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FAQs for the Asia Pacific Region – Practical Information Guide

Australia Flag Pin


Are there expat areas to live in ?
No, international assignees live in the same areas as locals.

Why is rental property so expensive in Sydney and Melbourne ?
Actually the rental yield the property owners can get is very low, lower than it has been for many years. So property owners would not agree with the sentiment !

However for many new arrivals rents do seem expensive. Perhaps the most significant reason is the concentration of population in these two cities. Approximately 45% of the population of the entire country live in Sydney and Melbourne. In the USA the combined population of New York and Los Angeles is under 4% of the population. In the UK the population of London and Birmingham represents around 15% of the national population. Hence the competition for preferred areas and properties is intense.

What schools do expats send their children to ?
As with housing, expats send their children to the same schools as locals. There is a mix of private and government schools. Many expat parents send their children to government schools for part or all of the primary school years, a much smaller proportion do so for high school years as the private schools achieve better all round educational outcomes than many of the government schools.

Can my partner work in Australia?
There are two parts to this. The business visa regime allows accompanying partners to work while the primary visa holder is in Australia. However the right to work does not make it easy to find a job. The majority of jobs in Australia are filled through informal networks, as employers consider the risks of appointing people known to them, or someone in the organisation, as lower than appointing someone completely unknown. New arrivals tend to have much smaller local networks putting them at a disadvantage. This makes it essential that they take steps to tap their overseas networks, as well as get involved in local groups when they arrive in Australia. The process often takes much longer than anticipated.

China Flag Pin


I have heard that in China you often don’t need cash to buy things and can use Wechat  or Alipay to pay. How do I do that ?
Yes, Wechat and Alipay can be used to pay for just about everything (you can even pay off your utility bills and recharge your mobile). If you want to pay via Wechat or Alipay, youll need to set up a Chinese bank account. All the bank information you type in when you apply for Wechat Wallet or Alipay must be exactly the same as what you used to open your bank account. This includes capitalization and  the order of the name used to open the bank account.

Here are the steps to set up Wechat wallet:

  • Step 1: Go to WeChat Wallet, located under “Me”.
  • Step 2: Tap on “Cards” and then “Add Card” type in your bank card number. Enter your “ID Type”.
  • Step 3: The verification page will ask for a code sent to your phone. This step will only work if the phone number during the setup process is the same used to set up your bank account.
  • Step 4: Set up a security pin to use each time you make a payment or transfer money to someone via WeChat Wallet. This pin will also be used for verification in the case that your phone is stolen. Once you’ve set up your pin, hit next and you will be able to see your bank card in your Wallet.

Registering on Alipay wallet:
The difference between Alipay and WeChat Pay is that the former is a standalone app. Among other features, Alipay offers bill payments, hospital registration, and even international money transfers. Unfortunately, the last option is available only to Chinese nationals or foreigners with a Chinese green card.

An English version of Alipay app is available however, the process of creating an Alipay account is very complicated. Foreigners can’t link a Chinese bank card to Alipay until they’ve completed the two-step verification process, including uploading their passport: the photo ID page and the page with their entry dates to China, and verification of their mobile phone number.

Is there a taxi booking service like Uber available in China?
Yes, there is. It is called Didi and offers several types of service regular taxis, a private car service called Premier, and the Express option for carpooling.

Didi's has a new English language version, which is user-friendly. Reset the language on the setting panel if your version appears in Chinese. Street names and the whole map are in English. Its top tab shows car options (express, taxi, premier or luxe). The luxe ride is only available in big cities. such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Payment options and details are also in English. They will link to the app, like WeChat

Is Online purchasing common in China?
It definitely is very common. There are  many online shopping sites. and Taobao being the most popular, but Taobao is the king of shopping in China. One awesome feature Taobao offers is image search. Just take a photo of the product you want, upload it on the app and all similar items you are looking for will appear on your search page. If you cant read Chinese, there is an English friendly alternative:  Baopals

Baopals is sort of like an agent for Taobao. You buy from a Baopals vendor, who in turn sources the goods from Taobao. Their price would be a little higher than purchasing from Taobao directly – a little  like an agent's fee. It is a very easy-to-navigate site and convenient for people who want to use an English-Language site, and who don’t mind paying a little more for it the ease of using English.

Is it possible to open a bank account without a working visa?
No, it is not. In china, expats who want to open a bank account will need to provide a one full year work visa; Additionally, they will need to have a local phone number first before opening the bank account; the bank will require your home country tax code/number as well.

Is Pollution in Beijing as serious as we have heard and what can we do about it?
Levels of pollution in Beijing are still much higher than in most Western cities, but the situation is improving. The government has taken many measures to reduce pollution levels, including restricting the burning of coal, restricting the numbers of cars on the road and removing polluting factories from the city. Nevertheless, pollution levels can be high in winter and on humid summer days.  It is highly recommended to buy air filters for use in the home and office; to buy a small pollution level measuring device (Kaiterra has a small inexpensive device which provides accurate readings) and to reduce non-essential outings on days when pollution levels are high.  If you do have to spend some hours outside on highly polluted days keep a stock of good quality 3M masks.

India Flag Pin


Where can I apply for an Indian visa?
The application for an Indian visa is to be made either in the foreigner’s home country or in the foreigner’s country of residence if the period of permanent residence in that particular country has been longer than two years.

What type of visa is granted to the family members of foreigners holding 'E' type (employment) visas?
They are granted an 'X' (entry) visa with a validity co-terminus with the validity of the visas of their spouses, or, for such shorter period as required or considered necessary by the visa issuing authority. On every approved visa extension of a foreigner on an employment visa, their spouse and children can seek visa extensions on co-terminus basis.

Which category of visa will be granted to family members of foreign nationals coming to India on a business visa?
Family members/dependants of a foreigner who is granted a business visa may be granted a Tourist visa or dependant visa of appropriate sub-category, subject to usual security checks, provided the family members are otherwise eligible for such a visa.

