Oh the stories we have heard! You’ve spent months – possibly even years – planning your expatriation, you’ve looked into every aspect of your new nation, you’ve researched the living environment, the jobs market, the schools and social groups, you’ve spent time abroad looking for a new house. Back home your own house is on the market or you’ve a rental or management deal sorted, you’ve packed up all your belongings and have had the farewell party…so far so good.
So why then does it all go wrong and unravel at the last minute? You’re about to set off for the airport for your flight to Sydney and you remember your passport is in with your household goods that are currently in a container on their way to Australia, you arrive in Canada having secured your residency only to forget your paperwork. We’ve heard it all! Don’t forget the unforgettable with these expatriate planning tips from Degtev.
Assuming you have the bigger things in hand such as accommodation and removals, the most important thing to do before you go is establish what you have to do to legally and officially gain residency in your new nation of choice. If you’re moving somewhere like New Zealand or America where there is a very tight, strict and well documented immigration process to follow to gain a residency visa before you go, chances are you’re aware of this fact and are not even planning a move until you have the official paperwork signed, sealed and delivered to you. For those moving to nations within Europe, to Cape Verde, Turkey or Northern Cyprus for example, the rules are very different.
Depending on the nation you herald from, the passport you hold and the country you’re moving to you will require different paperwork to get your permissions. It is imperative you find out in advance of your move that which you will be required to have. So, log on to the embassy site for the nation you’re moving to and do your research into what you will need to take with you and what if anything you will need to do before you go. If you want final clarification you can either call the embassy or even get on up to date expat forums and chat to those who have recently made the move ahead of you. Get all of the paperwork you will need – from birth certificates to marriage certificates, from bank statements, an up to date police check to passport-sized photos – ready and together in one place.
Ideally have a box file with all of the essential pieces of paper that you will need to take with you to your new nation, know where this is at all times particularly when you start packing up your home, make 3 photocopies of all that is in the folder, leave one with family in the UK and then you and your spouse can each take a copy with you ideally in your hand luggage.
Even if such things are not required for residency take with you birth certificates for each member of the family, your marriage certificate, proof of any qualifications you have, rental or sales contracts for your new home, driving licenses, copies of everyone’s passport and at least 10 passport-sized pictures for each member of the family, as you will find you need no end of these for various pieces of paperwork! You will also need proof of any residency or work permits you have applied for in advance of your move, insurance certificates, paperwork from your removal company, useful phone numbers and addresses of people back home and in the new country with whom you have already established contact. Have your medical records and vaccination certificates to hand as well as your children’s school records, you will also need your national insurance numbers and finally, you should also have made a will and have a copy of this with you when you move abroad.
While you’re still in the UK find out whether you will need an international driving license or whether you will in fact have to change your license when you move abroad. Find out about health care as well. If you’re moving to an EU country get your European medical cards in advance of your move, but know that these will only provide cover for a maximum of a few months. After this time will you be on the national health system if you’re taxpayers in the new country or will you need private health insurance? If the latter then get quotes from companies in the UK and international companies, but you may want to hold off insuring yourself until you move because in countries where health insurance is needed there are always insurance companies and they may give you better value and more appropriate cover.
Finally, with all of these bases covered, all of these boxes ticked and all of the above pieces of paperwork present, correct and accounted for in one place, check, double check and check again that you have your passport, that it has at least 6 months (ideally 12) left to run, that you have your travel documents and that you have checked and doubled checked the time and date of departure – you don’t want to arrive at the airport an hour or even a day late – it’s been done, I can assure you!