Is an EOR the Best Way to Hire in a Foreign Country in 2024?

Is an EOR the Best Way to Hire in a Foreign Country in 2024?

Is an EOR the Best Way to Hire in a Foreign Country in 2024?

November 2, 2023


Picture of INS Global



Picture of INS Global



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Key Takeaways

  1. Expanding your business into foreign markets often requires you to hire in a foreign country or transfer existing staff
  2. It’s crucial to thoroughly understand local labor laws, regulations, and compliance requirements in the country where you intend to hire workers
  3. It’s also essential to determine the tax implications for both your company and the employees that you transfer or hire in a foreign country


Expanding into foreign markets has become a strategic imperative for many companies that want to diversify and bring new products or services to a broader audience. However, when you want to hire in a foreign country, the process can be both challenging and rife with legal complexities.

In this detailed master guide, we will delve into hiring in a foreign country through an Employer of Record (EOR) and discuss the pros and cons of this approach along with others. We will also go through the steps to ensure compliance with all local and international laws and how to use an EOR for hiring and paying workers in multiple countries at once.


Are You Ready to Hire in a Foreign Country?


Expanding your business into foreign markets often necessitates hiring local talent or transferring existing staff. This can mean staff at any level, from local brand representatives to blue-collar workers. Still, the requirements largely stay the same no matter the level.

The only case in which there may need to be additional consideration is if the salary of a potential overseas worker might meet the criteria for taking advantage of local tax breaks. Laws such as Switzerland’s Lump Sum Tax system provide a great way to save on local costs but require extra planning in order to efficiently hire in a foreign country.

Before you begin to recruit or transfer, or hire in a foreign country, consider the following questions:


What Are the Legal and Regulatory Requirements for Employees in the Target Country?


It’s crucial to thoroughly understand local labor laws, regulations, and compliance requirements in the country where you intend to hire workers. There will likely be a range of different benefits or rights involved in properly managing employees in your target country. Furthermore, the costs and risks of employing workers in other countries may differ greatly from your own. Failing to comply with these laws can result in legal issues and fines.

More than this, when you hire in a foreign country, the right employee benefits can attract and retain talent effectively. That’s why it’s key to know how these benefits align with local norms and laws.


What are the Tax and Benefit Obligations for Foreign Workers?


Different countries have varying tax structures and obligations for local and foreign workers. As a result, it’s essential to determine the tax implications for both your company and the employees before you hire in a foreign country and have to integrate new tax processes. This can be done by doing your own research or by working with local tax experts to understand your employer responsibilities, including income tax, social security contributions, and any applicable deductions.


Do You Understand the Different Cultural and Business Norms?


Sending or hiring workers abroad isn’t just a matter of ensuring legal compliance. When you hire in a foreign country, cultural differences can significantly impact business operations. It’s essential to consider how new cultural norms might influence your work environment, communication styles, and management practices at home and abroad.

Understanding these nuances and how you will integrate them into current practices can help ensure a smoother working relationship.


What Hiring Method Will You Use? Two Potential Options You Can Use to Hire in Another Country


Before hiring in a foreign country, you must decide on the most suitable hiring method for your business. Consider the pros and cons of options like establishing a new subsidiary overseas, working with an Employer of Record (EOR), or hiring through a local staffing agency.

Each approach has distinct legal, financial, and operational implications. You will also have to consider your overseas employment needs in the short and long term to know which hiring method in a foreign country is best for you.


Establishing Your Own Entity


This option involves creating a legal subsidiary or branch in a foreign country. While it offers complete control over your operations, it comes with significant legal, financial, and administrative responsibilities. Challenges often include tax compliance, local payroll, and human resources management.

In general, this method is the most expensive in the long term because it requires you to set up a company (which can take several months on average) and then hire and manage all the necessary personnel required to run HR, payroll, etc.

While this method provides you with absolute control over hiring in a foreign country, it also means dealing with the employer responsibilities and compliance issues that come with this.


Hiring Through a Staffing Agency


This approach involves working with a staffing agency to source and employ talent on your behalf in your target country.

While a staffing agency provides flexibility and is relatively quicker than setting up your own entity, you will have limited control over key elements of the employment process.

In this case, staffing agency workers are also generally seen as a temporary fix. Their long-term loyalty may be to the staffing agency, and properly integrating these staff into your company hierarchy is often tricky.

Both options are appealing, but they also contain problems that your company will have to overcome, either immediately or in the long term. Instead, it might be better to consider a third option.


What is an EOR (Employer of Record)?


An EOR is a third-party organization that manages the legal, administrative, and payroll aspects of hiring and managing employees in a foreign country. An EOR has the resources and networks with expertise in specific overseas markets. This expertise allows them to provide complete compliance assurance and competitive employee benefits and protections.

In effect, in an EOR service agreement, the EOR company will hire and manage HR functions for staff on your behalf. They may even provide recruitment solutions that you can use to find new local employees.