What do my wife and I need when we go for a ‘look-see trip’ before I accept the job?
In order to go to India for a ‘look-see trip’ you will simply need to apply for a visitor (Tourist) visa.

Will my spouse be able to work?
The accompanying dependants are issued with an X visa, which does not allow them to work. In order to work in India, the spouse would need to obtain an employment visa in his/her own individual capacity. The holder of an X visa cannot undertake any business or economic activity or accept any employment in India.

Can my unmarried partner secure residency in India?
Unmarried partners would not be issued long term dependent visas and hence cannot secure residency in India. The best way for them to travel to India would be on a Tourist Visa.

Does the Indian government recognise a same sex partner?
From September 06, 2018 onwards, via a verdict from The Honorary Supreme Court Verdict, the Government recognises same sex couples including LGBT community - however it still does not recognise same-sex marriage.

Can I travel once I have filed for my visa extension?
As per the new e-FRRO process, the Foreigner is not allowed to travel outside India once the Extension application is filed and approvals/ extension successful secured from the FRRO. Any travel may result in extension rejection or FRRO may put the file on hold, which can result in delays grant of extension.

Is FRRO/FRO registration mandatory?
The requirement for registration is based on the type of visa. Certain visa types may not require registration. The visa stamped on the passport will clearly indicate whether or not registration is required. Registration is mandatory within 14 days of arrival for an E visa and their Dependants. In certain cases the requirement of registration is specifically stamped on the visa. Additionally, restricted Nationalities need to comply with specific guidelines towards the FRRO/FRO Registration which is mandatory for them.

Is every member of the family required to go to the FRRO/FRO?
As per the new e-FRRO process, in personal presence is not required for the FRRO/ FRO Registration process in all jurisdictions wherever the e-FRRO process is implemented.

Can I bring my teenage children who are over 18, but still studying, as accompanying dependants?
No, teenage children who have reached an age of 18 years cannot accompany as dependants. They will be able to stay on a student visa.

Am I allowed to bring in my pets into India?
Yes. Pet handling can be challenging, daunting, complicated, confusing. Pets entering India should have the following documents accompanying them:-

  • Vaccination Card
  • Health Certificate
  • Parasite Treatment Certificate
  • Micro Chip Implant

What is PAN Card and is it mandatory?
PAN, or permanent account number, is a unique 10-digit alphanumeric identity allotted to each taxpayer by the Income Tax Department under the supervision of the Central Board of Direct Taxes. PAN (i.e. Permanent Account Number) needs to be obtained for being able to work in India and have salaries paid in India. A PAN application can be submitted online or physically. The PAN will be required for processing all your financial transactions in India and the PAN Card works as an Indian Tax ID Proof. PAN will be a pre-requisite for your FRRO Application and also Bank Account Opening in India.

What’s the best way to travel in India?
Expats who need to travel between major cities may want to consider domestic flights or express trains which are reasonably priced. Meter Taxi/Cab Services are well established in most cities in India. One can usually book such cabs/taxis via calling the customer support or via web based applications (also available through your mobile phone).

How to open a Bank account in India
As a foreign national employed in India, binding to the Indian Foreign Exchange and Income Tax Law, you are restricted to open one bank account per city. In general, the documents required are:

  • Filled in application form
  • Copy of passport and visa page
  • Employer’s letter for support of work assignment in India
  • Lease agreement as proof of address
  • Passport sized photographs
  • Copies of Residential permit (RP/RC)
  • Minimum amount per the guidelines of the Bank
  • Copy of Tax ID of the Foreigner from his home country

For housing, can an Expat hold a personal contract/ lease agreement?
Yes, it is possible for an individual to hold and register a lease in his/her name, however the landlords prefer to have a company agreement. Registrations of leases with local concerned authority in certain locations are mandatory, as per the local laws.

Is it mandatory to have a valid work permit and residence permit before signing a housing contract / agreement?
Yes, it is recommended to have the work permit in place before securing a lease in India.

Can an Expat drive in India?
It is recommended for Expats not to drive in India unless they are comfortable with the route, driving systems, etc. in India. Foreigners can drive in India with their International Driving License for a limited period of 3 months. It is recommended that one obtains an Indian Driving License within this period.

How is the traffic condition in India?
India has difficult road and traffic conditions. One should exercise extreme caution when crossing streets, even in marked pedestrian areas, and try to use only cars that have seatbelts and always wear helmets on motorcycles and bicycles. Jaywalking is a common phenomenon. People drive fast, recklessly and without consideration for the rules of the road. Thus, accidents are quite common. Roads are often poorly maintained and congested. Even main roads frequently have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. Peak-hour congestion increase the travel time to travel a given distance. Traffic is partly attributable to India’s large population and high population density in urban areas, as well as an under-developed public transportation network.

How difficult is to find and secure a perfect house in India?
Indian Real Estate has traditionally been an unorganised and fragmented sector, lacking the transparency as compared to mature real estate markets in other parts of developed countries. It’s primarily a landlord’s market and finding the right house and securing the same is a very tedious and lengthy process. It generally requires 3 to 4 weeks from the day the property is finalised to the day of your move in. There are specific lease formats used, for e.g. state of Maharashtra uses Leave and License agreements, while most of the other cities in India execute a Lease Agreement.

What is the voltage used in India?
Electricity in India is 240 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second (50 Hertz). You will require a voltage converter if you are carrying a device that does not accept 240 Volts at 50 Hertz. It is also handy to carry a few universal socket plug converters because in some places in India you may still find round pin sockets installed.

How to find a Domestic Help in India?
This is a highly unorganised sector in India. The best way to identify household help is through references or from a repatriating family. The next option is to find with your resources at the expatriate network. Commonly in India, once you move into your house, the community helpers (watchman/ other servants etc.) will assist you in finding a maid. There are a few local agencies that provide assistance in finding household help but they can be unreliable. Expats can explore finding domestic help through Expat forums/ groups & International School assistance forums/ groups.

How to set up utilities in India?
Utilities mainly electricity, water and piped gas connections are always registered in the name of the landlord only. Only the respective bills are paid for the tenure of the contract / agreement. Internet, telephone and cable / satellite TV connections and bottled gas connections are set up in your name.

