A plane be loaded with a small move of furniture and household goods packed in crates and boxes.

Moving Abroad: Essential Tips

The decision to move abroad is one that is full of excitement and promise. You don't know what lies ahead, but are ready to embrace this new adventure. However, small international moves come with key challenges, from cultural considerations to deciding what to pack and ship overseas.

The more you prepare to move abroad, the better your overall experience will be. You need to research and plan for handling customs, packing, and dealing with cultural differences. Luckily, we're here to help with all that. This guide covers everything you need to know about moving to another country so you can feel confident and ready for this next big step.

Understanding Customs Regulations

One of the biggest challenges in dealing with international small moves is customs regulations. Customs laws vary significantly from country to country, so even if you're familiar with the customs requirements of your home country, there's a strong possibility that your new destination will have entirely different rules.

Here are some quick examples of the complexities of customs laws from across the globe:

  • When shipping overseas, Americans using custom wood crates to protect their household goods might have difficulties at the border. To avoid difficulties, make sure your wood crates are ISPM15 compliant. ISPM 15 is proven to prevent the introduction of harmful pests across borders and is marked with an ISPM 15 logo certifying that it has been appropriately treated.
  • Know the taxes for your destination country. Shipping used household goods and furniture are usually duty-free. However, there may be tax implications with international moves.
  • Almost every country you move to will have specific documentation requirements. For example, someone moving to Bali must get a visa and a passport that won't expire in the next six months. If you plan to work in Bali, you must apply for a work permit. Otherwise, you'll have to prove you can financially support yourself while staying in the country.

When doing your research, make sure you use the right sources. There are a lot of travel blogs out there that share information that may need to be more accurate and up-to-date. Use government websites and contact embassies for the most current and correct information. You can also seek advice from international small moving companies with expertise in specific countries.

Of course, there's no point in doing all this research if you don't follow through on it. Still, it can be a lot to consume and keep track of. You can't tackle moving to another country without checklists. As you research compliance and customs regulations, create checklists based on your findings to ensure you cross off everything you're supposed to later on.

Cultural Considerations for Your Destination

Next, you must consider the cultural impacts of moving to another country. Inserting yourself into a new culture will come with some new experiences. Some cultural differences you may want to consider, research, and prepare for before your move are:

  • Navigating language barriers: If you're moving to a country where you don't speak the native language, you likely already know this will come with some communication challenges. Before you move, pick up some essential phrases you might use in everyday tasks (such as, "Where is the bathroom?", "Sorry, I am still learning to speak the language", and "How much does this cost?"). These phrases will help you manage until you start learning the language more.
  • Local customs: It's a sign of courtesy and respect to understand the local customs of a culture before you move there. For example, someone moving to Korea should know:
    • It's considered rude to point.
    • You always take your shoes off in someone's home.
    • You shouldn't start eating your meal until after the eldest has started eating their meal.
    • Kimchi is an important symbolic food in Korean culture, and it would be rude to disparage it.
  • Social etiquettes: In addition to local customs, most countries have their own rules around social etiquette. These rules are considered "unwritten" and known to locals. But, for a foreigner moving abroad, it's crucial to learn and adopt these rules to fit in. For example, someone moving to France should know:
    • It's not uncommon to be at least 15 minutes late to everything; never show up precisely on time to a party.
    • You should greet people with a kiss, not a hug.
    • It's considered impolite to talk too much about money.

Moving abroad will be a pleasant, positive experience if you take the initiative to learn and adapt to your new culture. Some ways you can ensure you do this is by:

  • Engaging in cultural sensitivity training.
  • Leveraging online resources and community groups for expatriates
  • Learning basic phrases and social norms of the destination country.

This new culture will sometimes feel shocking and unusual to you. That doesn't mean it's bad or wrong - it's just different from what you're used to. It's crucial to have an open mindset and flexibility when you're living in a new country. The more you embrace the new way of life, the sooner you'll understand it!

Packing Strategies for International Small Moves

The last stage of research and planning for your small move is to have a strategy for your packing. Here are some quick tips you should follow when packing to move abroad:

  • Prioritize only packing essentials. The more you pack, the more expensive it'll be to ship everything over, so only pack what you need to live comfortably and can't afford to repurchase in your new home.
  • Use space-saving techniques when packing items, such as using a vacuum sealer to remove the air from your items and maximize space.
  • Remember to select the appropriate luggage and containers. If you use luggage that is too large, it'll be a hassle, and you may pay more for no reason. On the other hand, cramming your belongings into a container that is too small can increase the risk of something breaking.

Remember to consider your new climate when you're packing. And factor in the cultural appropriateness of your clothing and personal items.

This move will likely feel like there are more boxes and containers than you can possibly keep track of. To help make your life easier, label every box, create inventory lists of what was packed in what container, and use digital tracking tools to keep yourself organized.

It might feel like it would be easier to throw everything into a box and "deal with it" when you arrive. However, organized packing contributes to a smoother transition and reduces stress upon arrival. You don't want to start this new adventure on a sour note, so do the hard work upfront to save yourself time later on.

A Small International Move is a Large Undertaking

Hopefully, by now, you'll feel prepared to tackle this move. The key to a successful, smooth international move is thorough research beforehand. Ensure you grasp everything around customs regulations and cultural norms in your new country, and identify the packing strategies you'll use for an efficient move.

And, of course, your move will be a lot more successful if you partner with the right shipping company. With over 20 years of experience, ShipSmart is your trusted partner for small international moves. Let us handle the logistics of your move while you focus on relocating to a new country. Contact us today to learn more about our reliable, affordable moving and shipping services.

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