Three Vital Documents You Will Probably Need When Moving Overseas

If you are getting ready to move overseas, it can be a very exciting time, but preparing for the move can also be very time consuming. During this process, it may be easy to overlook some of the important documentation that you will need in order to enter and stay in the country you are moving to. Unfortunately, some of this documentation can take time to request and be issued, so it is best if you start collecting this material as soon as you know you will be moving. Here are a few documents that you may need to move to most countries, but you will need to check with the specific country you are moving to in order to ensure that everything is in order. 


One of the most important documents that you and your family will need anytime that you travel outside of the U.S. is a passport. This is the official government document that not only establishes your identity, but also establishes your nationality. This is a document that will be required by all members of your family, and are usually required prior to you being issued a visa. Even if you already have a passport, make sure that you check the expiration date to ensure that it will not expire during the time that you are out of the country. This could affect your ability to obtain a Visa or your ability to return to the country. 

When applying for your passport, be prepared for the process to take anywhere from a few days to a few months depending on the current demand and backlog in the passport office. To apply for your passport, you will need to ensure that you and your family members all have the following:

  • Passport application
  • Original birth certificates with raised seals
  • Government issued identification cards

You may also need a marriage certificate, court order, or other documentation if your current name does not match the name on your birth certificate. You must apply in person at an official passport agency, or an official passport acceptance facility. These facilities may be located within your local courthouse or at a major post office. Be prepared to pay $100 for a child's initial passport to $115 for an adult's passport. It will be almost double if you have to expedite the process or replace a lost or stolen passport. 


Many countries will require you to have a visa prior to entering their country if you are planning to stay for an extended period of time. In many cases, your visa will be stamped into your passport book, but depending on the country, it may be issued on a separate form. Although there are approximately 185 different types of visas in the US, most can be broken down into two basic categories. These are:

  • Non-immigrant visas - These are most commonly used by business, travelers, students, and those temporarily working in foreign countries.
  • Immigrant visas - Are for people who are attempting to immigrate to a new country. 

The actual type of visa that you will need will depend upon the country that you will be moving to, and you will need to gather that information from the consulate or visitor's bureau of that country. 

Work Permit

In addition to these two documents, many countries may also require you to obtain a work permit to officially work in the country. In some countries this may be in the form of a work visa, or a foreign worker visa, while other countries may require a separate document. There is often a fee associated with these documents as well, although they vary based on the country you are moving to. 

To ensure that you have the proper documentation prior to your move, make sure that you start applying for and gathering this documentation as soon as you know that you will be moving. Not only will this help you ensure that everything is in order, it will help you spread out the cost of these documents, which can sometimes become quite expensive, especially when you are having to supply them for every member of your family. When your actual move takes place, make sure that you do not pack these documents away—keep them in a safe location where you will be able to quickly access them as needed.