Top Tips for US Expats

posted by Chris Valentine

Moving abroad is a major decision and it’s not one that should be taken lightly. It’s exhilarating yet scary when you take a dive into the unknown and start afresh in a brand-new country.

There are a lot of things to organize before you can move to another country from the United States. Whether it’s sorting out health insurance for US expats or arranging the transportation of your belongings to your new home, your to-do list will feel never-ending.

Doing your research and properly planning your move will make things much easier when you get to the other side. But what steps do you actually need to take to ensure a smooth and seamless transition into your new home?

Here are some top tips for all US expats that will make the whole moving process much easier from start to finish. 

Sort Out Your Visa as Soon as Possible

To live in another country as a US expat, you will need to apply for a visa. The exact methods for obtaining a visa will depend on the rules in the country you’re moving to, so you will need to do your own extensive research.

It’s important that you apply for the right type of visa for your needs. If you apply for the wrong visa, you’re at risk of having to return back to the US until you get a new one.

Consider how long you will need to visa for and what you plan to do abroad. For example, if you are going to enter employment, you’ll need a work visa. If you plan to re-enter education, you will need a student or study visa.

It can take several weeks for visa applications to be processed and approved, so give yourself at least two months before your planned moving day. The visa must be approved and active from the day you move to your new home.

Your employer may be able to help you with your visa application. They may also be required to verify your employment. Alternatively, you might need to return to the US once or twice a year to verify your visa.

Liaise with an Accountant

Even when you move to another country from the US, you will still maintain your US citizenship. Because of this, you will need to continue paying your US taxes, despite not living in the country.

This is something that many US expats don’t realize and it can lead to a series of legal issues. Doing your due diligence and organizing your finances and taxes before moving abroad will save you a lot of worry and trouble in the future.

Even if you don’t end up paying any money for your US taxes, you still need to file yearly tax forms with the IRS to maintain your citizenship. For those of you who are eligible for state benefits and credits, you will need to continue filing for these each year as well.

Filing your taxes can be a complicated process but liaising with a financial and accounting professional should ease your nerves. They will be able to walk you through all of the necessary documentation so you stay on the right side of the law. They will also help to prevent potential double taxation.

Talk to Your Bank

If you plan to keep your US citizenship and maintain a US bank account, you’ll need to stay in touch with your bank even when you live abroad. 

Financial issues can easily crop up and if you’re not prepared, it can cause you a lot of headaches. Keep regular contact with your bank and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure of anything.

Even if you don’t live in the country, the financial advisors at the bank will be more than happy to help you. You’ll also need to show proof that you are still a US citizen to your bank every so often in order to keep your US bank account open.

Keep a second physical copy and a digital copy of all of your important documentation so that you always have access to everything you need when you liaise with the bank.

Give Yourself Time to Settle in

When you move to another country, it’s normal to feel apprehensive and a little out of place. Give yourself a couple of months to fully settle into your new home and expect to feel isolated or lonely at first.

Try to chat with the locals and learn more about the culture of the country you’ve moved to. Explore the area and don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s all going to be a huge learning curve that’s full of excitement and embracing this with open arms will make your experience much more enjoyable.

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