Moving Abroad Checklist: 18 Things to Know
Moving abroad is one of the most wonderful, exciting, nerve-wracking experiences that you’ll have. And it’s worth every second! It’s no wonder over five million Brits are living abroad – that’s about one tenth of the entire British population.
Despite all this excitement, there’s no denying it – moving abroad can be stressful. That’s why we’ve created a checklist to tame the intimidation that might be looming. This checklist will cover the more obvious tips for moving abroad, like sorting documents and visas, as well as the less obvious, like exploring expat groups. Once we’re done, you’ll be ready and raring to go.
If you’d like to find out how much your move will cost, you can fill in our short form. Once you’ve finished filling in your details, our professional suppliers will be in touch with a free quote.
And if you're starting to feel overwhelmed, take a breath and download our handy moving abroad checklist to make sure you've got everything covered.
1. Get your documents together
Once you've figured out where your new adventure will be, it’s time to get organised. Each country requires different documents before it lets you cross its borders, but we’ve listed the basics below:
- Passport (spoiler alert – you’re going to need this)
- Visa (if you’re moving for work, your employer might be able to help you with this)
- Birth certificate
- National Insurance Number
- Biometrics card
- Medical records
- Driving licence
- Qualifications for job/work permit
- Social security cards
Once you’ve sorted these documents, you can never have enough copies. You should also keep them with you throughout the big move – if you put them in the cargo with your other belongings, there’s a chance they could get damaged.
2. Sort out your visa
If you’re one of the lucky ones, your work will be able to sort a visa out for you. If not, start familiarising yourself with the different visa options for your chosen country, and work out which apply to you. Each country’s list of visas vary, but there are some that most countries have in common:
- Temporary visa
- Student visa
- Working visa
- Family visa
3. Ship your things out there
Packing your whole life into a few boxes can be daunting, but it actually isn’t as hard as it seems. To help you, we’ve calculated the average international shipping rates for some of our most popular journeys. These rates are sourced from WorldFreightRates.com, and are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20ft container of used furniture worth £40,000 – the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house (according to Admiral Insurance).
|UK, London||US, New York||£1215.46 - £1343.41|
|UK, London||CAN, Vancouver||£1267.63 - £1401.06|
|UK, London||AUS, Melbourne||£888.49 - £982.01|
Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only.
As you can see, each destination will vary in price. Once you’ve decided on where you’d like to move to, fill in our short form to get a free quote from our professional suppliers.
4. Decide on a location
Sussing out where you want to live will determine which documents and vaccinations you’ll need. It’ll also help figure out whether you need to pack heaps of sun cream, or your trusty winter coat! Check out our list of things to consider when searching for your new home:
- City or countryside – Do you see yourself somewhere rural or built up?
- Affordability – Can you afford your desired home? Cities are more expensive, whereas less built up areas aren’t likely to break the bank.
- Language barrier – Are you comfortable picking up a language, or would you rather surround yourself with English-speaking people?
- Safety – Check out the safety of your area before you move. Bigger cities are likely to have higher crime rates, and you should check out the transport links for any night time adventures.
- Politics – You might not be comfortable living around people with very different political beliefs.
- Strong cultural differences – Some countries will have cultural values outside of your norm. This can be as simple as food and lifestyle, or more extreme values like keeping yourself covered up.
Want to follow the trend? Check out the map below to see where most British expats have relocated to across the world. Hover over the dots to see how many expats have relocated, or if you have a specific place in mind, you can use the search bar:
5. See whether you need any vaccines
As you might have guessed, vaccines won’t be necessary for all countries, so you might be able to skip this one. However, if you’re planning on an exotic getaway, call your GP to get the relevant vaccinations.
6. Sort out your taxes
First things first – in order to either live or work abroad full-time, you need to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If you don’t, you can look forward to a hefty tax bill from both the UK and your new home. To do this, you must fill in form P85 and send it to HMRC.
7. Organise your pension
Thinking of retiring abroad? Make sure to look up what will happen to your pension in your home country, if you can take out your pension while abroad, and whether there are any fees or restrictions.
For example, the UK currently pays retiring Brits their pension overseas – but only retired immigrants in the EEA or Switzerland will receive an annual increase.
