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Preparing for International Move

Preparing for International Move

Posted on Apr 16, 2018

Pre-Planning your Move

Careful pre-planning is vital when moving overseas. It can make the difference between a smooth transition and one laden with problems. It is important to know what to expect in advance and plan accordingly.

Choosing a moving date:

Keep in mind the following when deciding which date to start your move:

  • Try to plan your move for regular working days to avoid overtime charges incurred on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
  • Try to avoid moving on the first or last few days of a month, because these tend to be the busiest moving times
  • Check your destination country’s holiday schedule to ensure your move date won’t result in unnecessary delays.

Resources Available:

Other resources for information include a consulate, embassy, customs office or chamber of commerce for your destination country/city. To obtain telephone numbers for these agencies, call directory assistance, ask a reference librarian or check the internet.

Nearly all countries have a customs department responsible for collecting fees or duties on some imported and less commonly exported goods. You might have to go through customs twice – when exiting a country and again when entering the destination country. Since requirements can differ betweens countries, always check with customs offices for both countries with regards information on dutiable items.

As your shipment goes through customs, it is important that you be on hand to answer questions, to provide additional documentation if necessary and to pay any duties that are levied against your goods. Upon paying, keep the official receipt. Some duties may be refundable when you leave the country.

For those of you who live in the United States, the U.S. Customs Service offers publications in international moving. Call (202) 354-1000 for tape recorded messages and to request publications or write: U.S. Customs Service, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. 20229. Check the Customs Service’s Internet site: – for online publications.

Customs regulations:

Check with a consulate, embassy or customs office for your destination country if you have specific questions on items you want to take with you. If something is questionable, obtain written assurance from the consulate or embassy that the item can be admitted as part of your shipment. 

The items listed in this section of are regulated by the customs offices of your origin and destination countries.

Household Goods:

Most countries permit duty free entry of used household goods, but few allow free entry of items that are less than a year old. Before buying any items to take abroad, determine if it is worth paying duty on them. You might want to purchase items after the move if they are available at destination. Although you can order items by mail while living abroad, you still are required to pay duty on them.

It is advisable not to have the following items pack in your household goods shipment: alcohol, tobacco, cameras, and unexposed film. Many countries limit the amount of these items you can bring. Check with a consulate/embassy or customs of your destination country prior to your departure to determine the quantities permitted. When feasible, carry these goods with you.

In addition, international laws prohibit the transportation of flammable items, such as matches, candles, paint, and cleaning and lighting fluids. Check with the embassy or consulate of your country on other items that are restricted, prohibited, or in need of licenses or permits.

Keep in Mind that homes overseas might be considerably small than your current one. Therefore, it is not advisable to take all of your furniture and large appliances. Take only what you need and what will fit inside your new home.

Personal Accessories:

Personal items such as clothing, furs and jewelry are usually duty-free as long as they are for the owner’s use and not for resale. Check restrictions of your destination country  before shipping your possessions. We suggest that jewelry and furs be shipped via airfreight or carried with you in your personal luggage to prevent theft.


If you carry any prescription medications with you, follow these suggestions to avoid problems—Carry your medicine in small quantities—Keep medications in their appropriate prescription containers. If possible, these containers should list your doctors name, pharmacy and medication name on the label—Obtain a letter from you doctor stating your condition, confirming the medication and phone number for verification.


Before you decide to move your pet to another country, two factors should be considered. First, will your pet be allowed in the destination country? If so, a health and/or a rabies certificate might be required from your veterinarian. Be sure to ask a consulate or embassy of your destination country how long and certificate is considered valid and if your pet also will need an entry permit.          

Cost is the second consideration. In most cases, you will be required to pay duty on your pet and pay for your pet to be quarantined. Depending on your destination country, your pet could be quarantined from a few weeks to a year.

If you do take your pet, be sure to do the following:

Get the pet’s medical records from your vet--Provide your pet with a travel identification tag – in addition to his/her permanent identification collar – so your pet can be returned to you if found. Include your pet’s name: your name, destination address and telephone number: and an alternative contact person’s name and contact number.—Schedule your trip to ensure your pet doesn’t arrive at destination on a weekend or holiday when customs facilities are closed. otherwise, your pet might be without food, water and other care for a long Period.—To help speed up the clearance process for your pet, write to the port of entry veterinarian advising him of your pet’s arrival date, flight number and other required information


Bulbs, seeds and houseplants cannot be packed as part of your household goods shipment. Many countries prohibit the entry of plants and bulbs. If seeds are allowed, find out if a special permit is necessary, and carry the seeds with you.

