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Ultimate Checklist for Moving Overseas

Relocating overseas is a stressful and complex event. The process of moving overseas starts long before moving day so making a plan in advance will help to ensure you are well-prepared. Use our handy checklist to help you to prioritize and stay organized for your move overseas.

3-6 months before your move overseas

  • Research the cost of living. Get an idea on how much your expenses will be when you move overseas and budget accordingly. You may find costs are more expensive for necessities such as food and utilities. Being aware and considering the impact of this in advance will help you to avoid any nasty surprises when you arrive at your destination.
  • Search for a property or temporary housing. Start looking at where you want to live by signing up with a few local agents so they can let you know what is available. Renting or securing temporary housing could also be a good option if you are unsure of where exactly you would want to live. 
  • Arrange new schools for your children. If you are moving overseas with children, start searching for schools in your destination area. Contact schools for entry requirements and information to help you determine which school will suit your children. Some schools may have limited spaces so you may want to get on a waitlist as soon as possible. Some schools may also allow you to register before you arrive in the country.
  • Review vehicle and pet import regulations. Different countries will have different regulations for importing vehicles and pets. Ensure you understand the regulations, process and documents required for moving your vehicle and pet overseas to your destination country.
  • Obtain visa and permits. Begin the process of obtaining a visa or work permit as soon as you know you are moving overseas. If you are moving for work, check with your employer to see if they are going to arrange this for you.
  • Determine your desired moving date. Ensure you allow enough time to prepare for your move overseas, and if possible, choose a date that avoids peak periods (e.g., immediately before or after legal holidays). In most cases, it generally takes between 2-3 months from the time you select your mover to your actual moving day. However, you may require more time if you need to arrange for pet import and time to sell your home.
  • Contact National Van Lines to get a free estimate on your international move.

2-3 months before your move overseas

  • Determine which household goods can be shipped to your destination country. Get a copy of the latest custom regulations from your nearest consulate office of your destination country.
  • Survey your household goods. Create an inventory of all the household items you plan to move, store, give away or sell (including size, value and estimated weight).
  • Make personal travel arrangements. Book flight tickets and hotel reservations for your destination country. It can also be useful to download a map of your destination area from Google Maps so that you can access the map when you don’t have internet access upon arriving at your destination.
  • Make travel arrangements for your pet. Your National Van Lines move coordinator can offer referrals for international pet relocation companies. It is also a good time to check you are completing all the required procedures for relocating your pet overseas, such as pet health checks, vaccinations, and securing import permits. If you are unsure of where to start, check out our tips for moving pets overseas.
  • Gather important family records. For example, passports, driver’s license, medical and dental records, school records, birth certificates, marriage certificate, wills and other legal documents. Ensure your passports will still be valid for the moving date, and if expired, renew the passports.
  • Put your home on the market. Contact a realtor for advice and help to rent out or sell your property.
  • Notify key contacts about your change of address. Contact your local post office to change your address and arrange for mail forwarding. Consider using a family member’s address as most postal services will not forward internationally. Prepare change of address cards for friends and relatives. Let other important contacts know about your change of address such as social security administration, credit card companies, banks and insurance companies.
  • Set a packing date with your National Van Lines move coordinator.

1 month before your move overseas

  • Fill prescription medicine. Ensure you have enough prescription medicine to cover you and your family until you are able to obtain the same prescription in your new home country.
  • Secure moving insurance for your move. Most moving insurance providers will require you to have insurance in place before the movers arrive. Basic coverage is included in National Van Lines’ international moving services; however, we also offer an Extended Protection Program for extra coverage.
  • Schedule cancelation of utilities and home services for the day after your move. This may include electric, gas, water, telephone, internet, garbage/recycling collection, and lawn/pool services.
  • Cancel clubs and gym memberships. Most places require 30 days’ notice.
  • Research and organize utilities for your new home. If possible, schedule connections for internet, water, electric, gas and other utilities at your new home.
  • Contact the bank or financial adviser. Find out if your bank provides international banking service, and get advice about banking and currency exchange in your new destination.

1-2 weeks before your move overseas

  • Arrange for childcare and pet sitter for moving day.
  • Organize travel documents. Keep important travel documents and passports in one place so they can be easily carried with you on your trip.
  • Obtain currency for your destination country. It is handy to have some cash available when you first arrive at your new home country even though you may be able to access cash machines with your debit card or credit card.
  • Pack suitcases. Pack necessary items for travel and the first few days after arriving at your destination.
  • Defrost the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Consume, dispose or donate perishable food that will not be moved.
  • Dry clean or launder clothing and home textiles. Clothes, draperies, curtains and rugs should be cleaned before they are prepared for shipment.
  • Safely dispose or give away flammable materials. For example, household chemicals or cleaning solutions, propane tanks, paints and solvents. Also make sure to drain fuel and oil from lawn mowers and other power equipment.
  • Mark out important belongings. Separate out any items that are to be shipped by air freight, “last in, first out” items that you will need immediately  once arriving in your new home.

Moving day

  • Be present. You will need to be available on moving day to check your household goods against the inventory list.
  • Obtain a copy of all your shipping documents.
  • Do a final walk-through of the home after everything is packed. Make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, lights are turned off, and windows and doors are locked.
  • Lastly, take a deep breath and savor the moment!

Move in day

  • Be present and check items against the inventory list. If there are missing items or damaged items, make a list of the items and take a picture (for damaged items). Let your move coordinator know and file a claim as soon as possible.
  • Settle in. Check all utilities are set up and connected at your new home.
  • Go out, explore and enjoy your new home country! Discovering new places and culture is one of the best reasons for moving overseas.

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