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How to move overseas

Moving to a new property can be stressful enough even when it’s within your own country. Insurance, packing and transport all take time to arrange and process, to say nothing of your utilities, insurance, tax information and so on. In short, while the chance to move to a completely new area can be a wonderful and exciting experience, there is still a lot that can go wrong!

Moving overseas adds several additional factors to consider. Even before getting started with the necessary paperwork, you will need to know the answers to questions like:

  • Why you are moving?
  • How long you are moving for?
  • Whether you are taking children, pets or vehicles?
  • How much you want to take with you?

Needless to say, all of this can be difficult to plan, especially if you leave things until the last minute. However, if you give yourself a clear list of what to do and plenty of time to go through everything, you could save yourself a huge amount of stress and avoid any unnecessary delays to starting your big international adventure.

Here is our definitive checklist for moving abroad!

Checklist for moving abroad from the UK

Visa information

Processing all of the necessary paperwork for your international move will be vital if you want to be able to remain at your destination without any problems. The requirements in terms of obtaining a visa, or even if you require one at all, can vary considerably depending on where you are moving to, how long for and for what reason.

For example, if you are a UK citizen, you can visit, live and work in other EU countries with few restrictions, thanks to ‘Freedom of Movement’ law. You would not require a visa to get a job in Spain or France, for instance. In certain cases, however, this will only be valid for a set amount of time. It is also currently unclear about whether UK citizens will still be able to enjoy this freedom in the future, following the Brexit referendum.

There will be even more hoops to jump through if you are moving outside of the EU. It may well take weeks to process your paperwork, especially if you are planning to live and work abroad permanently.

Luckily, there are thousands of British expats who move overseas every year. You will find no shortage of advice online, and you may even be able to find fellow Brits who are already living in your new locale. It will also be a good idea to contact the nearest embassy or consulate for your destination country, as the staff there should be able to tell you exactly what will be required to process your move.

Finally, it is worth keeping in mind that, regardless of whether or not you need a visa, you will still require a fully valid and up to date passport!

Research your destination

To make the international transition as easy as possible, it will be worth taking the time to research your local area. You can save yourself a great deal of time and stress upon arrival if you already know what to expect in terms of:

  • Local emergency services
  • Doctors
  • International bank
  • Local bank (so you can quickly have a bank account)
  • Schools
  • Shops
  • Transportation (roads, buses, trains, cycle paths and so on)
  • Local activities (this can be a great way to make friends and get to know your new locale)

Taxes, taxes, taxes!

Before leaving, you will need to inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This will help you to avoid still being charged UK tax following your departure. Luckily, the process should be fairly simple. You can start by letting the HMRC know about your moving date and destination, as well as whether or not you are planning to move there permanently.

Moving abroad for a year or more to live or work full time will class you as a ‘non-resident’ to the UK tax authorities, though paying taxes to your new home country will be another matter entirely.

If you will be working abroad full time for a British employer for at least one tax year, you will need to complete and submit a self-assessment form. A P85 form will also be required if you need to claim a tax repayment.

Moving abroad with your vehicle

If you are used to driving in the UK, you may be planning to take your vehicle with you to your new home country. However, international plates will only get you so far, and you do not want to run into trouble on unfamiliar roads.

Start by researching local driving laws for your destination. The biggest difference will likely be having to drive on the other side of the road. However, there are also other changes to consider. Road signs, and even common features like zebra crossings, may have completely different meanings in your new locale. Foreign countries also commonly have different standards in terms of roadworthiness, so be prepared to spend a little on getting your vehicle up to scratch if necessary.

As long as you have a full UK driving licence, you should have no trouble driving your vehicle in Europe (though in Switzerland you will also need to be 18 or over). If you are moving outside of Europe, you will need to request an International Driving Permit from your local Post Office.

Moving your vehicle outside of the country for 12 months or more will class it as a ‘permanent export’. This is something that you will need to confirm with the Driver and Vehicle Licence Authority (DVLA) in advance of your moving day.

It will also be a good idea to contact your vehicle’s insurance provider. If your policy does not cover driving internationally, you may need to arrange for additional coverage, so be prepared to look at different rates if you have time

To avoid any unwelcome surprises, simply take the time to get in touch with the DVLA in the months leading up to your move. Let them know where you are moving to and what kind of vehicle you intend to take with you. They should be able to give you a list of the steps that you will need to take.

Of course, another option is to simply look at the availability of bus, rail and cycle links at your destination. Depending on what public transport is like there, having a vehicle of your own may be a completely unnecessary expense.

Moving abroad with a pet

As stressful as moving abroad can be, the thought of doing so without your furry friend could seem even worse. However, most countries will have clear regulations when it comes to importing animals and pet relocation. Your pet might be the friendliest ball of fluff in the world, but that won’t do you any favours once you reach the border!

Once you have a moving date, get in touch with your veterinarian. They will be able to schedule any necessary vaccinations for your pet and provide advice on how to transport them safely.

If you have a dog, cat or ferret, they will need to be microchipped in advance of the move. Make sure you use an ISO 11784/11785-standard microchip, as otherwise, you may need to provide your own scanner. Once your pet has been microchipped, they can be safely vaccinated.

While we may well sound like a broken record when we say this, it will be important to make these arrangements in plenty of time. For example, in most cases, your pet will need to be vaccinated at least 21 days before travelling.

If you are moving within the European Union, your vet should be able to help you secure an ‘EU Pet Passport’. As the name implies, this will allow you to take your pet with you across European borders. It will also contain all of the most important information on your pet, such as the date of their most recent vaccinations and contact details for their owner.

Medical care

Even if you are only moving abroad temporarily, it will be important to prepare yourself in case of a medical emergency. The provision of short-term medical care at your destination may be completely different from what you are used to, and you will not want to end up facing any substantial medical bills.

If you are travelling in Europe, it will be best to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will reduce the cost of your health care in some countries, or allow you to get it free of charge in others. You will be able to apply for an EHIC via the NHS, though as usual, it will be important to do so several weeks in advance to allow time for your information to be properly processed and your card delivered.

Travelling outside of Europe will likely require you to obtain medical insurance. If you are moving permanently, you may also need to sign on with the local social insurance system in order to take out private health insurance.

Before the move itself, book an appointment with your current GP. They will be able to book you in for any required immunisations for your location, as well as help you plan all of the necessary paperwork.

Booking an international removal company

While everything we have talked about so far may sound like a lot of work, there is still more to consider when planning an international move. Packing and transporting your belongings will be a huge job in itself, especially when driving on completely unfamiliar roads. Worse yet, the insurance required to safely get your belongings from A to B could be extortionate.

Because of this, it will definitely be worth collecting quotes from international removal companies near you. Not only will they be able to talk you through the planning aspects, such as any relevant importation laws, but they will also be able to provide all of the equipment, expertise and insurance to ensure that all of your belongings arrive safe and sound.

Finally, make sure that you book your chosen removal company in plenty of time. It is not uncommon for removal company schedules to fill up weeks or even months in advance. Even if this is not the case, you may still need to pay last minute booking fees if you leave things too late.

We provide experienced and expert European removals from £79. Get your European removal quote here.

Moving? Don't Panic!
Get ready with our top tips.
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