So you?re moving overseas? You sure? OK, then here?s the Guardian Abroad checklist for relocation, relocation, relocation. Although much of the information is UK-specific, we?ve tried, where possible, to make the guidelines applicable globally. All that should be left for you to think about is your travelling outfit.
Move Minus 12 Months
- Book a language course. You could always try talking very loudly and slowly, but it?s so much nicer to be able to communicate with the locals in their own lingo.
- Find out as much as you can about your future home. Contact your destination country?s embassy, get in touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advice and buy a guide book.
- Don?t start trawling through dusty drawers three days before departure. Now?s the time to dig out your passports and make sure they?ll still be valid by the time of your departure (and return).
- Find out about and apply for necessary permits or visas.
- Consult your doctor about the move and schedule any necessary inoculations. Contact the Department of Health for further information or visit www.dh.gov.uk.
- Find out about reciprocal healthcare in your destination country. For EU citizens the European Health Card has replaced the E111 for short stays. If you are not covered, arrange medical insurance.
- If you plan on taking pets with you, research pet entry requirements, especially quarantine regulations. Many countries participate in the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which could mean your furry friends avoid long periods in quarantine. Call Defra?s Pet Travel Scheme helpline for further information: 0 and talk to your vet about travel arrangements for your pet.
- Will you need to exchange your driving licence? Apply for an international Drivers Permit. Contact the RAC or AA ? www.rac.co.uk or www.theaa.com ? or phone .
- Think about what you want to do with your current home. If you are a homeowner and plan to rent your home out while away, find a reputable property manager. If you are a tenant, review the terms of your contract and, if applicable, give notice that you will be exercising your break clause.
- Research housing in your host country.
- If you have children, consider the options for education abroad. Write to schools in your soon-to-be host country to request information and notify their current school of your departure. This will allow them to reschedule examinations if necessary and prepare results and reports for you to take along to the new school.
- If you have a spouse or partner who will have to give up their career to accompany you, research employment opportunities and check whether current qualifications will be recognised in your new country to avoid unnecessary thumb-twiddling and despair on arrival.
Move Minus Six Months
- Make sure that you are debt-free when it comes to tax in your home country. Let your tax authority know that you are moving and find out about tax laws in your future home country.
- Find out about social security rules for the destination country.
- Check which authorities you have to register with when you arrive.
- Check what happens to your pension while abroad. If you are retired, arrange for your pension to be paid to you there.
- If you own a car, decide what you want to do with it. If you want to take it with you, look into insurance abroad and arrange to have it transported. If not, cancel your insurance and request an insurance claim record.
- Obtain estimates for shipping your belongings and look into the terms of the contract, including how to make claims if any damage or loss occurs during transit.
Move Minus Three Months
- Contact your bank and request a banking reference. If your shouts of ?trust me, I?m a foreigner? in your host country seem to be falling on deaf ears, this document may help you avoid the seeming impossibility many expats face of trying to open a local bank account.
- Try to organise accommodation in your destination country before you leave. If nothing else, have a hotel booked. If you have rental accommodation arranged, be prepared to have to pay a deposit of up to three months? rent.
- Get a copy of your prescriptions and ask your doctor for the names of any medication in their generic terms. Make sure that any medication you require is legal in your host country.
- Book your removals date, and check what customs and excise documentation will be needed to get your belongings through.
- Arrange ways to handle your post while abroad.
- Prepare a power of attorney for your spouse and/or a trusted relative.
- Cancel subscriptions for magazines and newspapers or change them to your new address.
- Decide what to do about your mobile phone. If you are taking your current phone with you, contact your network provider about roaming charges.
- Don?t fall foul of the law and social customs in your new country. Before you go, make sure you know where you stand on issues such as dress codes and drinking.
- This is the time to start creating a network in your new home. Start with your contacts at home and work and contact expat societies.
- Remove your name from the electoral roll and register to vote from overseas.
- Make a will and find out whether it will be valid in your destination country, or whether you will need to make another one that covers you there.
Move Minus One Month
- Arrange travel insurance.
- Copy important documents ? passport, qualifications (bearing the original stamp and signature of the school or university), insurance papers and ticket details, and leave them with a relative. Have the originals to carry with you in your hand luggage when travelling.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary and a way of contacting you with a relative.
- Notify friends, family, associates and companies of your change of address. Include banks, your doctor, dentist, tax office, and insurance companies.
- Switch off. Arrange disconnection of your utilities.
- Obtain a supply of local currency to cover snacks, tips and taxi fares when you first arrive.
- Give away goldfish and houseplants.
- Register with your consulate in your new country.
- Register with your local tax authorities.
- Open a bank account in your destination country and transfer enough money into it to keep you going for three months.
Readers' tipsClick here for Christine Reid's tips on moving home
Removals companiesClick here for our growing list of highly recommended removals companies.