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C.1.  Movements and stays of persons related to mode 4 

16.20.        As described in chapter 11, the potential data sources for mode 4 movements are enterprise surveys (chapter 6), administrative sources (chapter 9), household and labour force surveys, population censuses and border/passenger surveys (chapter 7). There are no dedicated, comprehensive data sources for mode 4 movements and stays, which means that compilers can use one of the sources listed above, depending on the type/category of inward or outward stocks of mode 4 for which information is to be compiled. This could be established based on identified needs and potential sources. Examples include the following:

(a) Trade in services surveys would probably be the best source for collecting data on contractual services suppliers alongside the data on the value of the contracts;

(b) FATS data sources could be useful on intrafirm movements[1] or direct recruitments by foreign affiliates;

(c) Other enterprise surveys, covering specific services sectors, such as temporary employment agencies, could also be specially tailored to capture information of interest on mode 4;

(d) Border/passenger surveys should be considered for obtaining characteristics of those travelling for business, work or employment purposes, combined with counts of border crossings;

(e) Household/labour force surveys could help to obtain information for outgoing mode 4 persons, in particular the self-employed, and, if relevant, such information could be combined with counts of outgoing persons/trips;

(f) Business registers (see chapter 5) might contain information needed to identify potential mode 4 self-employed services suppliers;

(g) Administrative sources (migration records, registers) might be used, in particular in receiving countries, and could offer useful records on counts of persons or trips, for example. Work permits or documents issued in the context of social security coordination and employment services could also be considered. In other words, there may already be relevant administrative information on the short-term movements of workers. However, compilers need to ensure that, in administrative sources, the categories that could be of interest for mode 4 are defined in such a way as to be close enough to the coverage (and, if possible, breakdowns) recommended in MSITS 2010 and the present Guide. If well-defined and used appropriately, entry/departure cards could be used to make a first selection of border survey respondents that could potentially be of interest in the context of mode 4. Those respondents could then be surveyed to obtain more refined information;

(h)  Similar considerations could be put forward for other sources. Finally, partner country data may provide useful information given that it may be difficult or even impossible to collect details on the characteristics of incoming persons/trips through surveys of enterprises or households, or through administrative records for outgoing persons. In the same way, population sources tend to reflect outbound mobility better than inbound, which contrasts with migration data in which emigration is much harder to capture than immigration. As a consequence, partner country information could turn out to be essential and be used and compared through a clearinghouse for such data statistics. That implies, however, that the data collection and quality of the compiling country depend on partners’ willingness and capacity to collect and provide high-quality data. As such, collection normally involves coordination and cost and, in the case of trade negotiations, certain interests, a central brokering institution may be important. Compilers need to be cautious in using partner country data, as definitions and  national laws and regulations, etc. may differ. Refer to chapters 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 for a more in-depth description of the respective data sources.

All the sources identified above offer some potential for collecting data. However, it is important to identify those in charge of the respective data collection mechanisms and to coordinate with them to see if it is possible, and not too burdensome, to identify, collect and compile data on the mode 4 categories of interest to the economy (both inward and outward) and their breakdowns. A comparison of data sources by purpose of mode 4 movement/stay and direction of movement is provided in chapter 11. Alternatively, compilers are advised to explore the possibility of combining obtained information and developing an appropriate model to derive the data and breakdowns of interest (see chapter 17).   

16.21.        For compiling data on mode 4 movements and stays, two groups of persons should be distinguished: those who will not be in an employer-employee relationship in the country in which they are temporarily present and those who will be in an employer-employee relationship in the country in which they are temporarily present (this refers solely to intracorporate transferees and those directly recruited by foreign affiliates). The present Guide advises the following statistical treatment of the two groups:

Persons who will not be in an employer-employee relationship in the country in which they are temporarily present the mode 4 

The variables are flows and stocks and should be broken down as follows: 


(a) Flows:   the number of natural persons of the compiling country who departed to other countries to render services or negotiate a contract or the establishment of a commercial presence, as well as the number of their trips; 

(b) Stocks:   the number of natural persons of the compiling country who were present in other countries at a certain point in time in the reference period (e.g., beginning, middle or end of the period) to render services or negotiate a contract or the establishment of a commercial presence.


(a) Flows:   the number of natural persons of other countries who entered the compiling country to render services or negotiate a contract or establishment of commercial presence, as well as the number of their trips;

(b) Stocks:   the number of natural persons of other countries who were present at a certain point in time in the reference period (e.g., beginning, middle or end of the period) in the compiling country to provide services or negotiate a contract or the establishment of a commercial presence.

