As more and more companies expand internationally and global barriers melt away, many people find themselves moving to another country. Meeting new people and getting adjusted to a new culture are just a couple of the joys and challenges faced when moving to a foreign country.
One of the biggest obstacles, though, is moving all of your belongings, and yourself, to your new home.
Finding a Moving Company
An international move is a highly complex process that involves various expenses and strict customs rules and regulations. Unlike local and long-distance moves, there are no distinct global regulations for international moves. However, some countries, like the U.S., do have licensing programs for international shipping companies.
To make your move as safe and stress-free as possible, try to find a full-service international mover, or forwarder. These companies can help with all the essential steps of your move, from getting the proper consular documentation, obtaining customs clearance, packing your goods, and providing a means of freight transportation.
Additionally, you'll want to find a forwarder with affordable rates. You can use Movers.com to get competitive international moving quotes. Just remember to get the rates of several reputable companies to ensure you get the best deal possible.
Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for an international mover:
- Find a moving company with a legal licensure, such as a Freight Forwarder permit of a Federal Maritime Commission number.
- You should also search for a company that is a member of the FIDI Global Alliance, which accredits shippers and enforces laws on shipper quality.
- Inquire about your potential moving company's expertise in handling shipments of all sizes, experience in moving to different countries, and ability to ensure safety standards.
Handling Your Goods
Any good international moving company will perform a pre-move survey of your household. This will allow them to provide an estimate for the cost of your move and determine the size of your shipment. Depending on the amount of goods you will be bringing, your items will either be shipped in their own container or in a shared container. While the in-home estimate will provide you with a rough estimate for the price of your move, the actual price is based on the total weight of your goods. This won't be determined until your goods are placed into the shipping container.
If you are going to be relocating for only a short period of time, you should only take the necessities with you and leave the rest of your items in storage. Since many international moving companies have their own storage facilities, it might be a good idea to utilize this service. This way, there will only be one company shipping and storing your belongings. If the moving company you use doesn't have a storage facility, or if you are not satisfied with the one they have, then you will have to find one on your own.
TIP: Visit a few storage facilities before settling on one. As all facilities are different and offer varying levels of security, space, and climate control, make sure you find one that meets your requirements.
Items to Sell
Since the cost of your move will be determined by the weight of your items, you can decrease the weight of you shipment and lower the cost by unloading yourself of any unwanted items before the move. You can even make some money by selling your goods online or having a garage sale.
Transporting your vehicle to another country can be a very difficult and expensive task. Furthermore, as many countries have tough restrictions regarding the cars they let in, you might not be able to bring your vehicle over. If you have room in your budget and your car will be permitted, you will then have to ensure that your car meets the required standards for international transportation. Whether you transport your vehicle to your new country or plan on buying a car when you get there, you will need to get an International Driving Permit.
TIP: You can obtain an International Driving Permit, which is valid in over 150 countries, through the AAA or the National Auto Club.
Protect Your Belongings
Preparing your things for an international move entails more than just packing up cardboard boxes and putting them in a van. If your items are being shipped by air or by sea, they may experience a bumpy ride. Thus, it is a good idea to have your moving company pack everything for you. They will use new boxes and create custom wooden crates for your belongings, minimizing any damage they may sustain.
Each country has different shipping requirements and security measures in place for shipments that come into their ports. Since a company specializing in overseas moving should be familiar with these standards, leaving the packing to them can ensure that your goods are handled properly. However, if you decide to pack your items yourself, remember to use heavy duty wrapping materials that can withstand extreme changes in weather.
Before you move to your new country, you definitely want to ensure you have medical coverage. You should first contact your current insurance provider to see if your policy will cover you internationally. If you are being transferred to another country by your company, or if you have a new job lined up, find out if your employer will provide you with coverage.
If you will not be covered in anyway, you will have to purchase a new medical insurance policy. You should first decide if you just want to be covered in your new country. If you plan on visiting your original country often, or you will be traveling to other countries, you may wish to get international insurance. BlueCross BlueShield, for instance, offers international insurance through its BlueWorldWide Expat coverage.
TIP: In some countries, you may have to pay for medical service up front. After receiving treatment, submit the claim and receipts to receive reimbursement from your insurance company.
When moving overseas, you should make sure your finances are in order. It is recommended that you open an account with a bank in your new country and transfer your money from your original account. Be aware that there might be certain limitations on the amount of currency that one can carry into another country. Before you move, determine the currency regulations of your new location.
Also make sure that you have access to your current bank account when abroad. Alternately, if you wish to avoid the complications involved in transferring money between different banks in different countries, you can open an account with an international banking institution. There are also online-only banks that allow you to access your money from almost anywhere in the world.
Change of Address
Let your bank, postal department, insurance agent, doctors, and other important individuals know about your move as soon as possible. File your change of address with the post office so that your mail and bills will be delivered to your new address.
If you don't want to risk having your bills sent internationally, you may choose to set up an automatic payment plan for your credit card bills, or you can prepay them. You should also keep a record of all the addresses of any business or organization you have dealt with recently.
Keep in mind that sending mail overseas can take a substantial amount of time. If you have to pay bills by mail, try to send payments a month before they are due.
As you move into your new country, you will be faced with several customs regulations regarding what you can bring into the country. The following are some tips for getting through customs:
There are certainly a lot of things you have to do before moving to another country, but that should be expected when making such a drastic change. While it may take a while to get adjusted to life in your foreign home, preparing yourself well in advance can only make the transition easier.
- Levying of Duty – When you and your goods arrive in your new country, you may have to pay duty on such items as tobacco, alcohol, electronics, household appliances, medicine, and motor vehicle parts. Before you leave, contact a consular office to get a definitive list of what you can bring into your new country tariff free.
- Restricted Items – There are several items that you won't be able to bring into other countries. The list of restricted items will differ for each country, but you can assume that poisonous chemicals, hazardous materials, and explosives will not be accepted in any country. Additionally, some not-so-obvious things like plants, seeds, rare animals, animal products, and firearms will be refused entry into many countries. Bringing along a restricted item may result in a delay in the release of your belongings, large fines, or the possible seizure of your entire shipment.
- Transporting Documents – It is recommended that you carry all of your important documents on your person during the move, rather than packing them away with the rest of belongings. Keep them safe in a briefcase or a sealed portfolio as you travel. If you need to show documentation as you're traveling, you will have easy access to these materials.
- Pets – Bringing a pet along on your international move can be a long and expensive process. As with everything, different countries have their own policies and restrictions when it comes to bringing in pets. You should first find out if you pet will be allowed in the country, some types of animals and even dog breeds won't be permitted in certain countries. If your pet will be allowed into the country, make sure you know what documents are needed, such as vaccination and medical records. You will also have to make arrangements for your pet to be quarantined upon arrival.
- Medicine – If you take any prescription medications, you should check to see if your specific medication can be brought into your new country. You will also need to find out if you can get more of your medicine in your new country. Keep in mind that medicines may be listed by their generic names, so talk to your doctor before leaving to get this information. Additionally, certain medications that you need a prescription for in your home country may be available over the counter in other countries, and vice versa.
- Antiquities – You may have to pay some duty if you plan on bringing your antiques to your new country, the age of the antiques will determine if they can be carried duty-free. Make sure you have an appraiser assess your antiques, and bring his or her report along with you. Remember, objects made from rare animal parts, like ivory, leather, and feathers may be restricted. Also, consider how the climate of your new location will affect your valuable antiques or artwork.