Repatriation is the "forgotten" phase of expatriation. Most expats don't expect reverse culture shock of returning home. Many companies already have a detailed plan in place for employees going "home", but it is well-known that repatriation continues to be a difficult adjustment period. The truth is, repatriation hits every individual in a different way and even members of the same family can have a vastly different reaction to the change. The key is to understand the phenomenon and prepare for it.
1. Plan Your Return
Once you know you are to return, it is a time of careful planning to create the least disruption for your household and to facilitate a smooth transition. Establish a time line considering your work requirements and children's school schedule. In some areas, it may also be beneficial to consider the time of year. The simple act of moving is always simpler in moderate weather, so try to avoid the hottest or coldest times of year.
Think about where you would like to settle. If you already own property this decision might be easy. It also important to consider family and their location. If you don't have any concrete ties, research the areas that spark your interest. Consider your values, interests, and goals and if they can be fulfilled in a particular location.
Begin making contacts in your new country of residence. Both for business and social reasons, you will need to expand your circle. You might do this through social and professional networking sites, sports clubs, or for groups focusing on newcomers to the city. You might even find a group of expats to help you settle in. A vacation back home before committing to the full move may help you make these contacts, as well as prepare a property you already own, or start the search for a house.
If you have children, prepare them for the change. Explain the reasons for the move, discuss any concerns and issues they may have, and share your excitement.
2. Shut Down Household Abroad
In the time you have before the big move, you will need to start making changes in your life abroad.
- Giving notice at your current position or working with them on your transition back overseas
- Ending your current lease or selling your home aboard. Note that ending your lease early will usually result in a penalty so try to time your departure so that it coincides with the end of your contract. If selling your house, employ an estate agent and start early as selling a house can be a very slow process.
- Cancel your utilities upon leaving your residence
- Provide contact information so all important contacts can still reach you
3. Financial Planning
As soon as possible, create a transition fund. There should be enough to facilitate what you expect the move will cost, as well as some extra to ease the stress of any hidden costs. Use a cost of living calculator to get an idea of the amount necessary.
You will also to need update your banks. If you are keeping the bank abroad open, you will just need to update information with your bank. If you are closing this account, you should contact the bank directly and find out their procedure. In addition, you may need to open a bank in the country you are repatriating to. If you have kept an account while you have been away, this can be useful for your line of credit. You will just need to update them with information about your move. If you are needing to open a new bank, you will need to investigate different banks and compare their fees and services.
4. Get Visas
If you are moving with the help of your company, there should be advisors to help you find out what paperwork is necessary and how to proceed.
If you are moving independently, it is in your best interest to contact your local embassy. They should be able to supply with the proper paperwork and give you information on documentation and processing time. The site, http://www.embassyworld.com/, can help you locate the appropriate embassy nearest you. Make sure to start the process as soon as possible as visa can take a considerable amount of time to acquire.
5. Prepare for Customs
Prepare your goods to go through customs by making a detailed inventory and securing proof of change of residence. A moving form attestation can be secured through your Consulate. If using a shipping company, they should be able to handle most of this paperwork and advise you on procedure.
To secure the lowest taxes, you will usually need to have held a residence abroad for more than 12 months and have had use of the possessions in a private capacity for at least 6 months. Again, consult your embassy for specifics.