The EOR provider signs a contract of employment with an employee, but you direct this contract, and you maintain complete control over the employee’s daily activities.



This approach allows you to focus on your core business activities while mitigating the risks and complexities associated with international expansion. It’s the method of choice for companies who want a higher level of assurance than a staffing agency can offer, but don’t want to go through the hassles of building an entire company structure abroad just yet.


The 5 Big Advantages and Disadvantages of Using an EOR to Hire in a Foreign Country




  • Global Expertise – EORs have resources and networks of partners in the local markets where they offer services and are experts in international employment and compliance. This expertise ensures that you can hire in a foreign country while ensuring operations are aligned with local laws, regulations, and best practices that will make you a competitive employer.
  • Faster Market Entry – Setting up a new company can take months of dedicated operating time. This takes your staff away from other growth-related tasks and limits your ability to take advantage of new opportunities. Instead, hiring through an EOR can reduce market entry time to as little as a week.
  • Risk Mitigation – EORs assume much of the legal and financial risk by becoming the official employer of your staff overseas. This extra layer of legal protection reduces your company’s exposure to potential fines and penalties in an unfamiliar system.
  • Efficiency – EORs handle a wide range of administrative tasks like payroll, benefits, and taxes, allowing your company to focus on its core functions. The time saved here is also matched by the expertise of an EOR’s staff, allowing you to benefit from local rules that may favor certain types of companies.
  • Cost-Effective – EOR services often prove more cost-effective than setting up and maintaining a foreign subsidiary. Their cost is related purely to the size and scale of your operations and not to the additional staff or overheads that overseas employment typically entails.




  • Reduced Control Over HR Matters – While EORs offer a simplified way to guarantee local legal compliance, you may have less control over certain HR and employment matters.
  • Potential Communication Challenges – Working with a foreign EOR can present linguistic or cultural barriers if you choose to work with an EOR that doesn’t have a strong history of international partnerships.
  • Service Quality – The final quality of service provided by EORs can vary greatly according to their resources and expertise. Due diligence is key when selecting a global EOR service provider that can meet your exact needs.
  • Long-Term Planning – EOR agreements are still most cost-effective in the short term, so long-term plans should be considered when weighing the advantages and disadvantages. However, the right EOR provider may be able to offer a way to gradually transition into a long-term plan that suits your changing needs.
  • Limited Flexibility – EORs may have set procedures and processes that you will have to integrate into your own processes. If you aren’t ready or able to adapt, it could limit your operational flexibility.


How to be Compliant with All Local Laws and Avoid Fines with an EOR


Ensuring compliance with local labor laws and regulations is crucial when you hire in a foreign country. Non-compliance can lead to severe fines, legal issues, and long-term damage to your company’s reputation. When you hire in a foreign country, you must become familiar with the new legal environment, or partner with those who are already experts.

An EOR’s expertise in each local legal landscape that you operate in helps you navigate these challenges while staying on the right side of the law.


How to Best Use an EOR to Hire and Pay Workers in Multiple Countries: 6 Easy Steps to Global Employment


Hiring and paying workers across multiple countries through an EOR can be extremely efficient. It just requires you to find the right global EOR provider that you can quickly and masterfully work with when you’re ready to hire in a foreign country or multiple countries.

In general, the processes involved in using an EOR to hire in a foreign country include:


  1. Find the right EOR for you – It’s always best to begin by researching and choosing an EOR with a strong presence in the countries you plan to expand into. This may mean finding a partner with a good digital platform so you can manage your employees from anywhere or finding an EOR who can also offer recruitment agency services to make the most of local talent pools.
  2. Agree on terms – You can negotiate and agree upon the specific terms and conditions of your engagement with the EOR to match your needs. Some EOR companies may have minimum or maximum hiring requirements, so it’s best to be sure about every element of EOR’s service to avoid hidden costs or restrictions. The right EOR service contract will include transparent pricing, services, and compliance standards.
  3. Employee onboarding – Work with your chosen EOR to transfer or hire the right staff, then onboard your foreign employees. With the support of the EOR, this means ensuring they are legally secure and efficiently integrated into your organization.
  4. Payroll and benefits management – EORs manage payroll, benefits, and taxes in your target country on your behalf, making sure your employees are paid accurately and on time each payroll cycle.
  5. Compliance monitoring – Laws and regulations are constantly changing worldwide. As a result, an EOR will always monitor and ensure compliance with local labor laws, tax laws, and other legal requirements. This way, you are staying compliant and not forced to pay expensive additional local legal experts.
  6. Termination and offboarding – It may not be enough to hire in a foreign country, or you may decide to pivot in order to adapt your global expansion strategy. When necessary, the EOR helps you throughout the termination and offboarding of employees to keep you safe at this crucial moment.


When hiring in multiple countries at once, these steps remain the same, meaning you aren’t limited to setting up new companies whenever you want to try out a new market.


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