Must-Have Documents to Bring When Moving Overseas

Posted on Dec 23, 2015 | 1 comment

Must-Have Documents to Bring When Moving Overseas

Managing the logistics of your move in a sane and organized way can literally make or break you while moving. There’s absolutely nothing worse than arriving to your new country and realizing that the birth certificate you must have in order to obtain a national ID card (which you need to get a driver’s license and legally rent an apartment) is in your container which will arrive in about two months. You’re paralyzed until it arrives and then frantically dig through everything to find that birth certificate. Talk about starting off on the wrong foot.


In order to make your transition as smooth as possible and prepare yourself for any emergencies, you’ve got to have your legal and financial documents in good order. Prior to your move, follow these guidelines. Also, make sure to review and update your documents every year.


Storing paper documents in a binder and then in a waterproof bag is the best way to ensure that they stay safe. Electronic documents should be stored on a cloud app or on a USB stick to ensure that when the computer they are stored on stops working, you can still easily access your key legal and financial documents.


The act of collecting all the documents you need for an international move is not for the faint of heart. Break this task up into manageable chunks of time and allow about 10 hours to pull together all the information you need.


Hand carry these documents with you when you move and keep them in a waterproof bag in a fireproof safe in your home: 

  1. All Passports: Ensure that they are valid for at least an additional six months. This includes foreign passports if you are dual citizen.
  1. Driver’s licenses/International Driving Permits
  1. Birth certificates of all family members
  1. Marriage certificates
  1. Divorce papers and custody agreements
  1. Legal documents related to adoption
  1. Health insurance cards of all family members
  1. Immunization records of all family members
  1. Key medical records of all family members: Especially if you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness or have a major surgery in your medical history that will be relevant to your future health care.
  1. Proof of relationship to your children and consent forms from any non-accompanying parent: Visit the child abduction country information pages for country-specific information.
  1. Contact information for the nearest Embassy or Consulate of your home country.
  1. A copy of all these documents plus your credit card numbers and phone numbers to cancel the cards kept in a separate place: Make a copy of the page of your passport with your picture on it and copies of any foreign visas you have in your passport. Have all of these in your money belt? Also keep them in your backpack. Keeping your passports in your purse? Keep the copy in your carry-on suitcase.
  1. Recent photos of all family members: In case of extreme emergency where you need to provide a photo for a missing person, you will have this easily accessible
  1. Prescription medications: Pack meds for your entire trip plus about two weeks extra just in case. Pack them in their original containers. Ask your pharmacist or physician for the generic name in case you need to purchase it abroad. Make sure that your new country allows your particular medicine. If not, make a plan for how to get it as frequently as you need it from your home country. Get a letter from your physician with your prescription and why you are taking it. Some countries have strict regulations on importing medicines.


Electronic information to gather before your move:

  1. An electronic copy of all the documents you hand carried
  1. A video or inventory of all the items you are moving: If you need file a claim with your insurance, you will have to state exactly which item never showed up in your shipment and that it was actually packed. Include the serial number and model number from electronics.
  1. Professional appraisals of jewelry, art, and collectibles
  1. Safety deposit box information
  1. Wills: You will want to make sure you have a will before leaving your home country. Creating legal documents in a country other than your home country can be more complicated for a foreigner.

6. Insurance policies

  1. Property deeds and leases
  1. Titles for any vehicles remaining in your home country
  1. Living will


Original paper documents to leave in a safety deposit box at a bank in your home country:

  1. Insurance policies
  1. Wills
  1. Living wills
  1. Property deeds in your home country
  1. Titles for any vehicles remaining in your home country
  1. Power of attorney
  1. Notarized paper copies of your birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce papers and custody agreements, and adoption documents.


Provide this information (either electronically or on paper) to a trusted family member or friend in your home country: 

  1. Contact information for the nearest Embassy of Consulate of your home country
  1. An electronic copy of all the documents you hand carried: In case of emergency, your contact at home can email you all the documents you need to replace your passport.
  1. Bank account, credit card, and investment account numbers and company phone numbers
  1. Wills
  1. Insurance policy information
  1. Living will
  1. Power of attorney



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One Comment

  1. Hi, I have had to apply for a new copy of my Birth certificate. It will take 6 to 8 weeks but I fly to Mauritius to start work in 2 weeks. How will this affect me there? Can I use my child passport instead? Is there an alternative?
    Thank you
    Kind Regards
    Puvie Pillay
    South African Citizen

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