Expatriate Security (Expat Security): Special Security Measures for a Special Group of Employees

Expatriate security has become more critical since the turn of the century, especially for Westerners, due to the specific targeting of foreigners by terrorists and criminals. Companies by necessity have developed and implemented programs and policies designed for expatriate protection.

These expatriate security programs usually have five components: corporate policies, pre-deployment training and education, communications, expat security measures tailored to the particular country, and embassy registration.

Corporate expat security policies usually begin with an emergency action and business continuity plans. These plans in general contain senior management approved action and reaction plans and policies in the event of an expatriate security emergency or issue. The plans usually include various scenarios, measures to take and a list of responsible officers. The plans often have pre-drafted messages and press releases to minimize brand damage.

Expatriate protection often has pre-deployment training and education as an integral part of the planning. This expat protection training is often available, and sometimes mandatory, for the families of employees that will be accompanying them overseas. The training usually has a cultural component, general living abroad security advice and specific safety and security issues related to the location.

Communications is probably one of the most important aspects of expat security. Reliable communications no matter where a person is located requires forethought given the poor infrastructure in some parts of the world. Landlines and cell phone can easily go offline in the event of a natural disaster or political upheaval.

Alternate means of communications should be part of any expatriate protection plan. This can include email, text, satellite phones, and radios. Keeping track of your personnel, especially those that are living under strange or unfamiliar conditions, is a critical component of security for expatriates.

Expat protection measures onsite often have specific terms and conditions attached to the employee’s living arrangements. The type of expatriate protection provided can also depend on the position of the employee within the company.

Usually senior management in a high threat or sometimes medium threat location will have personal protection details. For example, in Brazil most European and American managers use armored cars and bodyguards due to the high crime and kidnapping threat. Some areas may require all employees to have special secure transport based on the risk.

Residential security tailored to the country where the non-native hire employees live is an important facet of expatriate protection also. Many countries in Africa, for example, have extremely high crime rates. Homes there require specific levels of access control and physical security. Often expatriates live in gated communities protected by private security companies. Access is strictly controlled.

Corporations usually require a minimum level of security related to apartments also. Buildings must be secured with secure parking and appropriate security technology such as alarm systems and surveillance cameras.

Safety is also an important consideration and adequate fire and smoke detectors and systems must be part of any expatriate security checklist.

Finally, registering with your local Embassy is important. In the event of a crisis, your local Embassy will be responsible for ensuring citizens of their country are accounted for and if necessary evacuated. Most Western nations have procedures for registering with their diplomatic representative in foreign locales. Your government is accountable for the welfare of its citizens abroad and whatever expatriates can do to facilitate his or her embassy having the correct contact information can prove invaluable should local conditions deteriorate.