Moving abroad is stressful enough at the best of times, and this is certainly closer to the worst of times.

COVID-19 has spread to every corner of the world, infecting more than 17 million people and killing 660,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

But despite these horrifying figures, life goes on. Fortunately, many countries have been able to control the virus, to the extent that they’ve now reopened their borders.

It’s possible to complete your dream move at the moment – but both legally and medically speaking, you must take precautions.

Our 7 top tips on moving abroad right now:

Check whether it’s safe to move
Make sure your move is legal
Follow government guidelines to the letter
Get your insurance sorted early
Stay in touch with the people making your new life a reality
Don’t move if you’re sick
Follow the rules while travelling

woman with mask stands in airport

You can go abroad at the moment, but you should take precautions

Check whether it’s safe to move

The safety of you and your family is the first priority, so your first step is making sure your chosen destination has been able to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to manageable levels.

Check the government’s list of countries that are “no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British people travelling abroad” to confirm your new home is on the list.

Then look at the data surrounding the country you’re moving to, and see what experts and local and national authorities are advising.

There will always be some danger associated with moving at the moment. The question is whether the danger level is low enough for you to feel comfortable taking the risk.

Hopefully, your desired destination is in one of the safest countries to move to right now – but that’s not a given.

For instance, the US is one of the most popular countries for British expats, but has suffered terribly from the pandemic. It has failed to get the virus under control, leading the UK government to advise against travelling there in all but essential circumstances.

Naturally, you should follow this advice.

Make sure your move is legal

Governments all over the world are continually changing their restrictions for people from other countries, as they’re forced to adapt to new developments in the spread of COVID-19.

Several nations that have dealt relatively well with the virus, including Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand, won’t allow UK nationals in at the moment.

Whether or not you’ve checked this previously, it’s best to check again, as governments often change these regulations without notice.

The last thing you want is to be turned away at the border, and have to fly thousands of miles back to a place that isn’t home anymore.

Follow government guidelines to the letter

It would also be a shame if you were denied entry because you didn’t have a negative COVID-19 test or medical certificate with you.

Consult the official rules for getting past the border authorities, and follow them closely.

Once you’re in, you’ll want to enjoy your new country as much as possible, so don’t taint your exciting move by getting fined or socially ostracised for flaunting hygiene measures.

In Taiwan, for instance, you can be forced to pay as much as NT$1 million (£26,300) for breaking quarantine rules – and people have been.

You’ll want to settle in as quickly as possible and make new connections, which might not be possible if everyone sees you as the irresponsible oaf who won’t wear a mask.

And of course, it’ll help you to avoid contracting and spreading a deadly virus.

Get your insurance sorted early

Pointing out that we live in unpredictable times is becoming clichéd at this point, but we really do. The only sensible response is to guard against the most common catastrophes.

You have no control over sudden spikes in transmission that could affect everything from your journey and ability to enter your new country to your health – but you can ensure that if the worst happens, you won’t be destroyed financially.

Make it a priority to get travel insurance, health insurance, removals insurance, and – if it applies to you – renters’ insurance.

Rarely has the phrase “better safe than sorry” applied more urgently.

Stay in touch with the people making your new life a reality 

In the same vein, keep in constant contact with everyone who’s enabling you to smoothly move into your new existence as a happy expat.

This includes the companies that are moving you and your belongings, as well as your new boss (assuming that applies to you) and accommodation.

Even if disaster doesn’t strike, circumstances may suddenly shift, forcing you to quickly react and alter your plans.

Maybe you’ll have to work remotely for the first few weeks or months, maybe your airline is about to go under, or maybe the area where you were planning on renting a flat will abruptly be forced into lockdown.

There’s no telling what will happen, but if you’re vigilant, you can keep up-to-date with the latest developments and respond appropriately.

Don’t move if you’re sick

It sounds obvious, but if you’ve exhibited COVID-19 symptoms in the past seven days, you should get a test and delay your move.

If you still try to go through with travelling, your airline may refuse to let you on the plane, and even if you make it on board, you may be refused entry on the other side.

If either of these events occur, there’s a strong chance you won’t be successful in convincing your insurance company to compensate you for the money you’ve lost.

It’ll also be embarrassing, stressful, and unnecessarily dangerous. Everyone you see on your journey will have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, all because of you. It’s not worth it.

Follow the rules while travelling

If you’re well enough to fly, you should follow this set of government-approved guidelines:

  • Avoid the busiest times and routes (contact your airport for more information)
  • Stay two metres from other people, where possible
  • Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds
  • Sanitise your hands where it’s not possible to wash them
  • Use online check-in services to avoid face-to-face interactions at the airport
  • Check your baggage into the hold
  • Keep hand luggage to a minimum – laptops, power banks, and other essential and valuable items like medicines, credit cards, and keys should go in there, but little else
  • Try to remain seated around the airport and on your plane, as much as possible
  • Wear a mask on the plane and in shops, and consider wearing one in the rest of the airport too
  • Pay with a contactless card
  • Only remove your mask in the plane to talk to someone who relies on lip reading, take medication, eat and drink, or avoid harm

Summary

Moving abroad is currently likely to be a much more stressful experience than it would usually be.

However, it’s still completely possible for you to move – and if you’re prepared, you should be able to deal with anything you come up against.

If you stick to the tips we’ve outlined, your risk of catching COVID-19 shouldn’t be significantly higher than it is in your daily life.

But there’s nothing anyone can do to completely eliminate the risk at the moment – and that’s why ultimately, the decision of whether or not to move is a purely personal one.

 

Read this next: The Best Countries to Move to in 2021: Where to Go Once the Coronavirus Crisis is Over