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Repatriation for Expats in Thailand

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: November 2016

Repatriation means moving back to your country of origin. This is normally a voluntary process, though if your host country requires you to leave for legal reasons, you may be forcibly repatriated. Typically, repatriation involves nearly as much bureaucracy as leaving does. Therefore it is best to start planning your departure several months in advance.

Practical Matters

Probably the first matter to consider is your accommodation arrangements. If you are renting, you should give your landlord at least 30 days’ notice to avoid running up extra costs. Many tenancy agreements in Thailand are for a year, so long-term planning may be needed. Conversely, if you were previously renting out your house in your home country, be sure to give your tenants plenty of warning of your intention to return.

Any property you own in your host country will take some time to sell, so you should put it on the market a few months before you plan to leave. Estate agents can speed this process up, but note that they charge 3-6% commission. Selling a condominium is considerably easier. At the same time, it is a good idea to make an early start on house-hunting back home. For further information, see our Accommodation articles for your respective country.

Removal of your personal items, vehicles and pets will also take some time to arrange. For useful advice on this, consult our Expat Briefing articles on Relocation for the country you are returning to. Of course, you will also need to tell everyone that your address has changed. Unfortunately, it is not possible to forward mail from Thailand abroad, so you will need to inform people individually. This is of course quite simple to do via group e-mail or social media.

Remember also to cancel all subscriptions to services in your host country, such as newspaper subscriptions, sports club memberships, internet and TV provision, mobile phone contract and utilities. Make sure to look into cancellation policies well in advance, as some of these companies require a set notice period. At the same time, you can start looking into and comparing these services in your home country.

It is also important to let your bank know that you are leaving the country. Closing a Thai bank account is easy, though you may want to keep it open for a while if you are still expecting income in that country. Note, however, that some banks charge their clients extra if they live abroad.

Obligations

In addition, before leaving your host country, you will be obliged to complete and return your arrival/departure card, surrender your work permit and observe other formalities. For more details, check with the Immigration Bureau. Any social security payments you may have made will not be refundable. Note also that taking models or other images of Buddha out of Thailand is restricted.

If you have been living abroad for a long time, bear in mind that your home country’s entry requirements may have changed. Additionally, if you have renounced your original citizenship, you may want to restore it. To find out more about both of these matters, visit the relevant immigration authority’s website.

Thailand’s Revenue Department will need to receive a Tax Clearance Certificate from you at least 15 days before you leave. Be aware that your tax obligations in the country you are leaving will apply for the remainder of its tax year. Conversely, you will need to re-register with the tax authorities back home. It is a good idea to check if your home country’s tax regulations have changed.

Emotional Aspects

Finally, it is important not to underestimate the emotional impact of returning home. Whereas living abroad has changed you, it is most likely that your old friends and family members have not changed much, so it may take time for you to readjust and settle again. Then again, you may now have the travelling bug and want to keep moving.

Furthermore, if you have lived abroad for a long time, it can take some time to adjust to being home again, and you may find yourself undergoing a period of reverse culture shock. This is because you may have absorbed some of the habits of your host country’s people and now find some of the ways of your erstwhile compatriots strange in comparison!

 

 

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