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Here’s the Checklist You Need Before You Move Overseas


Relocating to a new country isn’t easy. Whether it’s because of a career or study opportunity or simply adventure, an international move can give anyone cold feet. Apart from being overwhelming, saying goodbye to your home, friends and old life is a complicated process that requires proper planning and execution. But, if you’ve decided to move away from Canada, it’s important to have a plan in place to avoid making mistakes when packing and moving. Here’s a relocation checklist to help you plan the big move.


Moving to a New Country? Here’s a Relocation Checklist

To simplify your move and avoid difficulties in your new country, follow this moving abroad checklist.

1) Do Your Homework

Before you start packing, learn about your new home. Culture shock is real, and arriving at a new place without proper research and preparation can land you in trouble. After all, regulations, customs and laws vary widely between countries. That’s why it’s advisable to do your research to give yourself a better chance of making your new country feel like home. Here are a few things to do in advance.

  • Start learning and practicing the local language.
  • Research appropriate manners, customs and traditions.
  • Collect or apply for relevant documents that may not be applicable in your country but are required in the new one.
  • Contact the relevant embassy or consulate for information regarding restrictions or taxes on shipped items, import taxes for high-value items, visas and permits.
  • Reach out to any family or friends who live there.
  • Find your new office or university on Google Maps and plan routes you’ll use daily.
  • Familiarize yourself with public transport.

2) Complete a Risk Assessment

It’s important to consider not only the rewards but also the risks of moving overseas. Complete a risk assessment of the host country to evaluate whether it’s worth moving internationally. If you’re daunted by its perils and inconveniences, think twice. To carry out a risk assessment:

  • Consult the Travel Advice and Advisories index to see if an official Government of Canada Travel Advisory on your destination is in effect.
  • Visit the World Health Organization’s website for country-specific information on health conditions and standards of medical care.
  • Consult the Country Insights page on the Centre for Intercultural Learning website for cultural information, facts and advice on showing sensitivity to local customs around the world.

3) Ready Your Documents

Documentation is an essential part of relocation that can make or break your international move. As mentioned, you should research the documents required in the new country and have them in place to save you time upon your destination. Some important documents to set aside include:

  • Passport (your family’s too)
  • Visa
  • Work permit
  • Birth certificate
  • Divorce papers, child custody papers, adoption papers, etc. (if applicable)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Social insurance cards
  • Medical and dental records
  • Insurance policies and legal documents (power of attorney, trust, will or medical consent forms)
  • Financial records

4) Make Necessary Reservations

Apart from travel reservations, you should also take care of accommodations ahead of time. If you’re moving abroad to study or if your new employer hasn’t offered accommodation, start looking for a place to live before your move. Search online and contact local real estate agents to rent or buy a condo or house. Also, if you have children, look for a house or unit near schools, colleges, hospitals, grocery stores and parks so you don’t have to worry about them later. If you cannot get the type of house you want, book temporary housing so you have a place to stay until you do.

5) Prepare Financially

Financial issues may arise when moving overseas. Apart from familiarizing yourself with your new currency and calculating exchange rates, you should start setting aside money for your relocation. Being prepared will ensure that you don’t run out of cash in adverse situations. Prepare a budget and estimate the cost of the initial move. Here’s how to do it.

  • Assess the average cost of living.
  • Budget for annual expenses.
  • Review tax obligations (these vary from country to country).
  • Consult a financial advisor or accountant in the country to which you’re moving.
  • Review your accounts and inform your bank and credit card providers about your address change.

6) Pack and Ship

An international move is a difficult, hectic and expensive process. This is no backpacking vacation. Obviously, you have a lot of bags and personal effects you need to ship internationally. Request quotes from different international shipping companies and compare the costs to find the most affordable way to move your household items and/or vehicle. As these shipments take time to reach their destination, book well in advance and don’t box up anything you’ll need immediately upon arrival. You can also take out cargo insurance to get coverage against physical loss or damage.

7) Notify Before You Relocate

Confirm that all your services have been cancelled by updating the relevant organizations and people. No one wants to pay an extra month of utilities, rent or services. Make sure you notify:

  • Canada Post
  • Utility companies (gas and electric)
  • Subscriptions providers like newspapers, clubs and associations
  • Your employer (if you’re switching jobs)
  • Your bank
  • Your family, friends and neighbours
  • Your Insurance provider
  • Your landlord or realtor
  • Social Insurance Number administration
  • Tax agencies
  • The Canadian embassy in your host country

8) Make Last-Minute Arrangements

There are a few last-minute arrangements that play a vital role in making your international move easier and more streamlined. Take care of these tasks at least a week before you move.

  • Confirm your flight and other reservations including accommodations, appointments with your international shipping company, start dates (at university or job) and car rentals (to pick you up from the airport).
  • Purchase traveller’s cheques or exchange currency so you can access money when you arrive.
  • Organize your belongings as you pack. For example, pack boxes according to their use and importance. The items that you’ll need immediately after arrival should be packed together in one box; items that are less important should be packed separately. If you don’t want to name the boxes, identify them by colour code. Also, pack your children’s belongings last so you don’t miss any crucial items.

Once you’ve crosschecked this list, it’s finally time to move. Expect saying goodbye to your home country and getting ready to embrace your new one to be overwhelming. But console yourself by thinking what new opportunities await you.

Bon voyage!

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