In collaboration with AGS Global Solutions

Moving countries can be a whole new adventure if you’re changing jobs or pursuing a new career opportunity, but the experience can also be quite daunting. International moves involve logistics like getting work visas, immigration paperwork, and customs clearances in place. However, you can ease the transition to your new home abroad by using this international moving checklist that we’ve put together.

How To Prepare Yourself To Move Abroad

Some of the most important things to consider before you move abroad is how you will find a place to live at your destination, what documents you need to set up your new home, and what you need to do to close up your old home.

Learn about the culture and language

Spend some time researching aspects of the country you’re moving to, such as when the major holidays are or when you’re permitted to schedule maintenance work at residences – which will impact how much time it takes for you to settle into your new home. Learn key phrases in the local language to help you to ask for directions or when banks are closed, and understand customs revolving around festivals and food. Figure out which apps you need to navigate the city – from transportation and translation aids, to cashless payment and online delivery platforms.

man and woman sitting in front of laptops at a desk
Research the various options that an international mover provides customers in terms of insurance, secure storage, and shipment tracking.

Prepare your documents and visas

If you’re applying for a visa, you’ll need standard documents like your birth certificate, passport, recent passport photographs, travel and health insurance, marriage certificate, immunisation records, and documents attesting that you have no criminal record where you currently reside. Once you’ve secured visas for yourself and your family, find out which documents you’ll need to sign a rental agreement, set up electricity and gas connections, open a bank account, and get a local phone number at your new destination.

Notify about the change of address and cancel subscriptions

Depending on your current place of residence, you may need to close bank accounts and cancel certain subscriptions before you move abroad. You may also have to close your gas and electricity accounts and get your refundable deposits (if applicable) for these connections, and let your internet and streaming service providers know when your last billing cycle will be. Cancel local insurance and health policies that you won’t need in a foreign country.

family of three in front of a sofa with AGS movers boxes
Pick a moving company that gives customers personalised and innovative solutions to suit their families.

The timeline to prepare for an international relocation

Work backwards to figure out how long you will need to move your household belongings. Choosing the right movers to take care of all the details — from packing and tracking, to customs clearance and door-to-door delivery — can make the process much easier. Pick an international removals company experienced in coordinating relocations and with a vast global network to ensure that shipments arrive safely and within a specified timeframe. Start researching and meeting with international movers to assess your options no later than three months before your expected moving date.

AGS Global Solutions has a 49-year history of helping customers with their international moves. They have a comprehensive network spanning five continents and help 150,000 families move countries every year. The company, which has been in Hong Kong since 1976, specialises in providing customers with personalised and innovative solutions to make the process as hassle-free as possible.

Here’s a moving-abroad checklist with everything you should consider when picking an international moving company, as well as the services that AGS Global Solutions provides customers to ensure a seamless transition to their new lives.

Choose a mover with an international network

a globe on the floor next to several small brown cartons
It’s easier to communicate with international movers that have a big global network.

Pick a moving organisation with a vast international network, so you only need to communicate with one company at your origin and destination. You will benefit from better coordination between the moving teams in your departure and destination countries, as they will follow the same overall process and have access to the same information. Company representatives in each city will also be aware of tax and customs requirements for regulated items, such as alcohol and cigarettes, and will know how the laws in your destination compare to those in Hong Kong.

AGS can help by: Linking you to their points of contact in 147 locations across 100 countries, thanks to their offices in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and partners in the Americas and Oceania.

Consider your shipping options

shipping containers on a ship at sea
Moving your household goods by ship is generally cheaper than taking them abroad by air.

Think about whether you need to ship your belongings by air or sea. Air freight is quicker as it generally takes a couple of weeks for your belongings to reach their destination, while sea shipments from Hong Kong take anywhere from 4-8 weeks, depending on whether your destination is in Asia or further away. Although faster, air freight is more expensive, and you may end up paying more if your belongings exceed a certain weight. In contrast, ocean shipments are more economical for heavy items like furniture and vehicles. If you’re moving between two major international port hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, it may make more sense to opt for sea freight.

AGS can help by: Providing you with guidance on air freight and sea shipment options, based on the weight or volume of their belongings, and how quickly you need them to reach their destination.

Schedule surveys with prospective movers

smartphone showing secure international network
If you don’t have the time to attend an in-person survey of your belongings, schedule a virtual visit instead.

Schedule appointments with prospective movers so they can come to your home to assess how many items you need packed and shipped. This will allow them to estimate how much your move will cost. This is also a good opportunity to clarify how the movers will pack the mementos you have collected from Hong Kong and other parts of the world that may be fragile or unusually-shaped.

AGS can help by: Giving you a free assessment of your shipment. This will help them create a customised quote for your move. Schedule an online home visit if you don’t have the time for an in-person appointment.

How much packing will the movers do?

close-up of a man taping a packing carton together
Choosing an international moving company that does the packing for you will save a lot of time.

