Expatriation & Repatriation

Expatriation is the transfer of the executive to work and live in another country, hired by a company, and accompanied by his family, for a period exceeding one year.


The expatriation process can be succeeded by the repatriation process of the executive, defined as his/her return to the country of origin, after having fulfilled his/her goal or contract in the host organization, or by a new expatriation.

One of the challenges for companies is how to provide support to these executives during the expatriation and repatriation processes through human resources policies and practices, as this support contributes to the retention and success of the executive's adaptation process, both going and coming, in professional, personal, organizational, social and cultural terms.

Regarding repatriation more specifically, the retention of those returning is important because of the high investment made in the expatriation process and, mainly, because of the skills these executives have acquired from their international experience.

These executives have become aware of other cultures and international networks, understand the company’s business in a global way and can, when returning, act as integrators and disseminators of this knowledge.

Sometimes the repatriation is the result of the perception that the company’s practices do not meet their expectations and, therefore, they face many problems of adaptation and frustration.

Repatriation is a process of strategic importance to internationalized organizations, and the management of these executives requires innovative policies and practices given the complexity of the challenges they face in their international careers.

Preparing for the Repatriation is the period between the decision to return and the actual return to the country of origin. With a duration of approximately three months, this stage is characterized by the cancellation of contracts signed (such as housing, electricity, water, telephone, gym) and the preparation of the return to the country of origin, which, in most cases, has the help of a reallocation service paid by the multinational, and offered by United HR. Legal and tax issues, such as income tax, insurance, documentation to leave the country for children born abroad, as well as the validation of studies carried out are usually solved with the aid of specialized services, paid or indicated by the company. Despite the support offered, the preparation period for the return is pointed out as being quite intense and tiring, depending on the various measures that need to be taken.

Research indicates that the professionals are well received when returning to the organization. However, some professionals identify problems due to changes happened in the unit, such as changed processes, new employees, as well as reservation or scorn by those who did not have the same expatriation opportunities.

Other reasons for the resistance are the accelerated growth of the returning person's career vis-a-vis former bosses, changes brought by him/her to the industry, others interested in the position taken or also by not having an appropriate position.

The acknowledgment quoted above may happen in several ways: by career growth opportunities identified when returning to the organization of origin; by the manner of treatment and respect for the returning person's opinions from colleagues, or by the fact that they become references for good practices brought from abroad and of a successful international career.


The companies tend to believe that repatriation will be easy, as the employee is returning home and they underestimate its difficulties. However, the return should take place with the same care as the exit and it is important that the same expatriation infrastructure is provided when repatriating.