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Haitian migrants are escorted off the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa's fantail to an awaiting Haitian Coast Guard vessel during repatriation
The crew of USS Pueblo as they arrive at the U.N. Advance Camp, Korean Demilitarized Zone, on 23 December 1968, following their release by the North Korean government

Repatriation is the process of returning a person to their place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or military personnel to their place of origin following a war. The term may also refer to the process of converting a foreign currency into the currency of one's own country. The forced return of people to countries where they would face persecution is more specifically known as refoulement.


  • Medical repatriation 1
  • Post–World War II refugee repatriation 2
  • Immigrant repatriation 3
  • Repatriation laws 4
    • States with repatriation laws 4.1
    • Common law repatriation 4.2
  • Economic repatriation 5
  • Repatriation of currency 6
  • Repatriation of human remains 7
    • Repatriation of battlefield casualties 7.1
  • Cultural repatriation 8
  • Rastafari calls for repatriation to Africa 9
  • Overcoming repatriation 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Medical repatriation

Repatriation is linked with health care due to the costs and resources associated with providing medical treatment to travelers and immigrants pursuing citizenship. For example, if someone is in the United States with a visa and becomes ill, the insurance that the visa holder has in his or her native country may not apply in the United States, especially if it is a country with universal health care coverage.

This scenario forces hospitals to choose one of three options:

  • Limit their services to emergency care only (as per the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act)
  • Offer charity care free of charge or at a reduced rate
  • Repatriate the patient back to his or her native country where he or she will be covered according to that country's policy[1]

Determining which option is the most ethical is often very challenging for hospital administrators.

In some cases, a traveler's personal insurance company is required to repatriate the patient for medical treatment. The method of repatriation could be via regular flight, by ground, or by air ambulance. Medical repatriation is different from the act of medical evacuation.

Post–World War II refugee repatriation

In the 20th century, following all European wars, several repatriation commissions were created to supervise the return of war refugees, displaced persons, and prisoners of war to their country of origin. Repatriation hospitals were established in some countries to care for the ongoing medical and health requirements of returned military personnel. In the Soviet Union, the refugees seen as traitors for surrendering were often killed or sent to Siberian concentration camps. [2]

Issues surrounding repatriation have been some of the most heatedly debated political topics of the 20th and 21st centuries. Many forced back to the Soviet Union by Allied forces in World War II still hold this forced migration against the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

The term repatriation was often used by Communist governments to describe the large-scale state-sponsored ethnic cleansing actions and expulsion of national groups. Poles born in territories that were annexed by the Soviet Union, (referred to by Poles as the Kresy) although deported to the State of Poland, were settled in the annexed former German territories (referred to in Polish as the Regained Territories). In the process they were told that they had returned to their Motherland.

Immigrant repatriation

Opponents of immigration have advocated various types of repatriation measures for immigrants. Illegal immigrants are frequently repatriated as a matter of government policy. Those who would go further suggest measures of voluntary repatriation, with financial assistance (there have been schemes of this kind), and also measures of compulsory repatriation. Such measures are highly controversial, especially if based on any kind of racial criterion, and encounter vocal political opposition in most democracies.

Repatriation laws

Most countries in central and eastern Europe as well as Germany, Greece, Armenia, France, China, Japan, Norway, Finland, Philippines, Ireland, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Israel have repatriation laws. This gives non-citizen foreigners who are part of the titular majority group the opportunity to immigrate and receive citizenship. Repatriation of their titular diaspora is practiced by most ethnic nation states.

Repatriation laws have been created in many countries to enable diasporas to immigrate ("return") to their "kin-state". This is sometimes known as the exercise of the right of return. Repatriation laws give members of the diaspora the right to immigrate to their kinstate. Repatriation laws serve to maintain close ties between the state and its diaspora and gives preferential treatment to diaspora immigrants.

States with repatriation laws

The number of countries with repatriation laws has mushroomed since the end of Soviet communism and most independent nations that were once part of the communist domain in Europe have since legislated repatriation laws. Armenia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey also have longstanding repatriation legislation.[3]

Common law repatriation

Many other countries such as Jordan and Sweden have (or have had) generous immigration policies with regard to the nation's Diaspora without having formally enacted repatriation laws. Such states can be described as practicing common law repatriation.

Economic repatriation

This refers to economic measures taken by a country to reduce foreign capital investment.

Repatriation of currency

When foreign currency is converted back to the currency of the home country it is referred to as repatriation. An example would be an American converting British pounds back to U.S. dollars.

