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How to Research Your International Move

Posted on October 24, 2014, 11:35 AM, by Mike Sannitti under Preparing for Your Move

A lot of research is necessary for a successful international move. Luckily, in today's internet age, most of this research can be done online. Here is an outline of the most important things to research when preparing to move to another country and the most effective ways to find that information.

Visa information

The visa process in your destination country is perhaps the most important information to research. Visas are what specify how and why you can enter a foreign country and most countries have quite a few different paths to getting an approved visa. 

  • Visit the country's consulate, embassy or their respective websites. Tourism sites will not usually have detailed visa information.
  • Review all the documentation required for visas. You will always need a passport.
  • Look for special policies that may allow for non-visa travel or visas issued after arrival.
  • Find a visa plan that best fits your reasons for moving and the duration of the time you plan on staying in the country.
  • Some government websites will allow you to apply for a visa online.

Customs regulations

While you are at the consulate or on the website, you should be able to find information about your destination's customs regulations. You are shipping your things into another country, so you need to know what is restricted and what needs to be declared.

  • The rules and regulations for each country's customs vary significantly and are constantly changing so make sure the information you find is up to date.
  • Supplement your consulate website research with some expat forum questions from real people who have moved into the same country.
  • In almost all countries weapons and pornography are prohibited.
  • Anything very expensive usually needs to go through customs.
  • Knowing what's allowed is important because you will potentially lose items if you unlawfully attempt to bring them.

Government and cultural considerationsCulture shock in a new country can be quite crippling. It may not be as important to understand as the requirements for entry into a country, but you should know what to expect when you get there. You want to live in a foreign country and not be completely confused by your surroundings. Accidentally breaking an unknown law or cultural taboo could have serious consequences.

  • Make sure you understand your destination's basic government policies and structure. It will inform you of the general cultural climate in the country.
  • Don't take tourist-focused websites seriously. Find natives or other travelers in expat forums to see what the cultural climate really is like.
  • Look at some of the numbers for the best selling books, films, and video games in a country. Seeing what American fiction is embraced in a foreign country can inform you of the country's general values.
  • Try to be as specific as possible when researching neighborhoods. Like the US, different regions in another country will probably hold vastly different values and beliefs.
  • Pay attention to how locals dress. If you want to fit in, you may have to conform.
  • Learn about the currency, exchange rate, housing regulations, and other financial considerations.
  • If you can't find anything else, try to know the dominant languages, religions, and political party of your destination. This basic information is readily available online for most countries.

International movers

Research is not limited to your destination country, you need to ask your international movers some questions, as well. If you can't ask your company directly, you need to research their policies yourself. After you find a trustworthy international moving company, know what they can do for you for your particular move. There will likely be a partner company or freight forwarder that you also will need to contact.

  • Do you have experience with my destination country?
  • Can I get an in-house estimate?
  • How does the pricing and payment work?
  • What international certifications do you have?
  • Is the service door to door or will it stop at a port or other location?
  • Who is your partner company in the destination?
  • Do you hire freight forwarders? Can I contact them?
  • What are my insurance options?
  • Do you provide any storage options?
  • Do you offer assistance with customs in my destination country?

Most of this information should be displayed on a good company's website or answered directly.

After you take the time to do the research, you can confidently begin your journey oversees armed with knowledge about what to take, who to talk to, and what to expect in your new home. Bon voyage!

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