The information on the number of inbound/outbound flows (persons and trips) and stocks (persons) must be broken down by:

(a) Purpose of mode 4 movement/stay abroad (outbound) or in the compiling economy (inbound), with at least a separate identification of the four main categories of mode 4 movement: service contract either by self-employed person or employee­, intrafirm trade or not, or sales/commercial presence negotiation;

(b) Service category; 

(c) Country of destination (outbound) or origin (inbound); 

(d) Duration (length of stay); 

(e) Skills/occupation of persons.

Persons who will be in an employer-employee relationship in the country in which they are temporarily present 

The variables to be collected are the same as for the first group, except that the breakdown by purpose of stay should distinguish those relating to movements between affiliated companies (intracorporate transfer) from those that refer to direct recruitment by a foreign affiliate in the country of temporary stay. The status of employment for both categories is being an employee of the foreign affiliate. In addition, for the service category, since the employment of such persons is not necessarily directly related to the supply of the service by the affiliate to clients, compiling data broken down by type of service activity of the affiliate/employer (using ISIC rev.4 /ICFA rev.1) is recommended. 

The present Guide advises that the compilation of data on stocks be given the same priority as the compilation of flow data, in view of their great importance for GATS mode 4 analysis. 

16.22.        Compilers should strive to obtain information for the mode 4 category of most interest to their economy (generally contractual service suppliers, whether employees or self-employed, or intracorporate transferees), whether incoming or outgoing. Identifying categories of interest could be done by conducting an analysis of the potential size of the population on the basis of the types of agreements signed by a country (e.g., free movement of persons); the estimated value of mode 4 trade, if certain visas that are issued are strongly related to trade in services; which services sectors are assumed to be a mode 4 comparative advantage of the economy (and conversely, how big could mode 4 imports be). The different circumstances in each country determine locally specific forms of the international supply of services through the presence of natural persons. A methodological approach to the production of statistics on mode 4 persons should take into account not only market specifics, but also incoming persons/trips and national regulations and policies on immigration and labour and on foreign investment and the international supply of services through the presence of natural persons, as well as the effectiveness of such regulations and policies. For instance, if foreign investment in a service industry is strictly controlled, then intracorporate transferees cannot be considered for estimation, or if low-skilled workers cannot get work permits, the estimation of the number of mode 4 persons could be concentrated in higher skilled occupations. Therefore, a step-by-step approach should be adopted. In the early stages, each economy could establish a required statistical capacity for compilation on mode 4 movements and stays, depending on their economy’s circumstances, identifying simplifying features to determine key categories of data and major authorities with which to cooperate.  Compilation should be based on facts and respond to the recommendations of MSITS 2010. A longer-term goal would be to obtain data for all mode 4 categories and all service sectors, both for incoming and outgoing persons/trips, thereby enabling overall international comparisons.

16.23.        With respect to periodicity, the compilation of detailed data on an annual basis should serve most information needs. However, given the strong link of such information with trade/labour mobility policy, it could be of interest to also envisage the compilation of some information for shorter periods, for instance, on a quarterly basis, at least for main aggregates.

16.24.        As indicated previously, depending on the source used, the compilation of data on trips is significantly less resource intensive and provides a satisfactory information basis for policy purposes and the estimation of missing value data. Therefore, as a general rule, the present Guide advises compilers to concentrate first on the compilation of data on inbound and outbound trips and to use those data for the compilation of data on persons, as necessary.

16.25.        For the country of destination or origin, the primary focus should be on the country of the supplier and that of the consumer of the service. In the case of receiving countries (for which mode 4 data will be of primary interest, given the direct relationship with commitments made), priority should be given to identifying the country of origin of the supplier, in particular for contractual service suppliers/employees, where that can be more difficult to establish, as it can differ from the country of the individual(s). When the source data does not enable this, the country of origin of the person could be used as a reasonably good indication of the country of origin of mode 4 trade in services.

16.26.        The identification of purposes of business-, work- or employment-related movements using internationally agreed definitions ensures the compilation of comparable data needed for trade and other purposes. Adopting such an approach can also facilitate the estimation of some value data for resident/non-resident trade in services transactions. Compilers are advised, as a starting point, to use the list of purposes of the trip or migration provided in table V.3 of MSITS 2010, which is based on the classification of purposes of tourism trips in IRTS 2008 and on the migrant and non-migrant categories provided in Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration (RSIM) revision 1.[2] The RSIM list contains two main groups: the first one refers to the tourism visits/trips and the second to all the other RSIM rev.1 categories. Within tourism visits/trips, two main purposes are identified: (a) personal and (b) business and professional. The first group is broken down into eight items (none is of interest in the context of mode 4), while the second is not subdivided. In view of the information needs related to mode 4, it is advised that compilers subdivide the latter group as set out in MSITS 2010, table V.3:

(a) Contractual service suppliers, self-employed;[3]

(b) Contractual service suppliers, employees of a juridical person (including intrafirm trade in services, which is equivalent to intracorporate transfers in which the employer-employee relationship remains with the sending entity);

(c) Services sellers and persons responsible for setting up a commercial presence.

