Some things to plan when making a move overseas:
- Apply for any relevant visas.
- Make digital and hard copies of transcripts, passports, birth certificates, visas and other essential documentation.
- Get quotes from international shipping companies.
- Make sure you have critical account passwords and consider removing 2-step verification from certain online accounts until you have a new mobile number.
- Make foreign currency payments or transfer your savings using OFX to get better exchange rates than the banks offer.
- Enjoy the adventure.
What should you do before you move abroad?
The best way to reduce the stress of a big move overseas is to plan ahead. Preparing as much as possible before your international relocation will help everything go as smoothly as possible. Below are a few things that you should do before you officially move abroad:
Find a place to sleep
When you move internationally with a company, you may only have a few weeks of accommodation provided for you before you have to find a place to live for yourself. If possible, fly out beforehand to see some properties in person, and ask for assistance from a local realtor who can teach you about the market and its costs of living. You’ll want to check out a few different neighbourhoods before making your choice. Ask about utility hookups and which utility costs are typically included in the rent.
Notify everyone about your move
This doesn’t just include your friends, family, and boss, but also your banks, creditors, credit card issuers, insurance providers, and other professionals who would need to know that you will be changing your address and moving overseas. Let your post office know about your move, so you can have your mail redirected. If you are a registered voter and you wish to continue voting while abroad, be sure to register as an overseas voter. When you move overseas, you’ll often be required to file an official change of address document with the tax authorities.
Register with the embassy
A good way to be alerted to emergency news is by registering with your embassy. In the United States, the State Department even offers a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) that communicates information to citizens living abroad. Other nations may have similar programs for their citizens, so check your country’s State Department equivalent to find out if there is a program that you can register for before heading off. Your embassy could help you gain access to valuable information and may be able to assist you if you need help, such as if you lose your passport or get arrested.
Get your visa
Research the visa requirements for the country that you are planning on moving to. A simple internet search will start you off on the right track. It is highly recommended that you sort your visa requirements prior to leaving, as it is often harder to get a visa or change your residency status after you have already entered a country.
See your doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor to let him or her know that you are moving abroad. You can get a full checkup before your move, and your doctor can also provide you with the vaccinations that are necessary to keep you healthy in your new country. Your doctor could also provide you with an International Certificate of Vaccination, as taking a record of your health and vaccinations with you can be helpful when seeing medical professionals abroad, especially if you happen to be in an area where an outbreak occurs and you need to prove that you have already been immunised. Also, don’t forget to refill your prescriptions, or have your doctor give you a letter of authorisation, so you can get your prescriptions abroad without taking the medications through border security. Many medications have different brand names and slightly different formulations in other countries, so check with your doctor to make sure any substitutions are appropriate for you. Be mindful that infant vaccination schedules vary in different parts of the world, so be particularly careful when getting the next scheduled vaccination for children in another country.
Get travel insurance
Some countries will require proof of travel insurance before issuing a visa to you, so do your research into requirements before you move. Give yourself enough time to enroll and to receive all of the documents that you will need to prove that you are covered.
Start learning a new language
If you are moving to a non-English speaking country, be aware that you will need to learn the new language if you want to get around easily once you settle into your new home. Because learning a new language is a long-term commitment, start as soon as possible. That way by the time you move, you should at least know the basics necessary to get around, including how to read street signs and ask for help.
Apply for an international driver’s license
With an international driver’s license, you may find it easier to drive abroad, and you may need it if you are planning on renting a vehicle in most nations. Once your original driver’s license expires while you are abroad, your international license will expire as well, so you can then apply for a license in your new country of residence. Be sure to take a copy of your driving record with you when you move so that you can use it to apply for a new license and potentially avoid having to take any tests. You may also need a copy of your recent driving record for getting auto insurance, if you buy a vehicle abroad.
Sell what you don’t need
A good way to get some extra cash before your move is by selling whatever belongings you do not plan on taking with you. Once abroad, most non-essential items become cumbersome, so try to cull any items that you don’t need. If you’re leaving a home that your own, you may want to compare the market value of renting it out with the furnishings included, or putting your things into storage. No matter how careful you are with packing and preparing, your life will change in unexpected ways while abroad. You may need to adjust your household budget accordingly and expect to acquire some things new.
Find a reputable international shipping company
To make moving abroad as easy as possible, take as little as possible. For the items that you can’t leave behind, use an international shipping company to have them securely packed and shipped. Get quotes from various companies, so you can find the most affordable match that will provide the best value. To save money, think clearly about the gap between when your shipment arrives and how long you will have to live without your things. For instance, if you can’t go a month without a frying pan or microwave, there’s not much point to paying to ship items that you’ll probably end up purchasing for immediate use. Similarly, don’t pay a premium for expedited delivery if you don’t need it. Faster shipping may increase your costs of warehousing and storage, if you haven’t found a permanent home by the time your goods arrive. And to be certain a company is a reliable choice, check its credentials and accreditations, such as FIDI Accredited International Mover (FAIM) accreditation. Avoid companies that have terrible customer reviews, that request cash or large deposits, and that don’t provide insurance or storage options.