Legally You (Local ID)

Welcome! You’ve made it to your new location!  If you have moved within the same country, here’s where you join us for at least some of the steps, but for those of you who followed us from the start, you are now legally allowed to be here, but you still need to get permission to do everything else.


Here’s the cheat sheet for the checklist junkies among us..


  1. Driving License. Get driving lessons whether or not you need to take a test – the published and the practiced rules are often very different, especially in Asia, Africa and Paris..
  2. Employment – practical considerations.  Gender, race, religion and a limited timeframe may all affect whether paid employment is a viable option.
  3. Employment – legal requirements. In addition to your visa, you will often need specific employment authorization. Typical documents required: passport, visa, marriage certificate,  professional certificates, offer of employment. Permission to be employed in one field is not necessarily transferable to another.
  4. Tax ID (Social Security Number, Tax Identification Number) If you earn money, in any form, you will need to declare them for tax purposes somewhere.. Consult a tax professional in location and your spouse’s employer for tax implications.
  5. Medical Insurance Card. See Health Insurance for how to get it, but once you have, make sure you carry evidence of coverage at all times.


Ticket to Ride

Driving license. Get this done as early after arrival as possible, as it is used as a standard form of ID in most countries of the world, and can be used to apply for other necessary documentation and services. If possible, get driving lessons, whether or not you need to take a test – often the published rules of the road differ greatly from the practiced ones. Although you can use your existing license when you arrive, it is usually for a limited time, after which you are expected to get a local one.

Driving tests are never fun, so take some of the pressure off by allowing yourself enough time to take the test more than once, should you be unlucky enough to fail..  It took me five (yes, five!!) attempts to get my UK license, so please don’t complain to me if you only failed once..


9 – 5

Whenever we move, I  am listed as the dependent spouse, and have had to independently seek permission to work, not always successfully. In places where there is high unemployment, you may well find that the process of obtaining permission takes longer than your assignment timeframe or requires specific qualifications, so visit discussion forums such as those on to get a heads up. For regions where gender equality is questionable, explore what effect legal and social restrictions will have, before you start planning your new career as a female taxi driver in Saudi Arabia…


When moving to the US, I came in on an L2 Visa, which means I was required to apply for an Employment Authorization Document and a Social Security number before I could seek work. I make this point because others in the same situation have confused the right to work with actual permission to work, and I know the US is not the only country that has this little anomaly..  Check what your visa entitles both you and your dependents to do in terms of type and duration of work before you accept employment – failure to do so can mean deportation and refusal of future residency application.


Employment Authorization Documentation (if applicable – it varies between countries)  Do not assume that authorization for one type of employment automatically allows you to be employed in a different role. Information can be found at the resources mentioned before, and if you have been assigned a relocation consultant, this is a great one to get them to help you with.

Social Security Number / Tax Identification Number. Call it what you like, wherever in the world you find yourself, you will be expected to pay taxes, at the very least on income. Getting a SSN / TIN is usually pretty straightforward (imagine that?!!),  and if you weren’t given information on how to get one when you applied for your visas, a Google search will quickly tell you what you need. If you have any concerns about the process, consult with an accountant or lawyer in your host country, to be sure that you get it right from the start.


Everybody Hurts

Medical Insurance Card. Whether there is national or private healthcare (or both) at your destination, you will need to have some proof of coverage, usually issued in a credit card type format. The Health Insurance section covers this in more detail, but it’s a piece of information you need to carry with you at all times, so worth repeating. Hospitals can and will refuse to treat you if you don’t have proof that they will be paid, and those waiting room chairs get pretty uncomfortable while you wait for someone to break in to your house and rummage through your filing cabinet…

As a backup, I have a photograph of my medical card saved in my iPhone, so that I can access in the details easily and email them instantly if necessary. And while we’re on the subject of medical cards: get any allergies, vital medication or medical warnings etc translated to the local language, and keep it with your card.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *