Moving internationally is one of the most exciting and adventurous decisions you can make. It’s important to keep this fact at the front of your mind while you work through the long process of planning, packing and preparing for your overseas move. Most things of value in life take effort and an international move is no exception. In the lead up to your overseas move there is a long list of things that you have to prepare; from documents, visas and vaccines, to packing, shipping and insurance. While each of these steps on their own should be fairly straightforward and achievable, the culmination of these many steps creates an intimidating to-do list for your move.
Luckily you don’t need to do it on your own. This guide will run you through everything you need to prepare for your international move. In addition to a helpful checklist to have handy while organising your overseas relocation, we’ve also included helpful tips and links to valuable resources that can make the administrative tasks of moving a whole lot easier. While this international moving guide is a great resource to turn to when you feel lost, our friendly moving specialists are just a phone call away.
Before you consider all of the technical aspects of your international move – like legal, financial and occupational elements – you need to sort out the practical part of moving.
How will you move your belongings from your current home to your new home in a new country?
Answering this question first will help you clarify some important parts of your move: namely the expected timeframe and budget that you will be dealing with. The amount of time and money you can expect to spend on your international move will depend heavily on how you choose to transport your possessions. There are two main options when it comes to relocating your stuff overseas (and one unconventional option!):
Option 1: Sea freight
Shipping your belongings overseas (literally) is the most cost effective means of international removals. Averaging roughly just one-fifth of the price of air freights, sending your items by sea freight is the best choice for anyone looking to keep the cost down on their overseas move. The other strong argument for choosing sea freights over air freights is the environmental impact.
In terms of their carbon footprint, cargo travelling by air emits approximately fifty times the amount of carbon dioxide as the same cargo travelling by sea. Despite the clear advantages in cost and carbon of the sea freight approach, there is one clear downside, time. Shipping your items via sea freight takes roughly ten times longer than the air freight equivalent, making it an unappealing choice for anyone prioritising speed over cost.
Option 2: Air freight
The air freight approach is for those who want their belongings to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. If you’re moving on short notice, you haven’t had time to plan in advance, or if spending more than a few days without your possessions is simply not an option, then air freight might be right for you. In addition to speed, there are a number of other benefits of sending your items via plane.
Not only is it the fastest option, but it is also the most reliable. Air freight shipments are highly secure, highly reliable and can be sent almost anywhere in the world. On top of this, shipments on planes are easy to track, giving you the confidence that your items are in safe hands and will reach their destination.
Unconventional option: Minimalist
We would be remiss if we didn’t address the fact that air freights and sea freights are not your only options. For some, an international move is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. If you fall into this category, then you can always ask yourself whether you need all of your worldly possessions to move with you? If the answer is no, then you have a couple of options for how to proceed. You could donate and sell everything you own, adding any profits towards your relocation fund.
Another great option if you only have a few treasured possessions you plan on bringing with you is to ship the few items you will bring with you via our ‘Excess Baggage’ service. This service allows you to cut costs by only using the space you need via sea freight which is a great budget friendly option. For more information on our Excess Baggage service you can read about it here or give our team a call on 13 25 54.
Alternatively, if you plan to return eventually you could confidently put all of your most loved items into long term storage. The advantage of this approach is that you can hold onto the possessions that you love the most without dragging them around the world with you: having your cake and eating it too.
Guide to packing for an international move
Packing for an international move is half the battle. What should you take with you? What should you leave behind? What will be relevant in the new country? What are you allowed to take through customs? These are all important questions to answer and for the most part will depend on you, your circumstances and the specific place you are moving to. However, there are some general tips and advice that can make things a whole lot easier if you can keep them in mind.
Below we will cover some of the important aspects of packing for an international move. This includes dealing with local customs regulations, transporting and using electrical appliances and making the tough decision to rid yourself of all non-essential items. Ultimately, packing for an international move is an exercise in self-reflection. It’s a chance to question what you need in life, what’s important to you and what is only weighing you down. It calls for tough decisions, but you’ll come out the otherside with a renewed perspective of the things that matter.
The local customs regulations of the country to which you are moving should be front and centre in your mind. Where other decisions relate to necessity and cost, these decisions are based around legality. You don’t want to start the next chapter of your new life on the wrong side of the law. Not only would it be deeply embarrassing to be held up at customs, but you could end up facing steep financial penalties, visa complications or facing court, depending on the type of customs violation that you committed. Please don’t let this scare you, simply let it remind you that customs regulations are not to be taken lightly.
