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The Ultimate Moving Abroad Checklist

Ashleigh Williams

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

8th Aug 2022 (Last updated on 23rd May 2023) 10 minute read

When you’re moving abroad, there are so many things to consider. From where you’re relocating to and the shipping costs, to the affordability of the country and organising your finances.

Having a detailed checklist is a must. In this article, we have put together the ultimate moving abroad checklist, to help you keep up with everything you need to plan.

  1. What to Consider When Moving to a New Country
  2. Planning Your Finances
  3. Getting Your Documents Together
  4. Taking Your Pet With You
  5. Organising Your Finances
  6. Finding an International Moving Company
  7. Shipping Your Belongings to Your New Home
  8. Insurance
  9. What to Do Shortly Before Moving Abroad
  10. What to Pack When Moving Abroad
  11. Common Mistakes to Avoid When Moving Abroad
  12. What are the Common Problems of Moving to Another Country?
Deciding Where to Move

Deciding where to move can be daunting if you’re unsure which country to choose. There are many options to consider.

To provide you with some inspiration, here is a table of the top 10 countries British expats move to based on our research:













United States


New Zealand







What to Consider When Moving to a New Country

Before you move to a new country there are many things you’ll want to consider and check. These considerations can help you decide whether a country is a suitable choice. It’s important to carry out a good amount of research before settling on a country.

  1. Language - You’ll want to be able to speak the native language of the country you're moving to, or have some understanding of it. The ability to learn the language is ideal as this will help when you’ve made your move.
  2. Affordability - It’s important to ensure you're able to afford to live. Every country has a different average living cost.
  3. Culture - Being respectful of the culture of a country is important. You need to be aware of the etiquette and specific way of living before relocating.
  4. Politics - The politics of a company can be a deciding factor. You should be happy with the political system. Check that it doesn’t conflict too drastically with your personal views or beliefs.
  5. Safety - It’s paramount to ensure the country and area you’re moving to is safe. Check the crime rates and whether there are safety procedures you'll need to follow.
  6. Laws - Laws in other countries can be different, and you're required to follow the rules of the country you are considering.
  7. Vaccines - Many countries will require vaccinations for relocation, especially concerning Covid-19. You may need additional vaccinations to cover diseases you’re not currently vaccinated for.
  8. Visas and permits - You’ll need to apply for either a visa or a permit. It’s important to apply for the correct visa well in advance of your move. This enables you to legally live in the country. There are many different visas on offer depending on the reason for your relocation. Each country has its own set of rules regarding this.

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    Planning Your Finances

    Before relocation, you need to get your finances in order. From closing accounts to the living costs, you need to ensure you can afford to live in the country.

    1. Living costs - Try to calculate the living costs of a country. This provides you with a better idea of whether you can finance living there. Living costs include bills, fuel, rent or mortgage payments, and general living costs. The price will fluctuate in different countries.
    2. Career prospects - It’s essential the career prospects of a country are suited to you and your qualifications. Securing a job as soon as possible ensures you’re able to live. Many people choose to apply for jobs before they relocate, and will move after accepting a new job.
    3. Pensions and support - Regardless of whether you’re close to retirement age, you need to ensure you have pensions and any necessary support in place. You can choose to have your pension transferred to the country you’re residing in.

      Getting Your Documents Together

      There are many documents you need when moving abroad, and it’s important you don’t forget them. Here is a list of the most common documents you will likely need:

      • Valid passport
      • Birth certificate
      • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
      • Driver’s licence (if applicable)
      • International driver’s license (if applicable)
      • Relevant visas and permits
      • National Insurance Card
      • Medical records
      • Home contents shipping inventory
      • Education certificates and any relevant qualifications
      • Social security card

      Check the government website of the country you’re relocating to. This ensures you have any extra documents you need. If you have digital access to documents this is useful in the event they become lost or misplaced.

      Taking Your Pet With You

      Many countries have strict rules and regulations to comply with when it comes to moving with pets, especially if you have exotic animals. This includes providing a pet passport, and ensuring your pet has received the correct vaccinations.

      You should plan transportation and carry out any other research well in advance to ensure your pet can travel on the same day as you. If you're moving to the Iberian Peninsula, our guide on taking a dog to Spain from the UK can be a great help.

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      Organising Your Finances

      Once you've planned your finances, you'll want to organise your existing finances. Tying up loose ends is important. You don’t want any active accounts in your old country of residence where possible.

      1. Bank accounts - You need to notify your bank account of your relocation. Your address needs to be changed, and you may want to change bank accounts. Withdrawing money or using your bank card in a different country will incur extra charges. Some bank accounts will waiver the charges for international transactions. Speak to your individual bank in regards to this.
      2. Taxes - When moving abroad, you must inform HMRC of this. You're required to fill out a p85 form. This form includes your p45 form or self-assessment tax return depending on your financial situation. For more information on taxes, visit the GOV.UK website. You may be required to pay additional taxes in some countries.
      3. Pensions - You will receive your pension regardless of your relocation. Inform your pension companies of your change in address before moving.
      4. Investments - Each investment will have its own set of rules. While some can continue when moving abroad, others will either need to be managed by someone in the UK or be cancelled completely.
      5. Estates - What you do with your estates is up to you. Some people choose to sell their homes, others keep them and rent them out. The legalities of this will vary depending on the option you consider.

