Advice on an overseas assignment

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Mal P, Mar 22, 2007.

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  1. Mal P

    Mal P Junior Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Hi everyone,

    It looks like I'll be going on an overseas assignment for 12 months to Canada, and my company will be paying all of my expenses (I'll still be paid here in Australia, to my Australian bank account). I'm very excited by this opportunity, especially since I can be very flexible as I have no family to take with me. I'm also a little apprehensive... I'll be off in a few weeks, and there is so much to organise!

    I'd like to ask some of the seasoned travellers here, perhaps those who have gone on such overseas assignment, about any hints or tips regarding the whole process. For example...

    - banking in Canada, do I need to open an account over there? Will they let you do so whilst essentially living out of a hotel? What might be the best way to transfer money?

    - how about my postal mail, can I re-direct that or should I get someone to collect it and forward it on? And what about my mobile number here... if I don't use it for that long, will it be de-activated?

    - how about the actual air travel itself... I assume I'll be flying Qantas business class, any tips on lounges etc on the way? I'm not a QC member, but I do have a FF number (err with two thousand points *cough*). Would I get complimentary access?

    - anything else? My goodness me, the amount to do... so little time...

    Thank you very much,

  2. Maca44

    Maca44 Established Member

    Sep 2, 2005
    Although you haven't mentioned where in Canada you will working, but from someone who has been there many many times you won't find a nicer bunch of people. The banks are the same as Australia and with the appropriate ID you can open an account, alternatively, why don't you pay for everything on your Australian credit card and then pay the credit card off by BPAY by logging into your account. That way you will accrue ff points, but if you only have 2K points thus far, it would appear you do not use cards often. You might be able to pay your hotel billl and get reimbursed by your firm, now that would earn you heaps of points over the 12 months and possibly enought for another overseas holiday after you finish your 12 months stint in Canada.

    From memory, you can pay a small amount and have your mobile number on hold for 12 months. If you are on the westcoast (British Columbia) Rogers mobile have good coverage.

    I was working in Seattle for 8 months a couple of years ago and although I had a friend check all my mail back in Sydney I paid all my bills online, such as credit cards, rates etc etc. Most things you can pay be credit card, just make sure you can access whatever account you need to pay. Just in case of something unforeseen, I also arranged for my friend to have Power of Attorney, again just in case.. He was best man at my wedding and I trusted him so just make sure you select the right person.

    If you flying business class you will have access to the Qantas Club before you depart, and depending on your routing and whether you only transit etc you may not have access to another lounge.

    Enjoy the journey, and enjoy the skiing if you can. It doesn't get much better over there.
  3. Mal P

    Mal P Junior Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Thanks very much Maca44! Alas most of the corporate expenses will have to go straight onto the corporate credit card (and we don't get points for that, boo... but at least we get to keep the FF points).

    Anyway, look forward to freezing my nose off soon enough :)

  4. SeatBackForward

    SeatBackForward Established Member

    Jun 20, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
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    If you're taking a laptop to use, say a personal one for your own use rather than a company provided one, install skype on it, and get everyone at home who you want to talk to to get skype installed as well. you'll save a packet on phone calls (unless your company is willing to pay for that too)..

    The terms "all expenses" for me has usually meant, travel, accommodation and meals, but not any extras such as telephone calls or alcoholic drinks (with the hotel min-bar being a big no no).
  5. MelbourneGirl

    MelbourneGirl Junior Member

    Mar 23, 2007
    Lucky you! Canada is fabulous. Try to open a President's Choice Bank account at the supermarket if you can - they don't have any fees and you won't have to deal with overseas withdrawal fees.

    You may have trouble getting a credit card without a credit history (even though they hand them out like candy to penniless uni students), so I'd recommend taking an Australian one with good internet banking facilities.

    Whereabouts in Canada will you be?
  6. Zulaiha

    Zulaiha Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
    #6 Zulaiha, Mar 23, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2007

    Congrats for your new assignment, sound like you are excited about it.

    I do not know anything about Canada, but we do move countries alot.

    About banking, if your company pays every single expenses while you are there, I do not see why you will need a bank account, as some of traveler advice here on Wizard card, why don't you apply one for you to get your money across for your personal expenses?