Motor Vehicles:

Before shipping you car overseas, check for any fees and import regulations versus the cost of a comparable car at destination. Certain makes of autos might be prohibited. Models that are allowed might require an entry permit and modifications to meet emission or safety standards. If you decide to take your car, check the availability of parts, unleaded or premium gasoline, and right-hand versus left-hand driving.

When shipping a car, nothing can be left in the interior or in the trunk, except normal accessories – such as a jack and spare tire. Customs may also permit the transporting the vehicle’s hubcaps, extra air filters and or engine parts in the trunk. Be sure to check with customs officials in advance.


Handguns and other weapons are prohibited in many countries. Firearms that are allowed will require permits. Do NOT include any weapon in your household goods shipment without written assurance from a consulate or embassy of your destination country that it will be admitted. Remember that ALL ammunition is prohibited in shipments due to the risk of explosion


Restrictions can be placed on the amount of currency you take in or out of a country. This includes cash (native and foreign), money orders, traveler’s checks and any other negotiable securities. Depending on the amount of money you can take across borders, you might need to complete a special customs report


Your precious collectibles might be duty-free if they are at least 100 years old. To verify this, you will need proof of antiquity from an appraiser. It is wise to have antiques and collections appraised.


Many families like to take a supply of their favorite foods with them overseas. however, your destination country might restrict or prohibit the entry of certain foods. Typically, processed foods such as canned goods are acceptable, whereas items such as flour, cornmeal and beans are not. Check with a consulate, embassy or customs office for your destination country before packing food to take along.

Items to Take:

Regardless of how your household goods are transported, there are many items you might want to take with you – such as clothing, bedding, medications, valuables, work materials or anything else you will need immediately. If you shipment is moving by sea, your might want to send the items you will need right away by air. Other items you might want to take include the following

Medical Information:

Prescriptions of eyewear, dental records (both from physicians and hospitals) should be taken with you. If medications are listed by brand name, have your physician include the generic name.

Electric Adapter:

Some countries in the Western Hemisphere have an electric power of 110 volt, 60 – hertz (cycles per second) alternating current (AC). However, the majority of countries run on 220-440 volt, 50 hertz AC. Depending on your destination you might need to converters, transformers, voltage regulators or adapter plugs. converters are used to change the electrical frequency (50 or 60 hertz) an item receives. Appliances and equipment that rely on internal timing mechanisms – such as clocks, mixers and stereos – should be converted if necessary. Depending on the appliance, it might be less expensive to purchase a new one at destination Remember that converters work only with the same type of current – an appliance manufactured to run on AC will not work on direct current. (DC)

If your destination country uses a different voltage, you will want to take several transformers with you. Electrical equipment designed for 110 volt needs a step-down transformer to operate on 220 volt.

Where the frequency of current is unstable, you can prolong the life span of your appliances by plugging them then into voltage regulators.    

In addition to transformers and regulators, you also might need adapter plugs. appliances with flat blade plugs are common in the United States, whereas European countries often use plus with two or three round prongs. 

As well as differences in electricity, television broadcasting varies from country to country. Receivers manufactured for the U.S. market most likely will be incompatible with foreign signals. Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to see if this pertains to that country. If so, you might prefer to rent or purchase a television while abroad.

Special Infant Needs:

In some countries, prepared baby food is expensive, hard to find or different from that available in you home country. Similarly disposable diapers and baby formula might be unavailable or of a difference quality. As such, you might want to take a blender with you to use in making baby food, and your own supply of diapers and baby formula.

Old Telephone Books:

To save on long-distance information charges, take your local telephone books so you can contact friends and businesses easily.

School Records:

Take copies of your children’s transcripts with you. If you move during the school             term, as for the grades your children have earned in classes at the time of withdrawal. If your children are in junior high, middle or high school, try to obtain a curriculum guide or course description of classes your children are taking.

Your local library also might have a copy of the directory and/or other reference materials with addresses of schools overseas.

Many U.S. schools require children to have had a physical during the past year. You also might need to provide the dates your children received immunizations.

Hard-to-Find Items:

Some clothing to which you and your family are accustomed might be hard to find, expensive or nonexistent overseas. Jeans often are expensive and hard to locate in other countries, so consider taking extra pairs. It also might be difficult to find shoes of good quality and proper fit, especially for children and adults who wear large sizes.

In addition, basic hand tools, sheets, pillowcases, blankets and bedspreads can be hard to find or expensive abroad, so plan to take some along. If you plan to take    your vacuum cleaner (provided it will work abroad), be sure to bring a supply of vacuum cleaner bags.

