Beginners' Guide to Moving to a New Country

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Beginners' Guide to International Moving

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If you are new to moving or even visiting other countries, the prospect of an overseas move can seem terrifying. This beginners’ guide to international moving will explain what an international moving novice needs to know before he or she can move to another country. 

Know where you’re going

Before you commit to moving overseas, you should decide if you really should move and where you are going. Sometimes you have no choice and must go to a specific area, but if you have options about where to move, you should learn a bit about your possible destinations.

When researching homes in foreign countries, consider the following:
  • Climate
  • Location relative to important or interesting areas
  • Political climate
  • Government structure
  • Dominant religion
  • Dominant language
  • Cultural trends
  • Risk of war or crime
  • Environmental conditions/policies
  • Customs regulations 
Remember that many aspects of culture are not uniform throughout a country. Languages, values, and beliefs can vary significantly within one country, so try to find information that is specific to the region where you are going to move.

Necessary Documents

International moving beginners often get flustered by the amount of documentation that is necessary. It is very important to obtain and to keep certain documents before, during, and after an overseas move.

Passport: If you are a true beginner to international travel, you probably don’t have a passport. This document allows you to travel to other countries and is necessary to obtain most visas. Take a look at your government’s requirements for obtaining a passport. It is usually not too difficult, but it doesn’t happen overnight, either. You should make sure you have a current passport well before you need to move overseas.

Visas: Visas provide permission to enter a specific country for a specific reason. They are usually represented as stamps on your passport, which is required to get a visa. Contact the destination government’s embassy or foreign affairs website to see what visa application options are available to you. There are a lot of different possible requirements for different types of visas, so procuring one should be done well ahead of time.

Moving inventory: A full inventory of everything you are shipping or taking with you should be with you at all times during the move. This will help for customs clearance and working with moving companies to get your shipment.

Receipts: If you are moving valuable items, you should have receipts that verify their value. This is required for customs clearance sometimes, as well.

Identification: Not only will you need your passport, but other forms of identification can help you on your journey. Also bring any legal certificates or medical records that can help explain why you have to bring medications or restricted items with you.

The Bill of Lading: This moving document confirms that you let the moving company take possession of your items and will be necessary when you pick them up.


Packing for an international move is a little different from packing for a domestic move:
  • Keep your shipment small. International shipments are sometimes charged based on volume and weight. The smaller your shipments, the cheaper the move.
  • Only ship what you can do without for a month. It often takes many weeks or even months for international shipments to arrive at their destinations. Don’t ship anything that you really need right away.
  • Pack with extra care to secure your items. Your shipment will be stuck on a ship for a long time, so there’s a greater potential for damage. Try to use shipping containers when appropriate.

Hiring professionals

As a newcomer to international moving, you may choose to hire someone to help coordinate everything. If you prefer to spend a little money on a commission over being confused, you can hire an international moving consultant. A good one with experience moving people to your destination can simplify and expedite all aspects of the move. 

If you have a shipment to move overseas beyond your travel luggage, international movers should also be hired. Make sure these movers have some experience moving to your destination because their established partner company will be the ones to actually deliver your items to your new home. They also may hire a freight forwarder to take control of your shipment during its journey overseas.

If all of these people handling your items worries you, you could purchase additional insurance and ask for shipment tracking services. If you screen all the professionals before hiring them, and ask a lot of questions, even a beginner can move overseas without incident.


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on January 14, 2015 - Moving Expert
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