Goodbye Scandinavia

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“Goodbye Scandinavia” may be the last thing that any expatriate wishes to say. Once you have lived in Scandinavia for a couple of months running to years, the system quickly sinks in. It means the emotional burden that comes when leaving is almost overwhelming.

As part of the long process of integration in Scandinavia, people get to learn the host language, culture, foods and many more. When all this is done, you automatically start feeling the warmth of being at home far away from your country of birth. So, leaving Scandinavia may not just be as simple as packing up, signing off from the system and bidding everyone else goodbye.

Be it as it may, when the time to exit Scandinavia to another new destination or own country comes, you as an expat have to oblige. Some of the reasons that may make you decide to leave include; taking up new assignments elsewhere, accomplished tour or just a sheer longing to be back home.

What to do when leaving Scandinavia

One thing about Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway is their strict and organised way of doing things. The level of organisation in the countries is focused on achieving the highest possible level of efficiency. It is part of Scandinavian DNA to be at the top of everything as is seen in their social system, daily activities, welcoming of foreigners and so on. This only means that when leaving, you should do it systematically.

Today, so meant people who have lived in Scandinavia still do not know some procedures to follow in the unlikely event that they have to leave. Unlikely because only a few people will want to leave anyway. One reason for this ignorance is partly because not a lot of people take time to understand the rules in the country where they live or the laws also keep changing.

Expat Departure from Scandinavia

As a matter of fact, the strong social system practiced in Scandinavia does not allow anyone; not even expatriates to just wake up overnight, pack and leave. Flatly, the Scandinavia runs on systems and such systems are programmed. In the event you want to leave, someone in charge must tell the system that, “hey our superior system, so and so is leaving”…aha! I mean a representative of the government or municipality will have to initiate the process of signing you off. It i only after the system has been prompted that everything else starts rolling to process your departure.

Take for example, when you come as a student, the residence permit lasts until the last day of study. However, this does not mean you cannot leave before the documented date reaches. The only thing to do in such a case is to let the authorities know that you are not going to be around anymore. From that notice, they will then set the system to begin processing your exit.  

Notify the civil register that you are leaving

Each country in Scandinavia has own timelines or cases that require you to notify the civil register that you are leaving. For instance, in Denmark, any situation that makes you to stay outside the country for up to six months and more must be reported.

The requirements on you also depends on what status you hold in the country. It pays to be particular in checking your obligations about deregistration from the national register when you leave Scandinavia. Your status may be permanent resident, citizen, temporary resident or any other.

Get your pension in order

Having been a worker in Scandinavia, the country you live in requires that your pension accumulated throughout the period is processed for you. Although so many people always miss this and just let everything go unclaimed. As much as the system should process the pension, it does not do such without your intervention.

Pension does not necessarily imply that it is only paid out when you retire and attain old age. The fact is that anyone who has accrued pension in Scandinavia is eligible to get it paid out to them when they permanently leave the country. This payment should be done whether you have attained the retirement age or not. The only disclaimer is that the system is set in such a way that claiming pension before retirement comes with a hefty tax levy on it. In Denmark for example, any pension claim before retirement attracts a 60% tax levy.

Check out your benefits

Checking out your benefits and claiming all that is due to you before you leave Scandinavia is one thing which most people get wrong. In most cases, people who end up working in Scandinavia from abroad are not diligent enough to know the law demands, rights and obligations.

Out of ignorance, people end up leaving their hard earned benefits to be returned back to the state coffers just like that. Imagine having worked in Scandinavia for years; five, ten, fifteen or more years but miss asking to be paid what is due to you. As much as it may be annoying, the system operate in such a way that after a particular period, all unclaimed worker benefits are automatically returned to the state  after some time.

For all the issues concerning benefits, tax obligations and anything wed to you as a worker, it is a good idea to contact the tax authority. In most cases, all deductions saved for you are made by the tax authority which then sends it to the other agencies such as pension plans.

Check out whether you have any saved holiday money, labour organisation payments, refundable payments you made anywhere and such. Nobody will take the trouble of reminding you to ask for benefits owed. In any case, they assume that you are in Scandinavia for life. Also, contact all your current and former employers to let them know of your planned departure.

Give notice to your landlord

The housing plan in Scandinavia is such that you as a tenant has a duty to give your landlord a vacation notice. Just as any other system, it is assumed that you will live long enough to guarantee continued tenancy. So, whenever you need to leave, it is important to tell the landlord in time. Because you pay a deposit to rent a house, it can only be paid back when you respect the allowed period of notice.

It is also possible that you give a short notice when leaving a rented apartment. The only consequence of such short notice is that you will end up missing your deposit. Hopefully, no one loves just losing the rental deposit like that. Check out the terms of rental agreement carefully to know when it is appropriate to give a vacation notice.

Dispose of any assets in Scandinavia

It is almost for sure that no one leaves Scandinavia the same way they came in. After living in there for years, you will have assets to your name. I have christened Scandinavia as a land of boundless opportunities which means owning one or two assets is a high possibility. One thing is that you will always find a job in Scandinavia .

Probably by the time of deciding to go and live in another country, you own a car, a home a business or more of such. These assets may not be easily moveable to the country to which you are relocating. So planning how to manage the assets when you are away or disposing them is a necessity.

Two things; one is that you can decide to continue owning the assets when you have relocated. Foreigners are allowed to continue owning fixed assets in Scandinavia as long as they are managed as per the law. Such asset ownership, however, means that you continue paying taxes on any income generated.

Alternatively, you can simply dispose of the assets and get your money. Liquid cash is easy to transfer to a new country than fixed assets or managing assets from abroad. The choice is all yours. As a remedy, get financial and investment advice from professional experts on assets management.

Preserve and uphold the good reputation of Scandinavia

As you leave Scandinavia, it will obviously rub off on you some of the best attributes including honesty, respect of the law, clean business and the respect for diversity. Again, people looking at you as a former resident in Scandinavia have very high expectations on how you conduct yourself.

As a courtesy, you should showcase that scandia still lives in your even when you have left. Tyr to create positive change out there and let people do things the correct way. Do not engage in activities that bring disrespect to Scandinavia or try in any way whatsoever to sabotage a region that hosted you for so long.

Scandinavia is always ready to welcome you back as long as you have a clean track record and has been a good ambassador out there. In case you have questionable character or engaged in activities that bring disrepute, it will be very difficult for Scandinavia to welcome you back.

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