moving to foreign country

Moving to a foreign country is not like moving out of state. Whether you are moving to take a job, or because you have decided to leave your job forever, there are numerous important steps you need to take to make sure you are ready for what is to come.

Some of the guidance for moving overseas will depend on how long you are staying. If you are moving for a year, that’s one thing. If you are expatriating to start a new life in a foreign country, that is another matter altogether. However, in any case, there are a number of common steps involved in getting ready to relocate from the United States.

If you are preparing to move overseas from the United States, you should…

  1. Renew your passport. If you obtained your U.S. passport after you turned 16, it is valid for ten years. If you were under 16, it is only good for five years. To avoid your passport expiring while you are overseas, you can renew it before you go. Plus, you have to submit your old passport with your renewal application, and some countries won’t let you cross their borders unless your passport has at least six months of validity remaining.
  2. Get your visa. In most cases, you will need a specific type of travel or work visa in order to move to another country. Each country has its own unique requirements, and you will need to plan ahead to make sure that issues with your documentation don’t delay your move.
  3. Collect your important documents. Whether you will be taking them with you or leaving them with a parent, friend, or loved one, it is important to make sure that you have all of your important documents stored in a secure and accessible location. Certain documents – like your birth certificate and passport – you will need to take with you, but others you may be able to leave behind or scan and store online. /expat-planning/store-important-documents-securely-online-offline/
  4. Make sure your contract commitments won’t automatically renew. From apartment leases to cell phone contracts, many things that most people pay for each month are governed by contracts that automatically renew. In other words, if you don’t properly terminate your lease or phone contract, you could be on the hook for another year (or more) while you are living your life overseas.
  5. Cancel your memberships and subscriptions. While they may not automatically renew for long-term commitments, other bills will keep coming in unless you stop them as well. Magazines, video streaming, automatic grocery delivery – it’s time for all of these things to go.
  6. Pay for your domestic storage. If you are planning to come back to the United States (or at least keeping open the possibility), you will likely be leaving some things behind. To avoid having your stuff show up on an episode of Storage Wars, consider paying for your storage in advance.
  7. Update your address EVERYWHERE. From your last employer to your bank, make sure that everyone you can think of has your new address (or your forwarding address—see below). You don’t want your personal information going to your old place and ending up in the hands of someone else.
  8. Have your mail forwarded. Even if you are sure that you’ve updated your address with everyone, you should still have your mail forwarded through the U.S. Postal Service. Forwarding your mail is easy (you can do it online), and will help make sure that you don’t accidentally go into collections on any outstanding bills. Another option is simply to have your mail held at the post office.
  9. Get your health checked. Even if you are moving somewhere with a great healthcare system, it is still a good idea to get checked out before moving overseas. If you are losing your employer’s health insurance, it can be a huge cost-saver as well.
  10. Make sure you will still have access to your funds and credit. With many banks, if you are moving overseas and keeping a U.S. bank or credit account, you will need to obtain an international debit or credit card. Deal with this before you go—you do not want to land in a new country and find out that you can’t access your funds.
  11. Remember that you’ll need to pay taxes one more time. Make a note that you will still have to pay taxes next April 15. When you’re getting settled in a new country, it’s easy to forget that you still owe the rest of last year’s taxes to Uncle Sam.
  12. Put together your estate plan. Finally, don’t neglect your estate plan. If you already have an estate plan, it is important to make sure that it will still function as intended after you move—international probate and property vary widely. If you don’t yet have an estate plan, moving overseas is a great excuse to finally get yourself to commit to putting a plan in place.

Jiah Kim & Associates | Estate Planning and Business Lawyers for Expats and Digital Nomads

At Jiah Kim & Associates, we help expats, digital nomads, and global travelers with all of their estate planning and business-related legal needs. If you have questions about moving overseas, call (646) 389-5065 or request a consultation online today.

This blog post is written for educational and general information purposes only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. You understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the blog publisher. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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