Visa and documents for relocations

Visas, residency & citizenship

In Features, Tips by Steven Kane

One important aspect of an international move is your immigration status. Generally this can include a significant amount of bureaucracy and paperwork. It is likely to involve accessing papers you have not used, or seen, for many months, possibly years. Depending on the country you move to the level of red tape can alter drastically.

Immigration and Work Permits

It is very important to establish the specifics early in the process. Since regulations vary and can change from time to time with very little, if any, advanced warning Immigration. Understanding the visas/permits you and your family requires is vital as is the time frame and procedures required for obtaining these.

Official websites online can provide a reliable source of information – Immigration sections of the government website of your destination country is a good starting point. You can also speak with the destination countries consulate/embassy in the country you currently reside.

Most countries will only recognize and process passports with a minimum 6 months validity (ideally one year), so make sure everyone’s passports are up to date.

You may find certain documentation you possess needs to be certified/notarised/stamped by the destination countries consulate/embassy at origin. Also, some documents may need to be translated. This can be a time consuming process so talk to someone in authority well in advance, and ensure you allocate sufficient time for this.

EU citizens are generally allowed to freely enter other EU countries in order to live and work, (with the exception of temporary restrictions on freedom of movement for countries who joined the EU in 2004). However there may be legal requirements to register with the local authorities and possibly process an identity or residency card upon arrival.

Most countries allow select nationalities to remain in the country for one month or more as a visitor/tourist, but there are restrictions on employment and/or residency, however this initial period may provide enough time to process your residency/employment.

Educational records, and Birth/Marriage certificates are common requirements, as is a driving license. Certain countries may even require you to provide medical information or perhaps financial records or bank statements. Be prepared and make sure to have multiple copies of everything.

If your company is transferring you to a new country, then it is likely the Human Resources and Public Relations departments will be fully familiar with documentation and procedures and they will assume responsibility.

Wise Move Tip – Regardless, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with the regulations in order to feel assured everything is progressing smoothly. As with most things move related, start the process early!

Residence and Citizenship

In most countries, applying for a residence permit and/or an identity card has to be completed at destination following your initial arrival. If your plan is to apply for citizenship of your new country, this may involve waiting a number of years. The process may be accelerated if your spouse/close family members are citizens. You may be entitled to dual citizenship in certain cases. Again, research this well in advance of the move in order to avoid last minute problems.


A growing number of countries are making it increasingly easy/and attractive for foreign nationals to retire. Programs vary, but generally require the person to be of a minimum age, (ie. over 50 years old), maintain a fixed deposit in a local bank, whilst prohibiting or restricting paid employment.

Another way to qualify may be to register a company or buy a property.

It is important to ascertain any tax implications on your overseas assets that may still being generated, income, pensions or savings, as some of this will obviously be used towards your living expenses. Ensure you are clear on the financial implications of retirement in a new country and consider any likely changes, which may be introduced in the future.

Check immigration department websites in order to gain a better understanding of the regulations and criteria.

Healthcare should also be high on your list of priorities. Some countries offer good public healthcare systems which is heavily subsidized or even free, but in other cases private health care protection will be much more practical.