially for foreigners.
Ensure you set aside money for tax purposes regularly to avoid penalties and even imprisonment. Towards this end, having an annual, and not just monthly budget is more crucial than ever.
#5 Renting Out Your Vacant HDB Flat
If you have a HDB flat that will be vacant, you can rent it out to earn rental income. For flats still under the Minimal Occupation Period (MOP), you can apply to HDB to get permission. HDB also requires you to appoint an attorney to act for you in the management of the flat when you are overseas.
If HDB does grants you permission to rent out your flat, your MOP duration will be frozen. For example, if your flat was 1 year old, and you went overseas for 2 years and rented out your flat, you would still need to stay in your flat for 4 years to fulfil your MOP when you return.
Lastly, since you derive income from rental property in Singapore, you’ll need to declare that income and pay taxes to IRAS.
#6 Appoint A Trusted Caretaker In Singapore
Some companies charge extra or don’t even give you the option to redirect mail overseas.
One solution is to get a trusted family member or friend to check your mail and notify you of any important correspondence. Don’t let unpaid bills or fines compound unwittingly when you’re overseas.
#7 Sort Out Passport, Visa, Exit Permits, And Other Admin Matters
Renew your passport to ensure your validity covers you all the way till your return if possible, otherwise you’ll need to go through the hassle of extending it at the Singapore embassy or consulate overseas.
Ensure you apply for and get necessary the necessary visas for working overseas. Do this early, because some countries’ embassies take a long time to process your application, and you’ll need time to reapply if for some reason your initial application gets rejected.
For those still liable for National Service duties, you are required to apply for an Exit Permit from MINDEF if you’re travelling overseas for 6 months or longer.
Another important thing to note is that as a Singaporean, you may still need to receive OTP authentication from your local bank or SingPass, and prematurely terminating your local phone line may result in a lot of inconvenience when you’re overseas.
Be sure to you have the means to still access all your important accounts and sort out these before your departure.
#8 Set Aside More Emergency Savings
When working overseas, you’ll likely need a larger amount of emergency savings, since there are more contingencies you need to be prepared for, including the ability to fly home quickly at a moment’s notice for family emergencies.
Your dwelling or car overseas may require repairs, and you may need to foot the bill first before it gets reimbursed by insurance or your company.
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