An Introduction to Relocating to the EU
Relocating from your home country to the European Union is an exciting undertaking that can bring many positive aspects to your life, but it can also seem like a daunting task if you have never moved abroad before. However you can take comfort in the fact that relocating is a common occurrence in today’s highly globalized world and is actually much easier than it may seem at first. Take a look at this introductory guide to things you should consider when relocating from a non-EU country to the European Union.
EU Visa Application Process
The most important part of moving to the EU is your ability to live and work legally within its borders. All European Union member states shares customs and immigrations, allowing for the free movement of its citizens across all nations, but the visa application process for all non-EU citizens is done directly with the country which you are moving to and the requirements differ for each one. Be sure to look at the requirements of the specific EU country you are relocating to.
Is the country you are relocating to in the Schengen area or The EU? The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably but not all European Union Countries are in the Schengen Area and not all Schengen Area countries are in the European Union so it is important to know difference between the two. This information may be important when traveling to your new country of residence if you have a layover in a country where you require a transfer visa (such as the UK which is an EU country but not part of the Schengen area) or when considering leisure travel plans.
Whether you are coming to the EU as a student, an entrepreneur or being sponsored by an employer the following are some basic requirements that everyone must fulfill before relocating.
Properly Completed application form
Visa applications are notoriously strict and even basic spelling errors can lead to a rejection and result in the delay of weeks or even months of your move so be sure your application is completed properly as required. Consider using a professional visa application agency to guarantee that your application is successful the first time around.
Recent Passport Photos
Outdated or improperly sized photos will also result in the delay of your visa application even if everything else has been done properly so make sure to follow the pictures guidelines (see requirements here).
Most countries require that your passport have at least three to six months validity in order to enter and many EU countries will not let you enter if your passport is about to expire. It may therefore be necessary for you to renew your passport in your home country rather than face being returned at the border.
Gather and Apostille All Necessary Documents
Depending on the country you are relocating to and the type of Visa you are applying for you will have to provide certain documents that prove your income, level of education or proof of employment and may have to be apostilled in order to be considered valid for a visa application.
Things to Consider
- Organize your finances: Make sure you have enough for your expenses for the foreseeable future, or the amount required to have in your bank account to apply for your visa. Also let your bank know that you are moving abroad so that you can continue to have access to your funds overseas.
- Inform the tax authorities you are leaving the country: You may be exempt from paying certain taxes in your home country when you move away (for example UK residents do not pay tax on their savings account when they relocate abroad) so let your local tax authorities know you will no longer reside in the country.
- Get an International Driver’s license: While many European cities have great public transportation systems if you are not living in the city center, or if you simply want to have the ability and freedom that comes with driving consider applying for an International Driving permit which may be easier than getting a local driver’s license which could take months.
- Learn the local language: Knowing basic terms and phrases of the country you are moving to will be extremely helpful when relocating to the EU.
- Call forwarding: there are a number of online services and apps that can forward all of your phone calls to your new number abroad for free or a small charge.
- Mail Forwarding: Depending on your home country you can contact the post-office to forward your mail to your new country of residence for a small cost. If this option is not available, forward it locally to a digital mailbox where all your local mail is uploaded online and which you can easily access from abroad.
- Find a short-term rental: Many people want to house hunt in person for a long-term housing solution as many places may not be as shown. If this is the case, consider renting a short term rental like an Airbnb for the first couple of months when you arrive while you find a more permanent residence.
- Downsize: Housing and storage can be significantly smaller in the European Union than in other parts of the world so you may find that all of your belongings do not fit in your new home so it may be time to declutter your life a bit when relocating. If you know your move is temporary you may want to consider storage in your home country for large ticket items. Similarly, plugs and voltages in the EU are different than in other parts of the world and you may bring your electrical appliances over only to find they do not fit into the local outlets.
- Visit your Doctor: Get a checkup and pick up any important medical files that you may need to give your new doctor in the EU. Also be sure to find a new medical practitioner and investigate the local health system upon your arrival.
- Sim cards, unlocked phones – This is most easily done upon arrival in your new country of residence and sim cards are sold in many airports at vending machines. There is usually a premium on these when compared to buying them at the actual carrier but if your immediate need is to be connected then it is a simple and easy solution.
- Relocation Companies: there are companies that specialize in relocations to the EU and can help make the transition as smooth as possible with their knowledge and expertise.