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Your Moving Abroad Checklist for [2024]

Default Author Icon Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 04/02/2024

Moving to a new country is an exciting adventure, but it can also be challenging. An international move comes with many details to consider and arrangements to make. We’ve created a comprehensive moving abroad checklist to help you stay organized and streamline the process. From filing visa applications and obtaining work permits to hiring a reputable moving company, keep reading to learn about all the must-do tasks before your big move abroad.

Preparing for Your Move Abroad

Embarking on a new chapter in a foreign country requires careful preparation. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth transition:

Research Your Destination Country

Before moving to a new country, it’s crucial to research your destination thoroughly. Dive into the culture, customs, and local laws of the country you’ll soon call home. Familiarize yourself with the cost of living, climate, transportation systems, and any specific requirements for expatriates.

Online resources such as government websites, ex-pat forums, and travel blogs can provide valuable insight and firsthand experiences from others who have made a similar move. Start your research on the U.S. Department of State’s travel website. Pay particular attention to any travel advisories posted for your destination country.

Apply for Necessary Visas and Work Permits

Research the visa requirements for your destination, including any restrictions or requirements regarding work, study, or residency. Identify the appropriate visa type and determine whether you need a work permit. Different countries and visas have different requirements, but you may need the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Driver’s license
  • Employer letter
  • Financial records
  • Health insurance
  • Immunizations
  • Itinerary
  • Marriage certificate
  • Medical records
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Social security number
  • Travel insurance
  • Valid passport
  • Visa fee

Gathering the necessary documentation, scheduling interviews, and obtaining approval can take time, so begin the visa application process well in advance. Contact the consulate or embassy of your destination country for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Create a Moving Budget

Moving abroad can be expensive, so develop a comprehensive moving budget. Consider expenses such as shipping or storage for your belongings, transportation costs, visa fees, health care expenses, and housing. Remember to factor in currency exchange rates, which can significantly impact your budget and allocate funds for unexpected costs. Give yourself a financial cushion for the first few months of your new life.

Research international moving companies and request a free quote from multiple providers. Then, compare moving quotes and services to find the best fit. Make sure your budget accounts for moving insurance and any hidden fees.

Determine Lodging and Transportation

Explore online rental platforms, local real estate agencies, or expat communities for housing options. Ask your employer for assistance or recommendations if you are moving for work. Consider securing temporary housing, such as a short-term rental or hotel room, while you search for a more permanent home.

Once you know where you will live, familiarize yourself with the local transportation system. Decide whether public transportation is a feasible option or if you will need a personal vehicle. Many cities have robust subway systems, bicycle networks, and walkable streets. Plan your daily commute and determine how you will get to the grocery store, gym, and other frequent haunts.

Secure Health Care

Research the health care system in your new country and determine the best options for health insurance coverage. Some countries offer public health care services, while others require private insurance. Understanding what medical services are available and how to access them is important.

If you have any ongoing prescriptions, work with your doctor to stock up on your medications and plan to refill them when the time comes. Obtain a copy of your medical records, dental records, and vaccinations to give your new health care providers, and schedule a checkup with a new primary care doctor as soon as possible.

Research Schools

Research schools in your new destination if school-aged children are moving with you. Understanding the education requirements will allow for a smooth transition. Ensure the school has the proper resources to support your child if you’re family does not speak the native language.

Understand Pet Laws and Requirements

Ensure your pet experiences a smooth transition by researching your new country’s laws regarding pet ownership. Confirm immunization requirements and find veterinarian care for your furry friend. Remember that some countries ban certain pets, so learn about any limitations you may encounter before moving.

Pack and Ship Belongings

Create a list of essential items you will need in your new home and consider the cost-effectiveness of shipping your belongings versus buying new items locally. Find a reputable international moving company or freight-forwarding service to transport the things you will take with you. Clarify ahead of time whether there is anything they to transport the things you will take with you. Clarify ahead of time whether there is anything they will not move. Label boxes clearly and keep a detailed inventory or packing list to make unpacking easier.

