Moving abroad can be stressful, and you may be feeling overwhelmed. So we put together the ultimate moving abroad checklist in order to give you a moving guide for your upcoming move abroad.
Moving Checklist for Moving Abroad
- Get your Passport
- Book Flights
- Travel Insurance
- Certified & Sworn Translations
- Consider Shipping (air, ocean, ground)
- Pet Relocation
- Apply for your Visa
- Currency Conversion
- Health Insurance & Exams
- Excess or Carryon Baggage
- Open a Foreign Bank Account
- Prepare and File Tax Returns
- Secure a Residence Permit
6 Months Before Moving Abroad
Travel Arrangements for an International Relocation
Get a New or Renew your Passport
When planning for an international move, you want to make sure your entire family has applied, renewed or replaced a passport so that it’s expiration is beyond your visa or relocation stays. So check the status of your passport for everyone in the family and make sure they are updated.
If you don't have a passport, give yourself enough time to get your passport, as you’ll need it in order to proceed with many other steps along the relocation process. The good thing is that most passports are valid for up to 10 years, which is great for when applying for a visa, residency or citizenship later on along your relocation journey.
Each country has its own passport rules and regulations, so make sure that you research the process very carefully before moving.
Book Flight Tickets
Once you have your passport ready, it’s good to research flights in advance to get the best flight deals. Saving money by booking flights 3 to 6 months before your travels.
You’ll want to compare different flight deals. Since you are moving abroad, you’ll most likely just need to book a one-way flight (unless you’re traveling as a study abroad student or to teach English abroad). But even so, you want to make sure it’s a direct flight and not with connections along the way. The more connections you have, the more complex your relocation will get, so we always recommend finding direct, short flights well in advance of your travels.
Knowing your official moving date will make things even more exciting and will help you focus the planning for your relocation. On Avvinue, you can discuss your relocation with a personal moving assistant to set up your excess baggage, shipping, insurance and other relocation needs.
Get Travel Insurance
Whether it’s required for your visa application or not, we highly recommend you look into travel insurance for your travels. Having insurance to protect you from trip cancellations, baggage or travel accidents can make your travel less stressful and gives you a better sense of ease knowing that your personal belongings are protected.
But don’t feel pressured to book the insurance offered through the airline where you buy your plane tickets, as there are many insurance companies that offer policies to give the coverage you need for your relocation.
Start Learning a New Language
Start finding a tutor before six months or use a language-learning mobile application to learn the basics. It’s important to plan and learn a new language ahead of time so that you feel comfortable before you travel abroad. Here are few popular apps to learn a new language:
- Trip Lingo
The fastest way to improve learning any language is with communication and knowing about the culture. Watch movies, join language groups and communities, expat forums, newspapers in the foreign language. Have a track of how you’re able to maintain consistency, test yourself, have fun.
Organize Paperwork for a Visa and Make Copies of Important Documents
As you begin the preparation for your visa application, be sure to understand the paperwork required as noted at the immigration and visa application centers, as they are different from office to office. Another great option is to set up time to visit the visa application center to ask any questions or review your paperwork beforehand so that you have everything in place before your official appointment (consider it a practice round) that can be very helpful and reduce the pressure.
Here are a few documents typically as visa requirements:
- Original Passport
- Bank Statements
- Proof of Medical Condition & Medical Records & Medical Insurance
- Educational Documents (if applicable)
- Police Verification Certificate
- Translated documents (if applicable)
Once you have your documents organized in one place for easy filing, you’ll want to make 2-5 copies to feel much more prepared to present your visa application.
Translate your Legal Documents
Depending on where you are moving to, the visa appointment or immigration office may require certified and sworn translations of official legal documents. You can get your documents certified and sworn translated on our relocation concierge platform, which you’ll need for immigration purposes. The most common documents for translation include:
- Birth certificate(s)
- Marriage certificate(s)
- Driver’s license
- Death certificate (if applicable)
- Divorce papers (if applicable)
- Police records
This is not the exhaustive list, so be sure to check with an immigration lawyer or visa application center on our platform to understand which legal documents are required to present, and which ones specifically should be translated.
