Preparing departure

Check list

Things to do before leaving

Going abroad starts with an impressive list of things to do. There are many things that are easy to settle when in the country and turn to headaches when distance adds it's magic powder to the situation.

Identity documents

Go through the expatriation package

  • Check the status
  • Check health  insurance?
  • What about pension plan/ what kind of problems might arise in the future because of lack of contributions. What can be implemented?
  • Insurances: which insurance is provided by employer? what is covered and to what extent?
  • The spouse professional situation: how does the company deal with spouse's career expectations?
  • Spouse's pension plan: is there a specific plan.
  • School- Tuitions fees: who is paying what?
  • Taxes: which system applies. Is there any support to fill the annual tax report
  • Salary package 

School registration



Car, driving license



  • Tell your bank you are going abroad, since your non resident status may have an impact on financial fees...


  • Check your status regarding home country taxes


  • Estimates
  • Selection
  • Goods inventory for insurance purposes
  • Terminating utility contracts: electricity , water, gas, telecom, internet,…


  • Change of adress and reexpedition


Make sure that your passports are valid.

It may sound a irrelevant precaution, but it happens often: if the passport is not valid, it is impossible to go on the plane. Besides mobility within Europe, an offcial document ois always needed.


Make photocopies of your passports ou scan them.

Do you know that, when you are travelling extensively for professional reasons.

Identity card

Several precautions are better than none. It is alaways safer to have several kind of identity documents.


Entrance in a foreign country is most of the time conditioned by the obtention of a visa. Long stay visas depend on your situation and will often condition possibilities to work locally. For trailing spouses, it is key that they pay attention to the visa that will be demanded on their behalf:  too rapid choices at this point can lead to increased difficulties locally to get a work permit. When the situation evolves, it is always possible to apply for a new visa or get a work permit, but the process proves to be costly and difficult to implement, since the first condition of eligibility is generally to have found a job.

► More information on visas in country files

Legal translation

When living abroad, you may be required to present official documents that were established in your country of origin.

When there is no signed convention between home and host countries, it is wise to have your official papers legalized and or translated beforehand. If not, it is always possible to do so locally with the support of your home country consulate

Health & vaccination


Going on expatriation implies changes that may have an important impact on medical surveillance, current treatments, their cost and the level of their coverage (Further details on coverage conditions in the social coverage section of the guide).

In such conditions it proves useful to have a check up prior to the departure and to organize a regular follow-up for family members.

For those currently undergoing a treatment, it is very important to get information on how the treatment can be continued locally.

Medical Emergency Kit. When local medicine and hospitals are rare, the possession of a medical emergency kit may sometimes save a life. This kit, sold in pharmacy, usually contains sterile needles, compresses, sutures, sterile Band Aids ,etc...


Depending on the country you are heading for, certain vaccinations might be compulsory and others strongly recommended by medical staff. In the European Union or in North America, where sanitary conditions are comparable to those in France, it is simply recommended to check if the basic vaccinations are updated.

In other geographic zones, it is the country’s sanitary state that rules. Vaccination against yellow fever is "compulsory" in Africa and tropical America. Other risks to be prevented: cholera and rabies. In epidemic zones (Maghreb, Sahel and Middle East), it is necessary to be protected from the meningococcus A+C and meningitis A+C.

Repatriation insurance

In so called “difficult regions”, from the hygiene and security point of view, repatriation insurance is compulsory. In other regions it is only recommended.

The standard for expatriates is to get cover in the medical field: advance for medical expenses, sending of drugs, repatriation, secondment of a person for replacement... Just by a simple phone call, 24h / 24h, the assistance company should be able to take care of everything, until the problem is settled.

Beyond repatriation, services provided by the assistance company should include sending a medical team on site, providing drugs that cannot be found on site, logistical support (breakdown services, …) and legal assistance.


International or Local school?

International school

Expatriates children can attend school in international establishments or in foreign schools where the academic program is based on the home country education programs.

Local school

Whenever the length of stay and local conditions make it possible, expatriate children can also attend local school. While difficult when it implies the acquisition of the local language and because it is based on the host country academic programs, local education leads to new discoveries and a superior level of integration in the country of expatriation.

Education in France:

For those who settle in France, Education is not a difficulty.

Children can be registered in public schools where they will benefit from a particular support during the adaptation and french language acquisition period.

French schools are either public or private under contract, which guarantees affordable tuition fees.

Bank account

It is essential to notify your bank of your departure abroad. This precaution will enable your banker to organize the opening of a new account in the host country and give you pertinent advices on ways to simplify the management of your accounts et make the best use, should it apply to you, of your non resident status.

Driving license

Driving licence rules are varying from one country to the other. Obtaining an international driving licence is a simple process that can avoid,in certain circumstances, to have to re-take the exam locally. In practice, new residents in a foreign country, international driving license or not, will have to ask for the transformation of their permit and take a test locally. If needed, it is recommended to revise one’s code and understand the country’s specificities.



