So you’ve made the big decision and decided to relocate your family and personal belongings overseas, either temporarily or permanently. Excited? Scared? Everything plus more? Congratulations on the decision, you have everything to be excited and scared about.
While the most difficult and nerve wracking part of your decision still lies ahead of you, with proper organization you’ll be able to make it through somewhat stress-free.
Moving abroad can seem overwhelming; there are a million things that have to be arranged, rented, organized, sold and sorted out. Suddenly you will have to take care of a gazillion things and you probably won’t know where to start.
The hardest part about moving abroad? Not knowing where and when to start tackling everything. As a rule of thumb, you should begin planning as soon as you know when you’ll be moving and where you’ll be moving. The government paperwork can take time – bureaucracy is the same or maybe worse around the world. If you have the time, try to begin preparing at least 3 months before your moving date. If you have more time, that’s great. Many embassy staff (either of your home or the host country) is known to take their time with visa applications and other paperwork.
Visa and Permits
Having a valid work permit and/or visa beforehand is essential for moving abroad. Be sure to personally check the visa regulations of your new country as soon as possible. If you’re among the millions moving abroad on a classic expat assignment, your company’s human resources department will be available to support you throughout the process. Bear in mind that applications for visas and work permits may unavoidably take time to be processed.
For instance, the UK Border Agency requires at least 2-3 weeks reviewing an application for a 6 month visitor visa and 30 working days to review a visa-plus-work-permit. This time frame is dependent on your application being complete, with all the forms correctly filled in and every required document attached. If your application is incomplete, you’ll have to send in additional documents and the procedure can drag on and on.
If you plan on bringing your furry children, now is the time to find out about the new country’s import restrictions, quarantine requirements, and mandatory vaccinations. Some countries may only require their vaccination passport and some may have a mandatory quarantine.
Taxes and Pensions
Every government handles taxing issues differently. In some cases, your personal tax status may change due to moving abroad, or you could even be taxed twice for any money you earn overseas. You’ve probably never heard terms such as ‘primary abode’, ‘fiscal residency’ or ’bilateral tax treaty’ before, so you should start investigating tax issues and speak with an accountant before moving abroad.
Pensions are another integral part of your personal finances that you shouldn’t forget about. As soon as you move abroad, you may not be able to contribute to your usual pension funds anymore, especially if it’s run by the government in your home country.
While making up your to-do list for moving abroad, you might start to get intimidated. Fear not, you’re on the right track.
If you’re planning on shipping your belongings (such as furniture, keepsakes, etc) to your new home start looking for a reliable moving company now. Depending on your destination some companies may require you to book well in advance.
Before embarking on your adventure abroad make sure that both you and your family are in healthy and fit. Now is the time to start making appointments for comprehensive medical check-ups with your family doctor and dentist.
If you require any complex treatment or expensive prescription medications, such as minor surgery or important medicine, get them now at home rather than risking a medical emergency after your move to another country. You should also ask your doctor about any necessary vaccinations, especially if you’re moving to a tropical climate. Get a 12 month supply of any prescription drugs for chronic ailments that you might need.
Insurance and Banking
Contact your bank and make sure that you’ll have access to your accounts while you’re abroad. Make sure that your credit cards will be valid and work, and whether you’ll have any outstanding debts you’ll have to settle before leaving.
Does your bank offer services in your new home country? A lot of the smaller banks don’t so it’s always best to check ahead of time instead of being surprised when you get there. If they don’t, open a new banking account at a bank that operates where you’re going before you move. Also, try to have sufficient funds saved for settling into your new home and, more importantly, in case of any emergency.
Speaking of emergencies and unplanned problems, you will want to make sure you have insurance. Not all of your current policies may be transferable abroad so be sure to contact your insurance company before moving and see which, if any, of your insurance plans will still be valid once you move overseas. Your insurance company should be able to offer you advice on any additional policies you may need for moving abroad, such as risk or travel insurance.
Utilities (Hydro, Cable, Telephone and Internet)
Before you start packing your worldly possessions and move to another country, don’t forget to contact the utilities companies and cancel your services for internet, electricity, gas, water, etc. In most cases you may receive a final bill for services that you’ll need to pay, either before leaving the country or from abroad.
This basic list is the foundation for an easier move abroad, as everyone will have their own personal things to add to the list. Organisation is key to a smooth move because there will always be things that pop up. The most important thing of all? Have a blast on your new adventure!
About the Author: Rebecca is a blogger with a passion for travel and living abroad. She’s currently working with Top Move Vancouver Movers.
Image source: TripAdvisor