What Documents do You Need to Move Internationally?

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Documents You Need for an International Move

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Moving to another country can be a complicated process. There are shipping, customs, and moving regulations to consider, not to mentionvisa and immigration concerns that differ country to country. It can be overwhelming. Take some time to consider what type of documentation you might need for an international move to better prepare yourself for moving overseas.

Contact your destination country's consulate

Much of what it takes to move overseas depends on the country's unique laws. China does not have the same requirements for entry as Canada. Most countries have consulates or embassies within Canada, and if you can't find one, you could contact immigration affairs on your destination country's official government website.

Remember that there is no real international law and other countries can deny entry to anyone for just about any reason they choose.


A passport is the first thing you'll need to travel or move to another country. This document is government-issued and is necessary to go to almost any foreign country. It is a form of ID that states your name, age, and nationality.

Passports can take a few months to process, so if you plan on moving overseas and don't have one, you need to apply ahead of time. They also typically expire after five years. Visit Canada's government website for specific information about obtaining a passport to travel out of Canada.

Generally you will need the following to obtain a passport:
  • Official Photo ID (drivers license, government cards)
  • Birth certificate
  • Citizenship certification
  • A new photograph that adheres to passport regulations
  • A fee that varies depending on what type of passport you want and where you are getting it from


Visas are authorization that allows entry into another country. They are usually stamped on passports. You always need a passport to obtain any type of visa. Visas also specify how long you can stay in another country and what your purpose is there.

There are a variety of visas you can obtain. A few common visa types are:
  • Temporary stay (for vacations)
  • Long term stays (for months long excursions)
  • Work visas/work permits (allows you to work and live in the country while working)
  • Student visas
  • Permanent residency
The exact requirements for obtaining each type of visa for each country are vastly different. This information should be obtained through the destination country's consulate.

Moving Documents

There are a few more documents you need for the moving process. This includes typical moving documentation, but there is extra paperwork needed for an international move for shipping and customs.
  • Your copy of the Bill of Lading
  • Customs forms
  • Receipts for your items
  • Copy of moving insurance
  • Inventory list
  • Special permits (if needed)
  • Power of attorney

TIP: Find country-specific information on customs regulations before you move. You will need to see if any of your items are not allowed in the country. Certain things could require paying duties or getting additional certification.

Other documentation

Here are some other papers you should carry with you during the move:
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Immunization documentation
  • Tax records
  • Medical records
  • Medical insurance documents
  • Child custody/divorce papers
  • Driver's license
  • Social security cards
  • Pet vaccination records
  • Wills
  • Bank/financial records
It's a good idea to over-prepare your documentation during an international move. You may find it much more difficult to access your information back home once you have left your home country. A little preparation goes a long way, even overseas.

Author :

on September 10, 2014

TopMoving.ca - Moving Expert
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