Relocation Checklist, Have You Thought of Everything?

Moving overseas is an exciting event and could mean a new career, opportunity, or adventure. To make sure your move goes smoothly, it’s important that you have a plan in place so you can enjoy the experience. This ultimate checklist will provide you with a step-by-step plan to help make sure you have a stress-free transition across to Rwanda


The first step in any international move is researching the proper documents and making sure you have everything you need to get them. The reason this is such an important step is because it helps you save valuable time when you have each document you need in place. That means knowing where each document is and storing it securely in a place where you can easily find it before your international move.

Set aside these important documents:

  • Adoption papers.
  • Birth certificates
  • Child custody papers
  • Divorce papers
  • Driving license(s) update before you leave
  • Marriage certificate
  • Passport 
  • Social Security cards (for yourself, not needed in Rwanda)
  • Police Background Check
  • Medical and Dental Records (including insurance cards and prescriptions). Gather copies of your health records, including your medical history, immunization records, insurance cards for your medical, dental, eye and/or disability insurance. Also, make sure you have copies of your prescriptions for your medication and disability records.
  • School records/University papers. If you or your family members will attend school overseas, make sure you bring copies of your school records, including school transcripts and/or a homeschool portfolio and grade reports.
  • Other insurance policies and legal documents. This includes any legal documents, such as your power of attorney, will, trust, health power of attorney, medical consent forms and any other important notarized or legal documents.

Access to Financial records. Make sure to bring copies of your bank statements if you don’t have access to them online to prove your income. Also, have copies of other important financial records, such as your income tax statements and financial statements for any business you own.


Now that you know what documents you should have in order, it’s time to establish deadlines to accomplish the most important tasks. If possible, give yourself a three-month head start and get these tasks completed.

Decide on a timeline. If you’re moving your family or loved ones overseas, it’s important to decide when everyone is moving. Consider your budget and schedules to determine if it makes sense to move everyone at the same time or to settle in your new home before the rest of the family comes. You may require time to get familiar with the new environment along with work or everyone’s schedule may not allow for the change. Also, ensure you take the time to map out a timeline for completing each task, including considering the length of time required to complete the task. For example, you may need more time than you think for the approval process for moving your pets, so budget your time wisely.

Start Saving. If you haven’t already, start setting aside extra funds for your international move. It can serve as an emergency fund should you need to take care of any last-minute expenses.  It is easy to spend money in Rwanda so you need to save as much as you can.  It is impossible to budget until you get here and start experiencing and determining your lifestyle.  If you can now, save….save….save.

Review tax obligations. Just because you move across international borders doesn’t mean you’re removed from your tax obligations. If you are a United States citizen or permanent resident, you are expected to pay taxes no matter what country you move to or work in. The good news is that there may be provisions to help lower your tax liabilities. For example, you may be eligible to deduct up to $104,100 for the 2018 tax year under the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion tax deduction. There are also tax provisions for homes you own or rent overseas, too. Make sure you make an appointment with your tax professional to consider your tax obligations before you go overseas.

Think about storage. If you’re handling storing your belongings on your own, make sure to research the costs.  You can buy what you need in Rwanda.  Also it has been advised it is better to purchase your electrical items in Rwanda, you have to consider the wattage and other items.  Look at what you want to store verses what you feel is a necessity to bring. 

Focus on healthcare. Healthcare can become a major unexpected expense in a new country if you’re not properly prepared. Make sure to do your research and contact your current provider for advice based on the country you’re moving to and any current healthcare needs you have. You may opt to purchase international private medical health insurance to cover you and your family if you’re not receiving healthcare benefits from your employer. We have an article on healthcare here in My Cousin Connection.

Don’t overlook additional insurance. Think about other insurance, such as travel insurance and life insurance, so you can ensure you’re covered on all ends.

Schedule your insurance and appointments. Book any medical or dental checkups you or your family needs now. Also, set up your insurance coverage once you select what you need. Some insurance plans require you make your selection before a certain date in the month so that it’s valid for when you need it. So, make sure you verify cut-off times and procedures. Research and book temporary housing. You will need some extra time to settle in your new home overseas before your belongings arrive. So, make sure to research potential places to stay on a short-term basis and book it early so you don’t risk losing out on a deal or having no place to stay.  Don’t book for long stays (2 to 3 months), keep it short as that when you get here you may find a better short term housing option or you may not like the area.  Try not to commit and be in a  place that you are uncomfortable in. 

Think about your current housing. Consider how long you will be at the new location and decide whether or not it is best to continue to rent your current home, sell it or cancel your apartment lease.

Make sure your passport is up to date. Now is the time to take care of the application procedure for your passport and visas. The time it takes to get a visa approved depends on the country, so double-check the deadlines for where you’re going. Also, renew your passport if you haven’t already so you can avoid paying additional to expedite the application process. Review the travel process for Rwanda.

Gather your documents. Get copies of the original documents listed above, such as your passport and medical records. Also, request any necessary school documents or records if you have children.  