When it comes to packing your belongings for an international move, we highly recommend two steps. Step one is to familiarise yourself with the specific local customs laws relevant to your destination. This is important even if you elect to delegate much of the packing and preparation for your move, as ignorance of the laws is never an excuse. Certain countries will be very strict on seemingly niche or inconsequential items, so read up and know what you’re dealing with when it comes to customs.
Step two is to recruit help. A professional removalist company working on your side to make sure you pack legally, you pack efficiently, you pack securely and that you pack according to your needs is like having a guardian angel on your shoulder. Not only does it remove the stress of wondering whether you’ve inadvertently violated any customs laws, but it also provides that valuable objective perspective on whether you really need everything you’ve packed. On top of all of this, being helped by a team of moving specialists ensures that everything your packing is done to the highest industry standards, giving your belongings the highest level of security and safety through their long international transit.
Bringing your appliances
Dragging your precious bulky appliances halfway across the world only to discover that they can’t be used in your new country is not only devastating, but it is a potential waste of money and effort. On top of this, plugging your appliances into a foreign socket with the wrong voltage can end up damaging your appliance and potentially starting an electrical fire. Yet, for many people the comfort and familiarity of having their favourite appliance – be it a stereo system, a hair straightener or a KitchenAid MixMaster – can significantly help in the transition to a new home.
The solution, as always, is to do your research and be prepared. Understanding the local electricity supply is critical if you plan to bring electrical equipment with you. The discrepancy in voltage, socket design and electrical frequency between different countries is vast. Consider that the United States uses 120V, while in the United Kingdom they use 230V. Plugging the same appliance that would work in the US in a socket in the UK would most certainly result in problems. So read up on the local electrical supply, and invest in high quality adapters that will enable you to power your favourite appliances without fear of electrical fires.
Moving your possessions is one of the big tasks of your international move, but it isn’t the only one. Meeting immigration requirements is perhaps the most crucial step of all, as this is the legal permission to live and work in your new country. Once you’ve decided on a country and a date that you will be moving, you should immediately begin the process of applying for the relevant visas for your destination country. The processing times for these applications vary from country to country, but you can generally rely on the fact that it will be a slow process. For any help with dealing with immigration requirements, you can chat to one of our moving specialists who can provide information and resources on immigration.
There are a number of important documents that you will need to take with you on your overseas relocation. These include a current passport, drivers licence, birth certificate, medical records, marriage certificate and any other relevant personal documents. These types of documents are important for your immigration process and will often be required for further work and visa requirements after you’ve completed the move.
We have two helpful tips to follow when it comes to bringing these documents with you for your international move. The first is to keep all of the original documents with you at all times during the move. This is to ensure their safety and security, as losing any of these can cause all sorts of headaches. The second is to make copies of all of these documents and keep these in a separate location to the originals. This will ensure that even if something goes wrong and you are separated from the original documents, you will have the copies somewhere safe as a backup.
Accessing funds while overseas is one of the most important logistical challenges to sort out prior to your move. There are few things that cause travellers and expats more anxiety than the thought of being stranded in a foreign country without access to their resources. Therefore, make sure you iron this out as early as possible to free yourself of that anxiety.
Creating an account with a local bank is a good way to have easy access to money for day to day expenses, though you may still want to keep your savings in your home account for security and interest reasons. Consider speaking to a currency exchange advisor about your destination country to learn when might be the best time to convert your money and how much of it would be wise to exchange up front.
Bringing a pet with you can be an excellent way of settling in and overcoming the difficult transition period in your new home. However, taking pets through the immigration process can be a long and frustrating journey. If you plan on bringing a pet, start the immigration process as early as possible so that you can get the consultation, documentation, vaccination and quarantine steps all completed in time for your move date.
The type of vaccinations you require for your overseas move is entirely dependent on your host country. Speak to a medical vaccination specialist about which ones you will need for your trip, and make sure you get records to help prove your compliance with regulations.
Travel insurance, health insurance and transit insurance are all highly recommended for your international move. Most countries will have travel insurance requirements on immigrants to ensure that they do not rely on the local healthcare system to take care of them out of pocket. We provide a range of insurance options to safeguard the items you send with us overseas. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our insurance plans.
Get in touch
For more information on any of the topics covered in this guide, or if you’d prefer to have our team help you along the way, reach out to our experienced team. You can get in touch by filling out the free online quote request form, or by calling us on 13 25 54 today.