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International Moving Tips

Most people will not move from one country to another at any time in their lives. Moving once is unusual. In the United States, few people move abroad. Those that do move internationally usually do so for family or business reasons, to retire or to work for a few years. You usually can’t rely on your friends and neighbors for advice about moving, as most of them have not moved overseas themselves. We will try to provide you with some tips that will help you prepare to move to a new country.

The Most Important International Moving Tip – Plan Early

The most important tip that we can give to anyone moving abroad is to start planning early.

Get Your Visas and Passports

Most people will need to visit the consulate of the country they want to move to, sometimes several times, in order to receive immigration visas, long term residence permits or work visas. For many countries, returning citizens will also need to obtain documents from the citizens’ services section of the consulate including proof of your time living abroad, proving citizenship of children born while you were in the United States and if you have married someone who is not a citizen, an appropriate type of visa.

When you are at the consulate, make sure that you get updated information about what you can and cannot import tax-free, what vehicles you can send. Your SDC relocation specialist should be able to help with this information as well.

If you are an American citizen, renew your American passports before you leave the country. Renewing your US passport from outside of the country is far more difficult, and your new passport will be good for 10 years. Do yourself a favor, and renew it now. See the official US passport information page for details.

Prepare Your Pets

If you want your pet to relocate with the rest of your family, it will often require a lot of preplanning, in some cases up to a year. This will differ from country to country, with some countries requiring specific immunizations. Every country will require that you supply a clean bill of health from the vet. Radio ID chips are commonly necessary. Obtain a recent veterinary report of good health and have your vet fill in the USDA APHIS form within 10 days of travel. See the official USDA pet travel site and speak to the consulate of your destination country for details.

Contract SDC International Shipping

SDC International Shipping is an experienced provider of relocation and cargo and will be able to pack and ship your household goods and personal effect, even if you call us only a few days before your move. We will manage to pick up your things at short notice, but it might take some time to get them on to a boat.

Most international moves will require the coordination of several different service providers, such as cargo ships, customs agents and our movers. Most people also want to receive their shipments in a timely fashion. Shipping times vary from 4 to 10 weeks, depending on the exact origin and destination locations. Most of our clients want to get their shipment as soon as possible, when we have the time to plan your move, we have a better opportunity to reduce the total shipping time.

Just like airlines and trains, shipping lines have set schedules and many different ways to get from one city to another at different prices. To get you the best combination of time and money, we need to be able to book a container for you on a ship.

We recommend that you book your moving date with SDC International Shipping 2 – 3 months before your move.

Prepare Things that You Will Need in Your New Home

There are many things that you will want to stock up on and stick into your container. Sufficient American clothes and toiletries should be sent in your container. Please note that there are many countries where you should not ship liquids, but this does not mean that you can’t send several bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc. Many destination countries will not have comparable products. 

Also, it should be noted that in most Far Eastern countries, clothes that fit tall or large Americans will not be readily available in stores. It is highly recommended to stock up on clothes, shoes, outerwear, etc. Also, take into account the seasonal changes. If you are moving to a warmer or cooler climate, obtain stocks of these items to be placed into your shipment.

Prepare to Close Down and Cancel Services

You probably have many subscriptions and services that you will no longer need once you leave the country. These include your phone service, internet service. If you have utilities in your name, make sure that they have been transferred to somebody else or closed down.

For most people in will be convenient to maintain an American bank account and credit cards. If you have many of each, you might want to consolidate them. Make sure that you have the right American credit cards in your wallet. You’re no longer looking for a card with bonus miles, but for a credit card that won’t have “international” charges that might increase your cost of using them abroad as much as 4%.

If you are retiring abroad, many countries will demand that you transfer a certain minimum amount of money or show a monthly income into a local bank. Most Americans retiring abroad will still have some income in the United States. For instance, it will be far easier to have Social Security paid directly.

Make a Visit to your New Home

Another important piece of advice that we give to anyone moving abroad is to make an early trip to the destination. In the modern era, we can get a lot accomplished over the internet, but things get misunderstood in translation. Even if you speak the language, terms that you have become accustomed to in the USA do not mean the same thing in other countries.

Measure the Residence

If you have managed to contract a house for your move, congratulations, you are way ahead of the curve. If not, when you go to visit your destination city, ask a realtor to show you some homes. In either case, take a tape measure with you, and when in a typical dwelling make accurate measurements of room sizes, door openings (both internal and external) and garden sizes.

Will your piano fit? How about your beds? You will want to send your furniture. In most places, there won’t be any problems, but some places will have smaller sized rooms, and you might want to consider downsizing before you go.

Visit a Bank

If you can set up a bank account before you move it will be much easier for you later. For an international transfer, your American bank will require you to be physically present to transfer money. If you have a close family member you trust, add them to your American bank account, so that they can help you when you are abroad.

Check Out Schools

Are you moving with your children? You will need to enroll your children in educational institutions. In most places you will need to show residence, such as a rental contract, to enroll in the public education system. If you prefer to send your children to private schools, spaces are often limited and registering early is necessary.

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