The Ultimate Checklist for Moving Abroad

Adam Vagley @goodmigrations

The ultimate checklist for moving abroad

Moving is always a stressful event, even if you’re just moving down the street. But moving to a new country is much more complex, so if just thinking about moving abroad gets you feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. Our Ultimate Checklist for Moving Abroad will have you moving like a pro.

Download the ultimate checklist for moving abroad

We cover every step you’ll need to follow to have a successful move to your new home and getting up and running once you arrive, from how to get health insurance abroad, to finding and booking a moving company, to finding accommodations in your new country.

We recommend reading through this entire checklist a few times so you know what’s coming and can prepare accordingly. You can also download and print this guide out for free!

6-12 Months Before Your Move

Complete?

Research the cost of living to make sure you’ll be able to afford the lifestyle you want. Expatistan is a great (and free!) website to compare cities.
Begin the process of obtaining a visa/work permit as soon as you know you’re moving abroad (if you’re moving for work; your employer will likely take care of this for you).

In many countries, this process can take several months so it’s a good idea to get started as soon as you know of your relocation. If you can afford an immigration lawyer it’ll be worth it to avoid the mistakes made when doing it yourself.

Apply for a personal identification number.

This has different names depending on the country. For example, in the United States it’s a Social Security Number (SSN); in Australia, it’s a Tax File Number (TFN); in the UK it’s a National Insurance Number (NIN). Every country will have its own version.

You may only be able to get one once your visa is approved.

If you plan to enroll your child in an international school, check with the international schools in your destination area.

Many schools have limited space so you’ll want to get on a waitlist as soon as possible. Some schools allow you to register before you arrive in the country.

Our Ultimate Guide to Moving Abroad can help you decide whether a school offering an international or local curriculum is best for your child.

Start language classes for you/your family if you don’t speak the language of your new country. Apps like Duolingo are a great (and free) resource to use as well.

 

3 Months Before Your Move

Complete?

Ensure visa paperwork is on schedule. 
Make sure your documents (passport, photo ID, driver’s license, etc.) won’t expire for at least 6 months after your move date. Make appointments to get new ones if necessary.
Start sorting your belongings by what you want to move, sell, give away, or donate.

There are a number of things you’re not allowed to ship and some things you shouldn’t ship. Learn more about them with our international moving guide.

Check whether your appliances and electronics can be used in your destination country.

Many may require power adapters or converters. This will help you determine whether to ship them, sell them, put them in storage, or give them away.

Notify your child’s current school of the upcoming move. You’ll need them to provide you copies of transcripts.
Start researching movers and request moving quotes from three to five reputable moving companies.

GoodMigrations makes this easy for you since we have a network of awesome movers around the world.

Book flights to your destination.
If you are selling your home, put it on the market. (Consult with a realtor first to make sure the timing is right for your area.)
Start learning about the culture of your destination.

There are several free resources available:       

Contact an expatriate organization or group at your destination—they can help with questions and getting you settled in once you move.

Facebook expat groups are great for this, but there are also expat forums like Internations.org.

Plus, it gives you a chance to start building relationships with existing expats.

Obtain health insurance. (This may be a requirement to have your visa approved in some countries.) You can have the insurance scheduled to start the day you arrive so you’re not paying for it before you move.

Here are some resources you can check out to see insurance options:

Or visit BrokerFish to compare plans from multiple providers at once. You can customize what sort of coverage you’re looking for, as well as the monthly premium you can afford.

Ensure you’ve got sufficient funds to cover the whole moving process: shipping your stuff, first month’s rent and security deposit on a home, getting a new phone – all these things add up to a big expense.

 

2 Months Before Your Move

Complete?

Check quarantine laws and regulations for pets in your final destination.

Learn more about pet relocation on our blog.

Gather family medical records and ensure that everyone has the proper vaccinations (including family pets). Get an international vaccination record booklet.
Book your moving company and confirm the moving date.
Secure moving insurance for your move. The moving company will typically offer this, but there are also third-party companies you can contact.

You must have moving insurance in place by the time the movers show up at your door, otherwise, you may no longer be eligible for insurance.

Schedule services like lawn care and pool and house cleaners to stop as your move date approaches.
Identify the neighborhood(s) you’d like to live in so you can focus on getting to know these areas once you move and are looking for a home.

This is easy if you’re moving to one of the cities included in our guides; just use the Neighborhood Explorer to find neighborhoods that meet your criteria.

Arrange for temporary housing when you arrive.

You can use services like Airbnb, Craigslist, Gumtree, Corporate Housing by Owner, and other sites to find temporary housing. Ensure you have temporary housing available until your shipment arrives.

If you are renting out your home, begin listing it and finding new renters. (The timing of this varies by market, so consult a local real estate professional if you’re unsure when to list yours.)

 

1 Month Before Your Move

Complete?

