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Moving Abroad Checklist for Expats: Tasks Before Leaving the UK

It’d be nice to focus on swapping blustery, grey days for brilliant sunshine and coastal living. Or the fact you might be trading in a nightmarish commute for alpine hikes. 

The reality is that the road to becoming an expat is paved with paperwork and logistical headaches. Whilst there’s no getting around that this is a potentially stressful time, you can definitely minimise unnecessary hassle with a good checklist for moving abroad. 

In this article, we’ll take you through a foolproof moving abroad checklist template for expats that you can tick off before you leave. So you can spend more time dreaming of the sea and less time jumping hurdles.  

Woman kneeling in front of a pile of boxes while moving overseas

Get a handle on your finances

Blowing the budget on your average week at home, with a few extra meals out and drinks to account for, is no biggie. But if you’re planning on moving abroad it’s a good time to get serious about your finances in the months and weeks leading up to the move. 

To state the obvious – moving abroad is expensive. Number one on your to-do list for moving overseas should be saving. You’ll have large costs to swallow, like deposits on houses, shipping, and any flights you might be taking. 

As well as covering these non-negotiable costs, it’s a smart move to have a buffer. This means that when you get to your new home you can afford to enjoy it from the get-go and not have to worry about rinsing your bank account. 

Let your bank know you’re moving

A crucial one that should also feature highly on any expat checklist for moving abroad for a year or more. To make sure your bank doesn’t wrongfully suspect fraudulent activity or block your card, you’ll need to let them know you’re leaving. 

This is a good time to look into whether or not you’ll incur any foreign transaction fees if you use your card abroad. If so, you may want to shop around for an international credit card. 

Piggy bank on a pile of coins

This extends to your phone provider too. International calls risk running up a high bill. Look into how your plan will work overseas and if you need to switch providers. 

Ditto for your utility providers, reach out to these too and wrap up any existing contracts, and HMRC, to ensure you aren’t paying any more tax than you need to.  

Check your passport 

This might sound like an obvious one but in the chaos of packing your life up, things like this can slip through the cracks. Check that your passport doesn’t need renewing, and won’t for the duration of your travel. 

You’ll also want to give yourself a cushion of at least 6 months until it needs to be reviewed as this is a stipulation for some countries. 

Apply for a visa

No checklist before moving overseas for expats would be complete without a word on visas! You’ll need to do some research into the type of visa you’ll need depending on what you plan to do in your chosen destinations, where you’re going, and for how long. Check with the local embassy and make the necessary arrangements in plenty of time.

Medical insurance

This task is one of the more tedious parts of the process but the payoff is huge. Don’t take for granted that the same healthcare you currently experience will be comparable in the country you’re going to. 

It pays to take a deep dive into your chosen country’s healthcare policies. As part of this process make sure you’re covered in case you fall ill or are injured whilst you’re abroad.

Doctor talking to his patient at the hospital

An extra point to add to your checklist for moving abroad! Double check if you need any immunizations before you leave.

Mail forwarding

One of the smaller tasks to tick off your checklist for moving abroad but still really useful to sort out. Try and get your mail forwarded to a friend or relative that’s still living in the country you’re moving from. 

It’s even better if you can get it forwarded to your new address but this isn’t always possible when that’s overseas. At the least, forwarding it to a friend or relative means no important correspondences will go unnoticed. 


The fun stuff! Preparing for a new life overseas is 80% paperwork but there are little glimmers of sunshine on the to-do list. Researching the country you’re planning on moving to is one of them.

There are a few ways you can go about this. Reading up on the country’s history and getting a basic understanding of its politics is a good place to start. It helps to put everything into context. 

Next up you might want to download a language app and start brushing up on your vocab! You’ll find it much less of a culture shock if you can at least order a coffee and ask for a beer in the native language. 

Finally, make a bucket list of some of the restaurants you plan to visit, galleries you want to tick off, sporting events you’re excited to go to etc etc. This is a fun activity to pull you out of the organisation blackhole and remind you to be excited about the move. 

It might also prove useful for when you first arrive. If you feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start, you can consult your list and take it from there. 

Woman standing in front of a mausoleum after moving abroad

Shipping for expats

From the highs of making a bucket list and planning the tepanyaki restaurant you’re going to hit on the first night, to the lows of shipping… 

For some, this is the most complex, time-consuming, and costly part of the move. We’ve got a major hack that means it doesn’t have to be. Head to the Sherpr website and get a quote for shipping your items overseas. 

The process is super streamlined – all you have to do is pack. Sherpr will pick up your items and ship them to your end destination at a pre-agreed time. 

Worried about your belongings being carted halfway across the world? You can even track your items in transit for added peace of mind.

Some great added benefits include swerving the hassle of excess baggage at the airport, affordable shipping rates, and £100 free cover as standard with every shipment. 

Final checks

It goes without saying… but what kind of checklist for moving abroad would this be without final checks! Whether it’s a series of digital shortcuts on your phone or a physical folder – have somewhere to store all the documents you need to hand. 

That way you won’t be stressed and scrambling about if you’re asked to produce a document at the airport or customs. 

Farewell tour

This is a really important step for morale and your mental health. Whether you’re going abroad for a year or relocating more permanently, have a get-together with the important people in your life that you won’t see as often. 

As informal as a pizza night at your favourite restaurant, or a full-on leaving party, do it your way but spend some time celebrating the place and people you won’t see every day. This is also a great excuse to reward yourself for completing the moving abroad checklist!

Farewell dinner with friends prior to moving abroad

What is on your moving abroad checklist?

You can always use our guide as a template for your own moving abroad checklist and include additional tasks that you have encountered along the process. Finances, baggage shipping, goodbye drinks…what else have you got on your checklist?