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12 Essential International Moving Tips

Published on Aug 04, 2021 by Kfir Cohen

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 who move internationally usually do so for family or business reasons to retire or 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 to help you prepare to move to a new country.


What’s on this page?

01 | Do Not Pack Your Important Documents
02 | Prepare Your Pets
03 | Prepare Things that You Will Need in Your New Home
04 | Prepare to Close Down and Cancel Services
05 | Make a Visit to your New Home
06 | Visit a Bank
07 | Check Out Schools
08 | Use Clothes and Linens to Wrap Items
09 | Handling Electronics
10 | Zip it Up
11 | Take Advantage of Quality Boxes
12 | Contract SDC International Shipping


1. Do Not Pack Your Important Documents

Here’s what I’d like to share with all of you about packing.

Do not pack your important documents such as W-2s, birth certificates, income statements, tax returns, etc., along with other household goods. Make sure you have all your documents with you in your carry-on luggage.

If you need to apply for a mortgage or other loan, no need to wait for the moving company to deliver your goods (which would take weeks!).

Most people will need to visit the country’s consulate they want to move to, sometimes several times, 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 the 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, ensure that you get updated information about what you can and cannot import tax-free and 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 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.


2. 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.


3. 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 shampoo bottles, conditioners, etc. Many destination countries will not have comparable products. 

Read more: The Ultimate International Relocation Checklist

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.


4. 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 they have been transferred to somebody else or closed down.

For most people, it will be convenient to maintain an American bank account and credit card. 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 by 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 to 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.


5. 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. We can get a lot accomplished over the internet in the modern era, but things get misunderstood in translation. Even if you speak the language, terms you have become accustomed to in the USA do not mean the same thing in other countries.

If you have managed to contract a house for your move, congratulations, you are way ahead of the curve. If not, when you 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. There won’t be any problems in most places, but some places will have smaller-sized rooms, and you might want to consider downsizing before you go.


6. Visit a Bank

If you can set up a bank account before you move, it will be 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 to help you when you are abroad.


7. Check Out Schools

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


8. Use Clothes and Linens to Wrap Items

Bubble wrap and moving paper comes in handy when wrapping fragile items. If you really want to save on money and space, wrap your goods in extra towels, linens, or out-of-season clothes. You’re essentially killing 2 birds with 1 stone. Not only will you be packing your softer items, but you’ll be protecting your delicate ones too.


9. Handling Electronics

Before unplugging your electronics such as a TV/DVD player, desktop computer, printer, take a picture of the wiring. This way, when you are setting up everything at your new place, it won’t take you nearly as long. Taking a photo acts as a visual reminder.


10. Zip it Up

When taking apart electronics, store any wires or pieces in a baggy. A gallon size will keep the different cables for the electronics, while a quart size bag holds screws and fastenings for shelves, cabinets, etc. A smart move would be to tape the bag to the main item, so you aren’t digging through each bag trying to match up wires/screws to the items.


11. Take Advantage of Quality Boxes

Free boxes are usually offered through any good moving company in the area. Most boxes will come mismatched, so it’s best to invest in sturdier boxes if you have money to spare. Once you are done with them, you can break them down, sell, or save them for your next move. Avoid keeping them near damp areas, or they will begin to disintegrate.

When you need a quality moving company, feel free to call SDC International Movers. Our company offers 24/7 shipment tracking and free storage for 30 days. Get a free estimate from our consultants and the best service. We have many years of experience getting families and individuals to every country around the globe!


12. Contract International Shipping Company

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 onto a boat.

Most international moves will require coordinating 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.

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