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7 things to know before you work overseas

20 May 2019 | 4 min read
Living overseas is an adventure but working overseas is completely different to travelling as a tourist. Here's 7 things to know before you go!

Pack your bags! It’s time for an overseas adventure. But beware – working overseas is completely different to travelling as a tourist.

Here are the key things you’ll need to consider before you go.

1. Get the right visa

Getting the right visa is important. We cannot stress this enough. Attempting to work while holding a tourist visa can get you into serious trouble. If you are travelling to a country with the explicit intention of working then you will need to organise the correct visa before you leave Australia.

If you arrive somewhere, decide you love it and want to stay longer, you will need to look at changing your tourist visa. The penalties for working when you are not legally entitled to can be harsh and it's not worth the risk.

2. Consider an employment agency

If you want to hit the ground running, it can be a good idea to speak with an international employment agency before you leave Australia.

Depending on your profession and skill set, they may be able to set you up with a job in the country of your choice (or somewhere you’d never even thought of). An agency will also help with other things on this list like visas and bank accounts.

3. Get an international sim card

So you’ve arrived in a new country and want to start applying for jobs. How will prospective employers contact you? Buy a cheap pre-paid international sim card straight away so you have a local phone number for employers to reach you. It’s a good idea not commit to a multi-year contract with an international provider until you are 100% sure you’ll be staying for the full term.

4. Have some money in reserve

In an ideal world, you’d walk straight into a job. But, in reality, you may have to sit through a period of unemployment. That means you’ll need some money to support yourself while on the job hunt. You don't want to be relying on credit cards or loans and racking up pointless debt before you’re getting a paycheck.

5. Look into an overseas bank account

You’ll need somewhere for your new employer to put all those lovely pounds, euros, yen or US dollars. Some countries have very strict rules about non-citizens setting up bank accounts (largely to protect themselves against fraud or money laundering), so be prepared, it may not be as easy as it seems. Look into the logistics of establishing a bank account in your new country of residence – you may need your new employer to assist.

6. Get overseas health insurance

Australians are lucky to be supported by Medicare but many other countries don't have the same universal health system. If you are now working in a foreign country, you may not be covered by travel insurance.

Make sure you have adequate cover for both your everyday life and working activities, before you end up with an unwelcome bill.

7. Be prepared for a culture shock

Just as people live different lives in other countries, they also work in different ways. Be aware that things may not operate in the way that you are used to, whatever industry you’re in. Things like dress code, timekeeping, formality and even basic operating systems may be unrecognisable to you.

See if you can work out some of the differences in your interviews or on your first day. That way, you’ll be prepared – sort of! But that’s half the fun of working in a foreign land – embrace the differences and open yourself up to a new experience.

Ready to head to the airport?

Take a look at our travel insurance to make sure you're covered while you're living your best life on the other side of the world.

Note: This article contains general advice only. Readers should seek a trusted professional’s advice on financial matters.

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