14 Tips for Moving Internationally
Living abroad is exciting. It’s an opportunity to explore new cultures, lifestyles, opportunities, even new environments. But it’s not always easy. Settling into a new country takes a lot of careful planning. In most cases, you not only have to research a new language and customs; you’ll also have a number of logistical challenges as well. But by following these tips for moving internationally, you can keep the process simple and avoid unnecessary stress.
International moves are complex. Besides the normal considerations (packing, shipping, utilities, etc.), there’s immigration, customs, taxes, insurance, and inoculations. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the laws, culture, and language of your new home. Begin planning at least six months ahead of time. The longer you wait, the more expensive and nerve-wracking it can be.
Once you know you’ll be moving, get quotes from at least three international movers. Make sure each one is licensed, bonded, and insured. This ensures compliance with safety regulations and provides an additional layer of security in case anything is damaged in route.
Talk to an Immigration Consultant
Immigration laws differ greatly from one country to another. Though it's possible to research them on your own, consulting an immigration professional is generally easier and more reliable. They’ll walk you through the steps you need to take, explain what documentation you’ll need to submit, and lay out the deadlines you’re required to meet. It might cost a little extra, but it saves time and alleviates unwelcome surprises.
Regardless of whether you plan to buy a house or rent an apartment, you’ll need to know where you’re going to live before you arrive. Research your new city and contact a local realtor who's familiar with the area. They’ll let you know what properties are available in your price range and guide you through the process of finding a new home.
Organize Your Documents
One of the downsides of moving to a new country is the paperwork you have to fill out. Besides a passport, you’ll also require a visa. There are several kinds: work visas, student visas, business visas, tourist visas, etc. Make sure you apply for the right one. There are also several other important documents to have on hand, such as:
- Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Marriage License
- Child Custody Papers
- Divorce Papers
- Medical Records
- School Records
- Drivers License
Enroll in STEP
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service offered by the U.S. State Department. It sends information about your trip to the local American Embassy, so they can send you important safety announcements and get in touch with you in case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.
Notify the IRS
Even though you’re out of the country, you’ll still be required to file tax returns with the IRS. However, while Americans living abroad are required to report their income, they’re exempt from U.S. taxes as long as they make less than $120,000 USD per year. After notifying the IRS, contact an accountant to learn more about the tax laws in your new country, to make sure you know what you’ll be expected to pay while you’re living there.
Though many countries run national health programs, they don’t always cover foreigners. If you’re not eligible for national healthcare in your new country, your current policy may cover you instead. Otherwise, you’ll have to rely on an international health plan while you’re abroad. Contact several companies and compare quotes before committing to one. More resources can be found here and here.
Get an International Driving Permit
Depending on where you’ll be living, you may not require a car while you’re overseas. Nevertheless, if you plan on driving, you’ll need an International Driving Permit (IDP). The process to acquire one is simple. Apply either in person or by mail. In addition to sending in a copy of your driver’s license, you’ll also need to submit two passport photos and a $20 fee. Be aware that an IDP is only valid for six months. If you're planning to stay longer, you’ll have to apply for a license in your new country.
Contact Your Bank
It’s possible your bank has affiliate branches overseas. In that case, transferring your money will be simple and straightforward. However, if they don’t, you may need to open up an account with a foreign bank after you arrive. If that’s the case, make sure you have an international credit card and withdraw extra cash so you have money on hand and to pay your bills while you’re getting everything set up.
Check Your Phone Service
Some data carriers provide service in foreign countries, in which case you can simply switch to an international plan before you leave. Otherwise, you’ll have to unlock your phone and sign up with a local carrier once you arrive.
Make Sure Your Vaccinations Are Up to Date
Depending on your destination, moving internationally may expose you to potentially harmful diseases. Consult a travel clinic or the Department of Health in order to make sure you’ve been inoculated with the necessary vaccines.
Research Laws Regarding Pets
Not all pets are welcome overseas. Some countries don’t allow foreign animals while others don’t allow certain breeds, such as pit bulls. Make sure it’s legal to bring your cat or dog into the country. In addition, you’ll also have to visit your vet in order to get a health certificate, proving your pet has been fully immunized. Some countries (e.g. Australia) may subject all pets to a mandatory quarantine. If this is the case, you may be required to pay a quarantine fee.
Sell What You Can’t Take
Shipping your belongings overseas is expensive. And the more you have, the more it costs to bring it with you. Selling off items you don’t need is a great way to save money on shipping (or storage) and earn a few bucks in the process. Take stock of everything in your home. Undoubtedly, you’ve collected some odds and ends over the years that can be donated or sold. Try and whittle your household down to the true essentials, without ditching your sentimental items of course. Most everything you need can be more economically purchased once you’ve moved into your new home.
Help Moving Internationally
No matter where you’re going, trust Allied to get you there. Our agents operate in practically every country across the globe, providing on-the-ground support to families and homeowners. With our resources and knowledge, moving internationally is simple and straightforward. We help you navigate the logistical and legal hurdles you’ll face. Rather than worrying about the journey, our customers have time to focus on the destination instead. Contact us today for a free quote!