If you are moving internationally, your to-do list will be full. There will be a lot of items that may not be on a list for a domestic move. Some of these items are obvious to most movers. Others may not become apparent until after your move, becoming more frustrating than if you planned ahead.
For international movers moving for their job, you should have the advantage of company assistance. They can help with proper documentation, initial housing, and even banking. But, even corporate aid will not cover all of the elements you need to address.
Official Documentations for International Movers
Each country has requirements for those wanting to move from foreign countries. Some requirements may be unique, but some common elements exist.
For any international travel from the U.S., you will need a passport. Whether taking a trip or moving, you will need an updated passport. Upon arrival to a foreign country, you will be required to present the passport at Customs before entry.
If the intention is to move permanently and change citizenship, you will need to follow the process for citizenship and apply for a passport in the new country. The citizenship requirements are different for each country and beyond the scope of this article. Just remember that it needs to be planned out well before making any move.
Visas or Work Permits
There are numerous types of visas. Visas are documents that demonstrate your permission to be in a country. From temporary to work Visas to longer-term Visas with the intent to achieve residency, each Visa has criteria to be met.
Read the details for the destination country’s visa requirements. For most, even a “work visa” has many subcategories. Take a look at the work visas for the UK. There are many types of “work visas.” There are other types of visas as well. Be sure you are applying for the correct visa, given the purpose of moving overseas.
When moving household goods to another country, you need documentation to show what is being moved, file appropriate forms and pay fees specific to your destination country. Some have eliminated fees, while others generally have nominal fees for personal property.
Your chosen international mover will be able to assist you with the documentation needed and how to fill it out. You may also be able to create a power of attorney for your mover to handle all the documentation without your involvement. If your mover seems uncertain about any of this, find another mover.
In addition to the official required documents for moving internationally, you should also bring your personal documents. Like in the US, you may need to provide proof of certain things like education, age, place of birth, etc. Collect and make copies of these documents: Birth Certificates, driver’s licenses, school documents, immunization, and other certificates if relevant to your field of study or business. Don’t forget your pets, you’ll want to have all their paperwork together.
Insurance while Living In Foreign Country
Each country has its own insurance requirements. In addition to mandated insurance, you want to be sure you can protect yourself and your property.
Depending on your destination, healthcare is covered by the government, private insurance, or a mix. While there may be government-covered healthcare, residents and visitors do have to pay into the system to be part of that coverage. Since the insurance schema varies by country, you need to investigate the requirements before you move.
Here are some international health insurance companies.
From personal and household belongings to autos to homes (if you purchase), protecting property is important. Researching your options before arriving will make it much easier once you are in your new home.
Depending on your circumstances, you may have other insurance needs. Once in the country, contact an agent or several insurance companies to discuss local options.
Healthcare and medication
For you and your family, establishing your healthcare provider prior to your move is a good idea. Once there, if you find it doesn’t suit you, you can change. But you don’t want to leave this until it is absolutely needed.
Three general healthcare areas to work out before you move:
- Primary care services for checkups and well being
- Urgent care/emergency care facilities in your area
- Are your recurring medications available? Are substitutes?
- Where is the pharmacy or dispensary?
- How do prescriptions work in your new country?
- Can you bring your medication from the US?
Phones & Communications While Abroad
When moving internationally, you will have options for telephone and internet services in most countries. Conduct some research before the move to be ready once you arrive. You may be able or arrange service prior to your move of you have your destination address worked out.
Cell Phone Service in Foreign Countries
In most European countries and Asian countries, you will likely find cell phone service even easier to access and better quality than in the states. While you may have a domestic mobile phone and plan that can work overseas, you should consider getting a local cell phone service in the new country.
While living abroad for an extended period of time, having a local plan and number will make it easier for new friends and acquaintances to contact you and vis versa. Additionally, there is a lower chance of service issues, and you’ll have local resources to help sort out any problems.
Most likely, you will opt for the local provider’s pay-as-you-go service. Each country has its own primary provider and there may be decent secondary providers as well. As with all things nowadays, a simple Google search will bring up the infrastructure resources you need.
How you approach internet service overseas depends on your intended usage. If you are working from your home, then establishing a primary internet service provider will be critical. Like cell service, each country, and often local within the country, may have its own provider. Some have national, government-provided internet access (for a fee), while others are commercial. As you look for your new residence, be sure to speak with the agent about establishing service for each location you are considering.
