Published on February 12, 2021

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The CapRelo Insider provides a glimpse at news, trends and happenings affecting the global mobility industry. Our experienced and tenured client services team provides updates and analysis direct to our clients, along with policy and program recommendations that are best for your company and employees. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.

Policy & Program Pointers

During these extreme times, usual policy allowances and benefits might not be meeting employee needs. Below we outline items we are seeing in the field. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can help you adjust your policy or program to accommodate your employees.

Personal Time Off Guidance: With both domestic and international travel significantly impacted in 2020 many individuals cancelled home leave and vacation plans and were able to roll forward some accrued days into 2021. With the continued likelihood of travel disruption this year, consider providing guidance to encourage assignees to evenly distribute their leave throughout the year, even if they are unable to travel. By considering and communicating the foreseeable congestion, in addition to supporting employee wellbeing, this may also prevent the imposition of restrictions in the final months of the end of the year.

Future Proofing Your Service Delivery

Similar to the global trend, the U.S. has been moving closer to 100% recycled (OCC) cardboard over the past 17 years and with current demand exceeding supply, our colleagues at JK Moving Services have highlighted that "the table is being set for price increases through 2021 and beyond”. This is supported by reports in the UK from the Confederation of Paper Industries who are calling attention to a potential bottleneck in the availability of cardboard for boxes. A combination of continued high demand from the fulfilment industry (i.e., Amazon) and production issues at recycling plants, caused by COVID-19 restrictions on collection of material for recycling and related absences, have resulted in significant increases in costs over the past year.

In addition to a potential shortage of packaging, as detailed in previous blog posts, shipping containers remain a hot topic. Demand for exports from Asia and specifically China is at a historic high. Currently, for every container 3 shipping containers received by the U.S. only one is being sent back full. This disequilibrium in trade which started in late 2020 is accelerating. This is a global issue and is compounded by both a decline in container service reliability, with reports of fewer than half of vessels are arriving on time, and several recent shipping incidents resulting in a combined loss of thousands of containers. Regional variables are also impacting supply, further raising prices and creating delays.

  • Europe: Additional compliance considerations including pre-completion requirements for forms that declare journeys is increasingly mandatory. This is in addition to country specific COVID-19 testing obligations.
  • Americas: Staff shortages due to COVID-19 combined with relatively low exports vis a vis imports have compounded the congestion at ports.
  • Asia: Conversely, the relatively buoyant export market in Asia and specifically China has resulted in a massive container shortage. This issue, as previously reported, continues to impact both cost, timing and availability of space for Household good shipments.
Both the shipping and packaging issues highlighted could increase the cost of relocating. Where costs are known or a cost estimate is several months old, consider reviewing to determine if a change to policy or allowance is required to provide the required service.

Country Updates in the News

Countries are updating their tax and immigration regulations and reliefs on a near daily basis, we have collated some of these below:

United States:

  • Housing: Buoyed by continued stable mortgage rates, buyers continue to take advantage and the market remains active.
  • Domestic Travel: Although many U.S. states have no restrictions on leisure travel, others mandate masks in public areas in addition to requiring visitors to produce a qualifying negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to departure, stricter social distancing restrictions and in some cases quarantine for up to 14 days. With CDC national guidance and state rules varying significantly, subject to change at short notice and possibly incurring both testing costs and penalties for non-compliance, non-essential travel is discouraged. All potential travellers should closely monitor departure and destination regulations and evaluate the impact any quarantine or costs have upon their plans.

Argentina: Argentina’s government have recently extended the lockdown of the Buenos Aires metropolitan area until 28 February 2021.

Canada: 

  • New work permit: Introduced this week , qualifying Hong Kong residents have access to an additional pathway to reside and work in Canada for up to 3 years. Condition to qualify include being a Hong Kong special administrative region (SAR) resident or a recently graduated British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport holder.
  • Travel: Currently, all incoming passenger flights are only able to land at only one of four designated airports: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Upon arrival, as previously reported, COVID-19 testing and mandatory hotel quarantine requirements. Testing has also been expanded to those arriving by land.

France: Last week impacting all non-essential travel from outside the EU, EEA and a select number of countries. In an extension to these restrictions, Intra-Company Transferees, non-resident UK nationals and posted workers from the United Kingdom are also no longer allowed to enter France. These restrictions are expected to remain in place until rates of COVID-19 decrease.

Japan: The personal tax filing deadline, relating to both the filing and payment due, has been extended by one month to 15 April 2021.

Ireland: With limited exceptions for those who are priority or emergency, Ireland’s Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) has announced, with immediate effect, the temporary cessation to the acceptance of new visa applications for all visa-required countries. The situation remains changeable and the guidance is limited however it is believed that these new restrictions are in effect until at least 5 March 2021 when they will be subject to review.

United Arab Emirates: In a significant divergence from previous practices, it will soon become possible for a certain categories of highly skilled foreign nationals, such as doctors, scientists and investors to obtain Emirati citizenship. This will be the first non-nationality-based pathway to citizenship for the UAE. It is understood that qualifying foreign nationals may retain their other citizenship(s).

United Kingdom: A new route for individuals with British Nationals Overseas status now have the opportunity to obtain permanent residence after five years of residence. Individuals can live, work and study in the United Kingdom during that period. Although available as of 31 January 2021 applicants are encouraged to wait for the app to be available from 23 February 2021.

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