Planning and preparing for moving to, relocating or just visiting a foreign country
Documents Required for Foreign Travel
A citizen or resident of one country wishing to travel across a border to another, even for a short visit, needs a travel document for identification. The most common is a Passport which is issued by the government of one's country of birth or long term residence and it remains valid for as number of years. Some countries allow short visits to neighbouring countries using just a National ID card or driving licence, or a Border Pass. United States citizens need a copy of their birth certificate when applying for a US passport.
Citizens of all nations need a valid Passport for overseas or international travel. Some countries issue a single passport for a man, his wife and young children. Depending on your country's agreements with others, you may be allowed in without a visa. Other countries issue a visa on arrival. Visas are stamps or stickers placed in your passport. If you need a visa before you arrive, you need to apply to the nearest Embassy or Consulate of each country you want to visit. These will be offices located in capital and large cities in your own country. Your government probably has a website which gives details of requirements for incoming visitors and for citizens who want to travel outside. There are also companies that specialise in giving advice as well as providing international travel documents for US citizens and others. Note that passports and visas have expiry dates and must be valid at least for the period of travel and perhaps longer. All countries have different regulations, and it is wise to check before leaving your home country.
Visas are necessary for many countries in Asia and elsewhere. If you want to save time and convenience when arriving in countries which require them, then it's better to get visas before you leave home. You can apply to each country's Embassy (allow plenty of time) or get all your visas at the same time
We also have a page on visa requirements for visitors to Asian and other countries and also one for US Passport holders who can enter many countries without a visa.
Research before you go for the first time
There are many reasons you might be considering moving countries on a long term basis or permanently. It could be financial or tax reasons, in which case you would benefit greatly from the knowledge of Lief Simon, a US citizen who stays entirely up to date with IRS regulations that Americans must abide by wherever they live and invest or earn money. He has a monthly intelligence service with a low annual subscription. Sign up today for ...
Possibly you are going through a mid-life crisis that can often begin as early as one's thirties. One of the first things you should consider is how many things will be different from what you have become used to where you are living now. Many of these will relate to the culture of the local people. See our Culture Change page. An easy way is by doing a little research before visiting the place for a short holiday, during which you should do all the 'tourist' things first, but look further at aspects of the place that would be important for you as a resident. Planning and preparation beforehand are essential.
Local research on ex-pat life while you are there
Try to meet other ex-pats and learn from them what life is like there on a daily basis, and any recommendations they may offer. However, don’t take everything you hear as 'gospel truth'. Ex-pats can often appear to be ‘experts’, and will be quick to point out their own bad experiences. These can often be of their own making. Everybody has different ideas about how things are and how they should be. Try to get a balanced view by speaking to more than one group. Find out how important it is to learn some of the local language.
That first visit will leave a strong impression with you, and probably will be mostly positive, because you already had the idea that you want to take up residence there. But try to form a balanced opinion and see where you may or may not have a problem in settling in. Are there enough recreational facilities to suit you? Are there things that you will have trouble doing without from back home?
Regarding accommodation, on your first expedition you will probably want to stay in hotels or guesthouses. However, this won't give you the right 'feeling' of actually living a good part of your time in another country. One alternative is to rent a vacation home. Villarenters.com is one example of a site where you can not only find a home, condo or villa to rent for a short period, you can promote and rent out your own property on a short-term basis – virtually anywhere in the world. Complete with booking engine and calendar, you can choose where you want to stay and when, and earn income from letting out your own property while you are overseas.
More research and preparation for the move
Once you have returned home, do a lot more research around the areas that will affect you, and think about all the matters you will need to take care of before you can move. For instance, income. Are you going to just retire on your foreign pension or other assets, do you want to continue to earn income by working, or by using the internet for business, do you want to travel back to your country or elsewhere. You also need to arrange access to your bank accounts. Visit our Banking page to learn about using online banking and money transfer.
Health, Medical, Travel Arrangements
Think about insurance for both travel and medical purposes. Your existing medical plan will not cover you if you reside in another country.
Travel and health insurance with emergency evacuation can be arranged with a reliable international expat health insurer. No personal questions are asked and you can get a free quote instantly, even if you're overseas already. Also, you pay a lower premium than by going through a broker at home or abroad.
How long will it take for you to be ready to get on that flight? What do you need to take with you. Should you sell up or leave things in storage? Who will you choose for your travel arrangements? See our Travel section or compare prices and read reviews; airline tickets, hotel bookings, tours and vacations for Asia or any other part of the world.
Money and Finance
Think about the money you will need while travelling, and how you will take care of your financial commitments back home. Travelers Checks, ATM cash cards, money transfer, internet banking are some of the options you have for travel and living overseas.
See our Banking page for more details about financial management for overseas residents including the opening of a non-US resident bank account – a useful facility for many people, including those involved in the internet business, especially those with PayPal accounts.
Great deals to, from and within Asia as well!
Luggage and Travel Accessories
Apart from strict rules regarding what may be carried on an aircraft, either as carry-on or checked-in luggage, things are getting worse regarding what you are allowed for free included in the ticket price. Airlines are charging considerable excess baggage fees to try and offset their increasing fuel costs. The solution is to travel as light as possible.
Excess baggage is very likely to be a problem if you are emigrating to another country! Most major airlines used to (and may still) have an 'unaccompanied baggage' facility which was a relatively cheap way to transport extra suitcases or boxes to your destination. You contact the airline to arrange collection from the airport when the luggage had arrived. This will also be subject to Customs inspection. Contact your chosen airline well in advance of your move to see what services they offer. An alternative is air freight, or of course for larger quantities, shipping.
It's important to get the right luggage before you leave home. Apart from weight of the bags themselves, experienced travelers realise the importance of strong, good quality clothing, accessories, luggage and equipment that has to be relied on to provide long-term service under sometimes gruelling conditions.
Recording and Logging your Travel Adventures
You'll also want a photographic record, either with stills or videos, of your travels. Get good equipment before you leave home and learn to use it. Warranties are more effective and easier to get in your home country too – even if it means paying a slightly higher price than the 'bargain basements' of Asia! Duty Free Shops are rarely cheaper than 'downtown' or even home prices (other than perfume and alcohol) and for quality goods, Asian malls are not what they used to be. One exception is pirated DVDs and computer software. There is no competition for that elsewhere!
While many small electrical devices using adaptors or chargers will work with mains supplies from 110 to 240 volts, larger appliances like TV sets probably won't and a mains transformer may be required. Check on prices to see whether it's better to take your old stuff or buy new, bearing in mind the transport charge too.
Apart from mains power, the television broadcast system used in most of SE Asia is PAL, the same as the UK and most of Europe. Exceptions are Burma, the Philippines and Vietnam which use NTSC like the USA, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Make sure your equipment will work before you take it abroad as not all devices have dual system compatibility.
Get up to date with 'new technology'
There are so many new electronic products on the market, it's easy to get left behind. Visit a few online stores and read product reviews from users. Plus there are so many handy gadgets that travellers will find useful.
Create a "Things To Do List" well before you leave
The above are some of the issues you need to address before you set off on a journey of exploration, or to take up residence in a new country. You would be wise to make some sort of program of what you need to do and when, preferably on your computer – but print it out too.