“Money, Tickets, Passport”

The mantra that’s recited by travelers the world over also applies to this group of steps in your transition. You’ve found a place that you want to live, but now how do you fund it, how long can you legally live there, and what documentation do you need to have before you can sign on the dotted line?

You may be surprised at the complexity (and mind-numbing repetition) of this stage, and the time the tasks can consume, so here’s the key areas that you need to start working on:

  1. Residency Requirements Passport & Visa Documentation (if applicable)
  2. Employment Authorization Document (if applicable)
  3. Social Security Number / Tax Identification Number
  4. Bank Account
  5. Credit History
  6. Loan Preapproval 
  7. Driver’s License
  8. Insurance (Home, Health, Vehicle, Life)

I give you this enormous list at the start, so that (a) you can start burrowing through your filing system and finding those elusive documents that you haven’t need since 1990; and (b) you can stock up on pens.

Documents that you will need during the first six months include :

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Education and Professional certificates
  • Bank account details and financial statements (last 6 months)
  • Credit Card details and statements (last 6 months)
  • Driver’s license and insurance history
  • Life insurance
  • Mortgage statements (annual summaries)
  • Tax returns
  • Will

The paper requirements vary depending on your circumstances, the length of your stay and how deeply you want to sink your roots; for shorter term requirements, you probably won’t be worried about establishing credit or buying a house, so credit card and mortgage statements are less vital. What I have discovered though, is that life goes on, credit cards get lost, mortgage companies make mistakes, and so it is useful to have enough documents to verify your identity and negotiate customer service helplines. At the most extreme, identity theft and fraud is much easier to deal with when you have your original documents in your possession, rather than in a safety deposit box in Swindon/Des Moines/Dusseldorf.

Over the course of this section, you’ll go through the essential documentation for moving, so you might want to start a new file for all the paperwork now, and buy a scanner so that you can start keeping electronic back-ups from the start.

Once you have all the immediate essentials sorted out, I’m here to break it to you that there is plenty more still to go, some of which you may already have completed in your home location, but which you may need to duplicate in your host country. Check out ‘The Most Important Paperwork You’ll Ever Do’ for the full story. But for now, it’s on to Passport..

 

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