As rewarding as emigrating can be, moving abroad is often stressful, complicated and time consuming. With so many things to remember it can be all too easy to forget something important. To make the process just that little bit easier we have compiled a list of the most essential emigrating tasks to take you smoothly from 90 days before you move right up to the day itself.
Don’t be daunted! Just take it one step at a time and before you know it you’ll be settling in overseas.
90 Days to Go
- Thoroughly research the country/area you plan on moving to. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you can expect, what amenities are available and what your cost of living is likely to be.
- If you can’t visit the place in person then use the internet and read brochures, guides and travel texts to get the most comprehensive picture possible.
- If you can, use online social networking sites to make contact with expat communities in your new area. They will be able to offer you invaluable advice and can make the transition easier for you once you arrive.
- If learning the language of your new nation is important to you then now is the time to arrange some intensive language lessons for you and your children.
- Make sure that your whole family have valid passports – you won’t get far without them! They should be valid until you next plan to return to your country of origin.
- Find out what documentation you will need to reside in your new country (visa, work permits, residency etc.) For up to date information visit the country’s immigration department website. These things can take weeks or even months to organise so begin as early as you can to avoid panic later on!
- As many countries do not accept foreign driving licences start looking into international driving licences. It may be possible for you to take your test before you leave which would save you hassle and time later on. In some cases you may need to acquire a local driving licence. This will involve taking a local driving test once living in the country.
- Check what documentation you need for exporting possessions from your home country to your destination country.
- Book your plane tickets and make any hotel reservations you may need for the periods immediately prior to and following your flight.
- If you don’t already have a job lined up in your new country then research the career options available and what the requirements are for foreign employment.
- If you are retiring overseas look into whether your pension contributions count in your destination country and start to arrange how you will receive the payments.
- Start to become familiar with the currency used in your destination country.
- Contact a reputable currency broker like TorFX and talk to them about what currency exchange services you might need after you move. It’s best to make contact early on as they can monitor the market for you and advise you of the best time to make an exchange. They also get you more for your money than banks! TorFX offers services most banks don’t provide, like setting up a forward contract so that you can make the most of a good rate. Once you’re living abroad you may need to make occasional or regular international transfers. Banks can charge quite steep fees for this service but transfers with TorFX are fast, free and reliable.
- Compile a finance/tax folder. Keep any financial documentation relating to the move, you may be able to claim some tax back.
- Arrange an appointment with your bank and tell them you are moving overseas. If they cannot offer you a global account or online banking options you will need to change to a bank that can.
- If your bank does provide online banking then set it up for all accounts and request to have bank and credit card statements changed to e-statements.
- Check the expiry dates of existing bank cards and order new ones if needed.
- Depending on what country you’re relocating to you may need to get vaccinations before you go. Some vaccinations need to be given weeks in advance so make appointments with your doctor now. Make sure to keep an international vaccination booklet.
- Inform the surgery of your plans to move. Request copies of your medical records.
- Some people rent out their home when they emigrate, others sell. By this point you should know which route you’re taking. If you’ve decided to rent your house you will need to complete any repairs and odd jobs. If you have yet to find a tenant than local rental agencies should be able to help. You will need to arrange for a friend or family member to check up on the property and resolve any issues with the tenant whilst you’re away. Establish what furnishings you will be leaving behind for your tenants.
- If you plan on selling your property than put it on the market. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place should the property sell quicker than you expected or (more importantly) if the property should not sell before you’re due to leave.
- Research the rental/purchase price of housing in the area you plan to move to. If you can, arrange a pre-move visit in order to select a home. If visiting is not an option then websites, online newspapers, contact recommendation and relocation services are all helpful. On first arriving in a new country many expats decide to rent for several weeks/months before taking the step of buying.
- Take an inventory of all your possessions. Begin to throw away any unwanted/valueless items. Sell what possessions you can. Find out which electronics will be usable in your new home and whether you will need to purchase adapters.
- Start looking for accredited international moving companies. Once you have a firm idea of what you will need moving, when you will need it moved by and where you are moving it to, ask for quotes from several companies. Make sure you give them a full account of potential issues/restrictions/difficulties. In return make sure they give you a full cost breakdown so you know exactly what services you would be getting for your money.
- Inform your children’s school that they are leaving. Ask for transfer forms if required and request copies of school reports, exam certificates and examples of their work.
- Begin searching for their new school – lengthy waiting lists can be avoided if you begin the process early. Find out about international as well as local schools and discuss with your child which option they would prefer. Once you have chosen a school, register your child. Bear in mind that you will need to provide the school with a good idea of when your child will be starting and some schools may not allow a child to start partway through the school year. They may also ask for copies of your child’s education and medical records.
- If you plan on relocating any pets then now is the time to research your new country’s rules/quarantine requirements, get your furry friend vaccinated and apply for a pet passport. You may also want to look into companies which specialise in pet relocation, like Air Pets.
