All you need to do is turn on the television and you can see a lot of serious issues happening in the world. Massive unrest engulfed countries around the world, including generally stable Chile, France and Hong Kong. Not to mention the fear of escalating war tensions between the US and the Middle East.
And while it’s always easier, and admittedly more fun, to focus on the exciting prospect of moving abroad. It’s worth having a discussion about what to do when a political emergency happens in your adopted home. Just like a medical emergency, it’s key that you prepare for when the unexpected may happen.
Monitor Political Happenings
Let’s just get it out there. The news can be pretty depressing. If you’re having an otherwise decent day, it is not particularly fun to hear about the seemingly endless gloom that’s happening in different parts of the world. However, you can’t be oblivious. Before you relocate, and certainly after you’ve moved to your new location, you want to keep up with the basic political situation in your country. Whether it’s newspaper, radio or by conversation, it’s good to have insight as to how a nation’s citizens are feeling. Very rarely, if ever, do political crises happen out of the blue. Usually, there’s been a longstanding issue that finally boils over – whether it’s based on ethnic or religious tensions, a minority identity or a sputtering economy. The earlier you know have awareness, the better.
Make Your Estate/Will Documents
No one wants to think about what happens when you die. But like taxes, death is certain and more often than not, you don’t get to choose the location. You need to make a decision as to who will get your assets if you are to pass. In some cases, it might be pretty clear if you are married or have children. However, it is imperative you have your wishes written down so there’s no second guessing. It will also help to know and understand the estate protocol in your host country and find out if your will from your home country will be valid in your current location.
Establish Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) is a document that dictates which person or organization has the authority to make a decision on your behalf, in case you cannot. While POAs can be used for different reasons, it’s a good idea to have one. You may need a close family member or trusted friend to handle your financial or property affairs while you’re abroad. You may need a POA that deals with health decisions in case a medical emergency arises. If something happens to you, someone needs to be able to make a decision. Often, if you are legally married, this defaults to your spouse. But it never hurts to make this very clear regardless of the situation.
Make Copies of All Your Travel Documents
Whenever you travel, you should keep copies of all your main travel documents. It’s especially important to have physical and electronic copies of your passport. If possible, keep at least one photocopy on your phone. In addition, you may want to have copies of visas, resident cards, national id cards or other records, that you may have to show to prove your citizenship or residency. Like your will and power of attorney, you may want to share the information with trusted family or friends.
Keep An Accessible Bank Account
Sometimes political crises are tied to economic woes. Occasionally, the political crisis can cause economic woes. Generally speaking, you may need to have access to cash quickly, if a situation arises. In general, it is a good idea to have physical cash available. This is important if you are unable to get money from the bank or an automated teller machine (ATM). You may also want to have funds available in case you need to travel at a moment’s notice. You may have to purchase transportation and lodging while waiting for the crisis to pass. This might include having to buy last minute plane tickets.
Register With Your Passport Country’s Embassy
If your passport country has an embassy in your new location, you may want to register with your country’s embassy. An embassy, which is representative of a country’s government, is the best resource for citizens outside of their passport country. Embassies can provide assistance for those who need to communicate with their home countries as well as advocate on the behalf of those who run into issues. They can ensure you have up-to-date legal documents, keep you aware of political turmoil and offer guidance in case evacuations are recommended.
Develop An Exit Strategy
In the absolute worst scenario, you may need to quickly leave your host country. In order to prepare, make sure you have a plan in place, in case you need to leave – either for the short-term or longer. If you happen to find yourself in a volatile situation, you may need to keep a to-go bag packed with the absolute necessities. Whether you are single or have a family, you should identify both potential travel routes as well as meeting spots to meet outside of the evacuation area. Determine an alternative communication plan if you and your family members become separated, and identify an individual person outside the impacted area to serve as point of contact. Evacuations are stressful enough, but having a plan in place can provide some sense of calm.
While no one wants to be caught in the middle of political upheaval, it is better to prepare just in case, so you’re not left stranded without a plan in place.