Moving Abroad Checklist for Expats
Whether you’re moving to a new country for work, retirement, or simply for the adventure, there’s a lot to do and plan before you set off. Finding a new home in a different country can be a lengthy process of arranging visas, managing finances, applying for documents, and arranging house viewings, so it’s important not to leave it until the last minute. To help with the process, we’ve put together this essential moving abroad checklist of everything you need to do before the big move. Let’s get started.
Passport and Visa
One of the first and most essential things to sort before the big move is your visa and passport. First, make sure that your passport is up to date. Adult passports typically need renewing every 9-10 years. If your passport is due for renewal, make sure you’ve sorted this well in advance of moving.
You also need to apply for the right visa. Each country has its own visa requirements with different rules and pathways however the most common visa types are:
- Temporary visa
- Student visa
- Working visa
- Family visa
Visa application processes can take as long as six months to complete, so it’s essential to do your research and send off your application well in advance. We would recommend sorting your visa at least 9 months before the move. Make sure that you are applying for the right type of visa whether that’s work, tourist, or otherwise.
There are a few important things to check for in your visa. First, check how long your visa will last before it needs renewing and whether your visa will lead to permanent residency or citizenship. Also, check the healthcare, maternity leave, and unemployment benefits covered under your visa. If you’re going to be working in the country that you’re moving to, check whether there are any limits on how many hours you’re eligible to work. The work visa you need will differ depending on whether you’re employed full time by a company or are working as a digital nomad or remote worker.
If you’re working abroad, chances are your new company will arrange your work permit or working visa for you however, it’s worth double-checking to make sure. If this is something you need to obtain yourself, your company will be able to advise where and how to go about this.
Other Important Documents
There’s a lot of personal documentation that you need when moving overseas to prove your identity when buying or renting property, getting a job, and registering for public healthcare.
The essential documents you will usually need when moving overseas are:
✔ Birth certificates
✔ Medical records
✔ Dental records
✔ Academic records
✔ National Insurance Number
✔ Biometrics card
✔ Driving licence
✔ Travel insurance paperwork
✔ Marriage certificates
✔ Social security cards
Make sure to make copies of all your important documents too, including your visa and passport, just in case they get misplaced in the move.
International health insurance provides long-term health coverage for those who are living or working abroad for long periods of time, allowing you to gain access to the best possible healthcare wherever you are in the world. In the UK, there are two types of global healthcare cover that you can apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC) and a UK European Health Insurance Card (UK EHIC) if you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. If you’re moving overseas for a new job, your employer might take care of your health insurance requirements so it’s worth checking this before sorting your own.
If you’re taking any prescription medication, make sure to go to your pharmacy to stock up before moving. Remember, it might take a few weeks before you’re registered to a new doctor overseas, so it’s better to sort medication before you leave your home country. Also, remember that many medications that we use every day are illegal in other countries, so check the guidelines of your destination country to ensure the medication you need is allowed.
Get copies of your medical records
Many countries including Spain and the Philippines require medical checks or health certificates as a part of their visa application process. When getting the medical certificate for your visa, request a copy of your medical records including any scans, dental records, immunization records, and prescriptions.
Before moving, it’s important to check whether there are any vaccinations that are required in your new country. If so, you need to book an appointment with your GP to get vaccinated before your international move. You might also need to provide vaccination records to obtain your visa.
Book a doctor’s appointment
It’s a good idea to have a final doctor’s appointment before moving. Remember, it might take a few weeks before you can see a doctor in a new country. As well as having a check-up, at this appointment you can request any prescriptions you might need and get copies of your medical records.
Finances and Banking
Research the cost of living
Make sure you spend some time researching the cost of living in your destination country to help you create a realistic budget. Find out the average food costs, renting prices, mortgage costs, and utility expenses.
If you are retiring abroad then your pension is going to be one of the most important things to organise before your move. If you have pensions other than a State Pension, request a Pension Health Check. As an expat, you may have unique opportunities available to you and a pension advisor will be able to discuss your options and help put a plan in place.
Create a bank account you can use abroad
To simplify your relocation, you should set up an account that you can use abroad. This will make it much simpler whether you’re making large purchases such as a house, paying bills, and everyday shopping. Setting up a bank account abroad isn’t as difficult as it might sound, and some banks even allow you to open an account online. Do some research to find which banks are best in your new country and which offer accounts that are expat-friendly.
Remember to inform your current bank of your relocation so that they don’t prevent you from using your debit and credit cards after moving. Also, check whether your bank cards have a foreign processing fee since this can quickly add up and become expensive.
Review tax obligations
It’s important before you relocate to make sure that you meet the tax obligations of the new country that you’re moving to. If you’re unsure of the tax obligations, make an appointment with your tax professional to make sure you’re on top of everything. In the UK, you will need to notify HMRC of your move to ensure you don’t have to pay additional taxes. You will have to fill in a P85 form from Revenue and Customs to notify the tax authorities that you are leaving the country to ensure that you’ll be taxed appropriately in each jurisdiction.
