What to think about before applying for an overseas assignment

Overseas assignments are very appealing as they present an opportunity to see the world, broaden horizons and gain valuable experience.

“Families living overseas are more satisfied with their quality of life (72%) compared to those living in England (61%)”

FAMCAS 2020

Whilst there are countless benefits and opportunities that come with an overseas move, it is a significant life event that involves a considerable amount of change. Here we share some things to consider before applying for overseas service. The list is extensive intentionally, not to dissuade you from applying for an overseas assignment, to provide balance and ensure preparedness.

Many of the issues raised with RAFF from overseas could have been prevented, or the impact reduced, by conducting additional research before leaving the UK. This list will help to minimise unwanted surprises.

Home ownership

If you own your home, you will need to consider what you will do with your house whilst assigned overseas. It is important to carefully consider the short and long-term implications of each option;

  • Leave unoccupied – be aware, if you leave your property empty you may incur a Council Tax Empty Homes Premium.
    “In England, billing authorities can charge up to 150% on properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for over two years.”  Download briefing paper here.
  • Sell 
  • Rent – If you decide to rent your home, ensure you complete an application for a non-resident landlord to have UK rental income without deduction of UK tax (NRL1i).

Note: if you rent out your property and are ‘short-toured’ it is important to observe the law when serving tenants notice of your intent to take possession of the property on you return to the UK.

Vehicle ownership

If you accept an assignment overseas, you will need to consider what to do about your vehicle(s), if it is not practicable to take it with you.

Alternative transport

Should you need to sell your vehicle, once sold, you will need to make alternative transport arrangements until departure. This should not be a barrier, but there may be cost implications to include in your budget.

PCP finance agreements

If you purchased your car on a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance agreement it is worthwhile reviewing your contract, as there are often ramifications for exiting early. Read our PCP considerations article to make sure you know your legal rights.

Family and friends

Consideration should be given to the ability and frequency of visits to your friends and family. Video communication tools go some way to help keep in touch, however time differences can limit contact.

This could be particularly important if you have someone that relies on you for support and/or assistance.

Note: travel restrictions can be put in place at any time and could impact the frequency of visits. The Covid-19 pandemic had a big impact on many of our RAF families overseas assignments due to restrictions placed on travel and quarantine regulations, particularly those with older children who are not classed as dependents.

Personal administration

As with any overseas move, there is a lot of personal admin that needs to be taken care of in the months and weeks running up to the assignment date. It can be quite time consuming and is often underestimated. See our