What to arrange when moving abroad?
This checklist is aimed at everyone who is planning to move abroad – from any country, to any country. This list does not focus on country-specific details or practicalities, such as visas, insurance, schooling, housing and so on. For country specific practical knowledge we advise you to consult a relocation agent in your host country.
- Gather specific information about the country you will be moving to.
Including information about the norms and values, customs and rituals. Start learning the local language before your move and make sure you receive relocation training.
- Before your move, try to make contact with people already living in your intended host country (f.i. a friend of a friend).
If you don’t know anyone, there are private social media groups for foreigners in almost all countries and also many large cities, where immigrants/expats/international students share information about housing, schools, safety and so on. You can also look for activities posted on InterNations.org or via Meetup
- Conduct research into the living standards.
What are the average food costs, rents/mortgage costs and utility costs. Compare your findings against what you pay now to get an idea of how your expenses are likely to change. The InterNations Expat Insider 2021 contains some interesting global insights into the cost of living, ease of settling in and best and worst places for expats to live.
- Arrange a place to stay, even if it’s just temporary accommodation at first.
When searching for longer-term housing, you might consider buying instead of renting depending on the length of your intended stay, but renting is initially preferable in most cases. Consider hiring a local relocation agent and/or real estate agent to help you
- Arrange a financial buffer or source of income.
For many people, this will mean finding a job. If you’re a student who will be studying abroad, you need to ensure you have sufficient resources to pay for your expenses. If you’re retired and you receive a pension, find out how the move will affect your pension and arrange for the payments to be transferred if necessary.
- If your children will be moving with you, you may need to arrange schooling for them.
Either at international or local schools, depending on your situation and often also your budget. Allow sufficient time for the enrolment procedure. To minimize the daily travel time, take the distances between home, work and school into account.
- Check whether you require a visa.
Do you need a visa for your intended host country and if so, make the necessary arrangements.
- Familiarize yourself with the tax requirements.
In both your home country and the host country.
- If your pets will be moving with you, make the necessary travel arrangements for them.
Remember, there may be quarantine requirements.
- If you will be shipping goods.
Contact an international moving company for advice about any restrictions or taxes on shipped household items.
- Plan your trip well in advance.
Last-minute tickets for flights, trains, buses and ferry sailings can be expensive, so plan your trip well in advance if possible. If you will be taking your car with you, do your research into the implications in terms of tax, insurance, vehicle registration, driving licence and so on, both during your trip and on arrival in your host country.
- Drivers license validity.
Your existing driving licence may only be valid for a certain period of time in your host country, or not at all in which case you may need an International Driving Permit or a local driving licence.
- Access to your bank account.
When you arrive in the host country, you can find yourself in a Catch 22 situation: you need a bank account to rent accommodation, but you need a local address to open a bank account. Therefore, ensure that you still have full access to your bank account in your home country during the initial period. In the longer term, it’s usually more convenient (and cheaper) to set up a local bank account, although it can be wise to keep your home bank account open too as an extra safety net.
Check whether vaccines are needed for yourself (and your family members/pets) and make the necessary appointments.
- Healthcare insurance.
Look into healthcare insurance options, paying extra attention to the requirements and coverage areas. CIGNA is a popular healthcare insurer with expats.
- Insurance policies.
Review all your other insurance policies (home, travel, life, car, liability, etc.). Most national insurance policies do not cover a move abroad, but some may remain valid for a certain period of time. If in doubt, contact an insurance provider specialized in expats, such as Aon.
- Inform authorities.
Inform the relevant authorites in both the country you are leaving and the country you are moving to.
- Arrangements for your current home.
Make the necessary arrangements for your current home – either by terminating the rental agreement or arranging to sell or rent out your home if you own the property.
- Goods storage.
Arrange storage of goods, if applicable.
- Terminate agreements.
Terminate your agreements with the utility companies (electricity, gas and water).
- Forward mail.
Arrange for your mail to be forwarded to your new address or a PO box.
- Let them know you are coming.
If you have already arranged accommodation, contact the utility companies to inform them of your arrival date.
- Telephone and internet.
Arrange a mobile phone and internet provider at your new address (although this can often only be done on arrival).
- Accessibility of products.
Plan ahead regarding any items that might be difficult to get hold of in your host country, e.g. a certain type of medication, but also seemingly trivial products such as your favourite snacks for an occasional taste of home.
A list of documents when moving abroad
- Gather together all your important documents.
- Ensure that everything is up to date or renewed if necessary.
- Make copies and store them separately as an extra back-up.
Key documents are:
- Passport/ID card
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Children’s birth certificates
- Vaccination, medical and dental records
- Driving licence
- Insurance policies
- Academic qualifications and certificates
- Employment records
- Proof of residence