If ETFs don't suit your strategy, there are about 500 dividend-paying non-U.S. companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges.

Vodafone Group (VOD, news), Unilever (UL, news) and Nestlé (NSRGY, news) are candidates to consider for dividend income, said Kevin Shacknofsky, co-portfolio manager of the Alpine Dynamic Dividend (ADVDX) fund.

Vodafone shares have a yield of better than 5%. Plus in February 2012, Vodafone will pay shareholders a special dividend from a $3.3 billion pool of cash it received from Verizon Wireless, in which it owns a 45% stake.

Unilever, the Dutch maker of food, soaps and other household essentials, yields 3.6%. Nestlé, the world's No. 1 food company, yields 3.3%.

Another dividend-payer worth noting, though one more sensitive to global economic growth, is SeaDrill (SDRL, news), which has a yield near 10%. The company rents its ships and rig equipment to oil companies for offshore deep-water drilling.

One advantage to buying U.S.-listed shares of international companies is that the dividend qualifies for the same favorable tax treatment that shareholders of U.S. corporations receive.

Just be careful when searching for high-yielding stocks, no matter where the company is based.

"I would caution people about chasing yield alone," said Dan Genter, the president of RNC Genter Capital Management, which runs RNC Genter Dividend Income (GDIIX) fund.

This is because troubled companies sometimes pay high dividends to retain investors and help support their stock. But if business gets worse, one of the first things they could do is cut the dividend to preserve cash.

To be sure, there are drawbacks to reaching overseas for a dividend.

Some non-U.S. firms pay a dividend only once or twice a year, while U.S. companies usually pay quarterly. Currency is another issue to manage; if the U.S. dollar strengthens, the non-U.S. dividend would be less valuable.

Bill Staton, a dividend investor and chairman of Staton Financial Advisors, said he feels safer investing in companies regulated by U.S. accounting rules and securities laws.

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He pointed to Procter & Gamble (PG, news) and Colgate-Palmolive (CL, news), which derive a good chunk of sales from overseas, giving their respective dividends an international flavor.

"Dealing with multinational companies is the easiest way to do it," Staton said. "I prefer buying what I know."

This article was reported by Matt Andrejczak for MarketWatch.