San Francisco at a Glance
Doing Business in San FranciscoiStockphoto
San Francisco has a lot to offer to professionals from all over the world.
You need a social security card and a social security number to work in San Francisco. The time to request your social security number depends on your visa. Have you applied for an immigrant visa? Then you can request a social security number when applying for your visa. As a non-immigrant, you can submit your request online within ten days of your arrival in San Francisco.
In San Francisco, social security consists of retirement benefits as well as survivor and disability insurance. Please contact the US Social Security Agency for more information on Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens and more.
In order to qualify for a US state pension, you have to be at least 67 years of age and have contributed to the US social security system for at least ten years. However, eligibility also depends on the amount of money you have contributed throughout the years.
Please remember that your retirement benefits alone will not be enough to keep your previous standard of living. You may thus want to contribute to a company pension fund or make other retirement arrangements.
Social Security Agreements
There are several social security agreements between the United States and different foreign countries:
- the Czech Republic
- the Netherlands
- South Korea
- the United Kingdom
These agreements can make your expat life in San Francisco a lot easier for you as they regulate how social security contributions between two countries are handled. First of all, you are thus protected from paying Social Security taxes on the same income in two countries. Moreover, such agreements help you to fill gaps in benefit protection if you have spent a part of your career abroad. Your contributions in San Francisco may thus count towards your social security account at home.
Please refer to the US Social Security Agency and your own national pension office for more information on the individual agreements.
As an expats in San Francisco, you will have to pay income tax both on a federal and a state level. Still, income taxes are comparatively low, with a marginal tax rate of 35% for the top earners with an income of at least $388,351 per year. Prepare yourself for being taxed like a US citizen while living and working in San Francisco.
If you are staying for less than 183 days within a year, you are only taxed on income from US sources. Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information concerning the taxation of foreign employees working in the United States.
In the business world, Americans tend to be very direct, which can be perceived as aggressive by expats with a different cultural background. They don’t like to beat around the bush and try to get the job done as quickly as possible. The saying, “time is money”, rings true, even in a laid-back city like San Francisco. This does not mean that you should be rude, of course.
At the same time, you will soon find that the American style of doing business is rather informal. Co-workers, business partners, and even your boss may want to be on a first-name basis with you right away. Remember that lavish business gifts are not common, though. In fact, they can even be perceived as bribery and can get you in a lot of trouble.