Top 5 Most Common Expat Mistakes 

Even the most experienced traveler can lose valuables or have an unexpected passport problem. Whether you are doing business in Spain, working abroad in Russia, or living overseas anywhere else, these tips will ensure you have safe and enjoyable travels. Find out how to avoid the 5 of the most common expat travel mistakes.

Most Common Expat Mistakes

1. Ignoring Local Business Customs

While working abroad, it is paramount to embrace the culture and follow local etiquette. For example, in Saudi Arabia Friday is the holy day and every business in Islam is closed. Due to this, most establishments are also closed on Thursdays, so those two days are considered the weekend. Conversely, in Japan, you can expect a group focus and have your success measured as a whole. Age is seen as the primary factor in seniority at a company in Japan. This is contrary to the United States where age discrimination is frowned upon and it isn’t uncommon to see 20-30 year olds in the C-suite. Find out more about business customs in Japan.    

2. Don’t Forget to File Taxes Abroad

Forgetting to file taxes can be one of the biggest mistakes made by expats on a yearly basis. According to Yahoo Finance, U.S. expat will have to file taxes with the IRS, even if you don't actually pay anything at all. If you make below $97,600 in your current country, you won't have to owe anything - but, you'll still have to fill out all the paperwork.  

Take advantage of take breaks and U.S. expats may be interested in the foreign tax credit.Once you've been living overseas for at least six months, your country of residence will begin to tax your income. That means you could be paying twice - once there, and once to the U.S. However, this break will allow you to subtract the lower of the tax rates from the higher, so you only pay the higher of the two, divided between the two countries. While this may sound confusing, the result would be a small tax hit on your income, instead of filing twice. Learn more about how to avoid mistakes when filing taxes overseas.

3. Assuming Your Passport is Valid

Checking the expiration date on your passport is an easy enough task. However, it’s important to remember that certain countries – UAE, China, and Russia, among others – require passports be valid for six months past the date of your flight home (other countries require the passport be valid for three months). Check the State Department’s  for entry and exit requirements before any travel.

4. Forgetting to Change Money

As a rule of thumb, there are three things to remember about foreign cash: Change soon, change early, and change a lot. For example, living and working in China, is difficult without cash since few places accept credit cards. We recommend having some of its currency on hand before landing in another country. Change early so you can avoid long lines when you land abroad.

5. Obtain a Work Permit

If you are interested in getting a job in the European Union, it’s important to obtain an EU work permit otherwise known as a "Blue Card." With this card, you'll be guaranteed fair wages, socio-economic rights, favorable living conditions and other perks, EU Blue Card Network explained. Essentially, you'll be as close to a national as possible without actually becoming a citizen. Before you can apply, however, you must first meet a few requirements.  Bring all of these documents to your nearest labor office, including:

  • Passport
  • Legal documents
  • Diploma
  • Work contract

Read more to learn more about obtaining an EU Work Permit

How to Obain an EU Work Permit


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