Foreign Exchange in Expatland – What You Should Know

 

Whether you’ve just started your new life in Expatland or are looking to move back to your country of origin, the need will undoubtedly arise to exchange foreign currency.

Your personal circumstances will determine why you need to exchange currency, the frequency by which you transact and the volume. A currency need will typically arise from:

  • Transferring life savings
  • Selling and/or buying a property in your country of origin and/or Expatland
  • Pensions transfers
  • Repatriating income
  • Investing in assets domiciled in Expatland
  • Sending money home to friends and/or family

So what should you be aware of when converting your currency and sending or receiving cross-border payments?

  1. Are you really getting the best rate?

You trust your bank with your day-to-day banking needs so surely they must be the best option for your foreign currency and international payments needs? The reality is however, that for retail clients the daily buy/sell rates set by the banks often include a cost to transact plus additional sending and receiving fees.

By doing your research and venturing beyond the banking relationship to an alternative foreign exchange provider like XE Money Transfer, you’ll find that you will be able to take advantage of a much higher rate of exchange and no transfer fees – saving you thousands of dollars on your international money transfers.

  1. Protect yourself from currency risk on high value transactions

When making high value transactions that occur over a longer period of time, you may want to mitigate currency risk by locking in a favourable rate of exchange.

Currency risk refers to the uncertainties faced by fluctuating exchange rates and can have a significant effect on the outcome you achieve when it comes to executing your currency conversion.

Contrary to what you may think, you are not restricted to simply accepting the spot rate you are given on the day.

At XE, we provide a range of risk management transactions from Market Orders to Forward Exchange Contracts (FECs) and more complex structure options and our team will be able to advise you on the right strategy to ensure you are getting the best rate of exchange and are not left at the mercy of exchange rate movements.

Importance of Corporate Travel Insurance

 

It is highly recommended that any Expat whose business involves overseas travel, should effect a Corporate Travel Insurance Policy.

A Corporate Travel Policy will provide coverage for overseas trips up to a duration of 26 weeks.

The scope of cover provided under this type of policy include Medical Expenses, Death & Capital Benefits, Loss or damage to Baggage, Electronic Equipment, Loss of Credit Cards, Theft of Money, Hire Car Excess Expenses, Loss of Deposits and Cancellation Charges, Kidnap, Extortion and Ransom.

Below are actual case studies of recent Medical Expenses Travel Insurance losses incurred whilst claimants were overseas. This reinforces the absolute necessity to protect yourself and your business from these exposures whilst undertaking business and associated leisure travel.

David (an Australian Resident) was insured under a Corporate Travel Insurance Policy while he was on a short-term working assignment in the Solomon Islands.  On 12/09/2017 he started feeling unwell with abdominal pain and presented himself to a local clinic.

Provisional diagnosis was infectious Gastroenteritis, acute abdominal rupture and appendicitis. There were no clinics available for the claimant to undergo diagnostic imaging and hence he was placed in an air ambulance and evacuated back to Australia.  The total amount of the claim was $57,527.37.

Edward attended an international business conference in the Philippines.  At the conclusion of the conference he stayed on for an additional week’s holiday.

During that holiday he was struck by a motorcycle and sustained multiple soft tissue and musculoskeletal injuries including left clavicle fracture, multiple fractures to left and right ribs, crush fracture of the 12th thoracic vertebrae and right shoulder ligament ruptures.  The total amount of the claim was $23,428.57.

Gerard, a 73-year-old director of an IT company, planned a 6-week overseas trip with his wife, to the USA commencing June 2017.  Unbeknown to him, at the time of embarking on the journey, he was developing what would become a significant cardiac infection – “bacterial endocarditis”.

By the time he landed in the USA his cardiac symptoms fully manifested resulting in cardiac infection, multiple body organ sepsis and several strokes secondary to the above.

Gerard was admitted to high dependency specialist care.  The claimant’s wife and Insurers were advised that Gerard most likely would not survive.  Gerard was transferred to palliative care where he eventually passed away some two months later.  The total amount of the claim was $1,300,000.

Although this case had a sad outcome, it highlights the importance of having travel insurance to protect against what can be substantial and significant costs.

By: Michael McMahon
Gibson Insurance Brokers

Goods and Services Tax – Registration Requirements

 

This month, we look at the Singapore system for Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) which was introduced in Singapore in 1994 and has a current rate of 7%.

In Singapore, GST is levied on the supply of goods and services in Singapore, and on the importation of goods into Singapore.  In the case of a supply of goods and services, the applicable GST is collected by the supplier / seller and remitted to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”).   Where goods are imported into Singapore, the GST is collected by Singapore Customs at the point of importation.