How to get a Mobile phone and SIM cards in India?
Mobile phone services are provided in India via GSM, CDMA and VOLTE technology. There are multiple service providers for each of the Mobile phone services and it is best to check with your local point of contact in the city. The Mobile phone service provider provides only for SIM cards. You may need to purchase a handset separately. You may choose for a Pre-paid option or a Post-paid option with the service providers. These providers offer a variety of packages based on the usage schemes.  Required documents:-

  • Filled in application form
  • Copy of passport and visa page
  • Employer’s letter for support of work assignment in India
  • Lease agreement as proof of address
  • Passport sized photographs
  • Copies of Residential permit (RP/RC)
  • Minimum amount for purchase OR security deposit payment (varies from INR 500 to INR 5,000)

How is the schooling in India and what are the options?
Most Metropolitan cities in India have established International Schools; however some cities may have American International Schools while others may have German International School and so on. You will need to check with your local city coordinator to provide for specific names for schools. The schools may follow IB/ IGSC/ Cambridge/ Australian/ German curriculum and it is best to verify the curriculum before seeking admission. You will also find a lot of International schools which are more Indian, though the name they carry may have International included in the name as they may be following either International pattern of education per the guidelines from IB/ IGSC etc or may be offering assistance/ classes per the IB/ IGSE syllabus. Every city will offer a large choice of Indian schools with Indian curriculum.

Is Pollution a serious concern?
There are many environmental issues in India. Air, water and noise pollution being the major ones. Air pollution in India, is a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning and vehicle emissions. Face masks of Grade N95 are recommended and air purifiers to be installed in the offices and residential buildings. Noise pollution levels in India have been consistently higher than permissible limits, especially in the residential areas. Noise from construction sites, pubs and restaurants, vehicular traffic, religious places of worship, street vendors, use of loudspeakers to celebrate a festival or wedding and bursting of crackers are the main contributors.

Japan Flag Pin


What process do I need to follow after my long term visa is issued?
Once your long term visa is issued, we may assist you with the residence registration at the ward/city office, bank account opening, and mobile phone purchasing if necessary.

How long is the process?
The process should take about 6-7 hours. You can complete the residence registration and bank account opening on the same day, but this would need to take place on weekdays only as the government office is closed on weekends. Please note that you would need to complete the residence registration before opening a bank account, purchasing a phone, etc.

What documents do I need to bring to complete this process? 

  1. Passport
  2. Residence card

Depending on whether you have a spouse or a child (children), you would need their documents as well.

Could you support to convert my Driver’s license to a Japanese one?
Yes, we are happy to accompany you to the driver’s the license bureau and assist you with the driver’s license conversion process. You need to attend the procedure on your own.

What documentation do I need for conversion?

  1. Valid foreign driver’s license
  2. Japanese translation of the driver’s license by JAF
  3. Japanese Driver’s License (if any)
  4. Juminhyo (Residence Certificate) issued within 3 months
  5. Passport
  6. Residence card
  7. Documents to show that you have stayed in the country issued the license for over 3 months after you obtained your current license
  8. Photo (3cm x 2.4cm)

>What is the required process for my license conversion?
Depending on what country issued the foreign license, a written or driving test may or may not be necessary. For those who need to take both the written and driving test, at least 2 visits to the License bureau are required. The first part is submitting the documentation to the license bureau in person. If accepted, take the written test and then, once passed, book a date for the driving test. The driving test needs to be booked on a separate date.

What’s the Difference between Serviced and Unfurnished?
Unfurnished means no furniture, though most higher end places will have appliances such as cooking stoves, washer/dryers, refrigerators, air conditioners, and lights.

Furnished apartments in Tokyo generally means serviced apartments of the apartment hotel type. While furnishings and utilities are generally included in the rent, the choice is limited, and the serviced apartments tend to be small compared to unfurnished apartments and are mainly only Studio, one, or two bedrooms.

What is key money?
Key money is paid as a non-refundable gift to the landlord for letting you rent the property. It is usually 1 or 2 months' rent.

In addition to key money, there is also a separate agent fee which is paid to the agent. It is usually 1 months' rent.

What is a guarantor company?
A tenant will be required to have a guarantor regardless of their nationality. As most expats do not have relatives in Japan, they will need to hire a guarantor company to insure their lease by paying a fee to this company. It is best, and of course free, if your company can act as your guarantor, however, some property landlords require the hiring of a guarantor company rather than allowing your company act as your guarantor.

What are the typical fees for a guarantor company?
Typically, you need to pay 50-100% of 1 month’s rent to a guarantor company, and there is an annual renewal fee of around 10,000 yen to 30,000 yen.

Korea Flag Pin


What is the weather like? i.e. how hot it is in summer and how cold is the winter.  Then what will be the necessary clothing? 
Our answer is that the summer is very hot and humid and many people feel that it is hotter than other South East countries which are known to be hot all the time.  On the other hand winter may be very cold so, it will be good to be well prepared.

What is the heating system in Korea generally?
We would then answer that it is floor heating.  And we would advise what to do, how to maintain, for example when they are absent from the property for vacation in winter.

What do I  have to be careful about, for example, not to offend culturally or making mistakes.
This question would come more to cultural awareness but we would touch small tips such as – take off shoes when you are invited to a Korean’s house, do not write someone’s name in red, don’t be offended when people are in a hurry and when they pass you without saying sorry etc.

How are relationships with North Korea developing?
We answer in a most neutral way and say that it will take time but we believe the new trend is not pessimistic.  In any case, the good thing is that we have been living with the threats and tensions for almost forever and actually Korea is safer than it is shown from outside.

How do Koreans keep being slim when they eat such various side dishes all the time?
We would answer that Korean food is cooked in very healthy ways and most of traditional ingredients are healthy.  And many kinds of side dishes does not necessarily mean that a lot of calories.

How does “tipping” work?
We answer that in Korea, tipping is not common except for certain areas such as hair salon or massage places.

