Five Key Tips to Handle Your Repatriation to Zurich, Switzerland

We think it is important to give you five key tips to handle your repatriation* to Zurich, Switzerland. We have clients like Peter, a Swiss national, who decided to go on an international assignment that led him to spend several years in another country. During his stay, he fell in love with a local resident and they got married. As a result, their children obtained dual nationality. Eventually, when the assignment was over, Peter decided to return to Switzerland with his family, triggering a series of immigration and other challenges, particularly for his partner, who did not speak the local languages such as German or French.

Unfortunately, such matters are regarded as personal and not within the means of a company to resolve. The family was left to deal with this issue on their own. Research has demonstrated that a significant proportion of repatriates, also known as returning expatriates, choose to leave their companies once they complete their international assignments. In one study, it was found that 38% of repatriates left their companies within one year of returning. Another study revealed that within a two-year period after repatriation, approximately 50% of individuals decided to part ways with their employers. In Global Mobility we refer to repatriate retention as a metric that we would like to observe. 

Handle Your Repatriation

Ernst & Young’s 2013 Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey found that 16% of employees bolted within the first two years after a global assignment ended, up from 11% in 2012. Moreover, 41% of expatriates returned to the same position they had before they went abroad.

Various studies show that fewer than half of investigated repatriates were promoted and about two-thirds thought that their international assignments negatively affected their career development (Adler, 1991): More than half the repatriates were “warehoused” for some time (Black & Gregersen, 1991), and more than 75% felt that they experienced a demotion (Black & Gregersen,1999)

Although there is limited empirical research on turnover rates, the existing studies indicate remarkably high levels of turnover among repatriated employees. According to the 2008 GMAC Global Relocation Trends Report, which surveyed 154 organizations, over 50% of international assignees left their companies within two years of returning.

We would recommend that you also clarify what your next role will entail and how you will ensure that your new role is taking your international experience into consideration. In case you are repatriating for retirement start to list all the life goals you still have and work with the “Ideal Week Planner” to have a structure when you are back in your home country. If you need any advice on your next career step please reach out to Angie Weinberger for a conversation via Calendly.

Here are five key tips to help you handle your repatriation:

1 – Plan Your Repatriation with a Checklist

Before you leave your host country, list all the tasks you need to complete before departing. This might include closing bank accounts, canceling subscriptions, and saying goodbye to friends and colleagues. Also, consider what you’ll need when you return home, such as a job or a place to live. You can request our Global Relocation Checklist for Expats. You can also work with an App such as the RELOCATEYOU APP. One of the challenges you might face is that your partner or spouse has a different nationality and does not speak one of the Swiss national languages. Ask your employer for language tuition so you do not stress later about language requirements from the Swiss immigration authorities. 

2 – Prepare for Reverse Culture Shock

Returning home after living abroad can shock the system. You may experience feelings of disorientation, frustration, or even anger. To prepare for this, talk to other repatriates and read up on reverse culture shock. Consider finding a support group or Global Coach to help you work through any challenges you may face. We encourage you to check out the Global Coach Coalition

3 – Keep in Touch with Your Friends in the Host Country

Just because you’re leaving your host country doesn’t mean you have to sever all ties. Keep in touch with friends and colleagues through social media, email, or snail mail. You can also stay connected by learning the language or following local news and events.

4 – Plan your Taxes

Speak to a tax professional about the tax implications of your repatriation. Taxation can be a complicated issue regarding repatriation, as it depends on various factors such as your citizenship, residency status, and the tax laws of both your host country and your home country (or the next country for that matter). It’s essential to seek professional advice from a tax expert to ensure you understand your tax obligations and any potential tax implications associated with repatriation. This can help you avoid any legal issues or penalties down the line. Before leaving your host country, file all necessary tax returns and pay any outstanding taxes. You may also need to inform your host country’s tax authorities of your departure and provide them with a forwarding address for future tax correspondence. When you arrive back in your home country, you may need to declare any income or assets you earned or acquired while abroad and any foreign tax credits or deductions you’re entitled to. Again, it’s best to seek professional advice from a tax expert to comply with all relevant tax laws and regulations.

