(2022) Easy Checklist for Moving Overseas or Out of the Country

Using this easy checklist for moving overseas is one of the best ways to guide your relocation. Moving can seem like an overwhelming task, especially when it involves a new country. 

Whether this is a short-term move, or you’re making a permanent move to your “forever home” abroad, you’ll find step-by-step advice, below.

checklist for moving abroad

CONTENTS – In this article, you will find an easy checklist for moving overseas and to another country, including:

Important Things to Remember When Moving Overseas

Moving to another country is an exciting chapter for you and your family. It’s the first step in creating new memories together.

You’ll want to make sure your international move goes smoothly, though. The best way to do that is by preparing ahead of time with a checklist for moving overseas.

That way, your destination country will start to feel more like home, sooner.

Of course, you may have some important questions.

For instance, what documents will you need for your move? Are your new accommodations ready for move-in? Which international car shipping and moving companies will you hire?

If you are moving with kids, they will need to enroll in a new school. And, what about health care?

This checklist answers many of these questions and more.

Research Your New Home Country

It is easier to adjust to a new life in a new place when you know more about the country to which you are moving.

Things such as the general cost of living, the country’s immigration, tax, and local laws, and the culture are just some of the details you should know. 

So, the first thing to do is research as much about the new location as you can ahead of time. 

Then, you’ll want to address several potential issues that might come up during and after your move.

You’ll also want to get some answers from someone knowledgeable. 

For instance, consulting an immigration professional will make things easier. They will discuss everything you need to know with you. 

Some of the entry requirements they can help you with are:

  • Immigration laws
  • Documentation requirements
  • Deadlines
  • Immunizations and COVID requirements
  • A work permit
  • Background checks
  • Policies for bringing pets and household goods

You will feel much more prepared once you know more on these topics.

Scout for Safe Housing Ahead of Time

european apartment balcony

Whether you plan on renting an apartment or purchasing a house, you should find accommodations ahead of time. 

If you’re moving abroad because of a work assignment, your work contracts include housing. Of course, that won’t always be the case.

If you have the time (and budget), it’s a good idea to visit the country to scout for real estate that will suit your needs. 

Alternatively, you can hire relocation consultants and local realtors who will do the job for you. Whenever possible, it’s better to coordinate with local professionals who are well-versed in the country’s laws and real estate markets.

Make a list of your requirements so you have the best chance of finding an ideal housing arrangement. Keep in mind the search and the application process could be lengthy, especially since you’ll be arriving from a different country.

Once you do evaluate your best options and find a place to live, you’ll have some peace of mind.

Next, you’ll want to contact utility companies so you have household services. For instance, you may need to establish a new account for things like water, electricity, heat, and telephone. 

Utilities may be handled differently from your current country, so plan to do a little more research on that.

While you’re at it, evaluate your phone plans and research cellular phone information. It may be cheaper to get a sim card and rely on sms text messages to keep in touch with friends and family at home. Or, you might find that getting a new cell phone number is part of your long distance move, rather than keeping your current plan.

Secure All Necessary Documents | Checklist for Moving Overseas

Moving to another country requires a lot of paperwork.

Securing them can be time-consuming, too. So make sure you know what’s expected of you, and set aside some time to get your documentation in order. It may seem like a lot of things to gather, but it will save you time in the long run.

The most important documents are a valid passport and visa. Since visa application arguably takes the longest, you need to get a head start on this.

Other documents you will need for each family member may include the following:

  • Birth certificate, adoption papers, child custody papers
  • Divorce papers
  • Marriage certificate
  • Driver’s license
  • Social security card
  • Medical records & dental records
  • School records
  • No-Claims Bonus (NCB) record
  • Insurance policies and legal documents 
  • Financial records
  • Other travel documents such as work permits or custom forms

Each country will have different rules, but if you have these important papers in order, you’ll be in good shape.

If you are bringing pets along, you also need to secure all necessary documentation for them. Make sure to get all the requirements and travel clearance from the vet. 

Your pet’s documentation might include a clean bill of health from their veterinarian and their immunization records.  

Start Securing Your Finances

You’ll want to start building your savings and emergency fund ahead of time. This is an important step that many new expats overlook. Don’t make the mistake of starting over in a new country under-funded.

Overseas relocation can be pricey, and the difference in cost of living can take your budget by surprise. 

According to some experts, the rule of thumb is to have six months’ worth of savings plus 10%. That way, you’re covered financially for any surprises that might come your way.

Also, make sure you can access your finances with ease from your new destination.

Ask your bank if they have overseas branches or affiliates, or open a new local bank account. Online banking and similar services can also be very convenient options. Just watch out for international fees on your transactions.

Insurance and Health Care Abroad

Be sure to take care of all necessary arrangements regarding your health care and other insurance policies

Make time to schedule appointments for medical checkups and immunizations before you go. Also, get enough prescription medications to cover your entire stay, or at tide you over until you find a qualified physician in the new country.  

