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A critical checklist for moving from one country to another

Moving home is complicated and can be stressful, even when it’s not international! When you move overseas, even hopping across one border, so many things have to be done to make sure the transition from one country to another is as smooth as possible. Here’s my 13-point checklist to help you remember the essentials…

  1. Local Authorities

Notify your local town hall and leave a forwarding address. If you are registered to vote locally, notify the authorities before you leave and re-register on the electoral role, if appropriate, in the new place of residence. Check if there is an exit visa required to leave too.

  1. Residency cards

If you have a long-stay visa and are leaving before it expires, be sure to notify the authorities of your departure and your new address, as it will help you return if you decide to do that.

  1. Education

Give your children’s schools as much notice as possible. Many schools require a certificate to register your children, which states the latest grade passed by your child. Request this document from the school when you give notice of departure.

  1. Ending a rental agreement

Rental agreements usually have a minimum notice period, which must be observed. There may or may not be a refundable deposit or a penalty payment if the rental is being terminated earlier than anticipated.

  1. Insurance

House Insurance or House Contents Insurance can be cancelled once a new location has been decided on. In some countries the cancellation must be in writing and the letter sent by recorded delivery.

  1. Utility Bills

As with any house move, there are utility bills (gas, electricity, water) to be settled and meters to be read. If meters are not outside, access to the property will be required. Leave a forwarding address with all the companies involved. Take photos of the final readings.

  1. Telephone and Internet

Different countries and providers have different rules regarding termination of a contract. Some companies insist on having their equipment, i.e. a router returned to them, while others don’t.

  1. Healthcare

Any private health insurance cover which has been in will probably need to be change or cancelled. If you have received dental or medical treatment while in your current country of residence, you should ask for copies of records or ask to have them forwarded to your new practitioner. (The former option is probably the safest thing to do.)

  1. Banking

To settle all final bills, it’s likely that a local bank account will be needed for a short period, so don’t rush to close down everything. Account closures should be done either in person at the branch where they were opened or by letter sent by recorded delivery to the branch. This letter needs to contain instructions for the disposal of any remaining balance. Note that banks may try to charge for closing an account, but they are no longer legally permitted to do so. Leave a forwarding address for future correspondence. Credit card companies will also need to be notified of a new address for statements.

  1. Tax

Anyone who has been completing a local tax return should get in touch with the local tax office – there may be outstanding payments or refunds due.

  1. Mail

Set up a mail forwarding service. I think it’s best to slightly over-estimate the amount of time it will take to let all the companies who send you mail know your new address.

  1. Vehicles and Driving

If you decide to keep your car, check the rules about exporting and importing. In France, for example, vehicles registered there (including cars that have been imported and subsequently re-registered in France) can leave the country with their French plates. As a rule, a maximum of three months is allowed before the vehicle should be registered in a new place of residence and the French plates given up. Be sure to ask your insurance company for your No Claims Bonus before you sign off from them.

  1. Animals

Depending on the destination, some animals may require a period of quarantine. They will almost certainly require documentation and possible additional vaccinations or similar medical treatment. Most domestic pets require documentation before they can travel. The EU pet passport covers dogs, cats and ferrets for movement within Europe and the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) allows qualifying domestic pets to travel to and from the UK without a period of quarantine. Be aware that sudden outbreaks of diseases (such as avian flu) can affect pet travel. As a rule, animals have to travel in approved containers and by approved routes.

If there is any doubt about vaccinations and passports for your pets consult your vet well before departure.

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