If you are not a heavy internet user with your computer, you may be well served with your cell service. Through your phone’s hotspot wifi settings, you can connect your computer to the internet. This is not ideal for heavy internet users, but for occasional use, it is a good option. Check your local cell provider’s plans to be sure they support hotspots and have decent data allowances.
Whether traveling or moving, using your electronics overseas can be tricky. For one thing, your US plug will not work. At the very least, you will need an adapter. But that is not the biggest issue. Around the world, countries have different systems with varying voltage and amps.
You will likely need an adapter that moderates the incoming electricity to work with your electronics. Failure to use the proper adapters will result in damage to your electronics, if not outright destroy them. Some “universal adapters” are available, though we suggest using adapters that are specifically designed for your new country.
One consideration is to replace your equipment with domestic equivalents. This can be tight on the budget, especially when looking at items like computers. But, it reduces the risks presented by using your US-designed devices overseas.
Money & Banking Overseas
Since we have become so reliant on credit cards and internet banking, it may be easy to ignore the challenges you may face overseas. Don’t. There are some important steps that will make overseas transactions easier and lower your risks.
With credit cards, make sure you contact your provider and let them know you will be overseas. If you don’t do this before you leave, your card transactions may be declined. As banks become more vigilant in fraud prevention, the criteria for rejecting charges will likely include foreign institutions without prior notice.
If your credit card is issued by a local financial institution or even a national one, consider obtaining a credit card from an international institution. Access to customer service and issue resolution will be better if your institution has regionally available resources.
Like credit cards, a local bank may benefit you, depending on your length of stay. From local deposit to easily accessible assistance, the physical location in your new city will make banking easier.
Some companies in the US may also have international locations, so it is worth checking. If not, look into local options prior to moving. The rules for establishing an account can vary by country, so don’t wait until after the move to research the requirements.
Before leaving the US, convert US dollars into the local currency of your new country. While credit cards can get you by in the US for an indefinite amount of time, this may not be true in all places. And, until you are sure your credit cards will be honored, hard currency is a necessary backup. How much you convert will depend on where you go. In some countries, $50 may get you a meal, while in others, it can get you through several days of meals. Check before you go.
Moving Overseas with Pets
If you are bringing a pet, become very familiar with the rules of the country to which you are moving. Some are very lenient as long as your pet has the basic vaccines. Others restrict what animals are allowed to enter. Some countries may require a quarantine period. Given the varied rules among countries, do not assume knowing about one (even a neighboring country) provides the information for another.
Essentials Bag For International Movers
Every move has its uncertainties. Between delays and lost items, you can find yourself without some belongings. The mover’s essential bag is a simple idea: Pack a back of things you will need upon arrival. For domestic moves and international moves, there is some overlap. But, the difference are really important.
You do not want to be without important documents in your new country. Keep a legal size envelope to hold these, not just a folder dropped into the bag. You should also take photos of all your documents as a backup… can never be too safe.
Computers, tablets, electronics
This will seem obvious but double-check. Devices used for work and entertainment can easily be dropped in a box while packing up your old home. Some items are easily done without for a few days. But, if movers are delayed, or it simply takes weeks to ship your items, will you want something you’ve boxed up?
Also, bring the plug/power adapters in your essentials bags.
Have your needed medications available. It is best to bring these in your essentials back rather than checked in lugged.
In any move, packing an essentials bag is important. This bag contains everything you need to make it until your movers arrive with all your belongings. For international moves, clothing is a big part of the contents.
It may be tempting to pack as if you are going on a vacation. But, you should be practical and first determine what you will really need. Will there be work events that you have to attend or upcoming special occasions that will happen soon after your movers are supposed to arrive? Pack for these, as international shipping can get delayed. Provide yourself with a 2-3 week buffer for your planning.
Beyond the above, consider your needs and what you might need. Make these part of the essentials bag. Each person should have one, and it should be part of your carryons. Do not check in the essentials bag as your luggage.
Final bit for international movers
Ask questions of those who have moved to your specific destination. While planning for an international move, in general, is important, there are nuances for every country that you won’t know unless you speak with someone who has already made a move. Most people who move to a new country will be happy to speak about it. There are online forums, perhaps work colleagues or ex-pat communities. Reach out and get their input.