The key to any successful short trip or permanent move overseas is to be well prepared and organised. But, whether you're relocating for a short or long-term work assignment or simply retiring to the sun, the amount of administration can be staggering! To help, we have provided a checklist of five essential things that you must do before you go:
Passports & Visas
Before relocating to a different country, one of the first things to do is locate your passport or national identity card and check they are still valid! Some countries have an immigration requirement that requires passports to be valid for a minimum period beyond the date of entry to the country. Finding this information out a long way in advance can avoid delays in renewing your passport and the possibility of not making your flight!
Visas and work permits can take months to come through so need to be organised weeks, maybe months, in advance. Don't forget to include family members, children and infants. We advise that contact is made with the visa department of the relevant embassy as soon as possible to find out what is needed and the timescales involved.
A great site for personalised passport, visa and health requirements advice is the IATA Travel Centre website - http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/home.html
Anyone thinking about driving whilst abroad will need to ensure they have an up-to-date driving licence. Expat drivers should check with the driving licence authorities in their new host country about driving rules and regulations, and the exchange of licences. Residents moving within the European Community/European Economic Area (EC/EEA) should find the process relatively stress free.
The UK's Automobile Association (AA) has a useful website if you'd like to know more about which countries require International Driving Permits - http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/idp-requirements-by-country.html
There are many different rules and procedures expatriates should follow when managing finances overseas. Before leaving, check if your current bank has branches or affiliates in your new country. This will be the easiest way to deposit and withdraw funds abroad. Failing that, set up a new account with a local bank. It's also important to investigate any exchange controls that countries may have on funds being transferred which can cause serious delays.
No one likes to think too long about tax and the amount that they are paying, but it's one of life's certainties! Before you leave for the start of your new adventure make up a folder for all receipts and other documentation relevant to your financial affairs and could affect your tax. Taxation is complex and each country has different rules. Even in destinations where earnings are tax free, there may still be a requirement to pay tax to your country of origin. US citizens abroad, for example, must pay tax in both their country of residence and in the US.
Finding a specialist or local accountant is a good idea and read-up on the subject on online at sites such as www.tax-news.com
Medical Insurance and Healthcare
The stresses and strains of moving abroad can mean arranging comprehensive international private medical insurance and checking out the healthcare facilities in your new country can be daunting. To help, we've listed the main things to look out for when choosing health insurance cover:
• Your medical insurance plan should provide you with global cover, not just where you're currently living. This means you'll have access to medical help, assistance and support both in your new country and wherever you travel
• The cover should provide a 24 hour multi-lingual helpline for access to expert help advice and support at all times
• The insurance provider should have direct settlement agreements in place with approved hospitals and clinics so that you'll not have to pay anything upfront before treatment
It's also a good idea to check any reciprocal agreements for short term health cover when you first arrive. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which is valid across the EC, including Switzerland, is a good example.
Going abroad to live can be daunting, especially for first-timers. Being organised and working to a comprehensive check list can take away many of the pressures involved with the move. Our list of five essential items to be aware of should help you on your way to having a successful and fulfilling move abroad!