Repatriation also refers to the payment of a dividend by a foreign corporation to a U.S. corporation. This happens often where the foreign corporation is considered a "controlled foreign corporation" (CFC), which means that more than 50% of the foreign corporation is owned by U.S. shareholders. Generally, foreign direct investment in CFC's are not taxed until a dividend is paid to the controlling U.S. parent company, and is thus repatriated. The foreign direct investment income of the CFC is taxed only by the country where it is incorporated until repatriation. At that time, income is subject to the (typically higher) U.S. tax rate minus the Foreign Tax Credits. (FN: See IRC 951-965) There are currently hundreds of billions of dollars of Foreign direct investment in CFC's because of the disincentive to repatriate those earnings. (See Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Economic Accounts, Integrated Macroeconomic Accounts for the United States, available at the Bureau of Economic Analysis.)[4]

Repatriation of human remains

Repatriation also refers to the return of human remains to their nation of origin. In the United States, Native Americans' human remains are uncovered and removed from their burial sites in the construction/land development process or as part of archaeological excavations. The Smithsonian Institution, which is covered under the repatriation provisions of the National Museum of the American Indian Act of 1989.

In previous eras it was common for British colonial authorities to collect heads and other body parts of indigenous peoples such as Indigenous Australians and Māori for display in British museums. The repatriation of these body parts is currently ongoing. For an example of a successful body part repatriation, see Yagan. Another example can be seen through the dedicated work of the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme, established in partnership between Māori and the New Zealand government in 2003. This programme is administered by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa), and since 2003 has repatriated over 350 Māori and Moriori ancestral remains to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms that indigenous peoples have the right to repatriate their human remains. The declaration was passed in September 2007 with the support of 143 countries. The four opposing countries -- Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States -- subsequently endorsed the declaration.

Repatriation of battlefield casualties

The Korean War marked the first time that the United States or any nation began returning the bodies of battlefield casualties as soon as possible.[5] During Operation Glory, which followed the Korean Armistice Agreement, thousands of remains were exchanged by both sides.[5][6] The practice of immediately recovering casualties continued for United States during the Vietnam War.[5]

Cultural repatriation

Cultural or art repatriation is the return of cultural objects or works of art to their country of origin (usually referring to ancient art), or (for looted material) its former owners (or their heirs).

Rastafari calls for repatriation to Africa

One of the central tenets of the Rastafari movement is the desirability of the repatriation of black people from the Americas and elsewhere back to Africa. While Ethiopia specifically has land available in Shashamane to encourage this project, black people who are citizens of countries outside Africa do not have the right of return to Africa, although as individuals they are free to try and emigrate.

Overcoming repatriation

Repatriation is often the "forgotten" phase of the expatriation cycle; the emphasis for support is mostly on the actual period abroad. However, many repatriates report experiencing difficulties on return: one is no longer special, practical problems arise, new knowledge gained is no longer useful, etc. These difficulties are highly influenced by a number of factors including self-management, spouse's adjustment, time spent abroad and skill utilisation. What is crucial is that every individual perceives these factors in a different way.

Direct managers and HR staff often notice the difficulties a repatriate experiences, but they are not always able to act on it. Budget shortcomings and time constraints are frequently cited as reasons why it fails to be an agenda priority. Solutions for repatriation difficulties do not have to be expensive and can lead to great benefits for the company. Basic support can consist, for example, of good communication in advance, during and after the international assignment, or a mentor program to assist the repatriate. The expatriate and his/her family should feel understood by his or her company. Support can increase job satisfaction, thereby protecting the investment made by the company.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Wack, Kevin J.; Toby Schonfeld (2012). "Patient Autonomy and the Unfortunate Choice between Repatriation and Suboptimal Treatment". American Journal of Bioethics 12 (9): 6–7. 
  2. ^ Fields, Paul. "Ostarbeiters". Coffee Lounge. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^ "U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Economic Analysis". 
  5. ^ a b c Sledge, Michael. Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, and Honor Our Military Fallen. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 78–80.  
  6. ^ Not all remains from the Korean War were returned to the home countries. Some 2,300 casualties are buried at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea.
  7. ^ Ripmeester, N. “Handle with care”, Graduate Recruiter, Issue 22 (February) 2005

External links

  • Culture Shock and Returning Home
  • The Mexican-American repatriation of the early 30's
  • Expatriates Magazine A Free Printed Publication in France covering Expatriation and Repatriation topics
  • Repatriation Assistance Repatriation help and advice
  • Repatriation Funeral Plan Repatriation Funeral Plan
  • Greece gets Roman coin back
  • National NAGPRA Home
  • Expertise in Labour Mobility
  • Repatriation Help - a website offering guidance and assistance in the repatriation of human remains
  • A company that offers international repatriation of human remains
  • Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Progamme - Repatriation of Māori and Moriori ancestral remains
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