5 – Prioritize the Well-being of Your Family

Repatriation can be a challenging experience, but it’s also an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and rediscover your home country. Focus on the positives of returning home, such as reuniting with family and friends, exploring new job opportunities, and enjoying the familiar comforts of home. You should prioritize the well-being of your family as it will make everything easier. If you have children in school-age make sure they will have a say in the school they will go to. If you are married or have a partner, discuss the career opportunities they will have upon repatriation. If you have pets make sure that you understand all quarantine, vaccination, and transportation requirements for them. An international move can be stressful but you can take some of the stress out of it by getting the right support. You should also ask your employer to provide services to help or at least reimburse services that you can source yourself through a platform such as the RELOCATEYOU APP. You can also consult other service platforms such as NEWINZURICH. We also recommend Americans Welcome.

By planning, preparing for reverse culture shock, keeping in touch with your friends in the host country, planning your taxes, and focusing on the well-being of your family, you can make your repatriation a smoother and more positive experience. If you’re looking for assistance with repatriation to Zurich, Switzerland, several resources and organizations can help.

Read Resources

  • Swiss diplomatic or consular mission: The Swiss diplomatic or consular mission in your host country can provide information and assistance on various topics related to repatriation, such as immigration and customs procedures, legal requirements, and healthcare.
  • Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA): The FDFA is the federal department responsible for Swiss foreign policy and can provide general guidance on repatriation and consular services.
  • Swiss citizens abroad organization: The Swiss citizens abroad organization provides support and advice to Swiss citizens living abroad and can offer assistance with repatriation.
  • Swiss Red Cross: The Swiss Red Cross offers repatriation services for Swiss citizens in emergencies, such as natural disasters or civil unrest.
  • Swiss insurance companies: Swiss insurance companies, such as health and travel insurance providers, may offer repatriation services as part of their policies.
  • Swiss relocation companies: Swiss relocation companies can assist with the logistics of repatriation, such as packing and shipping belongings, finding accommodation, and navigating the Swiss bureaucracy. For example, Becomelocal is a service company specializing in the settlement of foreign managers and specialists in the greater Zurich area. It offers a comprehensive range of immigration and relocation services for talented international companies.
  • The Swiss Association of Relocation Agents (SARA): is a professional organization for relocation companies and agents in Switzerland. SARA can provide a directory of member companies and agents who offer repatriation services, including coaching and guidance on the logistics of returning to Switzerland.


If you are looking for support with your repatriation to Zurich, Switzerland please contact us via Sign up here for weekly updates via our Club Sandwich.


Find a Career Coach in Zurich

You can find coaches who specialize in repatriation to Zurich by searching online directories or contacting professional organizations for coaches, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF) or the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC).

Additionally, you can search for coaching services specific to Zurich by using keywords such as “repatriation coach Zurich” or “expat coach Zurich” on search engines or online directories. When selecting a coach, one must consider their experience, qualifications, and coaching approach. You may also want to read reviews or testimonials from their clients to get a sense of their coaching style and effectiveness. It’s also a good idea to schedule an initial consultation or session to discuss your needs and goals and ensure that the coach fits you. This can help you feel more confident and supported during your repatriation process.

We also developed the RockMeApp to help Expats and Nomads with their transitions. The RockMeApp serves as a digital platform that leverages Global Mobility Coach Angie Weinberger’s expertise and coaching methodology to provide support and guidance to expats and nomads, helping you navigate the complexities of transitioning between countries and develop the skills needed for successful adjustment. 


Global Coach Coalition

Global Coach Coalition is a network of coaches who specialize in global transitions and repatriation and can provide tailored guidance and support throughout the process. Many coaches and consultants offer virtual coaching services, which can be particularly helpful if you’re still abroad or prefer to work remotely.


Global People Transitions

Global People Transitions is a coaching company for Expats and Nomads based in Zurich, Switzerland. They specialize in cross-cultural transitions and Global Mobility. They offer a range of services to support individuals and organizations with the challenges of global mobility, such as coaching, training, and consulting on topics like cultural adaptation, career development, and leadership. They also offer specific services for repatriation, such as coaching and support to help individuals adjust to life back in Switzerland after living and working abroad. The firm’s founder, Angie Weinberger, is a certified coach and intercultural trainer with extensive experience in global mobility and cross-cultural transitions. She and her team work with clients from a wide range of industries and backgrounds, and they are known for their personalized, solutions-oriented approach. If you’re considering repatriation to Zurich or Switzerland, Global People Transitions may be a good resource for coaching and support throughout the process. 


*This article has been created with the help of CHATGPT.

Interview Sundae Schneider-Bean / Angie Weinberger on repatriation.


Vanessa’s 5-V model of repatriation

Source: 2020 Global Assignment Policies and Practices survey, KPMG International, 2020.


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