The process of repatriation is often a challenging one, even in the best of times. Pile on the added dimension of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is unsurprising to see expats and their families feeling stressed at the prospect of the return journey home.
Indeed, the “new normal” has thrown a spanner at the repatriation process. Quarantine requirements and border restrictions seem to be changing every day. Perhaps most worryingly, timeframes are now measured in days, not months, increasing the pressure to act with precision.
If you are facing the prospect of repatriation, you are not alone. To help you find your way home, The Finder and Moovaz have created a comprehensive 30-day checklist for those who have to leave in a hurry. Encompassing the administrative, logistical and social dimensions, this checklist aims to provide clarity for your impending move.
The Game Plan
Uprooting your life in 30-days seems like a monumental task, and it may be helpful to break things down. We recommend resolving most administrative issues within the first 10 days in order to maximize the time available for logistical needs. This is useful as the pandemic has placed delays on most logistical services.
Throughout the next 30 days, it is also important not to neglect your mental health. A sudden repatriation can present a shock to you and your loved ones. Open and frequent communication with your family, especially your children, is important as you navigate the weeks to come. Seeking help from a trusted repatriation service provider can help you to this end, freeing up some precious time to savour your last days in the city.
30 Days Before: Making Arrangements
A headstart on the administrative details will be key in the first 10 days, including:
- Begin the exit process with your employer.
- Contact repatriation services, such as Moovaz, for quotes.
- Notify your landlord of your departure ASAP, as many Tenancy Agreements require a two-month notice period. Given that you will have to leave before the notice period, you should check your Tenancy Agreement for the presence of a ‘diplomacy clause’ and seek your landlord’s understanding of the circumstances.
- Take time to ensure that your financial, legal and medical documents are in order. These include medical records, your tax history, as well as closing your bank account. Consult repatriation services or your company HR on any issues you may face.
- Notify your child’s school of the impending move and prepare for re-enrollment back home.
- Assist your live-in helper to find another job quickly. This includes securing a reputable agent for her, serving as a reference on her performance and giving her the time to interview with prospective employers.
- Once your Employment Pass (EP) is cancelled, you will be automatically converted to a Short Term Visit Pass (STVP). Apply for an extension to your STVP early if you require more than 30-days to leave.
In addition, we recommend informing your loved ones and colleagues as soon as possible to prepare them for the changes to come. Go on and make a list of the things you would like to do before you leave – factoring in social distance measures, of course – and then document those outings or times spent with friends and family, either in a journal, with photos or videos or all of the above. It may seem like extra work at this point, but you’ll appreciate having these memories recorded later.
20 Days Before: Getting Organized
Now that you have resolved – or at least initiated! – most of the administrative tasks, you can begin to focus on the logistics of the move. Some things to discuss with your repatriation service provider earlier rather than later: Do you need any value-added services such as pet repatriation and handyman services?
Other things to cover or consider:
- Would it be helpful to have a financial plan for your repatriation? If your company has agreed to cover expenses, repatriation companies can help you to keep records of the reimbursable items and project your potential out-of-pocket costs.
- To avoid last-minute panic, spend time to organize items not in immediate use and can be packed in boxes for shipping, versus essential items that you may want to bring on as checked baggage on your flight.
- Don’t forget to check on the latest quarantine requirements/ border restrictions with your embassy, and book your tickets for home. If you have to undergo some form of quarantine upon arrival, you may have to schedule accommodations in advance.
10 Days Before: Final Steps
Your effort in tackling the administrative and logistical tasks early will have paid off now. The goal of your last 10 days: have as much time as possible to devote to social activities, and make some lasting memories with friends and colleagues.
As part of your final steps, you should confirm moving details with your agency, organizing your packed items into labelled boxes. Work with your landlord on the handover property inspection and remember to reclaim your security deposit. Do also keep updated on the quarantine requirements in the days leading to your move.
Once you’re back in your home country, we recommend taking time to recover from what has been a hectic month. Coming home can be a harder experience than moving abroad. Feelings of a reverse culture shock is common for repatriating expats, especially among children. Stick the landing by being open to the emerging challenges and needs of you and your loved ones in the days to come. Do give yourself some time to readjust, and seek support from your friends and family or social services if needed.
Relocating soon? Get a free consultation with The Finder’s trusted relocation partner!
Moovaz is a global movement revolutionising relocation services. It empowers individuals and families to move to their dream destination by making the journey simple and seamless with the core pillars: Technology, Knowledge and People. Talk to a Moovaz move consultant and get a free quotation now.
By Thomas Soh Zhengjie, June 2020/ Updated by The Finder Team, August 2020
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