60 Days to Go
- Make several copies of your birth certificates, marriage certificates, education certificates, insurance policies and financial documentation. Keep an electronic copy and make three hard copies. Leave one set of copied documents with a trusted friend or family member; put one set aside for packing and keep the last set ready to travel with.
- If you don’t already have a Will it may be a good idea to have one drawn up whilst you are still in the country and have the necessary documents handy.
- Hand in your notice for your current job.
- Inform the tax office of the date you plan on leaving.
- You may need to file a tax return and pay off any outstanding amounts.
- Register for a tax number in your new country.
- If you don’t have a job lined up for when you arrive overseas start applying for positions now. Bear in mind that you may be asked to come for an interview – be realistic in your application regarding your availability.
- Look into the income tax laws of your new country and see if there are any tax breaks for foreigners.
- Make sure that you get personal and professional letters of reference. Make copies.
- Look into the banking options available in your destination country and research what documentation you would need to open a foreign bank account.
- Many people find that international transfers and fees can be quite costly and banks don’t usually offer the best deal. If you need to make one off or regular money transfers than a trusted currency broker like TorFX can save you time and money.
- Look into the healthcare offered in your new country.
- Locate doctor’s surgeries, dental practices and optical specialists near to your new home and check whether they have the space to take on extra patients.
- Take out international health insurance for you and your family.
- If your new home comes furnished you may not need to take as many of your own things as you thought, so now would be the time to arrange storage or give things away to family and friends. If your new home doesn’t come furnished you will need to check if it comes with any appliances at all.
- Find out how you set up utilities (water, gas, electricity, telephone line) in your destination country.
- Look into what method you will be using to pay rent/mortgage payments/ utility bills once abroad.
- If you plan on renting your property you will need to take out landlords insurance and make sure that the building and contents insurance is up to date. If the boiler needs servicing annually you will also need to set this up!
- Once you have compared the quotes given to you by different relocation companies chose which one you will go with and give them a loading date. You may want to arrange for them to come and conduct a pre-move survey. Take out insurance on your possessions and begin to pack up larger, un-needed items.
- If you are selling your property arrange for your home insurance to be cancelled the day after you plan to leave.
- Children generally adjust more quickly than adults when it comes to moving overseas, but it can still be a very upsetting time for them. Tell them as much about their new home as you can and try to keep them involved in decision making processes where possible.
- If you aren’t planning on bringing your pet you will need to find it a new home. This can be a real wrench but it’s often better to find your pet a new home early on as then you have the comfort of knowing it’s settled before you go.
30 Days to Go
- Make a list of the immediate costs involved with your move – transportation from the airport, food, temporary accommodation etc. After you’ve worked out the rough amount get the appropriate funds changed into the currency used in your destination. You can use a currency broker for this too.
- If you have any outstanding bills either pay them or leave the money with a trusted friend or family member to pay at a later date.
- Arrange a final check up with your GP. Make sure the surgery is aware of your move.
- If you or a family member takes a particular prescription medication find out whether your new country prescribes it or an equivalent medication. If they don’t you will need to arrange a supply to take with you. You will need proof that the medications have been prescribed for customs and excise purposes.
- Pack all non-essential items.
- When packing the bags that will be travelling with you really think about what items you will need and bear in mind the climate of your destination.
- Cancel any utilities/subscriptions in your name. It’s usually a good idea to arrange for utilities to be cut off 24 hours after you are due to move out. Likewise, it’s best to arrange for utilities in your new home to be set up at least 24 hours before you’re due to arrive.
- Cancel Council/municipal tax payments.
- Cancel any direct debit payments in your name.
- If you are renting your property get the tenants names put on the utility bills and arrange online access to your mortgage account.
- Redirect your mail. (If you have yet to sort out a permanent address you can arrange to have your mail forwarded temporarily to a friend or family member.)
- Ensure that the moving company has your start and end addresses and any contact numbers for you that they may need. Reconfirm dates/times.
- You might want to think about arranging leaving parties for your children.
- Find out about extracurricular/after school programmes they would enjoy being involved in.
- Make sure they feel part of the moving process.
- Cancel pet insurance.
- Confirm transportation details – you may need to provide a carrying case/crate for your animal.
- Make copies of all documentation relating to your pets relocation and attach a copy to the case it will be transported in.
- Your pet may need tranquilisers for the journey, discuss the options with your vet.
- Make sure that the funds you converted for immediate use are stored safely in the bag you will be travelling with.
- Double and triple check that you have packed/made arrangements for all your possessions. Do a last sweep of the house.
- Make sure all the things you will need for the first few days in a new country will be travelling on the plane with you.
- Go through this checklist and make sure everything’s ticked off.
- Say your final goodbyes and make sure you’ve given your change of address to everyone who needs it.
- Take a minute to enjoy the life-changing moment as you step on the plane!