GST can only be levied and collected if your business is registered for GST. GST registration is mandatory if your business has a taxable turnover of SGD1M and above for the next 12 months.

Taxable turnover refers to the supply of goods or services which are subject to GST. If you can show that the taxable turnover over the next 12 months for your business will be less than SGD1M, then you will not need to register for GST.  If the turnover for the next 12 months is expected to exceed SGD1M, then you have 30 days to register for GST from the end of the month in which the SGD1M threshold has been exceeded.

Failure to register for GST when your business meets the threshold turnover amount may result in a fine and penalty.  Where you are late with the registration, you will also have the registration commencement date backdated to the point in time that the business did exceed the SGD1M threshold. If this is the case, you will then be assessed GST during the reporting period commencing from the backdated commencement date.

If you do not exceed the taxable income threshold, you can still register voluntarily for GST if you can show that 90% of your business supplies are zero-rated.  A zero-rated supply is an export of goods from Singapore or the provision of international services.

In this situation, your business will be allowed to register for GST and then claim the GST incurred on expenses in relation to the exported goods – in this situation you are typically expected to be paid a refund from IRAS as your GST collected on sales will be less than any GST paid on paid on purchases.

In Singapore, GST is customarily reported and remitted to IRAS on an invoice basis.  This means that GST is payable even though the GST may not have been paid by the customer . Notwithstanding the above, if your business is registered for GST voluntarily (i.e., taxable turnover is less than SGD1M), you can apply the Cash Accounting Scheme – this Scheme allows you to report GST on a cash basis.

GST reporting is done electronically on a quarterly on monthly period, with the GST quarter determined by the financial year end for your business. The GST report is due for lodgement with IRAS within one month of the end of the reporting period.

In the return, you report all the GST collected, and GST spent in the business.   The net GST is what is payable or due to you as a refund.  The amount owed is taken via direct debit by IRAS from your business bank account on the 15th day after the due date for the lodgement of the GST report. Refunds are processed by IRAS and paid directly into your nominate business bank account with 7 days after the lodgement of the GST report.

 

Personal Insurances for Expatriates – What You Need to Know

 

Personal insurance relates to the insurances which protect you against sickness or injury to cover your costs of living and lump sums. Coming from another country to Australia, you are then exposed to a whole lot of new risks, issues, costs and lifestyle.

One of the key things you should be protecting is your personal well-being.

As you are in a new country, you don’t want to be put in a position where you have moved (and your family) and you can’t fund or support yourself.

In Australia, the rules are quite different and the insurances you may have had from another country could be invalid.  This is the first thing you should check preferably before you leave the country of origin. Our biggest asset is usually the least insured, that is our ability to earn an income.

Our guide on personal insurances, written by Scott Douglas from IMFG will equip you with all the information you need to make informed decisions regarding your insurances.

It’s very important to seek appropriate advice by a fully licensed Adviser who can provide you with what is necessary. The adviser will do a full needs analysis and make a recommendation on the products that are appropriate to you and your needs. With this guide, you can familiarise yourself with all your options and get a clear understanding as soon as you get to Sydney.

To read our guide please click here

The New Zealand Legal System

The New Zealand legal system is based on English law. New Zealand was a British colony before becoming an independent country. It recognises the Queen as its head of state – represented by the Governor-General.

The New Zealand’s Parliament has 120 members (MPs) who are elected under a democratic mixed-member proportional system every three years. The party (or coalition) with the largest majority forms the government. The New Zealand Parliament has authority to pass statutory laws by majority vote subject to certain procedural requirements.

Our guide to the NZ Legal written by Israel Vaealiki from Jackson Russell Lawyers is an essential read for anyone making a move to Auckland. This guide will provide you with a general understanding of all the issues you need to consider – from ensuring your will is effective in New Zealand to setting up a company.

To read our guide click here.

Expatland Dental – Finding a Dentist in Your New City

 

As an Expat, choosing health care providers can be a daunting activity and one that can have a big impact on the entire family. Many people have anxiety and fears related to visiting doctors and dentists and this becomes compounded when in a new country where everything seems so strange. Luckily, Singapore has a very high standard of health care.

It can be just as important to have regular check-ups with a dentist as it is with a doctor; however, globally adults are neglecting to visit the dentist. So how do you find a new dentist in your Expatland City?

Lydia Astill from Expat Dental has written a guide with all information you need to find a new service provider. It’s important to choose a great dentist before you’re in pain and to have a dental practice you can trust to care for you and your family.

This publication will provide you with helpful tips to assist you in finding the right dentist for you and your family.

To read this publication, click here.

Have Problems Sleeping? You May Need to See a Dentist…

 

Constant travel for business and leisure is a familiar feature of expat life in Singapore. Some of us with families even feel exhausted after the summer holiday.

