For many, it sounds like a distant dream, for some it becomes reality: leaving Switzerland behind and moving to another country. There are many reasons for this, often it is the job or love that makes you want to emigrate. However, moving abroad always involves a lot of paperwork and organization. Accordingly, you should start planning the international move early and proceed quite meticulously.

Die Planung eines internationalen Umzugs mit einer Weltkarte.

Don’t move abroad naively

First of all, get rid of all this emigrant romanticism. Is it just a fixed idea in your head or do you really want to go there? Reading through a travel guide with beautiful pictures is not enough. You should gather more information about your country of choice.

Take your time to do this. It can take up to one or two years until you have all the documents. Ideally, you have already spent some time in the new country, have met some local people and already know the basics of the local language.

The most important documents for an international move

If you stand at the border with the wrong papers, this would be very annoying, because they certainly won’t turn a blind eye to missing papers. These are the things you should have checked before leaving the country:

Passport/ID card: only valid for three more months? Bad idea. Go to the office and have it renewed.

Birth & marriage certificate: It is advisable to have these documents translated and certified in the language of the future country.

Visa and Co: For EU countries you have to apply for a residence permit. For all other countries, there are different visa regulations. Check also how it looks with a work permit.

International driver’s license: Always a good thing. Otherwise, it can be difficult to get behind the wheel abroad.

International student card: If you are going across the border to study, an international student card is a good idea. This will give you many discounts.

Transcripts: Have your certificates translated. If not into the local language, then definitely into English. That way you are on the safe side.

Medical: If you need certain medicines, it is wise to have the prescriptions translated as well, so that you can get exactly what you need abroad. Oh yes, don’t forget your vaccination certificate!

Zeugnisse: Lassen Sie Ihre Zeugnisse übersetzen. Wenn schon nicht in die Landessprache, dann auf jeden Fall ins Englische. Damit gehen Sie auf Nummer sicher.

Medizinisches: Wenn Sie bestimmte Medikamente benötigen, ist es klug, die Rezepte dafür ebenfalls übersetzen zu lassen, damit Sie auch im Ausland genau das bekommen, was Sie benötigen. Ach ja, Impfpass nicht vergessen!

Health insurance for a move abroad: health first

It is absolutely essential to have health insurance abroad! Imagine not having sufficient insurance coverage and then getting sick abroad. Financially, this can really quickly mean bankruptcy. Surgery costs abroad, expensive treatments and medical repatriation are not cheap. Take enough time to clarify which insurance coverage you need.

A very important visit is the one to the family doctor. A comprehensive check-up has never done anyone any harm, and then you will know exactly where you stand. You should also get detailed advice on vaccinations. You can get all the necessary information at the Tropical Institute in Basel.

Taking pets with you when moving abroad

You must also have your pets vaccinated before moving internationally. This is a legal requirement to prevent the introduction and spread of rabies. Depending on the country, you may need a vaccination card, which you can obtain from your veterinarian. This confirms that your animal has received a valid rabies vaccination.

Depending on the destination country, there are other regulations that apply to your pets. For example, some countries require antiparasitic treatment before moving abroad. Also, some countries dictate to owners how much time may have passed between the date of the move and the last vaccination.

Also note that not all animals are allowed in all countries, for example, according to the law, Pit Bull Terriers are not allowed to be imported in Germany.

Customs during an international move

Within Europe, it is now relatively problem-free with customs. If you move abroad, only the customs documents between Switzerland and the EU must be prepared. The most important thing here is a list of the items – the so-called “Übersiedlungsgut”. This means a meticulous list of exactly what items you are moving, for example how many moving boxes you are taking with you or what type and brand your bicycles are.

So, a European move can be organized comparatively quickly but is related to some paperwork. The situation is different when the move becomes more international. Here, there are different regulations from country to country. Both a move to Europe and overseas should be arranged by a professional moving company. Why? Read in the next paragraph.

An international move with a moving company

Some moving companies have specialized exclusively in international moves. A huge advantage is that these companies then also take care of all customs formalities – and they have experience with that! Otherwise, all the paperwork can be quite nerve-wracking. Get a quote from a professional international moving company and check the price/performance ratio thoroughly.

You have probably already guessed: Moving with the entire household goods is quite expensive and not exactly cheap. But you will be relieved of a lot of worries and physical work, so you can concentrate on more important things.

Farewell – the last steps for the move abroad

The apartment is terminated and you turn your back on Switzerland. Deregister at the residents’ registration office at your place of residence and obtain a deregistration confirmation. You will need this for customs formalities, among other things. Have you also cancelled all subscriptions? Yes? Then quickly set up the forwarding order so that no mail gets lost.

And finally, one more point that many people forget: Make sure you take care of your AHV. Under the link you will find all the information you need about AHV in Switzerland when moving abroad.

Everything was taken care of? Then nothing stands in the way of your new adventure. We say goodbye and wish you all the best!