When you head overseas for a working holiday it can be a great feeling to think about leaving all of your worries behind. However not all of these worries can be left behind. It you are wondering about whether your debts will chase you overseas, here are some guidelines that explain when a debt collector can pursue you overseas.
Where are you headed?
Australia has some agreements with countries that allow mutual assistance in the recovery of debt, commonly known as 'MARD' agreements. This includes the United Kingdom and Canada. These agreements apply to certain types of debts including debts to government entities such as residual tax debts. If you are headed to a country that has reciprocal arrangements with Australia then you are likely to still be liable for those debts and you should make sure that have made prior arrangements so that you can continue to make some level of repayments from overseas working income.
How have you communicated your plans to go on an extended holiday?
If you head overseas without much notice and without leaving a forwarding address and/or making sure your mail is read by a relevant person and making sure that important documents are sent to you then it can seem like you are heading overseas with the specific intent of avoiding debt. On the other hand if you make every effort to be contactable and make clear and long term plans to head overseas, then it is clear that the holiday is being made with an intention of travel rather than fleeing the country. If you innocently miss debt notifications or the debt collectors spend a lot of time processing your debt and do not get in contact until substantially after you have left the country then you are less likely to be liable for civil damages relating to your debt.
How much are the debts for?
On a purely practical level debt collectors are only likely to pursue small amounts so far, as the returns on the time and investment that are required to follow up international debt collection are going to relatively large. If you are leaving particularly robust personal debts, then the collectors are much more likely to pursue every avenue possible, including contacting known associates to ask them for a forwarding address, compared to small debts such as lapsed gym memberships or telephone bills.
If you are going on a working holiday and have some concerns over how a debt collector may be able to pursue you when you are overseas then you should get legal advice from an experienced lawyer to learn more.