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Top 50 Relocation Questions: Part 5 of 5

Today is the day! Part five of our five week series to go over the 50 most common questions we receive from transferees and the answers that we provide on a regular basis. This week, to close out the series, it’s time to go over questions 41-50.

Without further ado, here are the final 10 most common questions we receive from transferees. We hope you find this helpful and if you have anything to add, please let us know!

  1. How do I reconcile my taxes at the end of the year?

How your move is treated from a tax perspective should be made clear by your employer and will be evident in your W2. There are two options for the tax treatment of employer reimbursements for household goods shipment and travel to the new location. For qualified moves, the employer may include such reimbursements in your income. In this case, be sure to keep your receipts so that you can declare the deductions come tax time. The other option is that your employer will exclude these reimbursements from your income, which will eliminate the need for you to take a tax deduction for them. It should be noted that the elimination of the tax deduction in the second option is not penalizing. Since the expenses are not included in income, you are not paying taxes on them.

  1. Will my tax assistance take my spouse’s income into consideration?

No. Your tax assistance is only based on what your employer pays you.

  1. Why does an air shipment take 14-21 days when it only takes me a day to get to the destination?

Once an air shipment is packed and loaded and taken to the warehouse, it must be packed in the appropriate size air container and the shipment information must be added to the air container. If the shipment is leaving the U.S., the inventory is sent to the customs office for clearance to be moved. Once approval is received, airline flight arrangements are made. These steps alone can take up to 10 days. Once the shipment arrives at the destination, it must go through a customs clearance again. It is then picked up by a trucking company and taken to the destination mover’s warehouse. Delivery can then be scheduled at the convenience of the customer. This total process takes 14-21 days.

  1. How long does it take to ship items by sea?

Sea shipment timing varies. Door to door transit times range approximately from 25-65 days, depending on the origin and destination. For example, a shipment moving from China to Japan may take 25 days, whereas a shipment moving from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, CA may take 65. Sea shipments follow the the same process as an air shipment. Items are packed and loaded and cleared through customs at origin. Once cleared, they are trucked to port to be put on a vessel. Once they arrive at the destination port, they are subject to customs clearance. Once clear, they are taken to a destination warehouse and then a delivery date is confirmed with the customer.

  1. Why can’t you estimate the international bank fees and just add them to the invoice?

Bank fees are calculated differently for each bank. Some have flat fees, while others calculate a percentage of the amount. Since the amount is unknown until the deposit is made, it would be impossible to estimate the total. If bank fees are deducted, you can file for reimbursement of the shortage. If it is an allowance that is the same each month or year after, we can add that amount to the future deposits.

  1. Do all international schools require face to face interviews?

No, only certain schools require face to face interviews. You will want to discuss any concerns you have with your relocation counselor and point person at destination. From there, you will be presented with schooling options and informed of the admission/enrollment process.

  1. When there is a sizeable currency fluctuation, will my goods and services allowance automatically be adjusted?

The key word here is “sizeable.” If the fluctuation is extreme, it could be adjusted. In most cases, however, goods and services allowances are reviewed two times a year. If you feel that the fluctuation is particularly extreme, you can request an exception. The decision will be left up to your employer.

  1. Can my pet come abroad with me?

In most cases your pet can go abroad with you! Every country has different laws and regulations, so there will be some research involved. Make sure you speak to the vet to find out if your pet will require any additional shots or paperwork – and then find an airline that can accommodate your pet. It’s important to read customer reviews on each airline as well to see how other pets were treated and how they held up during the flight.

  1. Can I ship my car, too?

If the auto can be exported or imported without too much difficulty then, yes, go for it! The paperwork shuffle can always be navigated if you have the time and patience. If the auto is moving from the USA:

  1. Check the customs regulations for the destination country to make sure that the automobile can be imported at all, and what the estimated customs duty, taxes and importation fees will be. Some countries even specify that the auto cannot be older than a certain number of years.
  2. For US Export Controls, the auto must be owned by the customer (not by the bank or finance company). A clear title, free and clear of any liens must be surrendered to US Customs for export review.
  3. The customer should check to make sure that the auto can be serviced in the destination country. In some cases, there is no existing dealership network so that arranging for repairs or obtaining spare parts could be difficult.
  4. Prepare for the cost to ship. The steamship line service varies from country to country. Autos can be shipped on roll on/ roll off vessels (usually least expensive) or in containers (more expensive) depending on what service is available.
  5. Some auto manufacturers offer “overseas delivery” plans whereby autos can be purchased in the USA, but the customer can take delivery from a dealership in the destination country. This might be a viable alternative for someone going overseas on a long term assignment.

If the auto is moving from overseas to the USA:

  1. If the auto was originally exported from the USA, proof of export will allow the auto to be imported as a US Vehicle returning.
  2. If the auto was purchased overseas, the customer must obtain a Certificate or Letter of Compliance for the US Market from his or her dealership. US Customs, EPA and DOT will not even consider reviewing the auto for import without this letter.
  3. Conversion costs can be prohibitive if the auto requires extensive modification in order to bring it in compliance with US EPA and DOT environmental and safety regulations.
  4. Again, some auto manufacturers offer “overseas delivery” plans whereby autos can be purchased in one country, but the customer can take delivery from a dealership in the USA.

50. What does it mean to localize to a new country?


Localizing to a new country generally means that the assignee becomes a permanent resident of the country. For the most part, this means that your assignment benefits will end and you will start to be paid by the host country. Compensation, medical benefits, retirement plan and taxes will all be delivered to you based on local norms. Employers are using localization today more than ever because of perceived cost savings, but it’s really up to you whether or not you want to make such a drastic move. If you are considering localization, ask yourself if you plan to return to your home country. The answer will impact your participation in benefit plans, as well as retirement and estate planning and home ownership. It is ONLY an option for those employees who do not plan to return to the home country.

*Disclaimer: The information regarding relocation tax issues does not constitute legal advice or tax advice. Individual situations vary and tax regulations changes regularly. Please consult further with your tax advisor.

So, there you have it! The top 50 relocation questions that we receive from transferees all over the world. We are always here to help – are there any questions on your list that we haven’t touched on?

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VP, Client Services

VP of Business Development Northeast Region


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