Prepare Shipping for Your Personal Belongings
Preparing a move abroad may require an international freight transfer or shipping, to move your personal goods. Without the assistance of a professional international mover, it can be rather difficult, so it’s best to understand the options available for your international move or removal. Each shipping option option is very different and may present some benefits to determine which shipping option is best for your moving plan.
Air freight or air cargo while moving internationally is luggage shipping through an air transport or simply the transfer and carriage of goods and shipments through an aircraft. Air transport services offer baggage ships to countries worldwide with online moving quotes and moving tips.
Advantages for Air Freight:
- Faster time of travel and packing for an international move
- Safe and secure luggage shipping with air freight insurance
- Easy customs clearance for moving abroad
Ocean freight services or ocean shipping is the transport of goods by the cargo shipping lines. It is many times referred to as the most cost effective method for exporting and importing cargo. This shipping option is usually utilized by shipping companies for overseas shipping of large freight in shipping containers; however, it may be a great option for you and your family’s move abroad.
Advantages of Sea Freight:
- Cost to move is quite low when comparing international freight to other transport
- Shipping container - great for large amounts of heavy goods can be shipped to move overseas
- LCL (less than container load) - great for a smaller amount of luggage shipping with low cost to move
- Eco-friendly, ocean freight is the best way with less amount of pollution within the moving resources
Ground/ Road Freight
Ground or road freight is the simplest and can be a very cost-effective method for freight transportation, generally the freight is made by means of road transport. It is used for the transportation of large items that are not time bound. When considering cross-country or to another country that has ground transport options available, this option may be great to consider.
Advantages of Ground Freight:
- Cheapest option for a low cost to move versus air freight or ocean freight
- Flexible options for larger and heavier items can be moved
Ship your Vehicle
Transporting your vehicle to a foreign country can present various complexity, which requires a professional transporter to discuss and review your best options. Vehicle shipping or also known as auto shipping is the best way to move overseas with an international moving company for car shipping or any vehicle of your choice.
Get Car and Scooter Insurance
If you wish to relocate your vehicle, you’ll need to buy car insurance. In order to get a car insurance, you will need a registration certificate, personal details like name or age and your drivers license. The cost of a car or scooter insurance vary, regarding the value of the vehicle, age of driver and even previous accident history.
However, depending on your destination, requirements differ.
Safely Transport your Pet
Moving your pet abroad isn't an easy task because of the necessary paperwork and additional measures to consider, so it’s important to know about the pet moving process involved during travel. We’ve mapped out few things to keep in mind:
- Apply for your pet passport
- Get your pet vaccination along with the certificate approved by a vet
- Check for suitable transport options from expat-vetted companies
- Ask for microchip implants to insert under animal skin which is useful for tracking
- Always check airline policies beforehand
Every country has a different set of rules and guidelines to follow, so it's highly recommended to move your pet with experts who can assist and navigate you with suitable options to move your pet safely to your new home abroad.
Get Pet Insurance
Moving pets abroad is always a process that needs a lot of research, and as an expat you need to choose experts carefully for the job. Firstly, your pet needs a pet passport to travel. Then, it is important to choose a fitting pet insurance, to avoid costly vet bills. You need to keep in mind that pet insurance is cheaper when your pet is younger and has less illnesses, so it might be the best to buy insurance as early as possible. Your personal moving assistant on Avvinue can help you find the right pet insurance.
3 Months Before Moving Abroad
Make Arrangements for Arrival
Secure Temporary Housing in Host Country
Before you can live abroad, it’s good to secure temporary housing so that you have a place to stay once you arrive. There are various sites where you can find temporary housing or you can work with your personal moving assistant to help in the search.
One key element to keep in mind when booking your temporary housing is their security deposit, cancellation policy, check-in/check-out times, and if you can use the address for receiving mail, as you may need an address for immigration and visa purposes. It’s good to know you’ll have an address when you arrive, even if it’s a hotel.
