10 Important Documents Expats Need When Moving Overseas

by David Tompkins

The Most Important Documents Expats & Global Nomads Should Bring If Moving Overseas

No doubt moving abroad is an arduous process. It is not just about embarking on a new life thousands of kilometers away; it also involves months of planning and preparation. The process may look simple, but in reality, you have a lot of paperwork to prepare and complete before making a move. To ensure grand success, these are the most important documents expats need when moving abroad.

When planning your move abroad, create a checklist to ensure you don’t miss out on any important tasks. When it comes to filing your documents, prepare a separate folder, and depending on the type of folder you have, organize the subsections.

It will ensure all your documents are accounted for and, most importantly, eliminate you rummaging through your folder at the immigration. Having your documents organized boosts your confidence, and reduces your stress of traveling. Here are the eight most important documents that expats need to carry during their relocation abroad.

important documents expats need

1. Passport

One of the most important documents expats need is a government-issued passport. It certifies your nationality and identity. Most countries won’t let you enter their territories without a valid passport. Apply for one immediately if you don’t have one. You will need various documents to prove that you are a citizen of a particular country when you apply for a passport. 

2. Visa

Apart from an official passport, you will also need a visa before you move to a new country. A visa is typically placed inside a passport, and it is a travel document that allows you to stay in a particular place for a specific period. There are various types of visas, and they are issued by the host county where you intend to live, work, or visit.

You can opt for a short-term visa, a residence visa, or a tourist visa depending on the duration and the reasons to move to any destination abroad. To obtain a visa, you should get in touch with the host country’s consulate office and go through the application process. 

important documents expats need

3. Work Permit

To be eligible to work in a foreign country, you will need an official work permit. If you are moving abroad on a job assignment, your employer would be able to assist or guide you in obtaining a work permit. You need to contact the host country’s consulate to get a work permit.

4. International Health Insurance Card

Some countries also require you to have health insurance in place. Make sure you do thorough research on the country before purchasing international health insurance. You can often get a quote for international medical care online via Expat Financial. It offers a variety of plans that you can quote and purchase online.

If you are approved, the insurer will send you your global healthcare card via email and sometimes via post. If you are moving abroad, it is quite vital that you buy global medical coverage, especially if local care and health cover are basic or non-existent.

5. Birth Certificate

An original birth certificate is another essential document that you should carry while relocating to a foreign nation. A birth certificate usually includes your name, gender, date, and place of birth, and parents. This cert is usually needed when you’re applying for your visa overseas, so it is an essential document to have. If you have a very old birth certificate or even lost it, go to one of the government services to apply for an original copy.

important documents expats need

6. Medical or Health Documents

No matter how long you plan to stay in your chosen destination, keeping various medical records with you would be useful. You can’t predict when you may fall sick. So, contact and register with a local doctor as soon as you reach your host country.

The medical documents you carry abroad should also include various immunization records for everyone in your family. You may need a record of immunizations when you seek employment in a new country or when your kids get enrolled in a school. Some doctors will provide you with a PDF of your documents to take to your new MD overseas.

7. Academic Records

You need to carry copies of school records like mark sheets and grades, especially if you are moving abroad with children. Your child’s new school may ask for previous test scores during school admission. Other academic records can include notes from teachers, recommendation letters, etc.

8. Social Security Documents

If you have a social security card, don’t forget to carry a copy of it with you when you move overseas. Also, keep the original one in a safe place during your travel. As a US citizen, if you require a replacement card, you can always contact the Social Security Administration. You need to submit all the necessary documents for applying for the replacement card too.

9. Marriage Certificates

You will need a marriage certificate to make changes in your last time in various official documents or for tax purposes. A marriage certificate is a valid proof that you are married. You will need this certificate when you are abroad too, so carry several copies with you. From applying for dual citizenship to filing tax returns, this certificate can be very handy during your expat life overseas.

10. Hotel and Flight Information

It is often a great idea to bring your flight itinerary and any hotel or apartment information related to your move abroad. The immigration officials may want you to provide proof that you have a place to stay once you arrive. Yes electronic flight information is great, but a printed copy as a backup is helpful.

Always be prepared

The above the most important documents expats, digital nomads, and global citizens need when moving abroad.  Depending on your immigration officer, you may need to provide these documents when they ask.  Shipping these documents with your other cargo is not advisable as the documents can get damaged or lost in the transit. Bring these documents in your carry on luggage.

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