People and places to notify:

You will need to alert many people of your upcoming relocation. Suggestions for and places to contact follow:

Power of Attorney:

Before moving, you might want to execute a power of attorney, which will designate a person to act on your behalf. If you do, provide this person with a key to your safe deposit box. Be sure to leave behind an up to date will, insurance policies, appointment of your children’s legal guardian (should the need the arise) and copies of the legal documents you are taking with you. These documents might include birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, bank drafts, letters of credit, tax documents and Social Security records. Your personal attorney or your company’s (if you are being transferred) might be able to refer you to a lawyer in your destination city. Be sure to ask for references.

Insurance Agent:

Find out if your automobile and homeowner’s insurance policies will be valid at destination. If not, you might need to take out a new policy. To help obtain coverage in a foreign country, request a recommendation letter from you current insurance agent. The letter should state you have a good driving record and the specific dates you had coverage with that company.

Travel Agent:

Unless your employer is handling your travel arrangements, you might find that using a travel agent can save you time and trouble. A travel agent does not charge you for service. Instead, the agent received a commission from the airline/ocean carrier you’ll be using.

Have a travel agent make reservations far in advance and let airline personnel know if you will be traveling with an infant, small child or pet. Check to see if your pet can travel with you as accompanying baggage rather than in the cargo area.

Post Office:

Inform your post office that you will be moving, as well as when to start holding or forwarding your mail. Also, obtain from the post office change-of-address cards to notify publications and businesses of your move. Keep in mind that some magazines, books and records sent through the mail might be prohibited in foreign countries.

Government Tax Department:

If you are expecting a tax refund, notify the appropriate revenue department that your address is changing.

If you are a U.S. citizen relocating outside the continental U.S., keep a record of all moving-related costs. Some expenses might be tax-deductible if they if they are itemized on the appropriate Internal Revenue System (IRS) form. U.S. citizens can ask the nearest IRS office to send all of the government publications and forms needed for living as a resident of another country. If you are a resident of a country other than the U.S., check with the country’s appropriate governmental department for tax information.

Finance Companies:

Discuss your move with any bank or finance company with whom you are doing business – such as the holder of your car title. A lender’s permission is often required when moving unpaid items out of the country.

Also before moving, open a bank account at a worldwide financial institution. By using a bank with offices at your origin and destination, check – cashing privileges may be more readily obtained. Another advantage of an international bank is the accessibility of emergency funds should the need arise.

When you trade currency, the amount you receive will be based on the exchange rate for that day. The exchange rate fluctuates as the value of a nation’s currency rises or falls compared with another country’s monetary system

Housing Resources:

If possible, visit your destination country in advance to make housing Arrangements. Before going, request information on your city or country From its local chamber of commerce. Time permitting: subscribe to a newspaper in your destination city or country.

Contact your local telephone company to inquire if you can purchase a telephone directory for your destination city. (Allow about one month for delivery) Take With you recommendations for real estate agents in your new city. To obtain Recommendations, check with your employer and any local real estate agents who have offices overseas. Or, contact agents at destination through the phone book you requested. Real estate agents might specialize according to the type of property they handle, such as home or apartment. Search for an agent who best Meets you needs.

Should you want to buy a home, ask whether foreigners can own property legally. Some countries have restrictions. If you rent, know the cost of any commission Fees. Find our if the rent includes utilities, and determine who is responsible for Repairs. In some countries, you must pay the rent for the entire length of the lease Prior to occupancy. Have a lawyer review any documents before you sign them.


Inform you current physician and dentist that you will be moving, and ask for Recommendations they might have for counterparts in your destination country. If they can’t provide suggestions, ask a consulate or embassy of your country Of destination or the following organization: The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT), 417 Center St. Lewiston, NY 14092

Tel: 716-754-4883 


When crossing International borders, you will need several documents to avoid potential complications. Submit your applications far in advance. If possible, allow three to four months before your departure date.

To Leave a Country:

Passport: This travel document attests to the bearer’s identity and nationality. Passports are needed when leaving and entering most countries. To obtain a passport, you must have a photograph taken. Order at least two prints for the passports, but as many as a dozen. Passport size photographs often are requested when applying for other documents.

Valid passports, especially those from the United States, are in high demand on the world black market. If yours becomes lost or stolen, report it in writing immediately to a passport office.

