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Expat Employment Contracts – Key Things to Consider

If you are new to employment contracts as an expat, there are a few key items that you should be aware of which you may not have considered before.

In this article, we highlight some of the most important details an expat must know before signing their employment contract.


Expatriate Employment Terms

Your contract must be written clearly confirming what you have agreed with your new employer for your employment terms. This includes a full job description, hours of work, place of work, overtime details and an explanation of any bonus schemes the company offers. 

Many expats have reported that paid overtime can often be mentioned in the interview, but it is not paid or included in the employment terms. If paid overtime is casually discussed with you, make sure it is in your contract.


Relocation Costs

Is your employer going to pay the cost for your relocation? Such as shipping your belongings or storage costs? Make sure you are clear on who your items are insured by and who is responsible if they are any losses or damage.

If your employer is paying relocation costs, what happens if you do not complete the contract or there is early termination? 

Making sure you understand the 'what if’s' is very important else you could end up very out of pocket.


Expat Local and Employer Healthcare

Depending on where you are relocating to, you may or may not have access to local healthcare services.

It is likely, but not certain, that your employer will provide medical cover for you. Please take a look at any healthcare details your employer offers carefully. Some main items to consider are:

  • Does your healthcare cover you outside of working hours and on annual leave?
  • Does it include your family? If not, can it?
  • In the event of long-term sickness or injury, what is your salary status?

Also, find out if your employer provides sick pay and at what rate, and for how long.

It is strongly recommended that you, as an expat, take out your own medical insurance if it is not provided by your employer, or it does not meet your needs. Also, consider adding on income protection cover.

We at Healthcare International have been providing expatriate tailored private medical cover for over 25 years and know exactly what expats need. To find out more about our healthcare policies created specifically for those living and working abroad, please visit our website here.



Some employers provide accommodation in part of their job offering. If this is the case for you, be aware that what one person may call ‘suitable’ may not be the same to you. Find out what kind of accommodation they are offering before agreeing. Is it rent-free? Subsidised? Are insurances and local taxes included or do you need to pay these?

If you are finding and paying for your own accommodation, understand how deposits work. Sometimes they can be very expensive. Some places even ask for 12 months’ rent in advance! 

Does the accommodation need furnishing and appliances? If so, who is going to pay for this and what happens when you leave?

Finally, make sure you understand what would happen if you need to break your contract, such as in an emergency. What happens to the deposit and rent? Will you lose it?


Local Taxes & Salary Deductions

Make sure you are fully aware of the local tax laws of where you are moving to. Do you need to pay local taxes or does it have a reciprocal agreement with the country you are moving from?

Also find out if there are going to be any other deductions from your pay packet, such as relocation costs or any loans that you need to repay.


The Cost of Living when Working Abroad

Many are tempted to move overseas for work after learning about the high wages they could be earning and the motivation to be able to save a nice chunk of cash to return home with. Make sure you take into account the cost of living in these areas, as some are very expensive and you may not be any better of after all.

Look into the cost of everyday essentials to weigh up the real benefit of the salary. Things like utility bills, petrol and food will give a good indication of this.


If anything in your employment contract is unclear, or you feel something is missing or not right, make sure you ask any questions from your employed in advance of signing.