Moving to a new country? Whether you’re off to a neighbouring country or jetting away to the other side of the world, here is a moving abroad checklist and a printable checklist, too.
I’ve moved abroad about ten times (I’ve stopped counting). While every move is a little different, here is a general moving abroad checklist to support your relocation.
Moving abroad checklist
- Sort banking. Organise internet banking and ensure you have the necessary equipment to go with it, for example a working digipass. If possible pay off any debts in your current country. Consider closing the account if you will no longer need it. Alternatively you may prefer to issue power of attorney to a trusted friend or family member. Call your bank to ensure you’ll have access to funds when you arrive in your new country.
- Check vaccines. Schedule any routine and additional vaccinations required. Request records of all vaccinations from your healthcare provider. Print any digital records and store a copy safe on your cloud / Google Drive.
- Gather important documentation. Locate or request any important documentation, for example:
- international and local driving license
- educational certificate
- police check
- birth / adoption certificate
- baptism / religious certificate
- marriage certificate / divorce papers
- proof of last address, for example a bank statement
- financial records
- health records
- identity card
- Notify government agencies. For example, when leaving some countries you may need to register your departure and hand in your ID / have it stamped. Retain your ID card if you can, you may need it for paperwork in your new country.
- Organise apostilles and translations. Organise official translations and apostilles of any important documentation. Apostilles need to be arranged in the country the document was issued. (An apostille is an official certificate which states that the corresponding document is official and true, and is issued in countries which accept the apostille stamp).
- Check your passport validity. Most countries advise a six month window from expiration, however I err on the side of caution and prefer one year. Beware that for children, passports generally expire within five years, so you may have less wiggle room.
- Minimise your belongings. Donate, sell and throw away as much stuff as possible. Some people prefer to work room by room, others by article type. Start sorting early, and think hard how much someone less fortunate might benefit from your belongings. I like to schedule a couple of days and go fast so I don’t fall into the hoarding trap. Don’t forget the attic, basement, garage, at the back of the closet… Remember that electronic items with a different voltage to the local system may not work without a bulky transponder. When selling I now emphasise that it is first come, first serve, (no option to reserve) and I make a clear time slot for collection. This avoids time wasters and miscommunications.
- Photograph / copy important documents. Some people prefer copies of important documents such as flight details, insurance policies and birth certificates. I prefer to take photos and store them in my Google Drive, with clear labels.
- Set up postal forwarding. Get your post forwarded to your new temporary address, to a trusted local friend / family member or to your relocation company. You may need to allow many weeks for this to be set up, so get on the case as soon as you have a rough idea of your move date.
- Keep on top of COVID regulations. I really hope we’re out of the worst of the pandemic, but the rules are still shifting. Print off the local regulations and highlight any actions you’ll need to take. For example, this might include filling out a local health form, taking a PCR test within a specific time frame or uploading documents to a state website.
- Book a shipping company or luggage allowance. Get a minimum of three shipping quotes, and make it clear you’re shopping around for the best deal. Gather feedback online on these companies – sometimes the cheapest option doesn’t work out the cheapest in the long term. Budget for the cost of insurance and VAT on top of the fee. The shipping company should come to your home to draw up an estimate. Here the insurance fee may be more or less depending on the level of cover you require, and it may increase if the terms of your move change (for example if you add on furniture, or need to store upon arrival in the country). If you won’t need a shipping company, budget for the extra weight allowance on your flight and any corresponding travel. You might also want to consider a Trunk.
- Consider professional support. Where necessary, consider contracting an immigration specialist, relocation consultant and / or financial advisor. While gathering feedback and doing research online and through friends is great, it is no substitute for expert professional help. For visa struggles or tax queries, I highly recommend working with a professional consultant.
- Don’t forget your pet. If your family includes a pet, research the immunisation, quarantine and travel restrictions. Check the local importation laws – you may need to show a pet passport or proof of vaccinations with apostille and translations. You may like to contract a pet relocation agency to help with the paperwork and transport of your pet. Also, try to get your pet used to travelling in their travel carrier, so that the travel experience won’t be too daunting for them. Check size restrictions of the carriers permitted on the flight / journey beforehand.
- Unlock your phone. Some phones are restated for use in the country they were purchased, however they can be unlocked. In this way, you will then be free to use your handset with a new local SIM in your new country. Alternatively you might prefer to purchase a cheap additional phone with a new SIM.
Printable Moving Abroad checklist
Moving abroad checklist with timeline
- Research your new country. Check local laws, tax regulations, visa rules, local customs, housing options, schools, healthcare and if relevant pet quarantine / vaccination regulations. Ask friends and work contacts. Research online and through social media.
- Gather quotes from international moving companies. You may also consider a Trunk.
- If budget allows, schedule a short reconnaissance trip to your new country.
- Book routine and other additional vaccinations.
- Donate, sell and throw away any goods you won’t need in your new country.
- If you own a pet, get them used to a carrier (of a size accepted by the airline). Book pet vaccinations.
- Check the notice period for your current property lease and when appropriate provide notice you will be leaving.
- Confirm your international moving company. Verify the level of insurance you would like.
- Gather important paperwork, for example health records and education certificates. You may need to request apostilles for important documents, for example marriage certificates. Take photos and store to a password protected cloud.
- Order any prescribed medication. Keep a record of the doctor’s prescription. Check your medication complies with local laws.
- Book travel including flights and transfers.
- Book your initial, short term accommodation, for example Airbnb.
- Cancel any subscriptions, for example gym, newspapers and magazines.
- Organise any appropriate medical check ups (eye, dental, general health) and other appointments, e.g. hairdressers.
- Set up mail forwarding.
- Purchase any essentials, for example a country power adapter.
- If you like, organise a farewell party, dinner or drinks for friends and family.
- Book a hotel or apartment stay for the duration of your home move. The moving company will need from one day to a full week, depending on how many goods you own.
- Notify appropriate government agencies about your departure – for example your local embassy and state department.
- Exchange some local currency for taxis, refreshments and any unforeseen events in your new country.
- Call your credit card company about your move abroad so that purchases in your new country will be authorized.
- Confirm your flight and other travel arrangements. Download their app to stay abreast of transport changes. Make any special requests, for example dietary allergies or disability assistance.
- Pack your suitcases for the first few months in your new country. Be sure to include your important documents, and phone and power adapters. Keep these items in a separate room, or use colour coded stickers to identify these items from the other goods to be moved.
- Confirm appointments with the international moving company.
Got a question? Leave me a comment below.