The thought of being sent overseas by your company sounds pretty exciting –  a chance to see a new part of the world, sampling new types of food, and working alongside foreign employees.  

First, some serious planning should be done in order to avoid surprises later on.  Research all that you can ahead of time, so you will be better prepared.  Companies have information that is helpful to their employees and will make arrangements for their lodging, transportation, meals, etc. ahead of time.  

It is important to know the support systems that are there for foreign workers, such as emergency service facilities.  Being informed of what services are available for U.S. citizens or other working foreigners is very important. 

One can find websites on the internet that describe the conditions for travel to just about every country in the world.  There are definite warnings on which countries to avoid, as listed by these alert levels: 

  1. Do not travel;
  2. Exercise normal safety precautions;
  3. Reconsider your need to travel;
  4. High degree of caution. 

Companies could be held responsible as a result of their employees’ causing an accidental injury or death in the course of performing their duties.  The employer is responsible for ensuring that the working conditions of their employees are safe, including the security of the buildings in which they will be working.  They are also responsible for guaranteeing the level of the employee’s experience, the type of work to be done, and risk level for injury.  Also, they must ensure that the physical condition of the worker is good. 

Every company that regularly sends employees on business trips abroad needs to assess its insurance program to assure that these employees are adequately protected if they become sick or injured. Companies with employees living abroad need to be even more attentive about the insurance protection and support services they provide. 

Normally, the employee’s domestic health insurance will not be accepted by a foreign provider.  A travel assistance program can ensure that a sick or injured employee is put in contact with the best available medical care; therefore, specialized insurance is necessary to guarantee that coverage is available anywhere in the world an employee may need medical assistance.

Other reminders:  During your time off:

  • Don’t go to places that look unsafe;
  • Take a buddy or go with a group;
  • Don’t become a victim of crime; leave your valuables at home;
  • Leave your passport in the hotel safe (so you can get home);
  • Make a photocopy of your passport to keep with you at all times;
  • Make a photocopy of the passport to leave with family;
  • Pack medicines in their original containers, take extra glasses, etc;
  • Pack all the gear you need to perform your job.
  • Know where your American embassy is;
  • Leave a family contact person’s name with your employer;
  • Observe local laws and customs – you are subject to local laws in foreign countries.

Your company has entrusted you to represent them well and do a good job.  Stay safe!