Written by Christopher Nye,
Last Modified: 28th February 2019

Britain may be basking in a heatwave today, but if you want to be living abroad before you’re scraping ice of the car windscreen, better start planning now! Use our emigration checklist to stay on track for a wonderful new life abroad.

As soon as you know you want to move

[✔] Research answers to the basic questions. Where will you live, how will you make a living, who will be going with you, (including your pets, which are surprisingly easy to move), will you buy a property?

Involve your kids! Don’t let them overhear you discussing their future with other people before you’ve even explained it to them.

[✔] Ensure you have all information you need, signing up to blogs and websites. Note things down in files. This is a big project and recording your progression towards your goal will help psychologically. Once you have found an answer to each question, record it, store it, tick it off the list and move on to the next.

Plane leaves Manchester airport

Leaving on a jet plane, from Manchester Airport (Plane Photography / Shutterstock.com)

A year before you move

[✔] It’s time to get serious about residency and immigration. For many countries you will need to apply for residence visas a year ahead, especially if you’re counting down the days to move to Australia.

[✔] For immigration based on a job offer, it is time to research work opportunities. is there a professional convention on the horizon where you can make international networks? Would additional training or qualifications improve your chances? Is speaking the language essential?

[✔] Begin to narrow your options. Where can you rule out? If you don’t need to own a property yet, just focus on rentals. If you will use private health insurance, accessing state healthcare (and Brexit if you’re within the EU) is a whole area of concern you can afford to put on the back burner.

You can certainly start to declutter and enjoy a healthy, cleansing game of “keep, donate, toss”

[✔] If you’re selling your home to finance your move, what do you want to do before putting it on the market? You can certainly start to declutter and enjoy a healthy, cleansing game of “keep, donate, toss”

[✔] Involve your kids! Don’t let them overhear you discussing their future with other people before you’ve even explained it to them.

[✔] Set up a bank account in your new country. This may seem early, but you will soon start to incur expenses if you’re serious.

[✔] Open an account with a currency exchange specialist. Consider prefunding your account to get a much better rate than just by spending on your credit card. A company such as Smart Currency Exchange, for example will offer you numerous tools to help make the most of your money.

Don’t leave currency to the last minute. Read Smart Currency Exchange’s Property Buyers’ Guide to Currency

[✔] If you are moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, start learning early. Most languages require around 800 hours of study before you get any kind of fluency, so the earlier you can rack up some studying hours the better. It will be especially good for your children if they will be moving to a school where they will need some understanding of the language. Via the internet you can listen in on local radio stations, or read newspapers in the language.

[✔] Consider an early viewing trip. If you only know the country from summer holidays, try experiencing it in a different season.

Six months before you move

[✔]  If required, request necessary vaccinations from your doctor – you will usually need these at least three months in advance. It isn’t just the country you are going to that you need to be protected in, but also anywhere you might travel to from there.

[✔]  Put your property up for sale, or hand in your notice to your landlord

[✔] Contact your vet about a pet passport. You will need to ensure they fit all necessary requirements for the move – in the EU only a microchip and an up-to-date rabies vaccination is necessary but of course this might change for British citizens once the UK leaves the EU.

[✔] Begin to make serious job enquiries.

Stay in control of your healthcare! Read our guide Healthcare Abroad 2018 in 12 countries.

[✔]  Join networks and forums online to find out more information from those who have made the move.

[✔] Contact an independent financial advisor about savings, investments, pensions and tax. They will be able to help you reduce tax, increase your income and help you make your money go further. It may pay to plan your move for a certain time of the year to be entitled to a tax rebate. They will also be able to advise you on the tax ramifications of your move, and can also discuss the best options for you and your pension.

[✔]  Assess whether you should continue paying into your pension fund or making National Insurance contributions.

Young couple planning a move abroad

No longer a pipe dream, it’s time to get serious about planning!

Three months before you move

[✔] Absolutely sure you’re going? Then give formal notice to your employer.

[✔] Contact three removals companies to receive quotations for moving your personal items. Make sure you have assessed all their insurance status and what their insurance policy cover – such as if storage is included. Begin packing non-essentials.

[✔] Book transport to your new country for your family.

[✔] Book transport for your pets.

[✔]  Amalgamate all your funds in the UK to potentially transfer into your new bank account. Wind up any investments that you don’t wish to continue

[✔] Speak to your currency specialist about transferring your UK pension fund to your overseas bank account.

[✔] Fill out your tax form P85.


Six weeks before you move

[✔] Ensure you have all records for each member of your family – including any letters to explain medical issues.

[✔] If you are moving within the EU and are in receipt of a UK old age state pension, request an S1 form from the Overseas Healthcare Team.

[✔] Keep all contact details for your doctor in case you need to put your new doctor in contact with them. Find out how you will source prescriptions overseas (although do also obtain three months’ worth of your prescriptions to take with you.)

[✔] Make sure you’re up to date with all your dental care and request full dental records for all your family.

[✔] Obtain necessary travel and medical insurance

[✔] Ensure you have your P45 and any other necessary documents.

[✔] It’s time for a serious viewing/organising trip. The more you can sort out now, the easier your move will be. Sort out temporary accommodation if necessary, book your kids into schools and doctors, open your bank account if you haven’t already.

[✔] Make sure you have all important documents to hand; birth and marriage certificates, driving licences, passports and visas and your wills. You will also need financial records.

Blond boy of 4 years sitting on suitcase at the airport

It’s a big move for everyone, so keep the whole family involved

One month before you move

[✔] Send a change of address to all relevant entities. That includes friends and families as well as insurance companies and financial institutions.

[✔] Cancel direct debits and standing orders – such as utilities, council bills, and any subscriptions or memberships.

[✔] Destroy any cards that you will no longer use.

[✔] Pay off all debts or ensure you have an automated system in place to do so.and request credit references for all your accounts.

[✔] Surrender your NHS card before you go. You can send this to your local family practitioner committee or hand it to the passport authority when you leave the country. We recommend keeping a record of the number in case you return.

[✔]  Cancel your insurances (such as health, car or pet insurance)

[✔] Confirm the move date with the removal company. Make sure you have the right removals insurance. Begin an inventory of everything you pack and where you pack it.

[✔]  Keep keys for your accommodation, car, office and anything else important separate and labelled.

[✔] Run a final check of what you will do when you get to your new country. It can be very helpful (and oddly therapeutic) to mentally rehearse what you will be doing in your first few days there. All sorts of issues may suddenly occur to you – but better now than when you’re standing at the airport on the other side.

[✔] Book your leaving do!


About The Author

Christopher Nye

Christopher Nye has been Senior Editor of Property Guides since 2016, but has been writing about travel, overseas property and business for long before that. He is the author of several non-fiction books and has been features writer for A Place in the Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Mail on Sunday.

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