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Repatriation for Expats in China

Submitted: October 2013

Repatriation denotes the process of moving back to the country of origin. It can occur voluntarily – when you make the decision to leave the country you have been living in and return to your homeland, or forcedly – when your host country requires you to leave for legal reasons. Finally, the term repatriation is sometimes used in connotation with the return of bodily remains of deceased to the country of origin – for more information on the latter, click here.

When you decide to return to your country of origin voluntarily, you will find that the process of returning home involves nearly as much bureaucracy as when you first left the country. For this reason, make sure to start planning your departure several months in advance.

If you have been living abroad for a long time and have given up your original citizenship, you should look into the current entry requirements for your country of origin. You might also want to consider getting your original citizenship back. For this purpose, have a look at the respective Immigration authority website. If you are originally from China but have given up your Chinese citizenship, you can apply for restoration of your Chinese citizenship. For more information see the guidelines provided by the Chinese Government.

Top of the to-do list is taking care of your accommodation arrangements. If you are renting, make sure to inform your landlord about your departure within the agreed notice period; otherwise you might incur additional costs. Similarly, if you were renting out a property in your home country, inform your tenants of your return in due time so that they can start searching for new housing. In case you own a property in your host country, it is a good idea to put it on the market a few months prior to departure as it might take a while to sell. At the same time, make an early start on house hunting back home. Chinese expats returning to China can have a look at Accommodation in China for more information.

Another crucial step is to inform the tax authorities that you are leaving the respective country. Note that if you leave in the middle of a particular tax year, you might still have tax obligations in that country for the remainder of that tax year. At the same time, you should register with the tax authorities back home. Make sure to look into current tax regulations as these might have changed since your departure. For tax matters in China, see Taxation in China and the Website of the State Administration of Taxation.

Furthermore, do not forget to cancel all subscriptions and services in your host country. Think of your newspaper subscriptions, sports club memberships,  internet and TV provider, TV license, mobile phone contract, and so on. Make sure to look into cancellation policies well in advance as certain service providers might have a set notice period. At the same time, start researching service providers in your home country and comparing the services and prices they offer.

It is also important to inform your bank that you are leaving the country. You should consider whether you want to keep your bank account open for a while longer, in particular if you are still expecting income in that country. However, note that certain banks may charge their clients extra if they live abroad.

Another thing to keep in mind is to inform everyone that your address has changed! In this respect it is also a good idea to arrange for your mail to be forwarded to your new address for a certain period. If you are an expat departing from China you can have a look at the China Post website.

Finally, you will have to  take care of the shipment of your personal items, vehicles, and pets. For useful advice on these matters, consult our Expat Briefing articles on Relocation and select the applicable country you are returning to. Chinese expats returning to China can have a look at International Relocation for Expats in China.



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