Sending Money Overseas
When relocating abroad, it’s likely you’ll need to make international bank transfers between your bank account in your home country and your new bank account overseas. Whether you’re paying for your new home or sending money overseas to pay bills, getting a good exchange rate can be challenging in the fluctuating exchange market. Making international bank transfers through your local bank or post office will not guarantee the best exchange rate and your transfer will be subject to expensive fees. A currency specialist such as Halo Financial can use techniques to secure the best exchange rate as well as provide expert guidance on the best time to make your international transfers.
Moving and Logistics
Book Your Flight
Flights can be pricey, so you should book your ticket as soon as you’ve got a date set for the move.
Set up mail forwarding
Make sure to set up mail forwarding before you move too. You can set up mail redirection through Royal Mail. Outside of the postal service, it’s also a good idea to update any important parties about your new address too, such as your bank and anywhere else that sends you sensitive information.
Remember to cancel any subscriptions or services that you don’t need or won’t use whilst you’re away. This includes insurance policies, mobile phone contracts, newspaper subscriptions, and any streaming services such as Netflix.
Let utility companies know you’re leaving
Let your utility providers including gas, electric, and water providers, know that you’re moving. If you’re planning to rent out the property you’re leaving behind, make sure to inform your insurance company of this, since your existing insurance policy may not cover this. If you’re still paying a mortgage on the property, you should also let your mortgage provider know about your move.
If you’re relocating pets to a foreign country, then there are a few things you’ll need to do in advance including getting a pet passport. You’ll also need to check the requirements of your destination country. They might require your pet to quarantine before the move and to have certain injections too.
Arranging your household movers is one of the most important items on your moving overseas checklist. It can take some time to sort out, so we recommend starting this process well in advance of your move. Start researching international moving companies, requesting quotes, and planning at least two months in advance of your moving date.
Remember to bring adapters
Remember that any electronic devices that you’re taking with you might require adapters to work abroad so make sure to pack enough for all your appliances and electronic items.
Book Temporary Housing If Needed
There may be some time between you arriving in your new country before you can move into your new home or until your belongings arrive. If this is the case, make sure to arrange some short-term housing whether that’s a hotel, Airbnb, or rented accommodation until your home is ready.
If you have younger children or any family members who attend school, you will want to spend some time researching the schools in your nearby area to ensure you’re happy with the quality of education they offer. You’ll also need to check your children’s eligibility to attend the local schools, including both the language requirements and qualifications they require for each year group. Depending on your work schedule, you may also want to consider finding an au pair to help with childcare.
If you’re intending to drive in your new country of residence, then you will need to make sure that you understand the local driving laws and regulations and that you meet the driver’s licence requirements. If you are moving outside of Europe, you will need to request an international driving permit from your local post office. International driving permits are recognised internationally and will allow you to drive a vehicle in another country if you have a valid UK driving licence.
Packing a Bag for Moving Day
Before moving day, you’ll need a pack a bag for travelling overseas with all the essentials for your journey. Write out a packing list of the things you want to bring including:
✔ Passport and travel documents
✔ Tickets for airline, boat, train, or bus
✔ Boarding pass
✔ Copy of itinerary
✔ Map and directions
✔ Foreign currency
✔ Daily medications
✔ Carry-on bag
✔ Mobile phone
✔ Portable charger
✔ Blanket or extra jumper
✔ Books and other entertainment
Start networking in the local area
Moving can be lonely and it’s always helpful to have friends nearby for advice and company. Once you’ve settled into your home, try, and meet your neighbours or join a local club like a book group, gym, or language class. You could also look on social media platforms such as Facebook for online expat groups to start networking with like-minded people.
Sign up for a language course
Moving abroad often means encountering new language barriers. You might have started learning the language before your move but if you still have more to learn, consider signing up for a course at a local language school or college. Not only will this help you assimilate into the local community but is also a great way to make new friends.
Buy and activate a new mobile phone
Make sure to buy and active a new mobile phone. Arranging a phone contract in your new country will be much cheaper than using your old phone. Consider getting a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone number for making calls back to your home country. Using VoIP allows you to have a phone number in the area code of your choice, which makes calling family and friends from home easier and cheaper.
Register to a new doctor
As soon as you can, register to a doctor new your new home. Also, find out where the nearest pharmacy and hospital are so that you’re prepared in the event of an emergency.
Making international payments
If you’re only living abroad temporarily or are planning to leave a bank account open in your home country, then you should find a reliable currency specialist for making international payments between bank accounts. Halo Financial provide quick and easy international transfers at competitive exchange rates. Their friendly currency specialists will also provide bespoke advice on timing your international transfers so that you can achieve more in the exchange market. Register online today to get a free quote.