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How to Move Abroad

While it's easy to dream of a move abroad, reality can present challenges. Take the necessary precautions and prepare a checklist before leaving.


  • Step 1: Assess how much money you'll need Assess how much money you'll need and learn your destination country's currency exchange rate. The dollar may not buy as much as you think it will.
  • Step 2: Contact a country's tourist board Contact your destination country's tourist board for residency and visa requirements. Start the inquiry process 3 to 6 months before you leave.
  • TIP: In countries like Spain, it can take years when applying for a residency visa due to bureaucratic red tape.
  • Step 3: Find a residence before you move Find a residence before you move. Forward your mail through a mail service or through a trusted friend if you already know your address.
  • Step 4: Sell or give away things you don't need Sell or give away things you don't need, including your car. Parts for some cars can be expensive or unavailable if you try to bring your car abroad. Also be aware of shipping restrictions or duties.
  • TIP: Don't move your appliances unless you've verified that they will work in your new country. Voltages vary depending on the country, and you may have to purchase new electronics.
  • Step 5: Choose an international shipper Choose an international shipper if you can't part with your stuff. Check online for shippers that are certified members of RIM (Registered International Mover).
  • Step 6: Get a complete physical Get a complete physical, including vaccinations, before you go. If you use prescription medication, take enough to last until you find a doctor abroad.
  • Step 7: Register with the U.S. Embassy If you are American, register online with the U.S. Embassy for protection in case of an emergency. Go to the State Department website for country-specific safety warnings.
  • Step 8: Take copies of vital records Take copies of vital records, including birth certificates and tax returns. Also take insurance, bank, health, business, and government contact information. Once you arrive, learn the culture and customs of your new country and enjoy your new environment.
  • FACT: Ireland grants automatic dual citizenship for Irish-Americans who can prove at least one of their grandparents was born in Ireland.

You Will Need

  • Financial resources
  • Research
  • International shipper
  • Physical
  • Registration
  • Vital records

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