      Finding an International Moving Company

      Whether you're moving to Portugal from the UK or any other country, you'll want to hire an international moving company when shipping furniture overseas. They help to take the stress out of packing and moving.

      Being covered by Public Liability and Goods in Transit Insurance, you can be assured that your household goods are in safe hands. As they’re experts in their field, they are able to move your goods quickly and efficiently. This process is far easier than attempting to do this yourself.

      Our Choosing an International Removals Company, and UK’s 10 Best International Movers and Packers articles cover international removals in more detail.

      You can use our international removals comparison service to find the best companies to help with your move. We match you with up to 6 verified and trusted partners, who are all trusted and verified.

      Shipping Your Belongings to Your New Home

      When relocating, you need to factor in the costs of shipping your belongings to your chosen country. The costs vary depending on your chosen location and the type of shipping used.

      Here are the average container shipping costs for the 10 most popular relocation destinations. This is based on our Container Shipping Costs article and international removal costs research:

      Country20ft Container40ft ContainerAir Freight (per 100kg)Road Freight (per pallet)


























      United States





      New Zealand




















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      Before relocating, you should have your insurance set up. The types of insurance policies you take out depend on individual circumstances and the country you’re moving to. Here are some of the most common types of insurance to consider:

      • Health
      • Home
      • Auto
      • Pet
      • Life
      • Travel

      What to Do Shortly Before Moving Abroad

      Before you move abroad, you should get your affairs in order. From typing up loose ends and closing bank accounts to notifying companies of your relocation plans, there is a lot to consider.

      This is what you need to do before moving abroad:

      1. Cancel subscriptions and utilities - Cancelling these means you don’t have to keep paying for subscriptions or services you’re not using. It allows providers enough time to close your account.
      2. Mail forwarding - To ensure you don’t miss any letters or parcels, arranging mail forwarding is useful. Changing your delivery address is important too.
      3. Financial tasks and obligations - If you have any financial tasks or obligations, these need to be ideally completed before moving.
      4. Requesting Documents - If you require any documents, such as a new passport, or insurance forms, request these in plenty of time. This includes applying for and sending off any relevant documents you may need.
      5. Medical and vets - Each country has a different healthcare system. Before relocating, research what’s accessible for you, and what you will need to cover with medical or health insurance. It's essential for pets to be health checked and to follow the country guidelines.
      6. Downsize and clear out - If you’re not moving imminently, downsizing can be useful to help save money. Clearing out your old goods will help you save space instead of transporting goods you don’t need.
      7. Bank transfers - Either close your account or set up an international account before moving. Opening a bank account in your relocation country can be a better option. This shouldn’t incur any extra charges.
      8. Local authority - You will need to cancel your council tax and inform the local authority of your imminent move. You will also want to check your rights to vote. Ex-pats can vote for up to 15 years after moving from the UK.
      9. Contacting people - You may need to notify other companies before moving abroad. This includes phone companies.

        What to Pack When Moving Abroad

        When moving, you ultimately need to pack all your belongings. From things like books and smartphone chargers to your refrigerator, there are a lot of things to relocate. Here are some items you should pack:

        • Documents such as your passport, ID, birth certificate, insurance details, visas, and driving licence
        • All your personal belongings such as smart devices, books, games, and jewellery
        • Clothing items
        • Household items

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        Common Mistakes to Avoid When Moving Abroad

        There are some common mistakes that can happen when moving abroad. These can be avoided if you prepare and research, as we have in our article on the biggest mistakes when moving to Spain. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

        • Lack of preparation - Prepare everything well in advance to ensure you’re not missing out on anything important.
        • Lack of research - A lack of research can lead to issues. You may move to an unsuitable area, or the move itself may be challenging. There’s no such thing as too much research when it comes to a big decision like this.
        • Poor time management - Everything should have a set timescale to ensure you’re prepared and ready for the moving day. This helps everything run smoothly and takes the stress out of moving.
        • Poor organisation - Given how important it is to get everything correct with an international move, the more organised you are, the better. This is true for organising everything related to the move. Keeping a checklist is a useful way to ensure you stay organised.
        • Incorrect finances - Ensure you can afford to live in the country you're relocating to. The last thing you want to happen is to move and be unable to pay your monthly bills and payments.
        • Not using an international removals company - If you don’t use an international removals company, the move will be more stressful. Hiring a professional company will smooth out this process.

        What are the Common Problems of Moving to Another Country?

        Here are some common problems of moving to another country:

        • Language Barriers - If you're unable to speak the native language, this creates a barrier when trying to organise things and during daily life.
        • Differences in culture - Differences in culture can be difficult if the country is completely different to the UK. It can take some time to adjust, and you may miss home comforts as a result. For an example, check out our guide on understanding Spanish culture.
        • Distance - The distance of the country from your home can be a problem if you’re experiencing homesickness.

        There’s a lot to think about and consider when it comes to moving abroad. By following this checklist, you will be one step closer to becoming more organised with your move.

        If you’re looking for more information, our Ultimate Guide on Moving Abroad covers everything you need to know.

        Ashleigh Williams

        Having written book reviews and content for For The Love of Books for over five years, Ashleigh now creates advice articles for Compare My Move, focusing on all things home-related.

        Dave Sayce

        Reviewed by Dave Sayce

        Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

        Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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