Last update on July 22, 2019

Are you prepared for relocating to a brand-new country? International movers should consult this moving abroad checklist before saying goodbye to your current home.

Whether you’re moving abroad to study at university or to accept an exciting new career opportunity, it’s a complicated process with plenty of moving parts. Because of that, it can be easy to lose yourself in the complexities of the move. But don’t fret! If you break down your move into a bunch of smaller parts, then you’ll have a much less stressful move. Use this moving abroad checklist to plan out your relocation.

Investigate your new country’s rules

Regulations and laws vary widely between countries, including the gap between your current country of residence and the next one. It’s important to do your research before moving abroad so you can cross the most important things off of your moving abroad checklist. 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
  • Import taxes for high-value items
  • Vaccines and quarantines for pets
  • Insurance

Make sure that you file all of your applications for any permits or visas you need well in advance. Pay attention to whether or not your important documents are about to expire in the near future.

Prepare your documents

Be sure to request official copies of important personal documents. Allow at least several weeks to receive them, just to be safe.

Moving abroad checklist: prepare your documents (Photo: Agus Dietrich / Unsplash)

Documents you’ll need to add to your moving abroad checklist include:

  • Passports
  • Birth and marriage certificate
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Vaccination, medical, and dental records
  • Driving license
  • Insurance policies
  • Academic records and diplomas
  • Employment records
  • Proof of residence and/or your new job
  • Living will and testament

Before you go

Great! Now that you’re all set to legally enter your new host country, you’ll need to map out your moving abroad checklist.

Moving abroad checklist: before you go (Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash)

Keep these things in mind when finalizing your stay at your current household:

  • Make travel reservations: This should go without saying, but it’s impossible to move abroad without booking tickets to actually get there. Consider that last-minute tickets for flights, trains, and ferry sailings can be expensive. Pick a departure that is affordable and, ideally, not arriving to your new home in the middle of the night.
  • Move your belongings: Request quotes from international moving and shipping companies for transporting all of your household items overseas. Keep in mind that these shipments can take a while (sometimes over a month), so don’t box up anything that you’ll need immediately upon arrival.
  • Organize your bank accounts and credit cards: Review your accounts and notify your banks that you are relocating overseas. Discuss with your bank or a financial advisor how to handle your assets. Consider registering for a service that makes international bank transfers easier and more affordable. Look into whether or not your credit cards work where you’re moving.

Last-minute things to keep in mind

  • Prepare any 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, just in case any luggage is lost in transit.
  • Take care of your pets: If your pet is moving with you, ensure it receives proper vaccinations and identify a pet carrier. Look into whether or not your new host country requires a quarantine for incoming animals. If you’ve decided not to bring a pet, allow sufficient time to find it a loving new home.
  • Get an International Driving Permit: Renew your driver’s license if it is set to expire soon. If you plan to drive immediately upon arrival, get an International Driving Permit before you go and take some extra copies of the form so you can renew it annually by mail. This allows you to drive before you’ve figured out how to secure a new driving license in your new host country. Remember to carry both your International Driving Permit and your national driver’s license with you at all times.
  • Cancel subscriptions and forward mail: Cancel all of your publication subscriptions. Complete the appropriate forms at the post office to ensure your mail is forwarded to your new address.

Once you arrive

Whether they say üdvözöljük or huānyíng in your new home, welcome! Plenty of things on any moving abroad checklist can only be done once you arrive.

Moving abroad checklist: once you arrive (Photo: Pascal Meier / Unsplash)

Some items to consider include:

  • Research your new home: Take some time to learn the history and culture before you move. Learn a handful of basic phrases in the local language and make sure you know how to introduce yourself. Arrive prepared so you can adapt quickly to your new home.
  • Learn about your tax obligations: Each country has distinct taxation rules for income earned abroad, which could be relevant to you; special considerations apply to Americans, Britons, and Canadians. Determine your obligations and gather necessary paperwork.
  • Sign up for healthcare: Learn more about your rights when it comes to healthcare services. Even if your destination country has a public healthcare system, you may not necessarily be eligible. If you’re not covered under a group medical insurance program, purchase private insurance policies to protect you from any coverage gaps.
  • Learn how to get around: Whether you’ll be taking the train to work or driving on new roads, research the best ways to get around town. Look into the advantages (e.g., discounts for monthly transportation passes) and disadvantages (e.g., car bans in city centers) with each mode of travel.
  • Enroll your kids in school: It’s worth considering whether or not your children attend a public school or an international one. You may also want to consider hiring an au pair depending on your work schedules and if your children need extra assistance.
  • Register for insurance: Considering you’ll be starting afresh, secure comprehensive insurance plans. You’ll have a lot of things to cover: vehicles and property are two you’ll want to lock down first. Contact an insurance provider specializing in expats.
  • Get a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone number: These phone numbers are a lifesaver when it comes to keeping in touch with your home country. Using VoIP allows you to have a phone number in the area code of your choice, which helps your family and friends feel like you’re not so far away.