Moving Overseas | 14 Things To Prepare & Do Before You Move Overseas
As Australian’s we may live on an island slightly far from the rest of the world, but that has not stopped our continued desire to roam every corner of the planet, pick up our entire lives and move overseas.
Many people dream of it but how do you actually move overseas from Australia? It is easy to get lost in the excitement and overwhelmed by the many things to prepare, but don’t worry! We have compiled a list of 14 things you need to consider and organise before leaving Australia permanently. If you happen to have already left Australia, you can also find answers below.
- Notify everyone
- Documentation to bring
- Plan the costs
- Organise a removalist
- Your house and CGT
- Have a valid passport
- Voting overseas
- Paying taxes whilst overseas
- Rules on your HELP loans
- Health insurance in foreign countries
- Get your visa
- International driver’s permit
- Super outside of Australia
- Register your move
When moving overseas, it is important to notify all your service providers that will no longer need their services, that you definitely don’t want to receive any more bills and that you won’t be at that address anymore.
Providers you should remember to notify and or cancel before you leave are:
- Utilities (internet, gas, water, electricity, foxtel)
- Mobile company
- Your local council
- Car registration
- Insurance (home, car)
- Superannuation fund provider
- Real estate agent (if renting/selling your home)
- Australian Taxation Office
- myGov (update your contact details)
- The Electoral Commission
- Australia Post (re-direct post)
- Your lawyer
- Your accountant or financial advisor
- Cancel subscriptions (newspapers or magazines)
When moving overseas, in order of staying in your new country it is essential to take any and all of the following legal documents with you;
- Your birth certificate
- Change of name (if applicable)
- Marriage/single certificates (for partner visas)
- Divorce/custody agreements
- Police checks
- Educational qualifications
In addition to bringing along your important documents, we recommend making a bunch of copies and authorising them before leaving Australia. This will help when applying for your visa and any additional permits you may need while integrating into your new country. There is nothing worse than arriving and realising you need documents re-printed or authorised. That will cost you time and quite a bit of money.
If you are already overseas and you have time, you can re-apply for documents by applying online to Australia. If you are in a rush or just do not want to wait weeks, you can have your documents copied and authorised at the closest Australian Embassy, High Commission and or Consulate.
An important thing to note is that in many countries your original documents are required to have been printed within 6-months or less. What this means is, they want to see that it is not damaged or forged. If you are applying for multiple visas within a one-year time frame, it can be a time-consuming process, so ensure you apply early and avoid any delays or problems with overlapping visas.
Moving overseas is definitely not cheap. But it also doesn’t need to be a financially un-achievable task. If you are looking for a full break down of the costs when moving overseas from Australia, have a read of our guide to international moving costs.
Once you have decided to move overseas, you have to then start packing everything up and somehow get it shipped overseas to your new home. There are hundreds of removal companies that can help you move internationally. If you would like to understand what to look for and possibly compare some companies, check out our top 10 list of Australian international removalists. For a specific cost break down of shipping your furniture, have a read of our article on container shipping costs.
When you make the big move overseas, of course you will be leaving your home in Australia. If you are only leaving temporarily or will rent out your home, you can treat it as your main residency for up to six-years for capital gains tax (CGT) purposes.
However, if you are moving overseas and leaving your house to fend for itself (leaving it vacant), you can treat it as your main residency for an unlimited amount of time. That means most likely it is exempt from CGT.
If you decide to no longer be an Australian resident and sell your home in Australia, you then may be liable to CGT.
So, what does capital gains tax actually mean? It is tax charged on all your assets acquired since CGT began in 1985. Assests can be in the form of real estate, shares, leases, collectables and personal items of a certain value.
For a full overview of what CGT is and what it means for you when leaving Australia check out the ATO website.
Your passport is the most important thing you will need when moving overseas. As you can imagine, to leave Australia and to enter any other country, you need a valid passport. Your passport is valid as long as it has six months left on it from your planned date of return to Australia.
Of course, when moving overseas, you most likely don’t intend on returning to or visiting Australia within 6 months or a year at least! So, ensuring your passport is valid for a year or a few is essential. Don’t leave this to the last minute, head to the Australia Passport Office for all the information you will need if your passport is running out of time. In addition, take extra passport photos with you, in case your passport is stolen or lost.