Get Home Insurance Quotes if Necessary
Some temporary housing (and long-term housing) will require that you have property insurance to protect the property from any damage or losses. While the property may recommend an insurance company to work with, they may be more costly than others, so it’s good to have your personal moving assistant help you compare home insurance quotes so you have the best rate and the most coverage for your personal belongings and family when you have your housing arrangements abroad.
Apply for a Visa
The procedure for e-visas and general visas are different. E-visas can easily be acquired online, and each country which offers e-visas require different documents and offer different e-visa types.
Many types of general visas can also be acquired, depending on the reason behind moving like working abroad or searching for a job overseas. Most countries offer business visas for workers and people who invest in businesses, and student visas for the expats who wish to enroll in an educational institution or study abroad program. People over the retirement age can also apply for retirement visas.
If you aren’t sure which visa is best for you, then you can speak to your personal moving assistant to help with your visa application or even discuss your case further with an immigration lawyer.
Map out Financial Situation
Understand Cost of Living & Expenses
In preparing for a move abroad, it’s always good to have a clear idea of what it would cost to live there and how much you have saved before you move. Knowing the average cost of living will set you up for success when you relocate, but always save extra for those unexpected expenses! Here are some things to consider for expenses:
- Accommodation costs
- Food and groceries
- Transportation fares
- Telephone and internet
These are the most common things to financially prepare, so that you have a better idea what it would cost to live in that country or even city.
Secure Low Rates for Converting Currency
As you consider your financial plan for your move abroad, you need to keep into account if there is a different currency where you’re moving. In some cases, your currency will be worth more and in other cases it’ll be less - so it’s good to know what the conversion rates are and how this factors into your overall financial plan.
Before you head off to your new life abroad, we recommend exchanging money at your local bank, where the foreign exchange rate is the most favorable. Otherwise, you can transfer your currency directly on the Avvinue relocation concierge platform.
Search for Part-time/Full-time Opportunities
Start searching for a job ahead of time to prepare yourself for the job market and make connections with recruitment agencies. Tailor your resume according to the job market and create job alerts to know when new jobs are added to the market.
Understand the local market, join groups, expat forums, communities, explore, send new connection requests. Here are few tips for finding a job abroad:
- Create/improve your LinkedIn Profile
- Write industry related articles
- Engage with connections
- Create profiles in job portals
- Apply to jobs directly from company websites
- Add language skills for better opportunities
Keep learning new skills and adding that to your portfolio will increase chances of getting a job.
1 Month before Moving Abroad
Prepare Healthcare Provisions
While you’re juggling all the steps for your relocation, don’t forget to get a clear picture of your health status. We recommend you visit your local doctor, dentist, eye doctor, etc. to do all check-ups so you know what your current health conditions are; because it’ll take some time for you to find a local doctor in a foreign country, especially if there’s a language barrier.
Also, some countries may even need you to provide the paperwork or specific vaccinations to ensure you avoid any health risks.
And while you’re at the doctor, be sure to ask for a refill of your prescriptions and medications so that you have a sufficient supply of your medications for your move abroad. This will give you enough time to find a local doctor upon arriving and a pharmacy where you can get your prescriptions filled, or in many cases, local medications.
And even if you don’t have any prescriptions or medications, we highly recommend you pack some of these:
- Iodine tablets to purify water
- Allergy medicine
- Fever or headache tablets
- Cold and cough tablets
- Motion sickness medicine (great for a long flight!)
Doctors can also suggest more according to your health condition, but the best option is to stock up on a sufficient supply and keep on eye on the expiration dates and plan accordingly.
Secure Health Insurance
In many cases, you’ll need to get health insurance as required for your visa. There are many international health insurances to consider, so choose the one that's the best fit for you and your family. The main focus for your health insurance should cover you throughout travel and in the destination country, so it’s important to know which options are best. You can present this topic with your personal moving assistant on Avvinue to help you narrow down the option and book the best health insurance for your needs.
