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Moving to Europe from US

Published on Dec 16, 2019 by Kfir Cohen

Find out how to relocate to Europe from the United States. If you are planning on moving to Europe, get answers to your moving questions in our comprehensive guide.

Moving to Europe from the USA

Are you relocating your family from the United States to Europe? Of course Europe is as varied in cultures and climates as the United States.

However, there are some things that are very similar throughout all European Union and you should expect to be nearly uniform.

Choosing a New Home

Why are you moving? Many people move become they want to live in close proximity to family. Other people move for job opportunities. Some people move because they want to me close to European cultural centers. There are those who want to retire somewhere different, somewhere classic. And then there are those who just want to start over.

From Mediterranean islands to Nordic winters, you can probably find what you want somewhere in Europe.

Choosing your target destination will be the first step in relocation.

Visit your Destination Many Times

Visiting Paris and living in Paris are not the same thing. You might love visiting year after year, but moving might not be the same. We highly recommend that you visit your target destination and try to get along as a resident, not a tourist. Rent an apartment, meet real estate agent and employment agencies. Try getting along in only the local language, without relying upon English. If you find this difficult, you might want to look for a destination where there are many English speakers. There are many locations where many UK residents choose to retire, and these might be a better choice for you if you can’t manage in another language.

This experience will help you greatly. You might figure out that you prefer to live in a suburb, or even another city.

Apply for a Visa

If you have decided that you would rather live in Europe than in the United States, for whatever reasons you choose, you need to apply for a visa to the nation you want to live in. The rules for the different nations are similar, yet some grant permanent residency visas, other immigration visas, and some offer a long term temporary residency.

You should start getting preliminary information from the website of your destination country’s embassy in the United States. They are usually updated with the latest regulations. Most countries will require that you have an actual interview requiring you to visit a consulate.

Please note that not all visas are the same, and you need to apply for the one that best suits you. If you are retiring you do not need to meet the same requirements as someone with a work visa, but you might not be permitted to work.

Even if you are a citizen of the country you are moving to, you might have to visit the consulate for administrative purposes. For instance, if you were married or divorced while living in the United States, you will have to update your status. Spouses are granted residency visas, but not automatic citizenship in all countries. Also, if children were born to you while in the USA and they have not yet been registered as citizens, you should do this right away.

Rules will differ for citizens of EU member countries moving to another EU country. Ask the consulate of your destination country for details. If you have French citizenship, for instance, and want to move to Spain, you might have to visit both countries’ consulates.

Reserve Your Relocation with SDC

Please contact SDC International Shipping early. The sooner we know about your relocation, the better the deal we can get for you. Early planning can also help us reduce your overall shipment time.

Reserving your shipment will also help you get things in order. If you are sending a 20’ container, it has the capacity of 1100 cubic feet, or the contents of a typical 3 bedroom house.

Make sure to ask your SDC relocation specialist about our groupage consolidations. Even if you are sending 1100 cubic feet of cargo, it will still be a better option. Why limit yourself to 1100 cubic feet. What happens if you want to send 1350 cubic feet? It certainly doesn’t make sense to send a 40’ container for this. Because we have such a tremendous volume of shipments to Europe, we can make our own consolidations. These are typically done by specialty consolidation operators who will send the cargo of several people together, combining them in a single container, and then separating them in Europe. This is a good system, and we make it even better by reducing the deconsolidation fees charged by these operators and pass the savings on to our clinets.

Make another Trip

Now that you have your immigration or long term residency visa, it is time to make another trip.

This time you should already try finding a place to live. Even if you don’t manage to sign a contract for a specific property, this will give you a really good idea about the types of dwellings available where you want to live, their size and cost. If you can, measure the size of doors and bedrooms, we want to make sure that your furniture will fit in to it.

Some other things that you should start exploring include health insurance options, schools, and finances.

Health and Insurance

In America, most people have healthcare insurance provided through their employer. In most European countries have some sort of universal health care coverage which is very different. These usually include emergency care and some degree of coverage for regular health care. In most countries any legal resident can use these. You will have to check this, as there will countries with a waiting period before you can start enjoying benefits. In others, private health insurance will be a condition of your long term visa.

In many countries, you will find that the public health care is insufficient and that you need to supplement it with private insurance.

Though you don’t typically need to translate medical documents into other languages when moving to Europe, it is still a very good idea to get your medical records in order. Visit your key doctors and have them write summaries of any medical situations and histories that will be important for your new doctor to know about.

Make sure that your vaccinations are complete. You should have all available vaccinations. The CDC publishes a list of recommendations by country found here. Europe does not have any special diseases like East Asia and Africa that require particular vaccinations, and most American who have kept to the recommended vaccination schedule will be fine. However, bring documentation of this, as it is usually a condition of enrollment in schools.


You should try to open a bank account before you move. Current financial regulations aimed at reducing money laundering make transferring money from the United States to other countries more difficult. It will be hard for you to initiate transfers of funds from the USA to a foreign bank if you haven’t already set this up as a regular transfer destination. Having the other bank account on your name as well makes it much easier.

If you plan on having social security payments make there, arrange this after you have opened the account. There are many American banks that do not charge monthly fees. If you don’t have one of these, consider transferring to one, as it will be convenient to you to maintain an American account, but it will have less activity than when you lived in the USA.

Make sure that you will have access to your American bank account while you are living abroad. You will probably have to be able to have access to text messages with a US telephone number. Look into getting an app for your smartphone with a virtual telephone number that can receive these messages. Add the number to your bank account and make sure that you can access the account using this number.

Credit cards are a good way to access your US funds. Check that your credit card has no foreign transaction fees. There are many major credit cards that don’t charge for these, while others can add up to 3% on each transaction.Try to make extremely conservative estimates how much money you need to get started. Expect to make less and spend more. Make sure that you have this much money read

5 / 5 ( 2 votes )

By Kfir Cohen

Kfir Cohen is handling global operations, cargo shipping, negotiation, and management of different suppliers around the world. He has more than 15 years of experience in the avant-garde of relocation and the sea/air freight business.
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