When you go overseas, there are conditions that you must meet which effect whether you can remain on the electoral role and continue to vote in state and federal elections.
Whether you are moving overseas for a few months, six years or indefinitely, we recommend familiarising yourself with the Australian Electoral Commision website.
One very important questions anyone moving overseas from Australia needs to answer is; am I an Australian resident for tax purposes?
If you remain an Australian resident for tax purposes, you need to continue to lodge an Australian tax return and declare your worldwide income, even if you pay tax in the country you are working. Should you choose to no longer be a resident (non-resident or foreign resident) for tax paying purposes, you will only be taxed by the Australian government on your Australian income (with some exceptions).
If you remain an Australian resident overseas:
- You must lodge an Australian tax return and declare all your foreign income, including any exempt income
- You must declare the income even if tax was taxed out in the country where you earnt it
- You can lodge your tax return online from overseas using your myGov account
- Make sure you turn off the myGov security code feature before you lose access to your Australia mobile number.
Since 1 January 2016, you are required to repay any and all of your Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) or Trade Support Lead (TSL) debts, whether you live within or out of Australia. This applies to those who already live or intend on moving overseas for a total of more than six months in any 12-month period.
If you are already overseas, or you are going to leave Australia soon, you must update your contact details on myGov. You must also submit an overseas travel notification and lodge your worldwide income or a non-lodgement advice, depending on your circumstances. You lodge your worldwide income online through the ATO via myGov or through a registered Australian tax agent.
Once you have reported your worldwide income, the ATO will let you know how much you have to pay and when or how much you get back.
As you can imagine, it’s best to get this sorted before you leave Australia and start working overseas. The ATO ask that you notify them within seven days of leaving Australia, if you intend on moving or already live overseas, for 183 days or more in a 12-month period.
Most countries require you to have some form of insurance when you enter. It can be either travel or private health insurance. If you already have a job in your new country, you will then most likely need private health insurance before leaving Australia. It is best to take out travel insurance if you are unsure how long you will be leaving Australia for. The same if you do not yet have a job in your new country. Taking out travel insurance for 1-3 months will ensure that you and your belongings are safe during that transitional period of leaving Australia and starting fresh in a new country.
Most likely, if you are moving overseas then you intend on working overseas also. Find out well in advance what rules and regulations apply to obtaining a residency permit, work permit or working visa.
Failing to get yourself a valid working visa or permit before starting work overseas, may be seen as a criminal act in some countries . It can result in you being removed or not given permission to even enter. Be aware also that a tourist visa most likely will not allow you to work, including voluntary or unpaid activities.
In some countries, you are required to have certain vaccinations before you are allowed to enter or exit. Ensure that you check your visa’s requirements before purchasing your tickets and leaving Australia.
When moving overseas, it is assumed that eventually you will take up driving. As such, you are required to get yourself an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP is proof that you have a valid driver’s licence in your home country and must be carried with your valid Australian driver’s licence.
You can apply for an IDP within your home state in Australia, check out Smart Traveller for the correct information for each state. Alternatively, if you are already living overseas or intend on leaving Australia permanently, we recommend checking out the local requirements for obtaining a valid licence in your new country.
If you are an Australian citizen or resident leaving permanently, your super stays and is treated the same as all Australians. This means you cannot access your super until you retire, you reach the appropriate age or qualify other conditions that allow you to use the money you have accumulated.
When moving overseas, you should check your super account(s), combining any accounts you no longer use and removing any conditions that are not mandatory. This will ensure you don’t pay unnecessary fees or get those nasty charges, loosing that hard-earned money.
If you are making your overseas move to New Zealand, you can leave your super in Australia. Or you can transfer it all to a New Zealander KiwiSaver account. This is one of the only countries where you can transfer your super to.
As you can imagine, at the end of all this preparation, you are excited to get to your new country. Start the adventure of living overseas. But before you go, in addition to letting your friends and family know all the details of where you will now be located, it is a great idea to also register your travel and move with Smart Traveller and or your local embassy.
Request a removal quote
One last step in preparation for your overseas adventure, would be to get yourself a personalised removal quote. You can compare costs based on your circumstances and what you want to take. If you would like to receive up to five removal quotes from trusted international movers in Australia and save up to 40% on your exciting move, fill out our quick and easy form.