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Overseas Movers
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Getting Ready to Move Overseas

 
Moving overseas can be one of the most exciting times you will experience. The opportunities to learn and be exposed to new cultures and languages can only broaden your life in a positive way. Here are some general guidelines about preparing yourself for your upcoming international relocation.
 

Before you Move

Learn as much as possible about the country where you plan to live. Read about the nation's culture, customs, people, and history to make your stay more comfortable and meaningful. One of the best ways to learn about living in a foreign country is to get advice from U.S. citizens already living there. the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or consulate may e able to assist you in finding organizations or clubs of U.S. expatriates that could give you information.
 
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Consular Information Program

the U.S. Department of State issues fact sheets on every country in the world called Consular Information Sheets. the sheets contain information on crime and security conditions, areas of instability and other details relevant to travel in a particular country.

the Department of state also issues Travel Warnings and Public Announcements. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends deferral of travel by Americans to a country because of civil unrest, dangerous conditions, terrorist activity and/or because the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with the country and cannot assist an American in distress. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term and/or transnational condition that would pose significant risks to American travelers.

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To Access Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements:

By Phone or Mail:

Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements may be heard any time by dialing the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225 from a touchtone phone. the recording is updated as new information becomes available. they are also available at any of the 13 regional passport agencies, and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, or, by sending a self-addresses, stamped envelope and indicating the desired country to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Room 4811, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818.

By Fax:

From your fax machine, dial (202) 647-3000, using the handset as you would a regular telephone. the system prompts you on how to proceed.

By Internet:

Information about travel and consular services is not available at http://travel.state.gov. Visitors to this website will find Travel Warnings, Public Announcements and Consular Information Sheets, passport and visa information, travel publications, background on international adoption and international child abduction services, international legal assistance, and the consular Affairs mission statement.

Tips for Travelers Series

the Department of State publishes a series of pamphlets on travel to specific regions of the world. the brochures cover topics such as currency and customs regulations, import and export controls, dual nationality, and photography restrictions. the following publications are available for $1 - $1.50 each from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, D.C. 20402. (Availability and prices are subject to change without notice. Please check with the GPO before ordering at (202) 512-1800.)
  • Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Tips for Travelers to the Caribbean
  • Tips for Travelers to Canada
  • Tips for Travelers to Central and South America
  • Tips for Travelers to the People's Republic of China
  • Tips for Travelers to Mexico
  • Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa
  • Tips for Travelers to Russia and the Newly Independent States
  • Tips for Travelers to South Asia

 

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Required Documents

U.S. Passports

Applying in Person:

In the United States, application for a U.S. passport may be presented in person at a passport agency or at one of the several thousand Federal or state courts or post offices that accept passport applications. If you are overseas, you may apply at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

If you do not meet the requirements for applying by mail (see below), you must appear in person and need to bring proof of U.S. citizenship such as a certified copy of your birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. citizen, a Certificate of Naturalization, or a previous U.S. passport. this should be accompanied by a completed DSP-11, Passport Application, two recent 2 x 2 inch identical photographs, proof of identity (a valid driver's license or other valid photo ID will suffice), and the appropriate application fee (on application).

Passports by Mail:

You can apply for a passport by mail (without a personal appearance) if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have had a passport issued within 12 years prior to the date of a new application;
  • You are able to submit your most recent U.S. passport with your new application; and
  • Your previous passport was issued on or after your 16th birthday.

For further information and to obtain Form DSP-82, Application for Passport by Mail, contact the nearest U.S. passport agency or, if you are overseas, consult the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Not all embassies and consulates abroad are authorized to accept passport applications by mail or via a third party courier. Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in your consular district to find out if it accepts passport applications by mail or via a third party courier.

Visas

All governments require foreigners to have an appropriate visa to reside in their country. this endorsement or stamp placed in your passport by a foreign government permits you to enter that country for a specified purpose. If you are planning to reside in a country for an indefinite period of time, most countries will require you to seek residence status.

Applying for a Visa

In most cases, you must obtain the necessary visa before you leave the United States. Apply for your visa directly from the embassy or nearest consulate of the country in which you plan to reside. A listing of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. should be available at your local library or by ordering the publication Foreign Consular Offices in the United States from the U.S. Government Printing Office. You can write or call them at Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402; telephone (202) 512-1800 to check pricing and stock information.

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Work Permits

A work permit is usually required and is a separate document from your visa or residency permit. It is necessary if you plan on working in a foreign country. It may be obtained either before you leave the U.S. or after you arrive in the foreign country, depending on the laws of the particular country. It is usually applied for at the same time as the residency permit or visa.

Other Documentation

You might need documents other than a passport or visa to enter the host country. the consulate for the country to which you are moving can tell you the documents that are required. As soon as you know when and where you are moving, contact this person to obtain these documents. It can sometimes take months to process these documents; so the sooner you get them, the better.

Driver's License

Many countries do not recognize a U.S. driver's license. Some, however, will accept an international driver's permit, but it would be a good idea to qualify for an in-country driver's license as soon as possible. International driver's permits are not always valid in every country for the length of your stay. It is usually only a matter of courtesy that the holder of the permit is allowed to drive with it for any length of time.

Customs Hints

the pamphlet Know Before You Go contains information about U.S. Customs regulations and procedures. Single copies are available for any U.S. Customs office abroad or by writing to U.S. Customs, P.O. Box 7407, Washington, D.C. 20044.

Registration at U.S. Embassies or Consulates

As soon as you arrive at your permanent residence abroad, you should register in person or by telephone with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare or whereabouts may not be released to inquirers without your expressed written authorization. If you register in person, you should bring your U.S. passport with you. Your passport data will be recorded at the embassy or consulate, thereby making it easier for you to apply for a replacement passport should it be lost or stolen.

Immunizations

Under the International Health Regulations adopted by the World Health Organization, some countries require International Certificates of Vaccination against yellow fever from international travelers. A few countries still require a certificate of cholera immunization as well. A helpful guide to immunizations and preventive measures for international travel is the booklet, Health Information for International Travel. It is available for $14 from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. Specific information may also be obtained form local and state health departments, physicians, or travel clinics that advise international travelers. You may also reach the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention on (404) 332-4559 or via their Internet address at http://www.cdc.gov for immunization recommendations.

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