With time zone differences and constant sleep interruption it’s easy to feel you are not getting enough sleep. Emerging research is abundant and spells out how sleep is important for adults and especially for teenagers.

The research has been clear that lack of sleep can cause a variety of problems. In adults some of these issues include hypertension, heart disease, fatigue, anxiety, stress, and a lack of mental clarity.

In children, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, bedwetting, allergies, and stunted growth and development have been associated with a lack of sleep and disordered breathing. And these problems may go on to affect school performance.

Related to this, dental ‘bruxism’ is the medical term used to describe habitual clenching or grinding of the teeth and jaw. Stiff or fatigued jaw muscles when you wake in the morning, headaches, neck aches, sensitive teeth, jaw pain, noises when opening or closing your mouth; all of these can be signs of dental bruxism and TMJ disorder.

Previously dentists were trained to think that grinding issues were just stress related and that the ultimate fix was to wear a night-guard for the rest of your life. Now practitioners believe that by retraining habits like tongue position, breathing techniques, and swallowing techniques, we can stop grinding and help patients sleep better. But, depending on the individual circumstances, oral appliances, medication or surgery may be required.

Oral Appliance Therapy can often be used to treat both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in adults.

An oral appliance is a device similar to orthodontic retainers joined by a flexible connector and worn while asleep. The device allows your airway to remain open by supporting the lower jaw in a slightly forward position and providing forced air through flexible tubes. These devices are best designed and fitted by experienced dentists trained in sleep disorder therapy. In some severe cases, surgery may be an option for treatment.

When treating children, if caught early enough, providers may be able to prevent the need for braces and allow them to live a healthier life without a grinding habit and a sleep disorder in adulthood.

If you feel you or someone in your family may have sleep disordered breathing or sleep apnea, the sooner you can fix the problem the sooner you will be on the path to a much fuller life, free of the health issues that come with poor sleep. Ask yourself these questions and if you answer yes to a few you may want to find out more.

Do you…

  • feel irritable or sleepy during the day?
  • have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television or reading?
  • fall asleep or feel very tired while driving?
  • have difficulty concentrating?
  • often get told by others that you look tired?
  • react slowly?
  • have trouble controlling your emotions?
  • feel like you have to take a nap almost every day?
  • require caffeinated beverages to keep yourself going

Written by: Lydia Astill from Expat Dental

New Zealand Visas

 

For those people planning a move to New Zealand, Mary Noonan from Heartland Immigration have written this guide to outline 6 key points to be aware and plan for.

The guide discusses the general process of obtaining a New Zealand work visa and essential skills required for a work visa.

Anyone wanting to make Auckland their new home should aim to do the following:

  1. Plan and consider your position as everyone has different circumstances and there are a multiple options so matching the right one for you and your family is critical.
  2. Work with trusted professionals – mistakes cost money, destroy opportunities and create stress.
  3. Grasp the opportunity – life is for living when you come to Expatland.

Expatland is a country, life is a journey and that is how you should view the process to obtain a visa to work, undertake business or reside in New Zealand.

This guide will be helpful tool for anyone moving to Auckland.

Download the publication here.

Do You Need OIO Consent to Buy a Home? – Changes to the Overseas Investment Act 2015

 

The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill (Bill) was passed by Parliament on 15 August 2018 and will come into force in late October 2018.

This note summaries the key changes the Bill makes to the Overseas Investment Act 2005 (Act).

The overseas investment regime established by the Act regulates investments by “overseas persons” in New Zealand significant business assets, certain types of sensitive land (including farm land), and fishing quota.

The regime is a consenting regime, rather than a prohibition.

The regime governs who needs to obtain consent, when consent is required, and the process for obtaining consent.

To continue reading – download the document here.

Property Services – What You Need to Know When Buying a Property in Sydney

 

Sydney is considered globally as one of the most prime locations to buy property. It very much is about three key factors – location, location, location.

Which is to say Sydney has;

  • a globally stable and transparent political system
  • the centre of Australia’s commerce (the employment capital of Australia), and
  • the highest population of any Australian city with approx. 6 million people and has constrained geographical supply.

Sydney has been under the spotlight from overseas buyers in recent years for these three factors and spearheaded by key social fundamentals:

  • Strong education facilities
  • Safe place for children to grow up, and
  • A stunningly beautiful lifestyle.

Michael Radovnikovic from Radley Property’s guide to Sydney Property Services will equip you with the right information to ensure  your next purchase in Sydney is a successful one. Michael believes that, on a global scale, Sydney remains undervalued and with strong population growth forecast between 2018 and 2036, a strategy for securing property has never been more important.

This guide is essential help for anyone who wants to secure the right property for the right price.

Download the publication here.

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