Hold a garage sale, sell items online, or donate items you no longer want. Arrange storage for items that you’re keeping but not shipping.
Figure out what to do with your car: sell it, donate it, or give it to friends and family to use while you’re abroad. (It’s not good to leave a car sitting unused for a long period of time, so you shouldn’t just put it in storage.)

Cancel your car insurance once it’s been sold or donated.

Schedule cancellation of phone, internet, cable, gas, water, and electric service for the day after you move.
Make sure you have enough prescription medicine to cover you/your family until you’ll be able to obtain the equivalent prescription in your new home (and make sure you know what the equivalent is)
Organize a farewell party to say goodbye to your friends, family, and colleagues.
Begin changing your address, including periodicals, subscriptions, and the post service and arrange for mail forwarding. Since most postal services won’t forward internationally, use a family member’s address if you can.
Notify your financial institutions about your move and ensure all your online banking needs are set up for any ongoing expenses you’ll have in your home country, such as tracking and paying credit card bills, car loans, and mortgage payments.
Cancel your gym membership since many places require 30 days’ notice.

 

2 Weeks Before Your Move

Complete?

Arrange for childcare and/or a pet sitter for moving day.
Start consuming perishables and food that will not be moved. Consider donating unused canned goods.
Buy products, cosmetics, and toiletries that you won’t have access to while overseas.

 

1 Week Before Your Move

Complete?

Make sure you have all important documents (passports, driver’s license, ID cards, birth certificates, marriage certificate, medical and dental records, school records, and other legal documents) in one place.

Keep the spare keys to your car there as well if you haven’t sold it or given it away.

Obtain currency for your new destination. You can use foreign ATMs/Cash machines with your debit card, but it’s good to have some cash when you first arrive.
Pack necessary items for travel to the destination and for the first few days.
Separate out any items going into storage to movers don’t accidentally pack them for the move
If you’re renting, clean your home to ensure you get your security deposit back.

 

1 Day Before Your Move

Complete?

Defrost and clean your freezer and refrigerator.
Have some snacks and beverages handy for moving day.
Know where your important documents are so they do not get packed.
Have some cash handy to tip the moving crew (depends on which country you live in and whether tipping is expected).

 

Moving Day

Complete?

Try to keep children and pets out of the way if you haven’t arranged for a babysitter or pet sitter.
Be present and provide specific instructions to the moving crew for packing up your stuff. Make sure they label which items go where (i.e. kitchen, your bedroom, child’s bedroom).
Do a final walk-through of the home after everything has been packed to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.
The movers will put together an inventory list as they pack. Once they’re complete, review and sign the inventory list to confirm they’ve gotten everything. They’ll provide you a copy of this list.
Take a deep breath and savor the moment. 🙂

 

After you arrive in your new country  
These activities can happen from a few days after you arrive through several months based on your situation.

Complete?

Register with your home country’s local consulate; this ensures they know you’re living locally now and can assist in the event of an emergency.
Register with the local government (if needed); this is sometimes required to enroll your child in a local school.
Get a transportation card. Most big cities have smart cards for travel on their public transit systems – some even let you use your smartphone.
Register your child in a local school if you weren’t able to do it before arriving.

Note that some local schools require students to speak the native language.

Open a bank account in your new location. Ensure you have all the required documentation to do so, such as a passport or other picture ID; this often requires a proof of address as well.
Get a mobile phone (or get phone service if you’ve already got a phone). Ensure you’ve got all the documentation needed before going to a store.
Ensure that all outstanding bills are paid from your home country.
Start your home search. Hopefully, you’ve got temporary housing lined up for 6-8 weeks. This gives you time to explore the neighborhoods you’re interested in, make sure you really do like them, and begin hunting for a home.

Once you’ve found a home, provide the address to the moving company so they know where to deliver your stuff.

On delivery day for your shipment:

  • Be present and guide the moving crew about placement of boxes and furniture.
  • Check each item off the inventory list as it’s brought in.
  • In the event of damaged or missing items, take a picture (if there’s damage) and make sure the moving crew is aware before they leave. Then file a claim as soon as possible.
  • Have some cash handy to tip the moving crew (depends on which country you live in and whether tipping is expected).
Get internet set up once you’ve got your new home identified. In some cities, the waiting time for installation can be many weeks; if that’s the case for your city you may want to book a date before you’re even moved in.
Find a local doctor. This is especially important if anyone in your family requires prescription medication.
Make friends. Our ultimate moving guide has lots of tips on making friends, but expat groups, Meetup groups, weekend sports teams, and mommy groups are a great place to start.
Get electricity and gas set up for your home.
If you’re American, find a tax expert. Unfortunately for you, you’ll still have to file a tax return in the U.S. Use expat groups to ask for a recommendation for an accountant who specializes in taxes for both your new country and the United States. You can also use H&R Block in many countries.
Explore! The best reason for moving abroad is to explore a new place and culture.

 

If you have questions about any of these steps, please contact us and our moving experts will be happy to help! Or, check out our Ultimate Moving Guide for more juicy details on moving abroad.

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