In New Zealand, as an island country, 'overseas' is taken to mean 'any foreign country'.


I'm going overseas for holiday.

Overseas investors brought $1bn into the country last year.

Instead of buying clothes produced overseas, consider supporting local producers.

The question is - what word is used here when the foreign country isn't 'overseas' per se, for example, Germany talking about France.

  • There is no one correct word that covers all 3 usages, because "overseas" happens to cover all 3 but nothing else do. Consider accepting Sel's answer (abroad) for usage 1 and 3 while using ChrisW's answer (foreign) for usage 2.
    – Raestloz
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 4:28
  • I've seen the word overseas being used in Canada when referring to Mexico...
    – gerrit
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 14:03
  • 1
    Side note: In the U.S. we would say "vacation" and not "holiday". A holiday here is a day for some specific celebration or commemoration, like Christmas or Independence Day, and is always a single day. When you take time off work and go somewhere for fun, that's a "vacation". As I understand it, in the U.K. they call that "going on holiday", in the U.S. it's "going on vacation".
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 12:59
  • I'm planning on going on holiday overseas too. Nice to hear our regional languages being used. Good on ya mate!
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 21:11

8 Answers 8


Consider abroad:

in or to a foreign country


I'm going abroad for holiday.

Investors abroad brought $1bn into the country last year.

Instead of buying clothes produced abroad, consider supporting local producers.

Source: Merriam-Webster

  • 4
    I agree with ChrisW: You'd use "foreign investors," never "abroad investors." Abroad is still a great answer, though.
    – user867
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 2:11
  • 13
    @ChrisW, user867 - The 2nd sentence works perfectly fine if you reword it slightly: "Investors from abroad brought $1bn into the country last year".
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 2:19
  • 3
    +1 with the note that abroad usually does mean from outside the country, not just different or far away, whereas foreign can be a relative measure. Someone from Miami might find the culture and climate of Seattle foreign, more so than those of Caracas, a foreign city in conventional terms. But though Seattle is more than twice as far away, a Miamian would not be said to study abroad, work abroad, vacation abroad, retire abroad, etc. there.
    – choster
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 14:57
  • 6
    "abroad investors" sounds fine to me, though "investors abroad" sounds much better. i don't see anything wrong with this; i've heard the phrase "[nouns] abroad" pretty frequently.
    – user428517
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 17:07
  • 2
    @ChrisW The 2nd example does work. "Investors abroad" is totally fine and accurate, and, like sgroves, I've heard it frequently.
    – TylerH
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 17:33

The U.S. is not an island but we routinely refer to foreign countries as "overseas". People quibble about whether Canada and Mexico are "overseas" as you don't have to go over any seas to get there.

In general, "abroad" and "foreign" refer to other countries regardless of any intervening water. I think "abroad" is relatively rarely used these days. We often simply say "another country". If you're talking about something brought to this country from another country, we say "imported".

Common ways to express your examples:

I'm going to another country for a vacation.

I'm going abroad for a vacation.

Foreign investors brought $1bn into the country last year.

Instead of buying imported clothes, consider supporting local producers.

Instead of buying clothes produced in other countries, ...

I'm suddenly reminded of a news program where the anchorman introduced a reporter's special report by saying, "And now Sally Jones (or whatever her name was) will tell us what she learned when she was a broad ... I mean overseas."


For the case where the two countries are adjacent to each other (as in your example of Germany and France), you can use the phrase "across the border".

An American going on vacation might say "I'm going across the border to Canada/Mexico."


I think 'overseas' was originally a British term, for the obvious reason that visiting any place 'abroad' involved going 'overseas'. It was widely used up to the 1960s - remember BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation).

My own experience whilst living in Australia was that they and the New Zealanders had retained it, perhaps since they were each far more isolated from elsewhere by sea than the 'mother country' was.

It was a societal landmark for middle-aged people to say that their children 'were overseas', meaning they were taking an extended working holiday in Europe or America. It seemed to have that connotation more than it simply meaning they had gone on holiday.

As for Europeans, they would be unlikely to use the word 'overseas'. If they were speaking in their own language, if at all, they might say 'Nous allons à l’étranger cette année' - 'We are going abroad (to foreign lands) this year'. But French people nowadays don't always regard going to Germany as going abroad, as it doesn't involve any passport check, or even that you slow down on the motorway as you pass a sign which says 'Deutschland'.