What about cosmetics and plastic surgery in Korea?
Our answer would be that Koreans are known to be very skillful in everything related to handwork and that includes medical doctors especially working in plastic surgery and general surgery.  The result is generally good and therefore there are foreigners coming to Korea only to have plastic surgery in Korea.  Korean Cosmetics are known to be soft and fitting to Asian skins especially.  People, mainly Chinese, are coming to Korea and buy a great amount of Korean cosmetics.

Are Samsung goods cheaper in Korea compared to other countries?  If not, why? 
We answer that it is not true and actually many of electronics products or cars made by Korean companies are more expensive in Korea than overseas.  They may have different models/pricing policies for different areas and local Koreans also complain about this.

Other questions would depend on the interest of the expatriate concerned.  For these questions, we may answer on the spot if we have the right answer but in case the question is hard to answer right away, we would delay the response until we find the right answer after having searched in many ways.

Malaysia Flag Pin


How do I open a bank account? Do I need to wait until I have my work permit?
In order to open a local bank account, you will need to have your valid work permit (Employed Pass) endorsed on your Passport. You will also need a letter from your hiring Company stating your employment and an initial deposit (varies from bank to bank, usually between MYR250 – MYR1000). Some banks may further request for a copy of your Tenancy Agreement as proof of your residential address.

Can I use my home country driving licence to drive in Malaysia? Otherwise, will I be able to convert to a Malaysian Driver’s Licence?
As of 24th September 2018 the conversion of Foreign Drivers Licence to Malaysian Driving Licence had been suspended and this applies to both Automatic and Manual Conversion. This will however not affect those who are Diplomatic Pass holders, Singapore driving licence holders (Malaysians who convert their driving licences to obtain Singapore driving licence).

However, Expats who hold a Driver’s License from countries which are part of the Geneva Convention will still be able to drive in Malaysia provided that their Driver’s License are in English, Malay or dual language and is still valid. If their Driver’s License are not in the English or Malay language, a Certified Translation will need to be attained from their embassy. A copy of the translated Driver’s License should be carried in the vehicle along with the Original Drivers Licence and a copy of Section 28 of the Road Transport Act (APJ) 1987.

If you are holding a driver’s licence from a country not part of the Geneva Convention or you are not a Diplomatic Pass holder, or a Singapore driving licence holder (Malaysians who convert their driving licences to obtain Singapore driving licence) you will need to apply for a Malaysian Driver’s License.

On the other hand, if you have an International Driving Permit, it must be used together with your respective country’s domestic driving licences to enable you to drive in Malaysia. Alternatively, you are advised to apply for a Malaysian driving licence via local authorized driving schools.

Will I need to pay the realtor a service fee for helping me find a home?
In the event a realtor need to co-broke on the property with another realtor, he/she may request a home-finding fee/commission from the tenant. However, this is not a common practice. Our carefully selected panel of realtors take commission from the landlord only and not from the tenant.

Why do I need to use a panel realtor? Can’t I appoint one myself?
Our panel realtors are carefully appointed after due diligence. We ensure that they are registered, have a good track record and will be able to assist with negotiations with the landlord in the event issues arise with the property.

You can most definitely appoint a realtor on your own and we will be more than happy to work with your appointed realtor as well as offer you the support you need to finalise your lease. However, we find non-panel realtors are less co-operative in times of dispute with the landlord or when complaints about the property are made post move-in. As we are committed to having your best interest in mind at all times, Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group (Malaysia) has a strict policy of not accepting commission from realtors.

How can I get domestic help (e.g. part/full-time maid)? How much will I need to pay the maid?
As there is a very limited supply of local maids, you will need to opt for foreign maids either from Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, India or Sri Lanka. As Filipina maids are able to converse in English, they are the preferred option among expatriates. If you have already sourced your own candidate, you will be able to handle the application process yourself directly with the Immigration Department of Malaysia, saving you a sizeable amount in cost. Alternatively, you may use a registered foreign maid agency to assist you. A full-time live-in Filipina maid would expect to be paid the equivalent of USD400-550 per month with minimum 1 day a week off. Out of goodwill, some employers would even offer to pay for the maid’s return flight ticket for their trip back home once a year.

In the more popular expat residential areas, it is not difficult at all to find part-time maids, and this is done usually through word of mouth or recommendation from a neighbour or friend living in the vicinity. Part-time maids usually charge MYR20-MYR25 an hour. Sometimes, depending on where they are travelling from, they may request a transportation allowance.

Will my spouse, holding a Dependant Pass be able to work in Malaysia?
Unfortunately, the law strictly prohibits a Dependant Pass holder from working in Malaysia. In order to find employment in the country, your spouse will need to convert his/her visa to an Employment Pass. He/she will have to make an application for the Employment Pass via the local hiring company to the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

How long does an Employment Pass application take to be approved?
If the hiring company is already registered with the Immigration Department of Malaysia Expatriate Services Division (ESD), the Employment Pass application is usually approved within 21 working days. However, if the hiring company has yet to be registered with the ESD, the process can take much longer – even up to 3 months.

Philippines Flag Pin


What can you tell me about how to ease my transition to Filipino life?

Fast Facts:

  • Weather and What to Wear: Remember it is very warm and humid in The Philippines – pack lightweight, cotton clothing.
  • Peace and Order: There are a number of laws that the Filipino people follow in order to keep their country beautiful and pleasant to live in – be aware of these laws and follow them.
  • Shopping!: Shopping is easy in the Philippines with a plethora of shopping malls strategically located near business, residential areas. People do not buy in bulk because they do not have the storage space and it will not keep in the climate.
  • Traveling/Driving Around: Be prepared for the traffic situations in Manila especially during rush hours and rainy season where a great number of the streets get flooded – this is during the rainy months of July to September.

Specific Concerns:

On Pets:
Q: What do I need to know about bringing my pet to the Philippines?

A: The importer has to get an Import Permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Philippines prior to arrival in the country.

