Is your company entering a new market? Are your employees going to a conference in an unusual destination? Making sure your employees are safe when they travel abroad can sometimes be as easy as making sure their passports are in order, but depending on where employees are going in the world, you may need to begin planning months in advance to get them there and back safely.
Resources for Americans Traveling Abroad
Before you purchase tickets, take a quick look at the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website to check your destination, read about passport restrictions (will your passport be valid from the time you leave through the time you return?) and find out about personal safety and health issues in the country or countries you’re visiting.
The site is a fantastic resource to anyone traveling, and it’s a very good idea for employees who aren’t used to international travel to really take a look at the site and understand some of the issues it brings up. For instance, you’ll need vaccinations if you are visiting certain countries, and some vaccinations require a full course of shots that can take a few weeks or even months, so be sure you understand these restrictions before booking a ticket. You will also want to check the political and safety situation in your destination country.
The state department site can help you locate help if you’re already abroad and something happens – you lose your passport, or get into trouble with local authorities. It’s a very good idea to know where the U.S. Embassy is when you’re traveling.
Employer responsibilities for traveling staff
When your staff or senior executives are traveling on behalf of your company, visit The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), an public-private venture that was created specifically as an extension of the U.S. Department of State to help U.S. private sector interests worldwide. The OSAC was launched in 1985 when CEOs from U.S. companies sought to promote a better relationship between the State Department and U.S. businesses abroad. Now, the agency has more than 4,700 companies and educational institutions as members. If you’re planning extensive travel, you can become a member, or you can use the site as a resource for news and events. If employees will be overseas for a while, particularly in countries where there could be unrest, it’s a good idea to be networked with other American institutions and government agencies.
Hiring a personal security guard or detail is sometimes recommended for staff travelling to countries where there is a great deal of political unrest and/or kidnapping. It can be a difficult process to look for and find reliable companies, so it’s important to network with other companies with established businesses in the region, or get recommendations from reliable sources (Triple Canopy and Academi are two companies well known for protection services globally.)
There are a number of insurance issues you’ll need to take care of, even for a short trip abroad. Health insurance and travel insurance are a good idea for all travelers. But you also want to make sure your corporate policies provide coverage for a wide array of possibilities, from kidnapping to arrest, extortion, and even death of an employee or executive abroad. So many factors can impact any one of these unfortunate events, and you’ll need a lot of resources at your side quickly, including crisis management, if an employee gets into trouble in a foreign country. Be prepared.
If you’ll be doing business overseas regularly, consider updating your insurance policies, or even establishing an enterprise risk captive to cover the wide range of risks you and your employees face when traveling. Contact us if we can provide some assistance with planning.