What to do with one’s dog, cat, hamster or fish when leaving to go on expatriation ?

Regulations are different in each country.

- A health certificate, established by a veterinarian, is most of the time a must. The health certificate is often to be established on a official documents from the host country. The anti-rabies vaccination certificate must certify that injection was done between 30 and 180 days prior to the entrance in the country.

- An « importation permit », obtained with the country’s veterinarian services, is sometimes required.

- In some cases (Australia, Malaisia,Singapore, United Kingdom…), the domestic animal will have to be put in quarantine, on it’s arrival in the country, and will be submitted to medical examination.

- Importation of certain animals may otherwise be forbidden.



Registering to the consulate of one’s country, particularly in risky countries, is a precaution for being alerted in case of danger ( political risks, epidemics, natural disasters,..).

In Europe or other industrialized countries, consulate registration is a condition for being eligible to an academic grant, for elections or to obtain an identity card.

Consulate competencies

They usually cover the following headings :

  • Identity card - Passport:
  • Wedding:
  • Divorce:
  • deed:Protection and repatriation of french citizens abroad

Housing: leaving one's place

Leaving one’s place

Shortened lease resiliation notice period.

It is advisable to check wether professional mobility is considered, in your home country, an exceptional circumstance enabling the tenant to give notice with a shortened delay. This precaution will allow tenants not to give notice when their actual departure is still insecured.

Calendar : beware of delays.

International movings lead to unused delays. By sea movings take time and one can be deprived of his furniture, owning and clothing during several weeks before the departure. It it can be avoided, it can be better not being obliged to camp in an empty apartment. When the moving takes place in summer, holidays can help make the junction.In other cases, family and friends are much sollicitated: it isn’t always comfortable, but it tastes already the ambiance of departure. …

Owner : selling or renting ?

Unfortunately, there are neither good nor bad answer.It can be considered useful to keep an identified place to return to at the end of the expatriation.Children can be particularly sensitives to such an anchor. Keeping an estate in one’s home country can be a way to maintain the link. On a financial point of view, recent years experience has shown that, with a fast growing real estate market (which is to checked nowadays), those who chose to sell were not necessarily well inspired.

If you choose to rent, pay attention to the conditions of your reinstallation when returning from expatriation : It would be very frustrating not being able to go back to your place because it is not available when you need it.Don’t forget also that renting one’s home might not be an easy business. There are lots of small difficulties that arise during a lease time, taking unusual proportions just because you reside hundreds of kilometers away. It is wise to ask an agency to run the whole thing for you. While it may be expensive, it will guarantee your serenity.

Housing: finding a place

Housing abroad is of great importance __. When living in an non familiar environment, your home is the place to recharge one’s batteries, where the country’s influences mix with all the things you have brought with you. The choice of a new housing is therefore an essential element of your actual local living conditions.

The difficulty is that finding the top place is anything but obvious. How to locate the perfect house or apartment, when one’s doesn’t know the town, the specificties of its districts, its particular constraints, the location of key places such as the international school,…?

It sometimes start with difficulties figuring out distances : reading a town map, certain places may seem close when not, or far when actually only at walking distance.

Time and distance act regularly as major constraints on home search in the expatriation country. How to make a search when living hundreds of kilometres away. When the exploration trip exists, it is often very short. When it is of the expatriate responsibility to find a place while starting on his new job, the challenge is all the more important.

In such conditions, it is recommended, when possible, to rely on relocation or real estate agencies to do the searching for you. The support they provide will save time and prevent from making ill choices or bad negociations. In the case of relocation agencies, services may include school registration, local formalities and support during the adaptation period.


International moving is a matter that should be untrust to professionals expert in long distance moving and customs formalities. It is recommended to choose a company that is part of an international network, and that will be able to take care of all aspects of the moving process from the point of departure to your new place in the expatriation country.

International movings sometimes induce long delays. They are to be taken into account when choosing the clothing you will keep in your hand luggages.

For international movings, plane is used for small volumes (less than 5 m3). In that case, rapidity is secured but costs are much higher.

Above 5 m3, the moving is done by sea, and delays extend considerably: Between 3 to 4 weeks from France to the eastern cost of the United States; from 6 to 8 weeks to Japan.

When moving is paid by the employer, the standard is to ask for 2 estimates. When the moving company representative comes to your house to assess the volume and the objects needing particular care, it is essential to be precise about your expectations. If you know the new place configuration, it is better to mention it so that surplus fees can be avoided on arrival locally.

All your belongings must be listed and valued for insurance purposes. You will also have to make a list of all items included in the shipment and particularly of items such as alcohol, video,… which can be subject to censorship or additional custom taxes in the host country.