Upon arrival, documents to support shall be a Veterinary Health Certificate and Vaccination Records. Additional requirements may be listed on the permit depending on the country of origin.

On electronic devices/appliances:
Q: What should I do about electrical appliances?

A: Voltage used in The Philippines is 220 and 60 cycles.

Because of the difference in voltage, it is better not to bring stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, or dishwashers with you to the Philippines.

Foreigners accustomed to strict compliance with building codes will have to be aware of the lax building codes and enforcement of these in the Philippines. Do not, therefore, take basics for granted but check such things as electric wiring, especially because foreigners are apt to plug in more electrical appliances than Filipinos (washing machine, dryers, and vacuum cleaners.

If spouse can work:
Q: Can my spouse work the Philippines?

A: Your spouse can work if they have work permit papers from the company that is employing them. Most companies will not bother with papers unless the person is going to work full-time.

On Embassy registration:
Q: Is registration in my Embassy a requirement?

A: Every Foreigner staying in the Philippines longer than 21 days is required to apply for a visa. A visitor’s visa is valid for 59 days. You are advised to register in the embassy of citizenship. It is best that every member of the family is recorded in the embassy.

Embassy registration is now available online; hence nationals can register once they are settled in their new home.

On opening a bank account:
Q: Which bank should I choose in opening?

A: There are a number of foreign banks in the country like Citibank, Hong Kong Shanghai Bank and Standard Chartered to name a few.

There are likewise many local banks to choose from, namely:

Both international and local banks can be utilized for opening accounts in pesos, dollars and other major foreign currencies.

We suggest utilizing the services of Citibank or Standard Chartered Bank for a foreign bank and Banco De Oro Universal Bank or Bank of the Philippine Islands for a local bank as these banks have more branches in the metropolis for the foreign banks and nationwide for the local, to meet ones need, especially the access to ATMs.

These banks have differing minimum amounts and requirements for opening a checking or savings account. You must remember however those remittances from abroad are automatically converted to Pesos unless you have a dollar account and use this as the recipient account. One can lose in the exchange rates that fluctuate on a daily basis.

On tipping:
Q: What would be minimum for restaurant tipping?

A: The standard tips are about 10 to 15 percent in restaurants, however, since most establishments already impose a 10 %  service charge,  five (5%) percent or less would suffice.

Most Chinese restaurants do not impose a service charge on the bill so it is recommended to leave at least a  10% percent tip.

For hotel employees, tips are normally within Php100.00 to Php200.00 or more, depending on how much you want to give.  There is no need to tip deliverymen but you may do so if you wish.

Public transport:
Q: What modes of transportation are there?

A: Metro Manila, like any major metropolis, has a mass transportation system. The system, however, is not as developed as those in other parts of the world. This system consists of buses and taxis that ply the major thoroughfares.

Moreover, we also have a popular mobile app called “Grab Car” which took over Uber Philippines.

For the inner streets, the local jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs are the modes of transportation.

Manila has an international airport with regular flights. The most convenient form of domestic travel is by air, and Philippine Airlines connects Manila with all the major cities and towns. There are also other smaller companies providing air services.

The most recently developed transportation system here is the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Metrostar Rail Transit (MRT).

Both are overhead and ground level electric railways that travel in selected areas from north to south and east to west. This system is faster, more comfortable and most of all more reliable, but unfortunately are not yet accessible in all parts of Metro Manila.

For newcomers, however, we suggest availing of the service of car rental companies that provide cars and vans at affordable prices for day, short term or long-term lease.

Driving in the Philippines
Q: How do I get a Philippine driver’s license?

A: Everybody who has a valid driver’s license from his/her own country or an international license can drive with that license for a maximum of 90 days. After this period, you have to apply for a Philippine driver’s license. Local rules allow one to drive at the age of seventeen (17). The license is valid for a period of five (5) years.

The law requires that you have a work permit and a valid residence visa for a minimum of twelve (12) months before applying for a driver’s license

Your consultant will explain how and where to obtain your driving license.

Some tips on driving?

Driving in the Philippines, specifically in Metro Manila can be a great challenge especially for first timers.

Although rules do exist, most local drivers are just focused on getting to their destination in the fastest possible time, without much consideration for traffic regulations.

Therefore, rules such as staying in one lane, giving right of way and respecting pedestrian crossings are often ignored.

A new comer will have to be on guard for cars staying too close or blowing their horn unnecessarily. It will take some time getting used to, so the best option is defensive driving.

The only consolation for foreigners though is that by being from another country, the traffic enforcers will most likely cut you some slack on your first time violating traffic rules.

The following are a few reminders to take note of when you do feel good and ready to explore the local roads:

  • Local driver’s license is valid for a period of five (5) years from the date of issue.
  • Traffic rules do exist but are not consistently enforced. However, in the major business districts, the rules on “no parking” areas and “tow-away zones” are strictly followed.
  • Install a GPS navigation software app (Waze, Google Map) in your car as some major and minor roads do not have visible street signs.  It is also advisable to list down landmarks when asking for directions.
  • If you prefer using road maps, they are available from gas stations and bookstores although do check on date of printing as they may not be updated.
  • The majority of public transportation drivers (buses, jeepneys and taxis) do not practice road courtesy, so it is best to stay on guard. They do not remain in the assigned lanes.
  • DEFENSIVE DRIVING is the key.
  • Do not hesitate to blow your horn (or halt and check all directions) in intersections to make sure no one is running a red light, to warn a pedestrian about to cross, or to get a jeepney which has abruptly stopped in front of you in the middle of the road to get moving. When driving out-of-town or in the countryside, be sure to get to your destination by early evening. Country roads are not lit well and language may be a problem. In addition to that, directions will not always be available, as there are hardly any street signs or public telephone lines around. A cellular phone is always handy.
  • If you find yourself in the middle of a downpour or a sudden storm, take extra caution as some roads easily get flooded.
  • When in a mishap, whether minor or major do the following:
        1. When caught in a minor accident, do not get out of the car. Let the driver handle the situation.
        2. If it is a major accident, you can call a policeman for help or contact your company or Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group - Philippines for assistance.