While it is not uncommon for movers in Hong Kong to focus on the transport aspect of your move, if you want to save time on packing, choose a company that can also pack household items using their own packing material. You can, of course, pack your goods yourself, but reputable moving companies have many years of packing experience and know every technique to minimise the risk of damage to your items. Check whether they can disassemble and reassemble bulky items like cupboards and sofas, create boxes for specific types of furniture, and ensure special protection for high-value and fragile items.

AGS can help by: Using 30 different specialised moving boxes and cover protections, and tailoring moving cartons or cardboard flat sheets according to the size of specific items. AGS Global Solutions also provides custom-made crates for valuable items and fine art.

Do the movers provide door-to-door services?

AGS global solutions truck
Take the hassle out of moving abroad by choosing an international mover that provides door-to-door services.

This is a vital part of an international relocation checklist, especially if you’re shipping a large volume of household items. Consider a company that can provide complete door-to-door services that include packing, freight, clearance, delivery, and unpacking services at your destination.

AGS can help by: Providing moving assistance to customers across Hong Kong including harder-to-reach areas and neighbourhoods that are only accessible by ferry, such as Lamma Island, or residential townships with restricted access like Discovery Bay.

Find movers that handle customs clearance

a man checking the contents of a warehouse
Experienced international movers will ensure your belongings clear customs when they arrive without any hassles.

Don’t want the burden of clearing your shipment through customs when it arrives? Choose a moving company experienced enough to handle all the necessary paperwork on your behalf, and that is well-versed in what you can and cannot bring into your destination country. Check if they need special clearances for specific items and whether there are levies on electronic items like phones, vacuum cleaners, or ovens. There is no tax or excise duty on items taken out of Hong Kong. Hoiwever, vehicles, and goods such as liquor, tobacco, and certain chemicals are subject to an import tax.

AGS can help by: Guiding you through the customs regulations in your destination country to help you understand which of your goods may be taxed and by how much.

How will you track your shipment?

man pointing at laptop screen with a pen in one hand and holding a mouse with the other
Ensure that you can track your shipment once it’s left your home.

Find out how various international movers allow you to track your shipment. Do they give customers a tracking number or ask them to download an app? Check how often you get updates on your shipment’s status. This will help you monitor any potential delays in your shipment out of or into Hong Kong due to delays caused by typhoons or other global shipping disruptions.

AGS can help by: Assigning you a dedicated moving coordinator who will update you on every moving milestone from origin to destination.

How to calculate insurance on your shipment

graphic showing a digital image of the world with currency signs above a person's hand
Calculate the cost of each household item based on what it could cost to replace it at your destination.

Research the insurance policies of different companies before you zero in on an international mover so that you are aware of how they will reimburse you for damaged or lost items from your shipment. Some companies have additional insurance policies to insure your belongings for a certain percentage of the valuation of the entire shipment. A certified international mover will have two types of policies available: one based on a volumetric valuation, and a second based on a detailed inventory of your goods and what it would cost to replace them in your destination country. This is especially important if you’re moving to a city with a high cost of living, such as Hong Kong or Switzerland.

AGS can help by: Providing both types of policies, where the insurance cost is calculated according to the total volume of the shipment or according to the valuation of an itemised inventory. You can even complete your inventory online at your convenience.

Do you need secure storage?

a storage facility with crates stacked on top of each other
If you need time to find a place to live in a new country, choose international movers that provide storage facilities with 24-hour surveillance.

Need to store your shipment in a safe facility with 24/7 security for a few weeks, or maybe even months, while you find a home at your destination? Look into what your options are in terms of how much space you need, and how well the storage facility is protected against the elements. You can even get certain items delivered to your home as soon as they arrive at your destination, but keep other items in your shipment in storage until you find a house or flat that can accommodate all your belongings – a common practice in Hong Kong, where living spaces are typically smaller than in other cities.

AGS can help by: Providing you with access to over 185,000 square metres of secure storage space at any of its 100 destinations across the world, on a short-term or long-term basis. These facilities are specifically built for the storage of household items.

How will you ship your vehicle?

cars stored on a container ship
Find out whether your car should be shipped on an open-air carrier or in enclosed transport.

If you have to ship your car to another country, you need to consider several aspects before you choose a moving company. Factor in your car’s make and weight, where you need it picked up from and dropped off, the total distance it needs to travel, and how it will be shipped once it reaches its destination. Check whether your car will be shipped on an open-air carrier or in enclosed transport. If you’re shipping your vehicle to or from Hong Kong during typhoon season, you may prefer to store it in a shipping container to protect it from wind and rain.

AGS can help by: Giving options for all types of vehicles, such as utility vans, sedans, hatchbacks or SUV, luxury cars, vintage motorbikes, caravans, etc. You can choose between transporting your vehicles as part of a larger household move or on their own, as part of a Consolidated Car Shipment policy.

See also
15 Professional Relocation Companies To Move Your Furniture Internationally & Locally Without Stress

Meet AGS Global Solutions

Image credits: AGS Hong Kong

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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