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Documents You'll Need for International Relocation

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Moving abroad is an exciting but intricately complicated venture. It requires significant planning and research to determine exactly what is necessary to execute the move effectively. The specific regulations of your destination country as well as the length and purpose of your stay will determine the documents and paperwork needed for your relocation. As soon as you make the decision to move, you should contact your host country's consulate to find more information on what documents are needed to get entry into their borders. Many countries also require all permits and visas to be in place before you can import goods or motor vehicles into their country.

Documents You will Need for International Relocation

To get you started, the following guide will provide you with a little background information on the documents you will need to move to another country.


A passport is government-issued id that certifies the identity and nationality of the holder and authorizes international travel. This document is one of the most essential things you'll need for international relocation- a passport usually required for entry into a foreign country, with few exceptions.

  • Passports are valid for a period of five years--before making an international move, verify that your passport is up-to-date and will not expire soon after you arrive.

    Note: Some countries will not permit entry if your passport will expire during the intended period of your stay. Make sure all family members have valid passports as well.
  • If you are not having a passport, you should begin the process of application at least several months before you move. Because the procedure for obtaining a passport can take several weeks/months to complete. You can get a passport at your local post office or library.

    You'll need the following things in order to get a passport for your move.
    • Approved photo I.D. (driver's license, military I.D., government I.D. card, etc.)
    • Birth certificate,
    • An appropriate DS-11 form, available on the U.S Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website
    • You will also need a valid photograph (passport photographs must adhere to strict regulations)

Remember, there is a required fee for obtaining a passport--the amount will vary depending on if you need a passport card and book, or just the card. Visit the U.S Department of State's website for more information.


A visa is authorization by the government of your destination country that permits you to remain within its borders for a specified purpose and period of time. A visa may be provided as a separate document or may be stamped onto your passport. There are many different types of visas, and the kind that you need will depend on the duration of your move, purpose of your relocation, and the country you are moving to.

Some of the types of visas include:

  • Short-stay visa (for those who stays temporarily, this includes -- tourist visa, medical visa and business visa)
  • Long-stay visa (for those who stay for longer period), and
  • Residence visa (for those seeking permanent or long-term residence)

Most European countries do not require a visa for tourist or business-related visits less than three months (90 days), while many other countries do. If you're planning a scouting visit before you make a move, you need to search for your house to stay or to familiarize yourself with the area --you may need a tourist visa or no visa at all. Before you move, consult the country's consulate office for more information on visa requirements for short stays.

Most countries require a visa if you intend to take up residence, conduct business, or begin employment in the country. However, a visa does not necessarily authorize the holder to work in the country--you may need to acquire an additional work permit or work visa.

A visa will be issued by the consulate office of your destination country located in your home country. You will usually need to obtain your visa prior to relocating--however, it may also be acquired at the port of entry depending on the country.

Work permit

In addition to your passport and visa, you will usually need a work permit to begin employment in your new country. If you are relocating for a job, your employer can usually help in obtaining your permit. Depending on the country, work permits can be difficult to obtain. Some countries only allow one spouse to be employed and will not permit both you and your wife/husband to acquire permits. If your spouse intends to work as well, be sure not to list them as a dependent on your own work permit or any other documentation.

Rules and regulations for receiving a work permit will vary depending on the country you are relocating to. Speak with your nation's consulate authorities to get more information on the regulations and the entry requirements in your destination country.

Marriage certificate

A marriage certificate is a proof of your marital relationship. These certificates are usually necessary for changing your last name and for tax purposes. So, when you're moving overseas, don't forget to take your marriage certificate with you. You will never know when this handy document is needed, so keep it in a safe place before you move. Medical records

After all, you'll never know when an illness will strike. So, whether if you're moving overseas for just a short period or for a long period of time, don't forget to bring all medical records with you.

Birth certificate

A birth certificate is another important document required when you're traveling internationally. This document identifies a person's name, gender, date of birth, place of birth, and parents. If you can't find your birth certificate at home, check with your parents or request the government to provide another copy from their records.

Other important documents required when moving abroad

There are many important documents you and your family will need when moving overseas to establish identity, verify legal arrangements, pay taxes, and apply for licenses and permits. They include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Dental records
  • Driver's license
  • School records
  • Adoption papers
  • Financial records
  • Social Security cards
  • Immunization certificates
  • Tax records
  • Medical insurance documents
  • Divorce/child custody papers
  • Wills
  • Power of attorney
  • Veterinary International Health certificate (for pets)

Note: Make sure you carry multiple copies of these documents, and do not pack them with your goods to be shipped by the international movers. Pack them with your luggage to be taken with you on the plane--preferably in your carry-on to ensure that they do not become lost during your travel.

Now that you know what documents you should bring to the new country, it's time to know what to expect on your moving day - what to check for and what are the things to consider when moving abroad.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on April 4, 2013

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