Last update: 14 May 2020

Singapore Flag Pin



About Singapore

What are things Singapore best known for?
Singapore is known for being super clean, green and safe. Singapore is also well known for her highly attractive investment climate and a stable political environment.

Size of Singapore

How big is Singapore?
Singapore is 720sqkm (52km x 26km)
Half the size of London and Los Angeles. 2/3 the size of Hong Kong and New York.
There is 5.6 million people in Singapore and 40% of the population are foreigners and non-residents.

Location & Climate of Singapore

Where is Singapore?
Singapore is at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula and above Indonesia. Singapore is one of the 3 city states in the world like Monaco & Vatican that do not have a capital.

What is Singapore weather like?
As Singapore is near the Equator, Singapore is generally hot and humid year-round.  Temperature is about 30 Degree Celsius and humidity at 75%.

What is Singapore natural resource?
Due to the lack of natural and agricultural resources, to maintain its competitive position despite rising wages, the government seeks to promote higher value-added activities in the manufacturing and services sectors in particular Banking & Finance, Biotechnology and Energy & Infrastructure.

About Singaporeans

Where do Singaporeans come from originally?
Singapore people are made up of Chinese, Indians and Malays who are descended from various ethnic groups of East Asia (mainly China), South Asia (mainly India), and the Malay Archipelago as early as in 1819.

What do Singaporeans love doing?
Singaporeans like Shopping, Eating, Travelling and Properties.  Every knots and corners in Singapore have a land for shopping.  Eating is the nation’s pastime; on average, a Singaporean eats out at least twice a week and one would drive and queue for just one craving.  As Singapore is so tiny, moving out of the 50km radius will bring you to another country.  Singapore public policy supports housing ownership.  90% of the citizen owns a property.  A new property launch can invite thousands of viewers and a good project can be sold out within days.

What language does Singaporeans speak?
Most Singaporeans speak Singlish but decoding Singlish can be a task.  Singlish borrows terms from the Chinese, Malay and Tamil languages and be made an expression or a sentence. Sentences are often not complete and are closer to phrases in other languages, without prepositions and are spoken quickly with a distinct Singaporean accent. Singaporeans also often use the word “can” in place of “yes”.

Rules & Regulations In Singapore

Why is Chewing Gum Banned in Singapore?
In 1992, the government of Singapore banned chewing gum. This move was a reaction to littering - used gum left on sidewalks and under park benches, for example - as well as vandalism.

How serious is Caning in Singapore?
Contrary to rumour, not every offence carries a caning penalty.  But vandalism can be an offence that invites caning.  Caning in Singapore involves being struck with a wooden stick on the back of the thigh, which can leave permanent scars.

Is Death penalty the capital punishment?
In 2012, Parliament made significant amendments to the Penal Code and the Misuse of Drugs Act, marking a shift from the longstanding mandatory to a discretionary death penalty system.  However, one cannot take it lightly as Singapore still maintain a zero tolerance position on  murder and certain drug related offences as the government believes that capital punishment is a “key element” in keeping Singapore safe and drug-free.


Your Employment Details

How important is to get the Employment Pass ready?
Your EP is passport to bank account opening, renting a home, applying utility account, getting a phone.  Ensure you have it as soon as you get to Singapore.

Can a Dependant's Pass holder work in Singapore?
A Dependant's Pass holder can apply for a Letter of Consent from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) if he or she wishes to work in Singapore.

Do foreigners have to contribute to the CPF?
So long you are not a citizen or a permanent resident, contribution is Central Provident Fund (CPF) is mandatory

Packing List

Do you pay Import Duty when moving to Singapore?
Importing used household articles and personal effects into Singapore will incur Goods and Services Tax (GST).  You are required to apply for a GST relief upon satisfying stipulated conditions.

The import of intoxicating liquors, tobacco products, motor vehicles, private aircraft, boats, yachts and commercial goods by all persons, regardless of their status of transferring residence, will incur GST and duty (where applicable).
What are the Prohibited Items that I cannot pack with me?
To name a few: Chewing gums (unless medicinal), chewing tobacco, smokeless cigars/cigarettes, fire crackers, pistol shaped cigarette lighters; endangered species of wildlife and their by-products,

What are good to pack with me?
Kitchen gadgets, fancy toiletries and cosmetics, running shoes, bed linens, towels, apparel, alcohol; Christmas decorations; BBQ pit, garden set.

What not to pack with me?
Refrigerators/freezers as those sold in Singapore are modified for tropical climate; thus, do not bring such appliance.  Books & paintings will be at risk from mildew and fungus damage, especially if air-conditioning is not on at all time.
Raincoat & Warm clothing - only bring what’s required for home leave or if you are planning to travel in cold countries.

What is the voltage used in Singapore?
In Singapore, the standard voltage is 230V and frequency is 50Hz.  If the label states 'INPUT: 100-240V, 50/60 Hz' the appliance can be used in all countries in the world and would not need a converter.

Cost of Living

What would be my biggest expenses?
Rent, School fees and transport (if you buy a car) are likely be the biggest expenses. Rent usually wipe off one’s salary by half.

Is a domestic helper necessary?
If you can afford it, a domestic helper would be good to have as you are away from home.

How much should I spend on Housing?
Practicality is the key to spending amount on housing. Rent can vary from S$2,500 to S$35,000 per month or even more.

Is eating out expensive in Singapore?
Eating out can cost as little as S$5 if one doesn’t mind eating in a non-airconditioned place.  However, in restaurant, a bottle of wine can cost at least S$70.


How public transportation works in Singapore?
Public transport in Singapore is convenient and cheap.  Buses and trains are almost reachable to every part of Singapore. Avoid cash fare, a stored value smartcard will bring you more savings.

Are Cars expensive in Singapore?
Car costs make Singapore world’s priciest city.  A basic sedan comes with a S$100,000 price tag.  This is due the high car import tax and the thereabout S$40,000 Certificate of Entitlement (COE).