Update Your Bank

Notify your home bank of your move and double-check whether your current debit and credit cards will work overseas. Depending on your bank’s fees and services, opening a new account at a local bank may be wise. Compare exchange rates and fees to find the most cost-effective way to transfer money to your new international bank account. Make sure to withdraw some cash and exchange it for the appropriate currency.

Set Up Cell Service

Find out if your cell phone is compatible with your destination country’s network frequencies and technologies. If necessary, ask your service provider to unlock your phone so you can use a local SIM card and find an affordable local plan. Note that you may have to wait until you arrive at your destination to obtain a new SIM card.

Cancel Utilities and Subscriptions

Contact your utility companies and other service providers to transfer or terminate your service. Let them know you’re moving and settle any outstanding bills. Also, pause or cancel any subscriptions and memberships you cannot use once you leave your home country.

Book Travel

Book your travel plans once you have everything established for your big move. Since you’re moving abroad, this will most likely involve air travel. Book your flight at least a couple of months in advance to ensure affordable rates.

Change Your Address

Head to your local post office to file a change-of-address form in person and set up mail forwarding with the U.S. Postal Service. Make sure friends, family members, and other important contacts have your new address and phone number. If you have only booked temporary lodging and plan to find permanent housing once you arrive, you will have to update your address again online.

Adjusting to Your New Home Abroad

As you settle into your new life abroad, take steps to make the move official, immerse yourself in the local community, and establish a new routine.

Register With Local Authorities

Register with the local authorities in your new country upon arrival. Obtain a residence permit, enroll your kids in school, register your address, and complete other administrative tasks. Research your tax obligations and sign up for health care if you haven’t already.

Find Employment

If you plan to work in your new country and have not already found a job, research the local job market and employment regulations. Update your résumé and network through local professional organizations and online platforms. Attend career fairs, browse online job portals, and contact recruitment agencies to increase your chances of finding suitable employment.

Meet New People

A strong social network is essential for a fulfilling experience abroad, so meet new people intentionally. Attend local events, join ex-pat or community groups, and participate in social activities that align with your interests. Building meaningful connections will help you feel more at home and ensure you have a support system.

Get Involved in the Local Community

Immerse yourself in the local community by volunteering, participating in cultural activities, or joining local organizations. Learn more about your host country’s culture and traditions, make new friends, and contribute to your new community. Explore local festivals, exhibitions, or workshops to broaden your horizons and embrace the unique aspects of your new home.

Practice Speaking the Native Language

Make an effort to learn and practice your new country’s native language. Enroll in language classes, practice with language exchange partners, or use language-learning apps to improve your skills. Speaking the local language will help with daily interactions and enable you to connect with new friends more deeply.

Our Conclusion

Use our moving abroad checklist to navigate the complexities of an international relocation without last-minute surprises and undue hassle. You may also consider consulting an immigration professional to help you understand immigration laws, visa requirements, and other policies that affect your move. With proper preparation, an open mind, and a willingness to embrace the unknown, your move abroad can be the start of an incredible adventure.

FAQ About Moving Abroad

How much money should I have to move abroad?

Where you plan to move and what you plan to take with you determine how much money you should have to move abroad. According to International Van Lines, an overseas move can cost $3,000–$8,000 in moving costs alone. This estimate does not include visa and legal fees, customs duties and taxes, travel costs, or vehicle shipping.

What should I pack when moving abroad?

When moving abroad, pack strategically to minimize moving costs and ensure you have the essentials. Here are some key items to bring with you:

  • Bedding and linens
  • Cash and credit or debit card
  • Electronics, chargers, and adapters
  • Important legal and travel documents
  • Medications and health supplies
  • Sentimental or comfort items
  • Suitable clothing
  • Toiletries and personal care items

How do I declutter before moving abroad?

Follow these tips to declutter before moving abroad:

  • Digitize documents and photos when possible.
  • Donate or sell items in good condition that you do not need.
  • Prioritize functionality over sentimental attachments.
  • Rent a storage unit for items you need to keep but cannot take.
  • Start the process as early as possible.
  • Tackle one room or category at a time.
  • Weigh the necessity and practicality of each item you own.

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