4 Things to Prepare for an International Relocation

Open and partly filled crates, crumpled old newspapers, bric-a-bracs and knick-knacks strewn everywhere, a bed without sheets, empty shelves, and curtainless windows. The sight alone is enough to make one want to just sit in the middle of the unmade bed and cry.

That’s how emotionally, mentally and physically draining moving is. At least if it’s domestic relocation, the packing, the actual move and settling in are probably all you have to do. Now, imagine the stress and the pressure involved when you have to move across international borders.

The packing and the moving — that’s going to be the least of your worries in an international move. There are so many things you must organise and get right to move on time and according to plan.

The following are some of the things you need to take care of when planning an international move.

1. Visa, Employment and Residence Permits

This is crucial when moving internationally. Frankly, you don’t want to be packing your bags just yet, at least not until you get the go-signal — i.e., your visa and work permit — from your employer in your destination country.

Naturally, your company would take care of this as it’s the one sending you abroad to work. Your future employer would have to open the visa application on your behalf.

However, it’s a different matter if you’re moving overseas for reasons other than employment. If you are moving abroad for business or some other purpose that does not involve sponsorship from an employer, you will have to obtain your visa and residence permits yourself.

Matters get even more complicated if you are not making the move alone. You will have to obtain visas and permits for all family members or whoever else is relocating with you.

2. Residence at Your Destination

Yes, you can take it easy. You can simply stay at a hotel when you first arrive at your destination country. Then you can look around different neighbourhoods to find somewhere to move into permanently.

However, there’s a better way to do this.

●       Do a House Search Before Leaving

Do your house search before you leave your current home. Look at the offerings available online and research as much as you can. Find your preferred neighbourhoods, for instance, and the properties you’d want to look at later.

●       Consider Accessibility and Convenience

You naturally want a neighbourhood with all the conveniences you require or to which you are accustomed at home. Does the area have supermarkets, shopping malls, restaurants, gyms, and schools (if you have children) nearby?

●       Check Where Expats Go

A good rule is to find a neighbourhood preferred by expatriates like you. You will find it easier to adjust if you move into an area with a high concentration of international residents. Your relocation partner should be able to help you gather information about your target neighbourhoods and properties.

●       Consider Short-Term Rental

Next, get a short-term, fully furnished rental for the first month of your stay in your destination country. However, since you will be signing sight unseen, it’s best to do this with expert help. A relocation consultant with expertise in your destination country — its neighbourhoods, rental rates and real estate laws — would be your best option.

By doing this, you will have somewhere to stay right after you arrive at your destination. This will be less expensive and more comfortable than staying for a full month at a hotel while house hunting.

●       Conduct Ocular Inspections and Sign a Lease

Once you’ve arrived at your destination country, you can begin your house search in earnest. Go around the neighbourhoods and the properties you have on your list to look for what would become your permanent residence.

Once again, do not sign any documents without expert guidance from your trusted relocation consultant. The law could be very strict about fulfilling contractual obligations, and your contract terms might very well have to be examined in the context of local customs and laws. You don’t want to be signing a contract you don’t fully understand.

3. Packing and Unpacking

Once your papers are in order, you can start packing your things. If you’re moving to another country with your whole family and with the expectation of staying there for years, packing is going to be no small feat.

It’s more complicated if you’ve already sold your house. You would have to move fast because the new owners would want to move in soon, too.

Follow these tips to make packing easier for you and your family.

●       Pack One Room at a Time

Pack one room at a time. This way, all the things in that room can stay together. This will make unpacking easier later on. As for the furniture in that room, if you’re moving them with you, make sure to label them properly for the same reason — ease of organisation in your new home.

●       Urgent Needs Box

The things you would need first once you’re in your new home abroad should ideally be packed in one box, separate from the rest of your things. While the rest of your things could be shipped to you later, this box of urgent necessities should come with you when you fly to your destination.

●       Fragile Items  

You can also designate one box for really precious fragile items. Wrap each item carefully in thick fabric or bubble wrap, then pack it so everything is secure and will not move during transport. Label the box appropriately and make sure the term “FRAGILE” is conspicuously present all around the box.

●       Filling in Boxes

Pack all the heavy things first; the lighter stuff could go in afterwards. Make sure, too, to fill in all of the empty spaces in the box. You can use crumpled up newspapers as fillers to make sure the things in the box do not move during transport. 

●       Labelling Boxes

You’d also want to put the specific contents of every box on the label. This will make unpacking and finding things so much easier.

4. Transport and Shipping

After packing your things, you now have to arrange transport for them. Will you ship your stuff via sea, land or air? What are the customs clearances that you need to obtain?

These are just some of the complicated matters you need to attend to when transporting your possessions across international borders. Naturally, you’d also need to put somebody else in charge of shipping your stuff to you if you and your family are leaving ahead of your things.

These are some of the most important services an international relocation company can provide.

Among all the things they can help you with, they can arrange all your visas and permits, pack and unpack your things, find you a place to live, and ship your stuff to your new address.

So if you want a hassle-free move, let an expert international relocation company do it all for you.


Sushma Salian is the Business Head, Asset Mobility of Writer Relocations, India’s premier mobility services company that handles all types of moves: International & Domestic Relocations, Office Relocations, Commercial Move Management Services, Hospitality Logistics, Fine Arts Logistics, Orientation Services, and Storage Solutions. Headquartered in Mumbai, Writer Relocations has presence in 7 countries and operates in more than 190 countries.

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