Can I import my vehicle to Singapore?
Yes you can, provided the said vehicle is less than 3 years old. But be aware of the high car import tax, COE and GST.

1 S$ ≅ 0.73 USD ≅ 0.64 € ≅ 0.57 GBP

Taiwan Flag Pin


Where is Taiwan?
Taiwan lies 120 km off the coast of China's Fujian province.  Between Japan and the Philippines and is geographically the heart of Asia

Do I need to speak Chinese to survive in Taiwan?
Mandarin Chinese is the official language.  Taiwanese and Hakka are the top two commonly spoken dialects. While all Taiwanese are taught English starting from late elementary school. Passing an English exam is a requirement to earn a four-year university degree, regardless of major. However, the locals don’t commonly communicate in English. Understanding some of the day to day basic Chinese will certainly make the stay more enjoyable.

Health and Safety

Is the water safe in Taiwan?
It is not safe to drink tap water.  The municipal water supply in Taiwan is pure at its source but often becomes contaminated in transit to the consumer.  Always filter tap water through charcoal filters for drinking and cooking.   Using bottled water with a dispenser is another alternative.

Is it safe to eat local food?
Monosodium Giutamate (MSG), is a flavor enhancer that is extracted from seaweed and used extensively in Chinese cooking. Some people experience distressing side effects after ingesting MSG. These include headaches, nausea, flushes, a warm feeling in the upper body and even abdominal pains. Soups generally contain higher concentrations of MSG than prepared dishes. Asthma sufferers should particularly try to avoid MSG. When dining out, you may ask to exclude MSG to the dishes ordered.

How is the air quality in Taiwan, not very good?
Although air pollution at present is a real concern in many parts of Taiwan, the government has taken measures in recent years to try and reduce contaminants.  It’s advisable to always wear masks when going outside during times of high air pollution Insurances.


Medical Insurance
Taiwan has a comprehensive healthcare system with hospitals classified as medical centers, regional hospitals, local hospitals and basic-level medical institutes.  The medical treatment at various classifications of medical institutions is also divided into Western and Traditional Chinese medicine. This compulsory National Health Insurance Scheme applies to everyone including foreigners once they receive their Alien Resident IC card.

NHI Logo

Renter’s Insurance
You’re not required to purchase renter’s insurance, but it is recommended. Insurance plans cover damage to the building and its contents, your personal belongings, and for any bodily injury sustained by a domestic worker under your employment.


Where is the best place to live? 
Choosing housing here in Taiwan can be a complex matter, so before you start hunting have in mind the importance of some of the following:

Proximity to:
Ease of shopping
Entertainment & Recreation

What is the best way to look for apartment?
Work with a certified real estate agency is highly recommended.
Know what your budget is and what is included, e.g. is it just for accommodation or does it include accommodation, utility costs, management fees, security fees, garden/pool keep-up. If opt to view property surfed online - Watch out the gimmicks such as unrealistic photo and price to allure people’s interests.  Keep in mind the area is quite competitive for rentals. Home owners work with all realtors and hence there are often a lot of viewings, and multiple applications for the same property through different realtors.  When properties go on the market the popular one’s are often taken quickly.

Are there many housings equipped with western standard?
Depending on location and the budget you’re ready to spend on rentals.  Most leasing properties are generally 3 bedrooms.  In major cities such as Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung, it’s very likely to find apartments with western-standard kitchen and appliances.

Money Matters

Taiwan Currency Notes & Coins

What currency does Taiwan use?
The official unit of currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD$). Coins come in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20 and $50. Notes come in $100, $500, and $1000 denominations. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at government-designated banks and hotels.

Why is it called the New Taiwan Dollar?
Taiwan was under Japanese rule between 1895 to 1945 and Taiwan used Taiwan Yen was used as the currency during that time. After WWII, Taiwan was given back to China, and the government of China changed the currency to Taiwan dollars used from 1946 to 1949. But, during the Chinese civil war, the Taiwan dollar experienced hyperinflation, and so was later replaced by the New Taiwan Dollar.

Which bank should I use in Taiwan?
Foreign banks are well represented in Taipei, but less so in other cities. Many of the foreign banks, however, do not undertake consumer or retail banking, as a general rule, foreign banks are more attuned to the expatriate’s needs and are more efficient when it comes to international money transfer.

There are abundant number of local banks. Most banks will let foreigners set up an account. Keep in mind that most of the tellers are not fluent in English.  To make the visit most productive, it is best to have your Destination Consultant to accompany you for the process.

How do I open a Taiwan bank account?
Typically you can walk in to any bank, and open an account if you bring your passport and ARC.

How to open a bank account in Taiwan:
Applicant must be at least 20 years old, and should have a fixed place of residence. Account opening has to be conducted in person. Expats should bring original copies of Valid Passport and Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) to process their applications. The common minimum amount required to open a bank account at local banks is NT$ 1,000.


Are there places to worship?
Due to the diversity of cultures in Taiwan, the religion is highly characterized with a lot of freedom. While the traditional religions practiced in Taiwan are Buddhism, Daoism, and folk religions; except for a small number of purely Buddhist temples, however, most of the places of worship combine all three traditions.  However, Taiwan is peculiar in the sense that so many religious systems, both local beliefs and those imported from abroad, have come to coexist and intermingle.  There are number of worship places for Folk Religions, Christians and Islam.


What are the school options?
Although limited in number, there are various international schools in Taiwan offering a foreign national curriculum - most are US based. In order to gain entry to an international school, the child must hold a foreign passport. Since most schools do have waiting lists, it is strongly recommended that the parents select at least two schools and begin the admission process as soon as the transition becomes evident. Admission to most of the international/English schools is based on their own set of prerequisites.

All public and local private schools are established for children with Mandarin Chinese as their native language. Foreign national children may find it hard to adjust to local schools if they do not have any support at home in Mandarin.

If you want your child to take the advantage of learning Mandarin Chinese while staying in Taiwan, there are a number of well-established bilingual private schools for consideration.


