There are so many things to do and think about before moving to a foreign country to live. I keep a growing list of things to remember to do and things to ask about. Here is a list of a few things to get you started.
Investigate Your New Country's Rules
Regulations and laws vary widely among different countries, so it is important to research these before moving abroad. Contact the appropriate embassy or consulate for information relevant to expatriates relocating to the country, including:
- Visas and permits
- Vaccines for family members
- Restrictions or taxes on shipped household items
- Taxes involved in shipping your car
- Vaccines and quarantines for pets
Do this early, as this process takes time to complete. It is also wise to renew early if any of these documents is set to expire in the near future.
Gather Important Documents
Be sure to request official copies of important personal documents and allow at least several weeks to receive them. Suggested items include:
- Birth and Marriage Certificates
- Naturalization, Green Card, Proof of Citizenship, etc.
- Social Security Cards
- Vaccination, Medical and Dental Records
- Insurance Policies
- Academic Records and Diplomas
- Employment Records
- Proof of Residency (utility bill, statement, etc.)
- Living Will and Testament
Contact international moving and shipping companies to obtain quotes for transporting your belongings overseas. Since it could take over a month for your items to arrive, plan ahead when scheduling your shipment.
It is critical to determine the exact insurance requirements and availability at your new destination as limits vary widely throughout the world.
Anyone planning to operate an automobile internationally will need to purchase an International Auto Insurance policy. Requirements vary among countries, so select an insurance provider with the expertise and resources to ensure the policy meets your needs.
International personal property insurance, which can include transit and destination coverage, protects items damaged during the relocation process, while in your foreign residence or during shipping and transit. Contact an insurance provider specializing in expatriates for more information.
Even if your destination country has a socialized health care system, you may not be eligible for coverage. If you are not covered under a group medical insurance program, individual policies can be purchased to protect you in a foreign country. These policies include worldwide medical protection and also can include evacuation services. Costs are reasonable and, in many cases, less expensive than stateside coverage.
Bank and Credit Card Accounts
Review your accounts and notify your banks that you will be overseas. Also consider online international banking, which makes it easier to transfer and manage funds between countries.
If you or a family member takes prescription drugs, purchase additional quantities and obtain a copy of the medical file related to the condition. Keep them in your carry-on luggage in the event any bags are lost in transit.
Renew your driver's license if it is set to expire soon. Acquire an international driving permit (IDP) and take extra forms to renew it annually by mail. You can obtain an IDP at a local office of the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (through the National Auto Club). Remember to carry both your IDP and your U.S. state driver's license with you at all times.
Each country has distinct tax rules for foreign earned income. Determine your obligations and gather the necessary paperwork.
If your pet is moving with you, ensure it receives proper vaccinations and identify a pet carrier. If you have decided not to bring a pet, allow enough time to find it a new home.
Make any necessary travel arrangements as soon as your travel dates are set.
Consider using VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service, otherwise known as broadband phone service. This is an affordable way for expatriates to make local, long-distance and international calls, all for a monthly fee.
Cancel all publication subscriptions and complete the appropriate forms at the post office to ensure your mail is forwarded to your new address.
Learn about the country's history and culture before you move, so you are prepared with the necessary knowledge to adapt quickly to your new home.