  • And here I was thinking that BOAC stood for "Bloody Orful Aircraft Company"... nbu.bg/webs/amb/british/6/greene/bag.htm
    – MT_Head
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 20:47
  • 1
    @MT_Head Or some said 'Better On A Camel'! Their original name was Imperial Airways, and a great and glorious history theirs was, from bi-planes that flew to Australia to the world's first jet airliner, and then to the VC10 (I think the first with rear engines). Try a little VC TENderness the old adverts used to say.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 20:55
  • They were cruelly disloyal to the British aircraft manufacturers after the war, though... I recently listened to the Binge Thinking podcast on the postwar industry, and I'd had no idea how BOAC (and the government, to be fair) stabbed them in the back! As a USAite, I suppose I should be grateful for the boost to American interests, but I'm mostly saddened. bingethinkinghistory.blogspot.com/2014/04/…
    – MT_Head
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 21:02
  • @MT_Head Well they did operate a lot of British aircraft. But they suffered from being first with the Comet, from which Boeing learned the lessons. Their partner BEA with whom they were eventually united as BA had huge fleets first of Vickers Viscounts then BAC111s and Tridents as their workhorses. In fact I can't remember any American short-haul aircraft until the Boeing 737 arrived.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 22:30
  • In Australia, 'overseas' still means 'foreign country' (as in leaving Australian territory). Travelling from Melbourne (mainland) to Hobart (southern island) would not be regarded as going 'overseas', nor would going to Christmas Island (also part of Australia, but requiring crossing of part of the Indian Ocean).
    – CJBS
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 23:46

"I'll be going out of the country next week." That's how I'd say it. I'm in the USA.


'International' is another option. (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/international#Adjective - sense #5)

From or between other countries [ref]


I'm travelling internationally tomorrow, so I'll need some foreign currency.

International investors brought $1bn into the country last year.

Instead of buying clothes produced internationally, consider supporting local producers.

  • Your second and third sentences with 'international(ly)' are fine, but the first one, "I'm going for an international holiday", strikes a false note: I can't imagine that many people would actually say this.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 3:58
  • 1
    @ErikKowal - agreed ... in this case 'abroad' is a much better choice. "I'm going to travel internationally" does work, however.
    – CJBS
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 4:12
  • I've never heard "an international holiday". Since "a foreign holiday" is common, I might even infer that "an international holiday" means a holiday in more than one country. Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 20:08
  • I suppose if I heard someone say "I'm going on an international vacation", I probably wouldn't question it, but it's not something I recall hearing anyone say. Just BTW, in the U.S. we would say "vacation", not "holiday".
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 12:57
  • I switched "I'm going for an international holiday." to "I'm travelling internationally tomorrow, so I'll need some foreign currency." following comments about the odd usage.
    – CJBS
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 21:14

I suppose that if you're a Brit in Britain, you might say "I'm heading off to the continent for holiday."

If a Brit or American were in Germany and heading for France, I don't think they'd use abroad. I think they'd identify the country: "I'm popping over to France for a short holiday." It feels to me that "abroad" is nearly a synonym for "overseas".

I am a Yank living in Washington state, and I sometimes visit Victoria, BC (recommended!). This requires a ferry trip, but no way would I ever say "I'm going overseas/abroad for a vacation." Unless I were trying to be deceptive. To me, and I think to those around me, overseas and abroad are nearly the same thing and imply a greater than usual distance.

  • 2
    As a Brit in Britain, I'd only say I was going "to the continent" if I was going on a holiday to continental Europe. For example, travel from the UK to the USA is not "to the continent." Also, "abroad" tends to be relative to one's of abode. If I were a Brit living in Germany, I might well describe going to France as "going abroad". But, as a Brit living in Britain, when I'm in Germany, I already am abroad so it wouldn't make sense to say that I was "going abroad" if I meant that I was continuing my travels by going to France. Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 20:11
  • @DavidRicherby Having been a Yank living in Britain for a time, many years ago, I noticed that those Brits who spoke of visiting the US did so most frequently by saying they were "going to the States", not "abroad" nor "overseas". Of course, "the States" is not a vague destination, whereas if someone were making a world-girdling trip they would have to be vague, and "going abroad" would work well. Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 21:18
  • 1
    "Going abroad" is just saying "going to a foreign country" in fewer words. If the situation is such that saying "going to a foreign country" is an appropriate level of detail, you'd potentially say "going abroad". So, "Where are you going on holiday this year?" could be answered with something like "I'm going to France" or "Last year we went abroad but, this year we're short of money so we're going to Brighton", whereas answering "I'm going abroad" would seem evasive. Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 21:49

If the specific identity of the foreign country/countries is not important, you can define the category they belong to in terms of the one you are contrasting it with.

For example, your query sentences could be reworded like this:

I'm {staying in this country / not going {overseas / abroad}} when I go on holiday.

Non-German investors brought $1bn into the country last year.

Instead of buying clothes not produced in Germany, consider supporting local producers.

  • I think the reason you are being downvoted, is because this is a very clumsy expression.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 23:30

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