Do I need a car to get around?
Taiwan has the highest density of scooters in Asia.  They don’t stay in lanes nor follow the traffic regulations.  It makes driving a bit more exciting especially during peak hours.

Eligibility to drive:
Taiwan has entered a driving equity reciprocation with a list of countries. Any foreigner who wishes to drive in Taiwan must have a valid driver’s license. The only valid licenses are a locally-issued Taiwan driver’s license or an International Driver’s License issued outside Taiwan which has a Permit issued from.

What are the transportation options if I don’t drive?
There are many ways for expat to get around in Taipei.  The public transit system in Taipei is excellent.  If an expat opts to commute to work by public transports, the buses, trains and the mass rapid transit (MRT) are always air-conditioned providing comfortable rides.  During the rush hours, it tends to be more crowded.  However, you can always wait for the next one to come soon.  The buses run every 5~10 minutes with MRT runs every 3~5 minutes.

Thailand Flag Pin


Where can I apply for a Thailand visa?
Visa applications need to be made before arrival in Thailand. Before entering Thailand, check with the Royal Thai Embassy or consulate in your home country for the most up-to-date visa information.

If you are coming to take up employment in Thailand, you will need to apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa Category ‘B’ VISA. An accompanying spouse and any family members also relocating will need to apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa Category ‘O’ Visa. When applying for visas, request what is referred as a ‘re-entry permit’. It is advisable to obtain these visas in your departing country from the Thai Embassy at the same time as the working spouse’s visa.

How important is to get the Work Permit ready?
Work Permits are vital if you decide to work in Thailand. A foreigner cannot purchase a car, sign any official or company documents, receive a salary or subscribe for a mobile phone line until a work permit is obtained.

Will my spouse be able to work?
The Non-Immigrant “O” Visa for dependants does not allow them to legally work in Thailand. If your spouse wishes to work, he or she should get the appropriate Non-Immigrant “B” Visa and Work Permit through their own employers.

What is Thailand Time Zone?
There is only one Time Zone in Thailand. The local time is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and there is no daylight-saving time.

What is Thailand weather like?
Temperatures in Thailand vary with the time of year and the region you are in. In most of the country, temperatures are generally hot and humid, with a cooler season between November and February. March to June is a hot season, with an approximately only two percent of Thailand’s rainfalls during this time. In contrast, between July to October, Thailand sees as much as 98 percent of its annual rainfall.

What language does Thai People speak?
The official language of Bangkok is Thai and it is widely spoken throughout Thailand. Most of the people also understand and speak English, but this is more in the main city and the tourist areas. The English spoken by the locals might be broken but it won’t be too difficult to comprehend.

What are the characteristics of Thai people?
Thailand has a population of around 66 Million.
Bangkok has a population of around 8 Million - a lot of these people are tourists and residents from neighboring provinces who come here for work. Out of the 78 provinces in Thailand, Bangkok has the greatest number of people and highest population density. The majority of Thai people are Buddhists (91%), followed by Muslims (4.7%), Christians (2.0%), Hindus (0.5%), Sikhs (0.1%) and Confucians (0.1%). The people are friendly towards outsiders and work in various fields like retail, manufacturing, transport, communication and finance. Western clothes are popular in the city, but all temples (especially the Grand Palace) follow a strict dress code.

Can I have a Thai Driving License?
Requirements for applying a Thai Driving license:

  • The applicant must have reached the age of 18 years.
  • The applicant must be a Resident, or hold a Non–Immigrant Resident Visa.
  • The applicant must not have any physical or mental disability that will prevent them from driving safely.

How to open a Bank account in Thailand?
All banks require several forms of identification, i.e., birth certificate, passport, current credit cards, etc. and most banks will request a letter of introduction from your employer along with details of your current visa status. It is better to ring the bank to check which documents are required. Also, you will need to show your “Work Permit”. Usually, without a work permit, you may be able to open only a “Savings Account” in some banks, provided there is an Employment Certificate issued by the Employer.

What is currency of Thailand?
The Thai currency is the Baht (THB), which is divided into 100 Satang. Thai notes are in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000, with Satang coins available in denominations of 25 and 50. There are also one, two, five and ten Baht coins.

For housing, can an Expat hold a personal contract/ lease agreement?
Yes, it is possible for an individual to hold and register a lease in his/her name.

How is the schooling in Thailand and what are the options?
There are many International Schools located in the Bangkok area. These are privately run facilities, and work on tuition fee basis. There are many expatriates in Bangkok looking for places for their children in these schools and there are many local Thais who also wish to enrol their children in these schools, so competition is high. If you wish to enrol your child in one of the International Schools, be sure to do so as early as possible.

The International Schools in Bangkok usually offer either an American or British education, and are taught in English. In addition to the US and UK systems, there are International Schools that provide educational trainings that result in the International Baccalaureate degree, and there are nationality-based schools that teach in the child's homeland language.
Prior to your moving, it is suggested that you and your family will have to enquire about the school your child will attend. It is important to obtain information about the curricula, education systems and facilities of the school to help you make a qualified decision. is a useful webpage giving further information about education options in Thailand.

Am I allowed to bring in my pets into Thailand?
If you are bringing pets with you, there will be documentation required for customs clearance.

What is the cost of living in Thailand?
Thailand has always been a nation where one can both travel and live on a relatively reasonable budget.

The country has long been known as a wallet-friendly destination, with the price of everyday necessities such as food, public transport, gym memberships and utilities considerably lower than its regional counterparts. Fixed expenditures such as property for both rental and purchase purposes (short-stay accommodation included) also tend to be less expensive than those in neighboring countries.

Is a domestic helper necessary?
If you can afford it, a domestic helper would be good to have as you are away from home.

What is the voltage used in Thailand?
Thailand's voltage is 220-240AC, 50 Hertz. The plugs in Thailand are not standardised -- there are at least three different types, some two pin and some three, so be sure to either bring a universal adapter or buy one once you arrive in Thailand. Universal adapters can be purchased before arriving in Thailand or else they can be found in electronics and department stores in major urban centres.