Scheduling an overseas move

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Careful planning for an overseas move will help eliminate most surprises and make for a smoother transition.

Before making any plans, check with the consulate at your destination to find out about customs regulations and any prohibited items.

Then, sketch out a pre-move timeline according to the following schedule:
Three to four months before

  • Sort household goods; have a garage sale, or dispose or donate things you don’t want.
  • Make storage arrangements for things you want to keep but aren’t moving.

Eight to 12 weeks before

  • Collect estimates from three movers; select one.
  • Set a packing and moving date.
  • Draw a floor plan of your new home so you know what to take.
  • Determine what to take and what to leave. Evaluate whether electrical appliances will work in your new home overseas. If not, leave them or buy adapters, converters, etc.
  • Make travel reservations.
  • Get copies of medical and legal records from doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers and accountants. If possible, ask for referrals for professionals who can provide these services in your new host country.

Four weeks before

  • Begin packing household goods (unless you are hiring movers to pack for you). Start with things you don’t use daily.
  • Get change-of-address forms from the post office and mail them.
  • Open a new bank account overseas, if necessary, and transfer funds for use when you arrive.

Two weeks before

  • Call utilities to set date for cancellation.
  • Start gathering and packing the things you’ll take on the plane.
  • Gather important papers such as wills, insurance papers, stock and titles and store them in a safe place or take them in your carry-on luggage.

Two days before

  • Have movers pack goods, unless you’ve already done it.

Moving day

  • Read the bill of lading. Keep it until everything is delivered safely.

Delivery (approximately four to six weeks later)

  • Be available to answer questions on delivery.
  • Have money available in the local currency or check in case of unexpected expenses such as a customs charge.
  • Note on the inventory any damage or missing boxes so you can make a claim later.
Source: “The Grown-Up’s Guide to Running Away From Home,” by Rosanne Knorr.

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