International Moving Checklist
By Laurel Brown
Even the easiest moves cause headaches, and an international move is never easy. You need to plan and re-check all details if you want this moving experince to be a success. You can, however, make a successful move to a new country with planning. The following checklist can help you take care of everything you need before an international move.
1. Obtain Necessary Paperwork:
All countries require visas for foreigners residing or working for an extended period of time. You and your family may also need passports, depending on what conutry you are moving to.You need to find out the specific requirements for your new country. Start your research by checking the country's embassy or consulate, but you must talk directly to an official to ensure you have the correct information. You may need to visit the embassy in person. Be ready to provide documentation such as marriage and birth certificates in order to get a visa. Make sure to get the correct visas for every member of your family – there are often several different work, student and visitor visas available.
2. Pick an International Moving Company:
International moving companies have the experience and contacts to transport personal belongings across borders. Do not wait until the last minute – you should begin your search for an international mover several months before your move. Choose the mover based on recommendations from people you trust or you can conduct your own research. Check out moving companies for basic information, then call each potential mover and speak to a customer service professional. You should ask about insurance (for breakage and loss in transit) and the company's experience in moving to your new country. If a company has rarely or never moved belongings there, you probably want a different mover.
3. Determine What to Bring and What to Store:
You probably do not need to bring all of your belongings for your international move. You can purchase bulky and impersonal items, like furniture, when you arrive and your 120-volt electrical appliances will not even work on most foreign electric systems. These items should go into storage. Do bring personal items, appropriate clothing and things that remind you of home. You should also plan to bring a few months-supply of toiletries and medications so you are covered while you find local alternatives.
4. Choose Schools for Children:
If you are moving internationally with children, you should arrange their schooling before you depart. Research both international and local schools to see which will be the best fit. Ask the U.S. embassy and expatriate contacts in your new country about recommendations for schooling. Contact potential schools to determine curriculum, facilities, class sizes and language issues.
5. Look into Shipping your Car:
Before you import your car, you need to decide if shipping makes sense. Are there special duties or tariffs on car imports? Is your driver's license valid? What would be the cost to rent or lease a car after arrival? Talk to your international mover and the country's embassy for advice and planning for shipping your car.
6. Pack Items for Shipping and to Carry:
Separate your belongings carefully. You will want to ship most things, but keep in mind that international shipping is slow. Expect to wait weeks or even months for all items to arrive. For that reason, you should pack separately anything you will need for the short term. Items like important documents, seasonal clothing, medications and favorite children's toys need to travel with you.
7. Get Contact Information:
People will need to contact you both before and after your move. Make sure you have a domestic phone number working until the last moment before you depart. If possible, get a cell phone that works both at home and in your new country. Otherwise, plan to obtain a new phone as soon as possible. As a back-up plan, have an e-mail account that you can access worldwide. Not only will this help keep in touch with friends and family back home, but it will allow your international moving company to stay in touch.
Laurel Brown is the author of numerous articles on health, diversity education, history, and astronomy. She has a background in international and outreach education, editing, and observational astronomy. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the history of science.