Preparing to live overseas is an exciting experience, but planning for a big change can be overwhelming. From figuring out visa and vaccination requirements to finding the right insurance policy, there are lots of things to consider while it is easy to overlook pertinent details. To alleviate the stress, you will be well-equipped to successfully move abroad with this guide.
- Check Risk and Health Advisory Warnings from the State Department and Other Agencies
Before traveling, expats should review the following websites to read all health and advisory warnings for their destination countries:
- 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 may be currently safe, check travel advisories for any updates.
- Obtain Necessary Vaccines
Some international health insurance policies require expats to receive vaccinations before obtaining coverage. While individual policies will differ, this is usually for the following reasons:
- Some countries require expats to obtain vaccinations before obtaining a visa
- Vaccinated expats are less likely to experience preventable health problems during their travels abroad, saving the insurance provider the expense of preventable health care
For example, those entering the United States will need to receive several vaccinations before obtaining a visa. Like other countries, Peru, has recommended but not required vaccinations such as yellow fever.
The CDC has a comprehensive list of global destinations and recommended vaccinations. Expats should research their destinations in order to know which vaccinations they need.
- Prepare for the Cost of Living
Expats should review the cost of living based on their home country and their destination country by using a list such as this cost of living index by Numbeo. Compare the information for both home and destination countries to get a good idea of how much basic living expenses will cost.
- Get a Work Permit
Before moving to a new country, it’s vital for expats to find out if they need a work permit, also known as a “Blue Card” in Europe. Currently, all EU states except the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland participate in the work permit system.
The goal of the work permit system is to help make EU nations more desirable for expats. With the Blue Card, expats will be guaranteed fair wages, socio-economic rights, favorable living conditions and other perks, EU Blue Card Network explained. Essentially, expats will be as close to a national as possible without actually becoming a citizen. If expats are already in an EU-member nation, they will still have options to obtain a work permit.
Before applying, you must first meet a few requirements. To find out the list of requirements, read the full article on how to get an EU work permit.
- Understand the National Health Service
Before leaving home, expats should research their destination country’s healthcare system.
Expats should find out the following about their destination country:
- How to sign up for local healthcare system
- How to obtain medical treatment
- How to visit a doctor for a routine checkup
- How to schedule special appointments (such as a pregnancy test)
- How treatment is paid for (knowing how much the national system pays for and how much should be supplemented through international health insurance)
Expat should look into obtaining international health insurance to make up for gaps in national healthcare systems or to use in place while qualifying for the national system. If private insurance is needed, compare different expat health insurance plans. Clements Worldwide’s health insurance comparison tool allows expats to easily compare coverage options.
- Understand Transportation Options
Should expats rely on public transportation while living abroad, or should they have their own vehicle? Should they ship their existing vehicle, or will they need to obtain one for use while abroad? Expats should be asking themselves about their transportation arrangements, particularly if their employer is not providing them.
If planning to use public transportation, expats should look at their destination cities and become familiar with how public transportation systems work before moving. Expats, who are planning on driving overseas, should find out the nuances of the local driving laws and familiarize themselves with road signs.
For example, there are many differences in driving between the U.S. and UK such as passing other cars only in the outside (right) lane, never turning on a red light, and not blocking a central reservation at a junction, even if you have a green light.
Find out tips about international car insurance such as how to dissect a policy, abide by local authorities, and purchase add-on coverage. Expats should be insured abroad by obtaining overseas car insurance coverage.
- Double-Check Passports, Visa Requirements, and Important Documents
All expats should double-check the passport expiration date and entry and exit requirements before traveling abroad. Some countries have specific entry requirements, such as requiring passports to be valid six months past the date of returning home.
If a passport is lost or stolen abroad, there are ways for the expat’s home country to provide a new one. Expats should research how to obtain new copies of these documents and make emergency plans in case anything happens. It’s recommended to carry hard copies of important documents such as birth certificates and travel details.
- Arrive in Your Destination Country with Some Local Currency
When traveling abroad, expats should do the following three things regarding currency:
- Change soon, obtaining currency before leaving for your destination country
- Change a lot, always have more than you think you will need
It is advisable to have local currency on hand the moment you land in another country. By changing early before arrival, expats can avoid long lines and poor exchange rates abroad at the airport.
- Understand Local Business Customs
As expats living abroad relocate primarily for business, they must be familiar with local business etiquette. Business customs vary from one country to the next, even if those differences are slight. For example, in Saudi Arabia, Friday is the holy day and every business in Islam is closed. Most establishments are also closed on Thursdays, so those two days are considered the weekend. To learn more, read the full article on business customs in Saudi Arabia.
Conversely in Japan, expats can expect a group focus and have their success measured as a whole. Age is seen as the primary factor in seniority at a company in Japan. This is contrary to the United States where age discrimination is frowned upon as it isn’t uncommon to see 20-30 year olds in the C-suite. To ensure business success, find out other business customs in Japan and local business customs for many of the top destinations for expats.
- Obtain the Proper Insurance
Depending on the country of travel and coverage provided by the employer, it is important to be prepared and obtain proper international insurance coverage. The following types of insurance should be considered:
- Expatriate health insurance
- Overseas life insurance
- International property insurance
- Worldwide car insurance
Since 1947, Clements Worldwide has been a leading provider of international insurance for expatriates and international organizations. Clements offers car, property, life, health, and specialty and high risk insurance to clients in over 170 countries. To learn more about expatriate insurance, visit Clements Worldwide.