Cancel insurance policies that need to be canceled and set up health insurance and other coverage required by the country to which you’re moving.

Many expats take out international private medical health insurance (iPMI). That’s because it’s specifically designed to provide coverage for those who live and work abroad. 

This type of private health insurance will cover you should you need local medical care, emergency treatments, maternity care, and even repatriation if need be.  

You may also want to get travel insurance before you go, so you’re covered for anything unexpected in between.

If you plan to drive a care in your host country, find out whether you’ll need an international driving permit and what level of car insurance is required.

Also look into how homeowners or rental property insurance works in your new country to protect your belongings.

Look for the Right Schools

If your family has school-aged kids moving with you, you’ll definitely want to scout out schools

Once you decide which school is a good fit, begin enrolling them.

This will involve securing all the necessary documents they will need to transfer. You will likely also have to complete the school’s enrollment papers.

It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your children’s school transcripts on file, too. That way, if their hometown school is slow in sending them or they are delayed, you have their records handy. 

Start Packing Early

Packing your home and life up can be overwhelming. 

packing overseas

Don’t procrastinate!

Getting a head start on sorting and packing your stuff will help you feel more relaxed in your move. So pull together a detailed packing list when you’re customizing this checklist for moving overseas.

As part of this process, you’ll want to declutter. Get rid of the things you no longer need by donating or selling them. 

This might also bring in an extra source of money that will serve you well in emergencies. 

Also, if you downsize what you will bring overseas, you can reduce your international shipping fees. This is a perfect time to reevaluate the importance of your belongings.

It is also a good time to sort out your electronics. For one, technology changes so quickly, you’ve likely got a few pieces of obsolete hardware hanging around. 

But electronics isn’t only your computer and phone devices.

What about things like your hair dryer, toaster, electric mixer, TV and stereo equipment, and lamps?

Different countries have different plugs and voltages for electrical devices. While you can use an adapter, you might consider upgrading to electronics that are dual voltage.

At minimum, invest in the converters and plug adapters you need.

Find International Moving and Auto Shipping Companies

International moving companies have experience and knowledge about the regulations and moving process in the new country. Many offer services aside from shipping like sorting, packing, and storage. 

Hiring an auto shipping company to ship your car also helps simplify the process.

The best plan of action is to contact several reputable shipping companies and ask for quotes. That way, you can compare prices and choose one that best serves your needs and your budget. 

Find out the timelines for moving your belongings so you have a realistic expectation.

And don’t forget to check their insurance to ensure your items are safe and well-covered in transit.

Notify Concerned Agencies

One thing that’s often overlooked is to update any agencies that require notification of your overseas relocation. 

For instance, your voter registration. You’ll want to consider and absentee voting ahead of time. Remember, while you’re an expat, you still have voting rights in your country of origin.

The postal service needs to know that you’er moving, too. That way, they it can set up a forwarding address for your mail.

You also want to settle everything you need to with your banks, insurance providers, tax agencies, and employers. This can help you avoid unnecessary fines and misunderstandings.

Of course, don’t forget to notify your landlord or realtor and your loved ones that you plan on moving.

When possible, make sure to allow plenty of time so everyone has time to get used to this transition.

Last-minute Final Checklist for Moving Overseas Before Moving Day

plane tickets away

As the moving day approaches, your preparations may become more stressful and taxing. You’ll need a list of things to stay focused. 

It may seem like your overseas move is a long way away, but it’s really a short time to do so much stuff. 

So, here are some final checks you need to do a month before moving and up through the big day. 

1. One Month Before You Move

  • Coordinate the final schedules with your international shipping company
  • Start finalizing your paperwork
  • Refill prescription medicine
  • Purchasing travel guides 
  • Practicing the local language to minimize language barriers
  • At this point, you should also be taking packing seriously

2. Two Weeks Before You Move

  • Set up your mail forwarding
  • Make copies of all your important documents
  • Leave some copies with friends or family you trust as insurance in case of theft or loss during your travel
  • Meet with family members and loved ones and make sure they have your new address and contact info 
  • Start your last-minute shopping for items you need on the trip, such as plug adapters and other essentials

3. One Week Before Your Big Move

  • Withdraw cash you will need on hand for the trip or purchase traveler’s checks. 
  • Notify your credit card company to have your overseas purchases authorized (both credit cards and debit cards)
  • Confirm your flight details
  • Book temporary housing and other travel arrangements as necessary

Checklist for Moving Overseas: Some Final Tips Before You Leave

Once you’re done with the critical tasks on the list, it is time to relax and enjoy. 

Moving to a new country is a huge step that is both exciting and scary. Make friends abroad, and keep in touch with your loved ones at home. You’ll need all the emotional support to adjust and help with the culture shock. 

The good news is that within a few months of your move date, it’s likely you won’t even feel like you’re living in a foreign country anymore.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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