Relocating to Ivory Coast: Top 10 Tips for International Assignees
Posted by: Cristina Evans, Global Supplier Account Manager
Our latest Cartus MarketWatch focuses on Ivory Coast or Côte d'Ivoire, located in West Africa. As the country continues to rebuild after the political unrest that began in 2002, it presents a number of challenges that international assignees may face when relocating. This publication outlines these relocation hurdles and provides solutions to overcoming them.
With a significant number of expatriates relocating there, particularly to the economic capital of Abidjan, here are our top 10 tips for relocation to Ivory Coast:
- The official language is French, and as such, public signage and official documents are written in the language. Many locals will also conduct business meetings in French, so assignees should be prepared and accompanying family members should learn (at least) basic French. This will make every day tasks like shopping or paying bills less challenging.
- With high temperatures and humidty, it can be quite uncomfortable in the heat of the day, especially when trying to complete tasks such as finding a home and school. So, if possible, schedule any look/see visits or permanent moves outside the hottest months of the year (March to May).
- If you have assignments based in the north of the country, then be aware that the area can experience dust storms during the dry season (December to February), known as the harmattan. Those with breathing difficulties like asthma should bring sufficient medication or breathing apparatuses with them.
- When renting a property, some landlords may request up to three months’ rent in advance, so organisations should ensure that accommodation allowances are made available to the assignee as soon as possible. This will make the home finding process much smoother.
- When a suitable property is found, consider a full security audit before the lease is finalised, as safety is a key challenge. This allows security upgrade negotiations to be included in the lease agreement.
- Cars are used by nearly all expatriates. Sometimes a driver is provided or the assignee may want to drive themselves. If they do choose to drive, then consider providing a driver for the first few weeks of an assignment, so that the family can get used to their surroundings and the local road conditions.
- To minimise security risks when travelling, assignees should keep vehicle doors locked, windows closed, and valuable items such as laptops and handbags in the trunk of the vehicle.
- Relationships are an important element of doing business with locals. Initial meetings can often involve a lot of small talk. It’s all about getting to know one another before official business is conducted. If relationships are key to business, then hospitality is key to building those relationships. When visiting someone’s house, the assignee may want to bring a small gift, possibly something inexpensive from their home country. Given the Muslim population, don’t take alcohol as a gift and be mindful that an expensive item may be interpreted as a bribe.
- Business cards are widely used and should be translated into French before being given out. When receiving a business card, be sure to treat it with respect. Don’t fold or write on it, especially in front of the owner.
- Immigration fees and timescales mean that advance planning is imperative. Government fees can be very expensive and organisations should look at these ahead of scheduling assignments. It can also take a long time for an assignee to complete the immigration process. For example, non-nationals of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), may have to wait between 70 and nearly 150 days to be fully compliant.
Download Cartus’ Ivory Coast MarketWatch for a more detailed review of the country and even more best practice recommendations. For additional information on other world locations, be sure to visit our Resource Page too.