2 Weeks Before Moving Abroad
Pack your Excess Baggage
Now that you’re getting close to your moving date, you’ll want to pack your excess baggage so that it is shipped and arrive in time for your arrival. The less luggage you carry during travels, the better and more comfortable you can be. And trust us, you’ll want to travel light because there will be so many things running through your mind.
We recommend working with your personal moving assistant to book from our preferred expert on excess baggage partners. Your excess baggage could be in boxes, luggage or holdalls so don’t worry about the kind of packaging you’ll use for those final personal belongings. Just make sure there are no aerosols or prohibited items so your excess baggage can go smoothly through customs.
First of all, congrats on the move to another country! We hope your move day was smooth and successful.
As the wave of emotions floods you upon arrival, here are some things you can do once you arrive -- because the logistics doesn’t stop when you arrive. Instead, you may find that the relocation journey has just begun, so here are things you should prepare yourself for and discuss with your personal moving assistant on our relocation concierge platform.
Open a Foreign Bank Account
If you’ve done your research, then you may have heard that opening a foreign bank account and getting a credit card or debit card can be one of the trickiest aspects when getting settled abroad, but of course, that depends on where you are moving.
Upon arriving, you’ll want to do extensive research on which bank you want to open, and understand the banking options and associates ATM fees. Once you’re ready, prepare the paperwork needed to open a foreign bank account, especially for Americans moving abroad.
Some of the paperwork you may need is proof of identification (residence card or passport), proof of address, social security number and even a translated birth certificate in some countries. Depending on the country, opening a foreign bank account can take between 1-6 weeks.
Make sure you understand the rules and regulations of the international or overseas bank or discuss it further with your personal moving assistant who can share recommended banks for foreigners. Ultimately, ask as many questions as possible so you feel confident and prepared for opening your foreign bank account.
Wire Funds to Bank Account
Now that you have your new foreign bank account setup, you may want easy access to wire funds between your accounts, or even for sending money to friends and family back in your home country.
While there are many companies that offer this service and even within your bank, you can transfer money directly on our relocation concierge platform that’ll give you the best exchange rate available in the market.
Having an online option to immediately process your international money transfer is a huge advantage and a common necessity for expats around the world. Now, if you are transferring a large sum of money like for the purchase of a house abroad, then your personal moving assistant can connect you with the best foreign currency exchange companies that have a great value and reduced fees. At the end of the day, you need money to survive, so having a good option to send money abroad is going to be your best bet.
1 Month After Moving
Prepare & File Tax Returns
Once you get settled in your new life abroad, you’ll need to get up to speed with the local taxes to prepare and file your taxes according to the local government, and in some cases, back in your home country.
For instance, U.S. citizens and green card holders must file their taxes in the United States and while abroad, no matter where they reside. And because taxes is such a case-by-case scenario, we highly recommend you work with a tax professional who can provide tax advice for you as a foreigner.
Looking for a professional tax preparer for your personal and business taxes? Just ask your personal moving assistant to connect you with an expat-vetted chartered accountant to manage your taxes as an expat abroad.
Secure a Residence Permit or Citizenship
Soon after arriving, you will need to secure a residence permit so that you can legally stay in the country beyond the time specified on your entrance visa. Remember how we recommended to organize all your paperwork, translated and in a safe place? Well, you’ll need those original and copies to secure a residence permit or citizenship.
Having your legal status in place is going to make the entire relocation process much easier, and it’ll bring such a sense of relief to get your residence permit or citizenship so that you can enjoy your new host country.
No matter where you are moving to or what assistance you need, you can always reach out to your personal moving assistant on Avvinue to coordinate your entire relocation from start to finish with guidance from our ultimate checklist. Our team of expats knows what it’s like to move to a foreign country, so you’ll feel rest assured that you have a team of professionals guiding you through the process.
Get started on the Avvinue all-in-one relocation platform and begin planning your successful move abroad today -- stress free.