10 Steps to a Successful International Assignment
On the road to an international assignment? Often, we think only of the excitement of living in a new country, visiting new places and meeting new people. There are many things to do to prepare well for an international contract.
Gone are the days when businesses have secretaries for their executive assistants and assistants for their secretaries as well.
Today, somehow, you end up booking your own flight and looking for your own accommodation.
This is also true when you work for yourself. You may think it only takes one call and presto everything is booked. You wish.
There are a number of things you need to consider for an international assignment before you book your business travel and accommodation. And more to follow as you start the process.
Here are some steps that may help:
1. Have a signed contract, work order, or terms of reference for the job
You need to have a legal paper in your possession stating clearly the work to be done, the resources provided and the remuneration for the work including allowances and other privileges.
Maybe you are very trusting. But imagine yourself spending thousands of dollars to go to this assignment and find out when you arrive there that you don’t have it. And because there is no contract, they are not legally bound to pay your expenses. So you are out of job and out of pocket as well.
2. Know all you can about the assignment
Have a clear idea of the terms of reference so that you can negotiate the items you are not comfortable with. If you think that there are some areas you don’t have the skills in, bring it up so they get the support needed.
As well, when you see there is no provision for transportation, ask for transportation allowance especially when the assignment demands travel to various places. When you see that you have to be away many times from your residence to deliver many of the components of the assignment, find out about travel allowances.
3. Ascertain the amount for air travel and accommodation.
If the assignment is willing to pay only for an economy ticket, then find out your options in this level. This is true of accommodation as well. It is good to know how much living allowance you are entitled to before you book a hotel or rent a place.
4. Find out the exact location of where you will work
What could be more irritating than driving in the midst of traffic for two hours, morning and afternoon, to reach your place of meeting or work?
This gets more serious if you have already signed a lease on the place you have decided to stay. Unless, of course, when everything else other than work is in the place you have chosen to stay in. Then, you can make some compromises.
Groceries, restaurants, schools, parks, safety and key amenities are important consideration depending on your requirements. Even if you have a car, choosing a place closer to work reduces the stress of every day. It is better to first stay at a hotel and look for a more appropriate accommodation once you arrive in the place.
5. Confirm the validity of all your documents
This includes, at least, 6 months validity of your passport. Get business visas when needed. Often, in countries where you don’t need a visa to travel, you may need a visa to work.
If you are close to an embassy of the country you are going to, it is better to get a visa right there. While airport visas facilitate the complexity of going to embassies when you don’t live close to one, they can be a hassle upon arrival as most passengers are also lining up to get one. If you have to, prepare the required documentation such as pictures and the right amount for payment.
Sometimes, they may ask for a letter from your employer stating your assignment in the country and also your address when you are in the country.
6. Get contact information
Make sure you have your hotel address or your office address. Better still, telephone numbers. Many things can happen. The car picking you up may not be there in the airport. Or your plane gets delayed. Or you did not count right the time zone difference when you gave them the date.
7. Prepare a list of information you need from the country or city you are going into
This could include finding out if credit cards are accepted. If they are, do they charge fees? Are there ATMs in the place where you can use your cards to get cash? If there are none, what are the options? Make sure you can access money from ATMs through your credit cards. The more options you have, the better. Ascertain the limit you can take from your bank cards each day. The fees for ATM transaction can be high.
The infrastructure in many countries have yet to catch up and so there are times when your bank cards may not work or your credit card for some reasons will not. At times, it is just poor connection.
8. Go over your insurance policy
Understand what they are prepared to cover in the country you are going into. Get the contact information for the clinics and offices of the insurance company. Make sure you have your membership card and write your number securely in another place just in case you lose the card.
9. Photocopy important information and papers and leave a set with someone you trust at home
Include the front pages of your passports and telephone numbers in your office and hotel. When you lose any of your documents, it is easy to get replacements when you have photocopies to show.
10. Talk to people who have lived in the place or who have done business in the place you are traveling to.
Learn from the local customs and protocol. Ask if goods that are important to you such as medicines are available there so you can supply yourself accordingly. Some items that you constantly use may just be too expensive or not available in other places and others may be too cheap that it is not worth your time packing some.
Indeed, before you can book your flight or hotel, there are many things to look into. Some people, though, just go and do what needs to be done once you are in the place. This is alright if the assignment is sudden but when you have a chance to do some planning, it is always better to get these done before you leave. You can then concentrate on the work immediately after you arrive.
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