Working Abroad as Expat Spouse

Working Abroad as Expat Spouse

When relocating, expat spouses are often unsure on how to proceed to keep their career and to retain their professional identity. They often get discouraged by the rules with regards to work permit. As partner to an internationally employed partner you often will get a Dependent Pass that does not give you a completely open permission to work. However, ​many countries strives to ease up the procedure for accompanying spouses to find a job. ​

Employment Pass

As a Dependent pass holder expat spouses are often allowed to scout the local market to get their own work permit. Websites offer thousands of vacancies from almost every industry imaginable but one of the key things is to scout for a company that is allowed to issue work permits to expats. In general, local companies are bound to rules when it comes to hiring foreigners. Instead, you want to look for international companies. While they often hire expatriates abroad, they do have a commitment to create jobs in the country in which they operate. You will maximise your chances by applying to organisations that are active both in your host country and in your home country. Try to keep an open mind and send out as many applications as you can. And while you are waiting for HR to get back to you, get out there and network until you drop. Surround yourself with other working professional, ask questions, start an unpaid trainee-ship or a volunteer position. While it may not result in any job offer, it will keep you up to date in your field and expand your network.


A growing number of expat spouses start out as a freelancer when folling their partner abroad. Freelance jobs are usually very compatible with a mobile lifestyle. There are, however, a few rules to take into account. A freelancer can legally work in ​most countries as long as they operate virtually and have no local clients, unless they have a ​work permit through their own company​ (​in host country). But with today’s technological advances, there is no need for you to limit yourself to the local market. You could be running a business and not market anyone at all locally. There are endless internet-based jobs such as freelance writing, web designing, coaching and copywriting. These ‘portable careers’ often require no more than a computer, a reliable internet connection and some expertise. This also means you have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world.

Whatever option you choose, there is always a way to maintain your professional identity ​when international relocating however big or small!