Coronavirus - global mobility considerations during a global pandemic


Julie Buchanan

Julie Buchanan

Employer Services Director


The world is a small place and being increasingly connected, something like the unprecedented chain of events which we are all experiencing drives this point home. Across the globe, the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a considerable bearing on people's health & safety, as well as on the economy; with shocks to the stock markets and global supply chains. The landscape is in constant flux at the moment as governments act to contain the spread of the virus at national level.

For many of our clients who have internationally mobile employees, it is imperative that they review and update how they protect and manage employees in affected areas while continuing business operations. Local action in one country can and will have ramifications in other locations.

Immigration

To date, many countries have implemented restrictions on entry and exit. At its most fundamental some are closing ports, imposing quarantine rules or are limiting visa and work permit availability to slow the spread of coronavirus. These restrictions may affect international business travel and assignment plans – may delay assignment start dates or may see assignees spending longer in a given location than expected because travel plans are interrupted.

At a very high level, we have listed some countries below whose contingency planning will impact travel from the UK. This is by no means a definitive list and, given the nature of the virus spread country response is changing. Should you have plans for employee travel then please check host country status as early in the process as possible.

Australia

  • From 15 March 2020, all travellers to Australia will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who have been in mainland China, South Korea, Iran or Italy will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited any of those countries.
  • Temporary visa holders who are ineligible for entry into Australia under these measures will have their visa cancelled. Arrangements will be made to reinstate visas as appropriate following the lifting of these enhanced border control measures.

Canada

  • From 18 March 2020 foreign travellers are prohibited entry into Canada.

China

  • From 18 March 2020 arrivals into Shanghai from the UK, amongst other countries, will be tested for coronavirus. This testing positive will be treated and those testing negative will undergo 14 days quarantine.
  • All international arrivals into Beijing will be quarantined for 14 days at designated facilities - expenses incurred will need to be paid by the traveller.
  • People who have lived or travelled in South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, Spain, Germany and the United States in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Shanghai must undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or at designated places.

Denmark

  • Foreign nationals and EU passport holders without a Danish health card and non-EU citizens without a valid Danish Residence Card or Work Permit are not allowed entry into Denmark.
  • For a two week period from 12 March 2020 all public offices are closed. As a result, the Danish immigration authorities are sending cancellation notices for all appointments scheduled between 12 and 27 March 2020.
  • In-country biometrics recording not will not be possible, but work permit applications will still be processed.

Hong Kong

  • With effect from 19 March 2020 all arrivals from the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland will undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

India

  • From 18 March until 31 March 2020 there will be no entry granted for arrivals from the EU, EFTA, Turkey and the UK.
  • From 13 March to 15 April India will suspend all visas, with the exception of diplomatic, official, UN/international organisation, employment and project visas.
  • Visas of all foreign nationals who are already in India remain valid.
  • All employment visa holders and their dependents who are currently in India on employment and dependent visas hold valid status. If, however, a dependent of an employment visa holder is not currently in India, their visa will be suspended until 15 April.
  • Entry is suspended for travellers of any nationality who have visited or transited through France, Spain or Germany.

Indonesia

  • From 16 March 2020 entry from all counties with coronavirus outbreak will be prohibited.

Kuwait

  • From 17 March 2020 arrivals from the UK as well as China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Spain, South Korea and the USA will be quarantined for 14 days.

New Zealand

  • For 30 days from 16 March 2020 all arrivals from most countries, including New Zealand nationals and residents, will be required to undergo self-isolation for 14 days. 

Norway

  • From 16 March 2020 all Norwegian airports and seaports will be closed to all but Norwegian citizens.

Poland

  • From 15 March 2020, entry is suspended for foreign nationals other than foreign national residents of Poland.
  • With effect from 16 March 2020 thee will be no appointments for residence permit. As such applications will need to be submitted by post.  

Saudi Arabia

  • For two weeks from 15 March 2020 all international flights will be suspended.

Singapore

  • From midnight on 16 March 2020 all travellers entering Singapore with recent travel history in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom within the last 14 days will be issued with a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
  • In addition, they will have to provide proof of the place where they will serve the 14-day SHN, for example a hotel booking covering the entire period, or a place of residence they or their family members own. They may also be swabbed for testing for COVID-19, even if asymptomatic.

South Africa

  • From 18 March 2020 an indefinite travel ban will apply to individuals of all nationalities traveling from Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, China and any other high-risk country determined by the Government.

Taiwan

  • For two weeks from 16 March 2020 entry is suspended for all foreign nationals.
  • All regular flights to and from Taiwan are cancelled.
  • From 17 March, all travellers from the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Dubai must undergo compulsory 14-day home quarantine, with twice-daily health checks from the local medical service.

United States

  • For 30 days from 15 March 2020 entry is suspended for anyone who has travelled to or transited through the United Kingdom or the Schengen states in the previous 14 days.
  • From 16 March this travel ban is extended to individuals travelling from  United Kingdom and Ireland.

Tax implications

While a minority of tax authorities have already extended their tax filing deadlines to ease the compliance burden for taxpayers during this challenging time, many more have yet to announce changes. Taxpayers should, therefore, endeavour to meet their normal tax compliance obligations. For internationally mobile employees who may have tax return filings in more than one country, they will need to be mindful of how any proposed changes in one location might impact filings in another jurisdiction. With the likely impact of restricted travel and potential interruption to normal business activity, data gathering might be adversely affected and tax planning based on days in country might be impacted. Where there are significant obstacles to obtaining information required to complete a tax return, it may be possible to extend the filing deadline. Equally it might be possible to substantiate that there is reasonable cause to justify late filing and to request that potential penalties and interest be reduced. 

It is clear that the world of global mobility is experiencing unprecedented external pressure so employers will be looking to ensure the safety of their internationally mobile employees and families whilst implementing contingency plans to maintain business operations.

Get in touch with me to chat more about how we can help your business and people navigate these uncertain times.

This blog was produced on 18 March, and as the ongoing situation is everchanging, you should check all travel with the Foreign Office - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/