Last update on December 17, 2018

Are you prepared for relocating abroad? We offer international movers this practical checklist of what needs to be done before you move abroad.

Investigate your new country’s rules

Regulations and laws vary widely between countries so it is important to do your research before moving abroad. Contact the appropriate embassy or consulate for information relevant to expats 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
  • Insurance

File applications for passports, visas and permits

Do this early, as the process takes time. It is also wise to renew documents early, in the case that they are due 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. For instance:

  • Birth and marriage certificate
  • Naturalisation, 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, bank statement etc.)
  • Living will and testament

International moving and shipping companies

Request quotes from international moving and shipping companies 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.

Car insurance

Anyone planning to drive a car internationally will need to purchase an international car insurance policy. Requirements vary among countries so select an insurance provider with the expertise and resources to ensure the policy meets your needs.

Property insurance

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 specialising in expats for more information.

Health insurance

Even if your destination country has a social healthcare 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.

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.

Prescription drugs

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 hand luggage, in case bags are lost in transit.

International driving permit

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. Remember to carry both your IDP and your national driver’s license with you at all times.

Tax obligations

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.

Flight and hotel reservations

Make all necessary travel arrangements as soon as your travel dates are set.

VOIP phone service

Consider using VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone service, otherwise known as broadband phone service. This is an affordable way for expats to make local, long distance and international calls, all for a monthly fee.

Cancel subscriptions and forward mail

Cancel all publication subscriptions and complete the appropriate forms at the post office to ensure your mail is forwarded to your new address.

Do your research

Take some time to learn about the country’s history and culture before you move so you arrive prepared to adapt quickly to your new home.