10 Tips for Expats for a Seamless Move Abroad
Preparing to move abroad? Anyone planning to leave their home country and join the world of expats has many different preparations to make before boarding their flight. It is easy to accidentally overlook some key things.
By going through this guide, expats can ensure they have all major preparations accounted for before leaving home.
1. Check Risk and Health Advisory Warnings
Even if a traveler’s destination country is considered “safe,” there may be important travel warnings that can help expats stay safe while abroad. The following sites provide up-to-date travel information:
- The U.S. Department of State Website
- CDC Travel Health Notices
- Gov.UK Foreign Travel Advice
- Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Even if a destination country is safe, there may be travel advisories that should be considered.
2. Obtain Necessary Vaccines
Some countries do not just encourage vaccinations – they require them for incoming travelers. Travelers who do not obtain the necessary vaccinations will not be given visas. For example, travelers entering the U.S. will need to have several vaccinations. In other countries, vaccinations may be recommended. Additionally, many international health insurance policies require applicants to receive specific vaccines to qualify for health coverage.
The reason for requiring vaccines is simple: expats who receive vaccinations are less likely to get vaccine-preventable diseases while traveling abroad. This saves the insurance company, and thus their policyholders, the costs of treating a preventable sickness.
View the CDC’s list of recommended vaccinations by global destinations before traveling to a different country to ensure proper vaccinations have been obtained.
3. Plan Cost of Living
How much does it cost to live abroad? It depends on the living expenses such as groceries, rent, and travel. Using a service such as Numbeo’s cost of living index allows expats to easily compare the cost of living in their home countries with their destination countries.
4. Prepare to File Taxes
Even when traveling abroad, expats can’t escape the IRS. As the IRS site states, “If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.”
If U.S. citizens are living abroad, they are offered an automatic extension of two months. However, there is no extension on interest accrued on taxes owed if taxes are not paid by April 15.
Check local state laws for specific information about whether or not taxes must be paid while abroad.
5. Understand the Healthcare System
It is dangerous to assume one will qualify for a destination country’s national healthcare system. In fact, each country has a unique set of qualifications for receiving nationalized care. Expats should learn about the healthcare system in their destination countries.
Before arriving, expats should be well-versed in the following information:
- How to qualify for health care (or whether private insurance is needed)
- What kinds of medical treatments are available (such as routine checkups, special appointments, or pregnancy tests)
- How to pay for treatments received and how much of the payments will be covered by the national system
While expats are waiting to qualify for national health care, they should seek coverage under private health insurance. Expats should consider purchasing international health insurance if they plan to travel to multiple countries and need borderless coverage. The Clements’ Health Insurance Comparison Tool may be useful to understanding available coverage options.
6. Solve Transportation
Will the destination country offer a robust public transportation system or will private transportation such as a vehicle be required? If an employer is not providing transportation arrangements, research the destination city’s public transportation options. If public transportation is a viable option, find out whether forms of transportation – buses, trains, subways – are on the same system.
8. Double-Check Passports, Visa Requirements, and Important Documents
Check the U.S. Department of State’s website to learn about visa requirements as early as possible before traveling abroad. Find out specific entry requirements, such as required vaccinations or if a passport needs to be valid for six months after returning back to the home country.
Double-check passports to ensure they will be valid before leaving and still be valid upon returning. By checking early, there will be time to renew the passport before departing the country. Getting additional hard copies of a passport will make it easier to get a new passport if it is lost or stolen abroad.
9. Always Arrive in Your Destination Country with Some Local Currency.
There are three rules of thumb to follow regarding foreign currency. Exchange currency:
- Soon, even before leaving home
- Early, well before the foreign cash supply runs out
- Frequently, to ensure there is always enough cash available for purchases
Following these rules can help avoid bad exchange rates and being trapped abroad without cash (such as if a credit card is lost).
9. Review Business Customs
Expats relocating for business need to be familiar with local business customs. Reviewing Clements’ international expat guides will help inform individuals of local business customs for many of the top expatriate destinations. For example, business cards are essential in Japan. When Japanese professionals hand you a business card, you should accept it with both hands and read it. Be sure to put the card away in a safe place or keep it within arm’s length. It is disrespectful to not keep the business card or accidentally forget it on the table.
10. Acquire Necessary Insurance
In order to have a safe trip abroad, it is crucial to be protected with insurance including:
Speaking with a Clements representative can also help you understand the type of insurance coverage you and your family need. Begin the conversation early to be well-prepared when it’s time to move to your new home.
With this guide, you will be equipped for a successful move overseas. Find out about the top 5 most common expat mistakes when traveling abroad.
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