International Relocation Destinations & Duration

In 2012, international relocations originating in the United States most often went to Asia (43%), followed by Western Europe (31%) and the United Kingdom (25%). Intra-regional transfers occurred at similar levels in Asia, Western Europe and the United States. Asia was the most popular destination for inter-regional transfers of expatriates living abroad (54%).

  • The most popular international relocation destination from the United States among financial firms was the United Kingdom (58%) while among for-profit service and manufacturing/processing firms it was Asia (48% and 46%).
  • Intra-regional transfers most often occurred in Asia for financial and manufacturing/processing firms (36% and 41%), while among for-profit service firms these happened most often in the United States (41%).
  • Across all three industries, Asia was the most frequent destination when expatriates were being relocated again internationally (56%+).

Overall, the most popular international relocation type remains the traditional long-term assignment; around half of all relocations fall into this category. However, among small firms, the average falls lower (36% vs. 52%+). Permanent transfers appear to have gained favor over short-term/temporary assignments, especially among small (28% vs. 13%) and mid-size (26% vs. 10%) firms. Use of short-term and permanent transfers is more equally balanced at large firms (19% vs. 16%). The most popular assignment duration is 1 to 3 years (54%) overall, but small firms are using both longer (3+ years) and short-term assignments as the standard more frequently (36% and 25%).

  • The majority of firms of all sizes expect their usage level of short-term/temporary assignments to remain level. However, around a fifth of small firms and 14% of mid-size firms expect to use these types of assignments less, while more than a fourth of large firms expect the usage of short-term/temporary assignments to increase.
  • For-profit service firms remain more likely than manufacturing/processing firms to indicate they have typical international assignments of less than a year (19% vs. 9%).
Question 12b-2
Most frequent destinations of transfer in 2012: between U.S. and another country
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Question 12b-3
Most frequent destinations of transfer in 2012: between U.S. and another country
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Question 12b-4
Most frequent destinations of transfer in 2012: within a single foreign country
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Question 12b-5
Most frequent destinations of transfer in 2012: within a single foreign country
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Question 12b-6
Most frequent destinations of transfer in 2012: between two foreign countries
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Question 12b-7
Most frequent destinations of transfer in 2012: between two foreign countries
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Question 44c
What is the typical international relocation assignment duration for employees at your company?
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Question 44d
In 2012, what percentage of your international relocations were...
Chart Q44d
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Question 44e
Do you expect the number of international short-term/temporary assignments in 2013 to...
Chart Q44e
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