Certificates of Registration---Any items in your possession that were made in another country should be registered with customs at origin. This includes goods as stereos, appliances, cameras, jewelry and bicycles. If you take the foreign made items back to their country of origin, you must have proof of previous possession. Otherwise, you may have to pay duties and taxes. You will also need the following: A state registration card for your automobile, truck camper or motorcycle.—A Federal Aviation Administration certificate for any aircraft. – A motorboat identification certificate or a yacht license for a boat.

Whether foreign – or domestic-made, firearms must be registered with customs to prove ownership. Make certain the firearms will be allowed at destination before taking the time to register them. If you return to your country of origin, you will need these registrations to avoid confiscation of your firearms.


This document declares your household goods and motor vehicles to be shipped out of the country.

To Enter a Country

Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to confirm which documents you’ll need when immigrating. You cannot start too early to obtain the appropriate documents. Waiting for approval can take several months, if not longer. For some applications, you will need duplicates of  your passport photos. Also, copies of any marriage certificates or divorce decrees can facilitate obtaining permits, so be sure to bring them along.

When entering the United States, the documents you will need depend on whether you are a returning resident of a non-resident.

A U.S. citizen will need a passport. A U.S. resident alien should have a reentry permit or an alien registration receipt card issued by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. A non-resident must have a valid passport and visa issued by the U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Non-residents also should check with a labor and/or immunization certificate.

If you’re moving to a country other than the United States, you might need Several documents in addition to your passport. Confirm with a consulate or Embassy of your destination country which of the following documents you will Need:

  •  Visa—Before obtaining a visa, you must have an up-to-date passport. A visa is an endorsement certifying that your passport has been examined and that permission has been granted to enter a country for a specified period of time.
  • Letter of Recommendation—When required , this should be addressed to the consulate/embassy to whom you are applying for a visa. The letter should be from a bank, commercial or industrial firm, trade association, chamber of commerce or public official. The letter should include your occupation, title and any business references – plus state you are financially responsible. Also, any documents you have verifying a good credit history might be needed.
  • Residence Permit—Depending on where you’re moving, you might need this permit before leaving your country or origin. In some cases, however, you might be allowed to apply for it at destination. In may foreign countries, new residents must report to the police or local registration bureau without delay.
  • Work Permit—This is often a Prerequisite to gaining employment in another country. Responsibility for obtaining this permit rests with the employer Working without authorization might result in deportation. Additionally further reentry might be affected if a country’s work related policies are violated.
  • International Driving Permit—If you will be driving your car in your new country check to see how long you can drive on your current license and license plate. After your car is delivered, you might have only a few days to obtain these items in your new country. Ask if your destination country recognizes an international driving permit or if you should apply for a license in your new country. To obtain an international permit in the United States you will need an application, two passport size photos and your valid U.S. driver’s license. Your U.S. license must be at least one year old and cannot expire while you’re living abroad. If you have a driver’s license from another country, contact the automobile club in your home country to see if an international driving permit is available. If you are in the United States and would like a permit application, contact your local American Automobile (AAA) branch or: American Automobile Association, 1000 AAA Drive (Mail Stop 100), Heathrow, FL 32746; 407-444-8408 or 407-444-8364. Some countries might not recognize the permit for driving. However, because it is written in nine languages, it could be helpful identification should you need to communicate with local officials. Note: Do not let your current driver’s license expire if possible. If you do, you might have to undergo the complete testing process upon your return.
  • Immunization/Medical Certificates—Your destination country might require that You show, along with your passport, a valid International Certificate of Vaccination Health Card as proof of vaccination against certain diseases. This form is available at passport offices and most city, county and state health departments. Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to determine which immunizations are required in your new country. Have all required inoculations three or more months in advance, if possible, for full protection. A medical certificate from an examining physician might be required. Some consulates and embassies designate the examining physician and provide medical examination forms. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travel (IAMAT) offers travel clinical record forms, also call medical passports to use in detailing you medical history. For a form which is helpful should you medical attention overseas, write to the IAMAT at 417 Center St., Lewiston, NY 14092 or call 716-754-4883


The following are miscellaneous questions you might want to ask a consulate or Embassy of your destination country:

  • Are original documents required?
  • Do they need to be translated into the destination country’s main language?
  • Do any documents need to be legalized by a consulate or embassy before departure?
  • Are there restrictions on the quantity of goods I can bring?
  • Can I bring more than one shipment?
  • Are other taxes or fees involved beside duty?      
  • Are model or serial numbers of electrical items and or appliances required for customs clearance?
  • Are there special laws or regulations regarding women and children?
  • What is the availability of “special family need” items services (such as dietary needs, medial treatment and prescriptions?                                       

Tags: Moving, International Relocation, International Movers, Moving Overseas.

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