LOGISTICS FOR EXPATRIATES
According to the English
Webster Dictionary, the word Expatriate or Expat means to withdraw (oneself)
from residence in or allegiance to one's native
country; to leave one's native country to live elsewhere,
living in a foreign land.
In Practical terms, an
expatriate could be an executive from a multi-national company, a diplomat from
an international mission or simply someone that for many reasons, including
retirement, decides to move from one country to another one.
The logistics involved in
making this relocation possible can begin with any of the aspects involved in
this process, but certainly the transportation of household goods plays an
important role and is one of the main tasks and usually a major concern for
every expatriate and their families.
There are many steps
involved in the process which when placed in the proper order can make a
difference in a move and result in it being smoother and more efficient than
With the exception of
those of us that work in the Moving Industry, almost everybody feels nervous
when facing the overwhelming number of questions that an international move can
generate. When the appointed day for departure comes closer, doubts and stress
arise. Then the key for a successful moving is PLANNING.
In a recent article
published by Lacma News, The Magazine for the Latin American and
Caribbean International Movers Association, there was listed some things to do
once a move is on your agenda. After carefully reviewing it, here is a summary
of the check list for the count down period.
weeks before the moving date
Choose appliances, furniture and objects you
wish to move. Figure out how you are going to get rid of the rest. You can
give them away to friends, sell them out or donate them to charity.
Contact the Moving Companies and ask for
quotes. You should provide all the details, ask for available options and
give clear instructions on what you wish to include or exclude from your
quote. Make sure you select moving companies that are affiliated with
Start to gather your personal information
like medical and dental history, school transfers, banking and commercial
Check that all paper work regarding visas or
work permits are proceeding.
Search all information available on your new
destination. Start initial contact with the relocation company on the other
end, so you can start looking for housing and schools in the new country or
region where you will live.
If you are packing electrical appliances, be
sure that they will work in your new country. It is possible that the plugs
may need adaptors, or that the appliances may not work without some sort of
4 to 7 weeks before
your moving date
Double check the departure date with the
Moving Company, also double check the insurance requirements.
If you have not made flight reservations for
your trip, do so at this time. Also arrange the temporary accommodations,
make reservations at the hotel where you will stay once you have packed and
before the departure day.
Notify the change of address, either by
email or post to friends, relatives, credit card companies, magazines that
you may be subscribed to, banks, etc.
If you have pets, this is the time to
arrange the pet relocation as well. Some Moving Companies and Relocation
Service providers arrange this kind of service, so make sure your vet
provides you with health certificates, shot charts and permits.
Get ready for the new school. Request study
plans, syllabuses, dress codes or uniforms, schedules, transportation, etc.
Sell any car that is not being shipped with
your household goods.
Cancel club memberships.
1-3 weeks before your
Pick up all clothing from the dry cleaners,
seamstresses, friends or relatives.
Return books or any items that you have
Ask your doctor for several prescriptions
for medicines you take regularly. It is also wise to buy and carry with you
a supply of medicines to last throughout this period of transition in your
Carefully get rid of all flammable material,
like oil paints, cleaning supplies and petroleum-based products.
Arrange the cleaning of the house after the
Cancel newspaper deliveries to your house.
If you have plants, find them a new home.
Arrange for utilities to be disconnected
(water, gas, electricity, internet, cable, cellular) and get the deposits
Set up a “survival case” with the things you
may need during the moving process.
The week before the
If you have children, start to clean and
pack their toys.
Put away valuables, documents, jewelry, and
money. It is wise to keep these items with you during the trip.
Unplug your freezer and fridge.
Wash and dry your clothes.
So that your small children are not at risk
or become anxious during the moving process, make necessary arrangements to
have them stay over with friends or relatives.
The Moving Day
Check shelves, drawers, storage-closets to
make sure they are empty. Make sure everything is packed.
You have to be present during the packing
and loading to verify that everything leaves your house in good shape as
well as to give instructions and sign inventories and shipping documents.
Before leaving the house, close doors and
windows. Make sure all water faucets are tightly closed.
When your belongings are
delivered to your new location, make sure to be present to verify that
everything has arrived in good condition according to schedule.
It is always important to
coordinate the timing of the whole process. Always ask the Moving Company for
an estimated arrival date of your household goods (including air shipment), so
that you can plan on the other end the beginning of the new lease contract, the
length of stay in a hotel or the temporary rental of any furniture. Always make
sure you know the timing of everything: Find out how long it takes for Customs
to clear on the other end, how long it will take the Moving Company at
destination to deliver, are all immigration processes covered to receive the
household goods, how long does it take to get the utilities connected on the new
home. These are some of the questions you need answered in order to know what
to expect in your new location.
Moving is never a simple
matter of pack and go. It is a daunting task involving planning, timing and
lots of coordination. The world is getting smaller; you never know where you
will be next. We are all moving in new directions in a changing world.
prepared for AmCham Business Magazine by
Analisa Villalaz de Laffitte, AMCHAM Member and General Manager for Panama
Relocation Services and Walter M. Laffitte, AMCHAM Past President and President
of Panama Moving and Logistics.
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