International PEO

What Is International PEO?

International PEOs unlock simple, compliant global hiring. Read our guide to learn more about PEO services and how they help you hire in new markets.

Anja Simic
Written by Anja Simic
December 14, 2022
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Global hiring is the new normal. Today’s top companies don’t just let their employees work from home, they let them work from anywhere in the world.

Key takeaways

  1. An International PEO (Professional Employer Organization) simplifies the process of international hiring and employment.
  2. The term "International PEO" originated from the concept of a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), but they function differently. PEOs provide local HR outsourcing while International PEOs fully handle payroll, employment law compliance, and employee benefits across many countries.
  3. Consider an international PEO if you're looking to build a global team without the HR complexities that come with it.

Global expansion is one major incentive: companies looking to break into new markets have an incentive to hire in those markets. And for other companies, international hiring is a gateway to expand your search for top talent and build a more diverse workforce.

However, international hiring is not simple. Hiring employees in a new country is lengthy, complicated, and expensive. You may have to establish a local entity in that country, deal with currency conversions and overseas banking, and sort through that country’s unique tax and labor laws to remain compliant. And if you slip up, you face grave liability.

Enter international PEOs, which are employment solutions designed to simplify this process and facilitate compliant hiring across the globe.

What is an International PEO?

An International PEO (professional employer organization) is a co-employment service that provides human resources services, including international hiring and employment.

International PEOs establish legal entities in foreign countries that can legally (and simply) hire in those countries. When you partner with an international PEO, you gain access to those foreign markets because the international PEO legally hires and employs local workers. 

The international PEO handles staffing, global payroll, employment law compliance, employee benefits, and other essential aspects of international employment. You still manage the employee’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities, pay their wages, and decide who you want to hire.

International PEO vs. PEO vs. EOR vs. GEO

The term "international PEO" has its roots in the concept of Professional Employer Organizations (PEO), but the two function quite differently. PEOs are not legal employers: they do not handle a company’s hiring, payroll, or employment tax, and they offer limited-to-no support for global hiring. 

Traditional PEOs specialize in outsourced HR services for local teams under a co-employment model. For example, Deel's US PEO service helps US teams with employee onboarding, running local payroll in each state, and managing health benefits. The PEO is not the sole legal employer, and the PEO does not assist with hiring internationally.

International PEOs, on the other hand, are more commonly known as EORs (Employer of Record). EORs serve as the legal employer, onboarding, global payroll, employment law compliance, employee benefits, and other essential aspects of international employment. Because EORs set up individual entities in many different countries, you can easily engage an EOR to hire an overseas employee on your behalf.

Read more: EORs vs. PEOs

Lastly, the term "Global Employment Organization" (GEO) is the same as an International PEO or an EOR. All three terms refer to services that provide comprehensive employment solutions, facilitating global hiring, payroll, and compliance.

Why use an international PEO?

International PEO services are your employment solution to break into international markets, which is otherwise time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating. There are very few resources to help companies tackle this on their own in one other country, let alone many. Even for companies with significant incentives for global expansion, global employment usually creates more problems than it solves. 

Global PEOs, or better yet EORs, establish local entities in countries worldwide and build systems for simple, compliant employment. The legal and financial systems operating behind the scenes at an international PEO are complex and full of red tape. But using these services is simple and highly cost-effective compared to in-house alternatives.

Excellent international PEO services cover every single aspect of international expansion. They handle:

  • Taxes
  • Payroll
  • Background checks
  • Timesheets
  • Insurance
  • Onboarding new employees
  • Employment contracts
  • And more

Unlike traditional PEOs, this process is an international PEO’s legal responsibility because they are the legal employer of international employees. And while the global PEO service handles the legal matters of your global workforce and international payroll, you still manage the people. Employee management, training promotions, and task division remain the responsibility of the client business: you.

An international PEO provider handles the complex, legal nuts and bolts of international hiring so you can focus on employee experience, performance, and retention.


How does an international PEO work?

International PEOs (EORs) establish local entities in countries worldwide. They acquire the necessary business registrations, understand local labor laws, design reusable employment contracts, and set up foreign payments for your entire workforce

When business owners like you use these global PEO services, you can recruit wherever they operate. You can recruit, interview, and select candidates however you like. Once you’ve found your ideal candidate, the rest is up to the global PEO.

The global PEO generates a contract that complies with the candidate’s local laws and files necessary paperwork related to local tax laws. They also set up employee benefits like worker’s compensation and health insurance. In short, they handle every other legal matter required to make an employment offer. 

Even if you decide to manage these tasks on your own, it can be quite challenging to do them correctly. International hiring is a specialized area for international PEOs, and they excel at mitigating risks. Using their services reduces compliance risks compared to attempting international hiring on your own.

It’s important to remember that international PEOs or EORs are the legal employers of people who work for you. This employment approach eliminates the administrative work and lets you focus on employee management, training, and performance. It enables you to expand to global markets and gain access to a global talent while also dedicating your time and energy to creating a positive employee experience–not staffing an entire department to keep up with foreign compliance and tax law.

Who are global PEOs for?

Global PEOs are not just a service; they are a strategic tool for businesses with a global vision. 

Without a global PEO or EOR, you'd have to legally establish a foreign subsidiary to employ workers abroad. Understanding and complying with local employment and tax laws is extremely challenging and requires a significant investment that most growing companies can't justify.

Instead, Global PEOs can be your passport to seamless international expansion.

Global PEOs are for startups

Many startups partner with global PEOs to hire affordable technical talent worldwide. Global PEOs unlock international talent pools for brand-new companies: your first five hires could be from the US, India, Serbia, Brazil, and the Philippines—all onboarded within days.

Global PEOs are for enterprises

Enterprises use global PEOs to break into international markets, broaden their talent, get better coverage across time zones and languages, and achieve a level of diversity that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. 

Expanding to one or two foreign countries without global PEO services might be possible for enterprises that can afford to build robust HR and legal teams. However, partnering with a global PEO service unlocks a worldwide talent pool for a fraction of the cost and time it would take to expand to even one country.

Global PEOs are for full-time employment

Global PEOs primarily help you work with full-time employees: if you are interested in working with freelancers or independent contractors, a global PEO is probably not the best option. However, Deel offers a variety of employment solutions that allow you to hire contractors as well as full-time employees. And we don’t prioritize one over the other: contractors have access to a wide array of benefits and perks.

If you want to hire employees to perform certain services only, take a look at our independent contractor hiring guide.


Build your global team with Deel

Navigating the complexities of international hiring can be daunting. But with Deel, the #1 Employer of Record, you can hire employees worldwide with ease and confidence.

Our comprehensive EOR product ensures compliance with local labor laws, handles taxes, and manages mandatory employee benefits for each country. Plus, our employment contracts are pre-vetted by local legal experts, so your new hires are set up legally in no time.

Book a demo today to explore the future of international hiring.



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