Must-Have Documents to Bring for an International Move

Moving to a new country seems like an enticing idea to make, but the overall experience can be pretty exhausting. From gaining entry to establishing residency, a number of important documents will be required from you. The idea, however, is to manage logistics in a sane and organized way. The last thing you would want is arriving in your new country and realizing that you obtained the incorrect birth certificate.

This guide will help you dot the i’s and cross the t’s as you prepare for your international move. In the end, you will be surprised at how essential preparation is.

What is a Passport?

A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that identifies and authorizes you to travel. This is used to verify information such as name, address, age, and nationality, among others. Even if one of these details is missed, you will neither be allowed to travel nor move overseas.

In general, you need to apply in order to get a passport, though the application process depends on the country you are from. When you arrive in a new country, you will have to give it to the immigration officers who will stamp one of its pages with their country’s official seal.

  1. Passport’s Validity

Before you plan on moving, make sure that your passport remains valid on that day. Keep in mind that passports expire in five years, but there are countries that will not grant entry if your passport expires prior to a particular time. This is why it is so important to always ask the consulate beforehand, so you can be assured that your passport remains up-to-date before moving.

  1. When to Get It?

If you have yet to own a passport, you must proceed with the application in advance before your actual move. Remember that the application process alone can take up to months, not to mention the few bumps associated in between. So, as much as possible, you need to have ample of time to obtain passports for you and your family.

In other countries, there is a designated government agency tasked with passport application, but the most common ones are local post office and library.

  1. What You Need to Bring for the Application:


  • Approved Photo ID (e.g. driver’s license, government ID, company ID, military ID, etc.)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Form Digital Signal 1 (DS-1) (can be acquired from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website)
  • Social Security Number
  • A valid photograph that strictly adheres to the regulations by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs


  1. How Much Does Passport Cost?

Apparently, the fees for obtaining this document depend on the type you need. These are the card and book, and the card-only type. It is best to visit the Department’s official site to know more about the corresponding fees and information.

What is a Visa?

Like a passport, a visa is also a government-authorized document only that it is given by the country of your destination. This basically permits you to stay and/or remain within its borders for a certain amount of time and purpose. It is either stamped directly on your passport or issued separately as a document.

  1. The Kind of Visa You Need

This really depends on the country of your destination and the length of your stay there. It also considers the reason why you are moving, so it is important that you specify this information accordingly during the process.

Below are the different types of visas:

  • Short-Stay Visa – issued for temporary stays, and it could be anything from a tourist visa to medical visa to business visa, etc.
  • Long-Stay Visa – issued for longer stays.
  • Residence Visa – issued for people seeking permanent residence in a country.

It is worth noting that when visiting a country to scout and make preparations, you might be required to produce a tourist visa or none at all. For most countries, however, a visa will be required if you plan on taking up residence, conducting business, or starting employment. Not all countries will require you a visa for short visits, though.

You need to gather all information pertaining to the specific regulations your country of destination requires before the move to ensure a smooth process. Interestingly, it is possible for you to acquire at least one port of entry while acquiring a visa. Again, this process still depends on the country.

What is a Work Permit?

As the name suggests, this document legally allows you to start an employment in a country. Your employer is capable of granting assistance in obtaining a work permit, most especially if you are already moving in for an employment.

  1. How to Get a Work Permit?

Albeit doable, getting a work permit is quite difficult. Regulations involved in receiving this permit greatly varies on the country you are relocating to. In this case, it is best to speak directly with the consulate office in your home country, so you can obtain more information about the application process, entry requirements, and regulations.

  1. What are the Restrictions?

Essentially, a work permit is granted if and only if you have a job offer in place already. This is due to the fact that most governments in the world are hesitant in granting foreigners with employment, particularly when they think their own citizens can do the job. So, if you are seeking employment in a low-demand field, your chances of getting an employment – let alone obtaining a work permit – are low.

In addition, some countries choose to grant one spouse to be employed, but will not allow both husband and wife with work permits. If your husband or spouse wants to work in the same country as you are, a workaround here is to not include him/her as your dependent in any required documentation.

Other Documents

Like the aforementioned paperwork, there are other documents that will be required from you when entering a new country. These will also be used to further verify your identity, job application, tax payment, and shipment clearance for customs. They may include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Adoption Papers
  • Birth Certificates
  • Custom Documents
  • Dental Records
  • Divorce/Child Custody Papers
  • Driver’s License
  • Immunization Certificates
  • Medical Records and Medical Insurance Documents
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Pet Vaccination Records (if you are bringing your pet with you)
  • School Records
  • Social Security Cards
  • Tax Records
  • Veterinary International Health Certificate (also for pets)
  • Wills

To know more about the different documents required in your international move, seek the help of the Consulate/Embassy beforehand. Simply ask to be referred to an official from your destination country’s consular office, which is located in your home country. They can better help you in getting a detailed and accurate list of documents required for your relocation. To obtain information on all foreign consular offices and phone numbers in the United States, visit the official website of the US Department of State or check your destination country’s embassy website.

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