Within the RSIM categories of migrant work/employment-based settlement (i.e., where the employer-employee relationship is in the country of destination of the person), a separate identification of intracorporate transferees or those directly recruited by services-producing foreign affiliates would complement the mode 4 information needs.

16.27.        Compilers should take into account the MSITS 2010 recommendation that, notwithstanding the difficulties involved, they should break down relevant statistics between permanent and non-permanent stays according to their national definition of residence, regardless of whether stays may be substantially longer than the one-year guideline generally suggested by statistical systems. In that connection, it should be recalled that in tourism statistics, the duration of trips is measured in terms of the number of overnight stays, and will include only those not exceeding one year. In the case of mode 4 where the employer-employee relationship is in the country of temporary stay, one should turn to migration statistics. Migration statistics refer only to short-term (3 to 12 months) and long-term (more than 12 months) stays. There are no recommendations in either framework on groupings as identified in MSITS 2010. MSITS 2010 recommends,[4] as a long-term goal, that mode 4 stays be broken down according to the following time frames:

(a) Stays of less than three months;

(b) Stays of between three months and less than one year;

(c) Stays of between one and three years;

(d) Stays of between three and five years;

(e) Stays of more than five years.

When it comes to the length of stay, the information needs triggered by GATS for the variable number of persons or for the number of trips go beyond those used as guidelines in international statistical standards. Consequently, compilers should adapt that classification to their national needs and statistical systems (and laws) including the needs of national tourism statistics and migration statistics, as well as other types of statistics.

16.28.        The detailed multipurpose international classification of services is provided in CPC, ver.2, while more aggregated services categories, adopted for use in statistics on service transactions between residents and non-residents, are contained in EBOPS. Compilers should select the services classification for use in the context of movements of natural persons/trips under mode 4, depending on their needs and circumstances, but are advised to do so on a basis compatible with EBOPS 2010 to facilitate the analysis of that information, as well as link, if possible and relevant, with the compilation of some BOP services items and FATS. If a product classification cannot be used, then the field of activity of the service supplier could be used (i.e., using ISIC rev.4 or ICFA rev.1).

16.29.    Although not completely consistent with GATS definitions, such an integrated approach with tourism and/or migration statistical definitions will strengthen the institutional arrangements in data collection and compilation and will ensure a more efficient use of limited statistical resources, while providing information that can be used as reliable indicators for mode 4. Another potential benefit of cooperation or coordination could be to ensure consistency between enterprise and household/labour force surveys that have work conditions/policy as common subject matter, and could, therefore, be combined to obtain data on mode 4. [5]

16.30.    The breakdown by skills/occupations is entirely optional. However, it is advised that countries follow the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-08) and/or the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011 if such data are compiled.


Include page:

Country experience: China: compilation of mode 4 number of persons


Next: C.2. Movements and stays of persons related to mode 2

[1] Whether the employer-employee relationship remains with the sending firm, i.e., corresponding to the rendering of services by the sending firm to the receiving one; or the employer-employee relationship is with the receiving firm.

[2] See IRTS 2008, paras. 3.15-3.21; MSITS 2010, para. 5.26, fifth bullet point; and RSIM rev.1, chap. 4.

[3] This category is to be compiled for mode 4 purposes if there is no employer-employee relationship in the host economy (see MSITS 2010, box V.2).

[4] MSITS 2010,  para. 5.26, fifth bullet point.

[5] A similar approach to the work of European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) could be established for mode 4 information purposes In its work, Eurofound aims to provide information on the quality of living and working conditions in Europe. In order to realize that goal, it combines three surveys, each targeting a different population, to obtain specific information. The European Working Conditions Survey questions workers to gain insight on the quality of work and employment. The European Company Survey targets managers and employee representatives in companies to gather information on workplace practices. The European Quality of Life Survey interviews European citizens to obtain a perspective on living conditions and perceptions of quality of life. Despite those differences, in terms of target population, Eurofound aims to harmonize survey methodology whenever possible, to ensure that lessons learned in one survey are implemented in the others (see