Relocating Overseas Checklist

Many of your checklist items will be similar to moving within the Continental United States, but with a few more things to consider:

  • Research military and community resources and obtain information about the country and community you will be living in.
  • Learn from others who have been stationed overseas, and compare information.
  • Make an appointment with military personnel or civilian travel and passport offices for counseling and checklists. Obtain information about passports/visa applications, travel tips, security and customs, and medical clearance requirements.   
  • Make travel reservations and apply for a passport if required. 
  • Compile all relevant information and documents for each family member and hand carry the following documents when you travel:


birth certificates;
immunization records;
Social Security cards;
naturalization papers;
adoption papers;
school records;
family/pet health records and certifications;
copies of orders;
marriage certificate;  
insurance policies;
leave and earning statements/pay statements;
power of attorney;
bank book and checks (have at least a three-month supply);
federal and state tax records;
car registrations and titles;
divorce papers;
list of stocks and bonds;
records of bills and account information;
identification documents; and
fingerprint records for children.


  • Know what your allowances and entitlements are and what you can anticipate as travel and housing expenses. 
  • Spouse employment opportunities are more limited overseas so you should count on, at least in the short-term, one income when planning your budget. Check with your military spouse employment advisor at your local and/or overseas family center for more information. 
  • Understand the currency rates when planning your move. Since you will likely be using both foreign currency and American money, you may find it helpful to carry two wallets or coin purses for easy access to funds when you need to make a purchase.
  • If you are in the military, you may spend some time living off base. Contact your military relocation and housing offices for more information for both on- and off-base housing, or you may choose to employ the services of local rental agencies to find suitable accommodations. 
  • Every country has different requirements for animals. There are lots of issues to consider when traveling internationally with pets. So prepare early. Get your pet’s documents ready, and keep them with you while you travel.  Stay current on airport, customs, airline, and quarantine regulations. 
  • Determine what household appliances or items you will need. Will the items you have or will purchase meet the voltage standards for either on-base or off-base housing, or will they require a transformer to adapt to voltage requirements?  What are your alternatives? 
  • Plan accordingly for your household goods and private vehicle (POV) shipments. You can anticipate any move outside the continental United States to have restrictions on the types and weight of your household goods and vehicle shipments and storage. Contact your local housing office or personal property counselor to get more information about what is available, what restrictions are in place, and coordinate your move and storage requirements. 
  • Consider costs associated with the maintenance of your vehicle(s). The cost-of-living and petroleum products may be much higher than in the United States. Access to parts and labor also may be a consideration. 
  • Driving overseas can be a lot different than driving stateside. You may be required to get a driver’s license for that country. Taking the test and becoming familiar with the rules of the road can be quite challenging (e.g., determining what side of the road to drive on and interpreting street signs).  Find out what the driving requirements you’ll need to meet, and obtain a copy of the drivers’ handbook and examination manual before you move. Or, find out if you can get an international driver’s license at your current location and if it will be recognized at your overseas location.
  • Contact your car insurance company, and see if you can transfer your coverage overseas. 
  • Research in advance the registration requirements for Department of Defense dependent schools or other school systems in your overseas community. Make sure you bring copies of school records, including immunization and health care documents such as school physicals. 
  • Know your health care options and resources overseas. For active duty military families, you can choose from two TRICARE health care options while overseas—TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Standard. Military retirees living overseas are not eligible for TRICARE Prime but can use TRICARE Standard. 
  • Ship mail order catalogs or gather a list of online stores to order items that may be difficult to obtain overseas.
  • Make duplicate copies of important keys (luggage, car, safety deposit boxes).
  • Register to vote via absentee ballot.
  • If you plan to travel with prescription drugs, get a written statement from your physician. Make sure all drugs are in original containers.
  • Obtain or get information about telephone cards to determine if they will save you money when you make telephone calls.
  • Know the temperature and climate of the country you will be living in, and make sure you travel and ship appropriate clothes with you.

 Remember: Have fun on your trip, and enjoy the time with your family!