8. Figure out whether you should buy or rent
When moving abroad, most people opt for buying property rather than renting. However, a lot of first-time movers won't have visited their new location before. In this case, play it safe and rent for at least the first six months – just in case.
9. Plan how to move your pet
Can’t bring yourself to part with your pet? Good job you don’t have to. Moving your pets abroad doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think – in fact, it can be sorted in a few simple steps:
- Double check whether you can bring your companion abroad
- Book an appointment with the vet
- Contact airlines
- Find a courier
Select the size of your move to get free quotes
10. Learn how to make the move child-friendly
Despite the excitement of moving abroad, it’s common for children to be a little nervous. To make it less daunting, there are a few things that you should get cleared up to make moving abroad with children easier:
- Schools – Take a look at any bilingual or international schools in the area.
- Location – Research the area and consider whether there are enough facilities to help your child, such as schools, child expat groups, museums, parks etc.
- Language – If you’re moving to a non-English speaking country, consider schooling to pick up the language, apps, and other forms of support for your child.
11. Insure almost everything
During this rollercoaster adventure, it’s good to have a little peace of mind – something that insurance can provide. There are several things you should prioritise on your insurance list before getting down to the smaller details:
- Medical insurance
- Health insurance
- Life insurance
- Travel insurance
- Home insurance
- Removals insurance
If you need any further guidance for insurance on specific places, check out our insurance page.
12. Talk to your GP
Before you head off on your travels, make sure to visit your GP. Once notified, your GP can remove you and your family from the NHS register.
More importantly, if you have any ongoing prescriptions, take this opportunity to stock up before the move. You should also find out if there are any issues with sourcing your prescription in your new country.
13. Apply for an international driver’s licence
If you want to drive abroad, you’ll need to check whether you need to apply for a new driver's licence.
You might need an international driver’s licence to drive abroad, but this will depend on where you are moving to.
The easiest way to check this is by visiting the government’s transportation site. You can also see how much it would cost to get a driver’s licence from that country, and what sort of exams are involved.
14. Organise your financials
Finance is a finicky thing, but it all needs sorting before you pack your bags. Take a look at the main aspects of finance you need to organise before you leave the country:
- Bank accounts – If you don’t have any assets in the UK, such as property, it’s best for you to close your UK bank account. Before you get settled into your new home, you should also set up an international account. Many UK banks will offer these, so it won't be a stressful process.
- Pensions – You can either leave your pension in the UK, or transfer it to an approved arrangement in your new country of residence. But before you move, you must inform your current pension holder.
- Individual Savings Account (ISA) – You can keep your ISA open and still get UK tax relief on money and investments held in it. However, you cannot put money into it after the tax year following your move.
- Expat taxes – Whether you have to pay expat taxes will depend on your own personal circumstances. You should test whether you’re liable for tax by completing the Statuary Residence Test.
15. Figure out what your budget is
When it comes to moving abroad, the little things mount up. Small expenses, such as buying tickets to the airport, will all pile up on top of bigger costs, like shipping. But if you budget your costs wisely, you’ll have nothing to worry about. There is a multitude of online calculators that can give you a helping hand with budgeting.
16. Work out whether you need a job
If you’re not part of the 58% of expats moving abroad for work, applying for jobs is probably pretty high on your list. Depending on the type of visa you have, it may be mandatory to have this organised before you leave. For example, if you move to Australia with a holiday visa, you must still do three months of regional work, such as farming.
17. Figure out if you can still vote
In a world where it feels like Brexit is all we hear about, you might want to have your say in what happens to your home country. You can register as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after leaving the UK, as long as you’re a British or Irish citizen. To do this, you must have registered to vote in the UK within the previous 15 years.
18. Learn about local expat groups
This is something that a lot of people overlook. Once you’ve settled into your new home, go and get stuck in with local sports clubs, online expat groups/apps, and any social groups in the area. It can make such a difference to your expat experience!
Feeling a bit more clued-up on moving abroad? Once you’ve got to grips with this checklist, the real excitement kicks in – and you won’t regret your decision!
If you need any guidance, advice, or free quotes on shipping your belongings, get in touch with our professionals by filling out your details on our short form. Time to get started on the big move!