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What Can Go Wrong and How to Be Prepared

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 26 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Abroad Work Home Uk Passport Health

It’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality when you go to work abroad, but it is nevertheless a good idea to think about what you might do in an emergency.

It goes without saying that you should ensure you have adequate insurance arranged before you leave to work abroad – speak to your current home insurance company, or that of your parents, and ask their advice. It may be that you need to take out a dedicated policy for your trip, or that it can be added to your current policy. One of the most overlooked aspects of insurance when travelling abroad is about the type of activities you plan to do – extreme sports in particular. Even if you’ve not planned to do this, it’s worth a quick call to the insurance company before you do anything like bungee jumping, white water rafting or snow boarding.

Here’s a list of some of the most common things to go wrong when working abroad. Unfortunately, many people get a little more ‘gung-ho’ when they’re away from their home.

Loosing Your Passport

In many countries, you’re expected to use your passport as a form of ID far more than we’re used to in the UK. Even in France shops like to see your passport when you pay by cheque. Consequently, you’re more likely to have your passport in your possession when you’re out and about, making it more likely that it’ll be lost or stolen. If this happens, wherever you are in the world, the first port of call needs to be your nearest British Embassy or British Consulate office. It may be easier to contact your parents or a trusted friend to find the details for you than trying to find out yourself. You can also go to the nearest police station and ask there. Although you will not be helped with the cost of a replacement, a replacement can be arranged for you to pay for later, so don’t be concerned with the financial aspect. It is also important that your loss is noted as, in many countries, a British passport is like gold on the black market.

Health Issues

As part of your preparation before leaving the UK, make sure you are aware of the health coverage in the country you are visiting and your entitlement to use it. In Europe, for example, you will need to have an EHIC card, which is the current equivalent of the old E111 form you may remember from school trips.

If you are going to work abroad with your current UK-based employer and are still going to be paying National Insurance contributions, it is very likely that at least some of your medical costs will be covered by the NHS. There is a comprehensive country-by-country guide on the NHS website that offers up to date information, as the forms and entitlement is sometimes updated. As a rule, this is only for working trips of less than two years, although it can be up to five years in some circumstances.

Regardless of where you’re going, it really is worth having a health insurance policy in place. Bear in mind that these are very affordable if taken out before you go and give you great peace of mind. Shop around for the best deal that suits your plans.

Problems Back Home

It can be very difficult to know about a problem back home when you’re travelling and working abroad. It may be a health issue with a parent, something connected to your job or an issue with your home. Although you cannot legislate for every problem, it is important to prepare as much as possible. It is best to have a return ticket so at least you can get home quickly in an emergency. The British Embassy can also help with this, although only in the most extreme circumstances and you will be expected to pay back any costs.

You will need to stay in touch with friends and family, especially if there are ongoing issues, but it is important to remember that you cannot always make a difference even if you do return home and you may miss out on the chance of a lifetime. As much as possible, try to weigh up the pros and cons of rushing back to the UK.

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