    About your postal mail, we normally open a PO Box and rely more on friend/family to redirect our mails, that means you need to either change your postal address or get the post office to redirect all your mails to your POBox number, this will cost you a small fee.

    Mobile number, it is largely depend on what account you have. If you are on a plan, as long as you keep paying their minimal monthly fee, your number will still be yours. If you are on a prepaid try to buy the 1 yr credit and pay the minimal and top it up before it's expiry date due, as long as your account has credit on it, they will still be yours. I believe some of the mobile phone company will let you freeze your number with some fee, we never done this but I read it somewhere, talk to your mobile company is my advice to that.

    Try to find out if you need an international driving licence, South Australia will only allow 3 months from arrival date using other country's driving licence.

    Try to see your accountant regarding your income tax, I do not know what is your situation but there might be some issue with income tax i.e which country you should pay your tax within that year, this is by far is the most complicated thing around every move we made.

    Oh, if you have a car and intended to keep it while you are away, it is always wise to advice your absent to your Transportation Department, your car insurance company etc. I had a bad experience with this, while I was overseas my friend drove my car, and had an accident, the transport department only knew it was me, because it is my car. Yes it settled later on, but not without hassle of proofing that we were not in the country when the accident happened.

    I write more if I can remember other things, keep asking.
  7. SeaWolf

    SeaWolf Active Member

    Jan 24, 2007
    #7 SeaWolf, Mar 23, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2007
    There's a discussion here:
    About the Wizard Mastercard, which doesn't hit you with fees for transactions in a foreign currency or for cash advances. Seems like a great way to move money overseas without paying through the nose. You can just BPay from your AU bank account into the card, then withdraw it as a cash advance in Canadian dollars. If you wanted to you could even then deposit it into your CA bank account, saving a HUGE amount on international bank transfers, which often attract a fee of $20+.

    As another note I've just remembered, if you're with Westpac, you can withdraw from ScotiaBank ATMs in Canada with no ATM fee at all, as if it were a Westpac ATM. Though you do get hit for a currency conversion charge.
    Westpac Internet -Accessing your accounts overseas
  8. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
    IME the way around this is to apply for department store credit, build a history and go from there. Usually they are very liberal with their qualifying requirements e.g. breathing, pulse ...

    But for 1 year why bother - use an aussie card and b/pay.

    And while in Canada (irrespective of province) why not learn French, if you don't already speak it. Good luck.
  9. Mal P

    Mal P Junior Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Wow, thanks again everyone, some very useful information. I've done some digging around on the terms of the 'package' and it does let you claim things like telephone calls home and bank fees etc, so very lucky.

    BUT... I wouldn't want to claim for every little thing and I should try and minimise expenses for the company where possible... I'm grateful for the opportunity! You guys are right, for a year it's probably not worth the hassle of opening Canadian bank accounts etc. This Wizard card does seem like a great deal, but I did read that someone had a problem using it in Canada as there aren't many MC/Maestro/Cirrus ATMs? Can anyone confirm? I'll be in Edmonton (true, not quite Vancouver, but it will do, and the skiing in Jasper will be tops I reckon!).

    Also, regarding the laptop (which I alas have to take with me as a carry on) any tips on a good back-pack but with a roller handle so that I can wear it on my back when taking it to the office etc and can also drag it on the ground when walking long distances in airports? Something as small and lightweight as possible would be great!

    Thank you,
  10. Shano

    Shano Established Member

    Aug 17, 2006
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    I had a 6 month assignment in California a few years ago working directly for our US head office. My salary was still being paid by our Australian office into my Australian bank account, but expense reimbursement was directly from our Pittsburgh office.

    What I ended up doing was opening an account with a US bank, and our US office would issue me with a cheque (it was quite a few years ago), which I would deposit into this account and then draw on (gotta love those drive up ATM's). The advantage of this was I avoided O/S transaction fees compared to if they had paid the money directly into my Australian account.

    The only hiccup in this was that I did not have a social security number, so they initially wouln't create an account for me. When they understood my predicament they created a dummy SS # and everything was OK.

    Not sure what limitations there are on opening bank accounts in Canada, but it may be of some use (was for me in the example above). YMMV

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