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15 Tips for Moving Overseas

Adele MacGregor

Written by

8th Aug 2022 (Last updated on 9th Jun 2023) 9 minute read

Moving abroad is an exciting prospect, offering new experiences and opportunities. It is also something you will need to be prepared for. This includes having the correct documentation, health insurance and shipping your belongings.

By following our step-to-step guide, you can be well on your way to a smooth transition overseas. Whether it's for work, family or a new adventure, you’ll need an international removal company.

  1. 1. Visit the Location in Advance
  2. 2. Check the Laws and Customs of Where You're Moving
  3. 3. Check Your Passport Validity
  4. 4. Applying for Your Visa
  5. 5. Finding the Right Insurance and Healthcare
  6. 6. Learn the Language
  7. 7. Voting
  8. 8. Preparing Your Finances
  9. 9. Understanding Moving Costs
  10. 10. Research the Cost of Living
  11. 11. How to Save Money When Moving Overseas
  12. 12. Choosing the Right Shipping for You
  13. 13. Choosing Between FCL vs LCL
  14. 14. Decluttering Before the Move
  15. 15. Finding an International Removal Company to Help you Move

1. Visit the Location in Advance

Before you move abroad, it is vital you do your research on where you will be living. One of the best ways to do this is to visit the area before you make the move.

This will give you a sense of what to expect with regard to culture, customs and climate. It can also give you an idea of living costs, transportation and activities.

2. Check the Laws and Customs of Where You're Moving

Your research should include checking the laws and customs of where you are moving. Ignorance will not be an excuse if you break the law in a foreign country and can be subject to harsh penalties.

Some countries, especially within Europe, will have similar customs to Britain. However, there will be others that are considerably different, such as the Spanish culture.

For example, the official law system in the United Arab Emirates is Sharia. This is as much a rule of etiquette as it is of law and must be adhered to. This includes modest dress and how couples conduct themselves in public.

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3. Check Your Passport Validity

Passport validity is the amount of time you need on your passport before it expires. It’s vital that you check this before travelling. You will need to renew your passport before you travel if there is not enough time left on it.

Be aware that laws and allowances are different across the world. Many regulations have changed in the wake of Britain leaving the EU. As a result, you must check the travel advice for the country you are moving to.

4. Applying for Your Visa

It is highly recommended that you start this process as early as possible. Visa applications will vary depending on where you are moving to. However, there are steps you will likely need to take regardless of the destination.

This includes:

  • Obtaining acceptable photographs
  • Paying a visa fee
  • Obtaining essential documents
  • Scheduling a visa appointment

The type of visa will depend on your reason for travel and what you will be doing once you get there.

To read more see: All You Need to Know About Visas and Getting a Visa to Spain from the UK

5. Finding the Right Insurance and Healthcare

According to the NHS, the UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is the case for most people making a new application.

You can use the card to access necessary state-provided health care when visiting a country in the EU. The terms of the card also apply to Switzerland.

If you're moving to a destination outside Europe, you'll need insurance in place. This is to cover you in the event you are injured or become ill.

For countries like the USA, health care can cost in the thousands, so it’s essential you are covered when you move. You must be insured before you travel and make sure you read any fine print to ensure your cover is sufficient.

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6. Learn the Language

Learning the language of the country will be a huge advantage when moving abroad. Speaking even a small amount of the local language will help you navigate your way around your new home.

If you are moving for work, speaking the language may be essential. Even if it is not a requirement, it will make life easier if you can communicate with those in the community. Whether you're hiring tradesmen, making friends or doing the weekly shopping, knowing the language is a key step when moving abroad.

7. Voting

In many cases, you will need to become a citizen if you want the right to vote in the country you are moving to. This may differ from place to place so be sure to research the voting regulations in your new home country.

Voting in UK elections

If you remain a British citizen or registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years, you can register as an overseas voter. Below are a few things to be aware of:

  • You will have to renew your registration every year or you’ll be removed from the register
  • You can vote by post or by proxy
  • You can vote in UK parliament elections
  • You may be able to vote in referendums but each one has different rules on who can vote in it

If you'd like to learn more about how you can vote as an expat in Spain, check out our article on understanding Spanish government.