Plan your visit. If you have the time and budget, schedule your flights for a pre-move visit. This makes it easy for you to scout schools and a place to live in person.

Research schools. If you’re planning to attend school or have school-aged children, it’s time to research schools in the area of your new home abroad. Also, verify that your location has reliable Internet service if you’re planning to attend school online.


You will need to update a few organizations or people before you move. Here are some common ones to consider:

  • The U.S. Postal Service.
  • Your bank.
  • The United States Embassy.
  • Utilities companies (Electric, Gas, Solar)
  • Social Security Administration.
  • Tax Agencies (IRS/Tax agencies abroad).
  • Insurance providers.
  • Your employer.
  • Friends and family.
  • Your landlord/realtor.


With just one month left before your big move, there are some tasks you definitely want to handle. Don’t overlook these very important tasks:

Cancel your subscriptions and inapplicable insurance policies. This is the time to cancel any service you don’t need or won’t be able to use when you move. That includes any streaming services, such as Netflix or Hulu.  You can use your Netflix account, but Hulu must use a VPN. Cancel insurance policies that won’t apply abroad. Also, don’t forget to cancel your cable so you can avoid being charged in advance for the upcoming month of service.

Set up mail forwarding. Also, update important parties about your new mailing address, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and your bank.

Take care of financial tasks. Determine if your bank has a branch in the new country. If not, make sure you research and sign up for a bank account that can accept your paychecks or direct deposits. Get the routing and bank account information so you don’t delay getting paid.

Have your medical appointments. Make sure you are checking off your appointments to see your dentist, eye doctor, therapist and/or medical doctor. Ask about the medications you’ll need including the generic names of the medication. Also, arrange to get the original documents of your medical history transferred and/or get copies.

Sort and donate. Sort through any clothes, art, shoes and any other belongings you have and decide what you’re bringing with you. Anything you plan to leave behind or don’t need should be stored, sold or donated.

Visit your new location. If you have time, take a trip to Rwanda.  It is easier to plan if you have spent time in the country. You can preview the neighborhood and visit popular destinations. Also, visit any new schools you or your family members will attend and the location of your new job or business.


Here are some important tasks to handle two weeks before your international move:

Give friends and family the information for My Cousin Connection. Now, you can upgrade your package and are part of the Care Connection.  They can reach out to us if they are having trouble contacting you.  Also, send us your information so we can try to assist with your transition period as much as possible. 

Set up bank account transfers. Contact your bank so you can ensure your account transfers properly.  Also read over the currency portion and have an idea of how you are going to retrieve your money.  The maximum you can take out of an ATM in Rwanda is 200,000 francs, which is $200 usd.  You can only do that transaction twice in a 24 hour period.  

Visit your vet. Take your pets to the vet for any required immunizations, such as rabies or booster shots. Also, make sure you have your pets checked out to ensure they can safely travel across seas.


With just one week left in the moving process, you’ll likely come across a few last-minute arrangements to make and different tasks to handle. Take care of these tasks the week before your international move:

Get cash. Withdraw cash or purchase traveler’s checks so you have access to money instantly.

Contact your card companies. If you plan to use your credit or debit cards, make sure you contact the card company to let them know you are moving overseas so you can ensure your purchases are authorized. Also, authorize the countries that you are doing your layovers in.  They will block your card for any unrecognized transactions so if you are planning a quick meal in a different country, let them know so they don’t think your card was stolen.

Confirm your flight. Review your departure times and luggage restrictions for your flight. If you possible, check into your flight later during this week so you can save time with boarding.

Take care of any uncompleted tasks. Anything that you haven’t already handled should be taken care of this week. This is the time to review this checklist again and make sure you take care of everything.

Pack. Pack your belongings, including clothes and shoes you plan to wear on your trip. Label your items using a color-coded system. If you have children or pets, pack their belongings last so you don’t miss any crucial items.

Celebrate. Take time to celebrate your move with friends and family during your last week.


Before you move, make sure you pack some essentials that will keep you cozy on your plane ride. You also want to ensure you have everything you need, so make sure to review your packing list. Consider packing the following:

  • A blanket.
  • Your valuables.
  • Toys or games for children.
  • Daily medications.
  • Carry-on bag.
  • Pajamas.
  • Extra socks and underwear.
  • Books or other reading material.
  • Your phone and chargers
  • Headphones.
  • A sleeping mask.
  • Earplugs.
  • Gum.


Congratulations! You’re finally in your new home.

First of all, RELAX!  You have time to see and do everything, go ahead and take a restful nap or couple of naps.  You deserve it.  Also, you may be dealing with jet lag and weary bones.  Take a walk.  Enjoy the moment.  Go ahead and take time out to explore your surroundings.  Breathe it in.

Next, reach out to My Cousin Connection.  We excited that you are here as well.  We want to know you made it safely and all is secure.

Finally, be ready to live.  You have time.  Follow your path, figure out your spaces, determine what you like and don’t.  Check out the “Setting Up Your Life in Rwanda” section to help you get an idea of what you need to do.


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