8. Preparing Your Finances

When moving abroad, you must inform the government office dealing with your benefits. This is also the case for pensions and taxes.


State pension can be claimed abroad if you’ve paid enough UK National Insurance contributions. It can be paid into a bank in the country you’re living in. For more information, you can contact the International Pension Centre.


You must tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if you’re leaving the UK to live abroad permanently. You must also tell them if you are going to work abroad full-time for at least one full tax year.

If you’re a non-resident, you do not pay UK tax on income or gains you get outside the UK. However, you may need to pay UK tax even if you have income from renting a property in the UK.

Bank Accounts

You will need an international bank account if you are moving overseas permanently. This can either be with a local bank in your destination, or an international bank account with a UK bank.

Student Loans

You must tell the Student Loans Company if you are moving abroad. You will still have to pay it back and the Student Loans Company will work out how much you need to pay.

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9. Understanding Moving Costs

It is vital that you prepare and budget for the cost of moving abroad. Your shipping costs will depend on the method you choose and the items you're shipping. It will also depend on the distance and the country in question.

Freight Costs

When it comes to shipping furniture overseas, air freight is the most expensive method. Sea Freight is cheaper but it does take longer. The cost of transporting your items via air or sea will depend on where the items are being sent to.

From the UK, shipping items to South Africa or the USA were at the more expensive end of the spectrum. Closer countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands proved to be cheaper.

For more information on shipping costs read: Container Shipping Costs: How Much to Ship a Container

10. Research the Cost of Living

Before you move, it would be beneficial to research the cost of living in your new country. The average spending per month can differ substantially depending on where you're moving to, for example the cost of living in Spain is lower than that of the UK.

11. How to Save Money When Moving Overseas

There are a few ways you can save money when moving overseas. One way is to declutter your belongings before moving abroad. Not only does this ensure you don’t take any unwanted items, it means not paying to have these items shipped over.

One of the best ways to save money is to compare international removal companies. This allows you to find the best price and service for your needs. A removal company will also help you find the most cost-effective method to move your items. This could include part-load shipping or sending items via different methods.

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12. Choosing the Right Shipping for You

Depending on location, budget and time scale, items can be moved via the following methods:

Air Freight

Sending items by air is the quicker option and more convenient. It is ideal for smaller items or anything which is needed immediately.

Keep in mind that this will come at a higher price point. To reduce costs, your removal companies may suggest sending some items this way and the rest via sea or land.

Sea Freight

With Sea Freight, you can either pay to use an entire shipping container or a portion of a container. Shipping items take longer than air freight, but it is also a cheaper method.

Land and Rail Freight

Items can also be sent via road or rail, providing there is access. This is popular for European moves, with vast road and rail networks across the continent.

For more information read: What is Road Freight - Everything You Need to Know

13. Choosing Between FCL vs LCL

When shipping goods, you can either opt for FCL (Full Container Load) or LCL (Less Than Container Load).

Full Container Load is where you pay to use the entire container to ship your goods. With an LCL (or Part Load) your items are packed in a section of a container, with other people’s items in the rest of the space. This option is cheaper but it also takes longer.

Your removal company can provide details of this option, such as how much space you will have. They will also be able to tell you of the logistics and packing.

14. Decluttering Before the Move

Moving your items abroad can be costly, so it’s essential you only take what you really want or need. Decluttering before your move helps to pare down your items and maybe make some money too.

Ask yourself if you are likely to use or need the item when you move abroad. If the answer is no, donate or sell it before you move.

There may be some irreplaceable items that you want to take with you. However, it’s likely you will be able to find similar replacement items once you’ve settled in your new home.

For more information see: How to Declutter for a House Move

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15. Finding an International Removal Company to Help you Move

Compare My Move can find you the best price for international removal companies in your area. By using one of our verified partners, you could save up to 70% on your international removal costs.

Whether you’re moving to Australia, Canada or France, our movers can get your belongings there.

All partners are fully insured with Goods in Transit and Public Liability Insurances. They are verified by our dedicated team and reviewed by our users. This way you know you are being matched with the best in the business.

To ensure you have everything you need before relocating, take a look at our Ultimate Moving Abroad Checklist.

Adele MacGregor

Having worked at Compare My Move for over five years, Adele specialises in covering a range of surveying topics.

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