The next steps
You’ve done it – touchdown – a foreigner in a strange land, everything an open book, a blank canvas waiting to be filled. You take a deep breath. Beginnings you think, always a difficult thing, always important. It defines how things work out. Start well, and you have a strong base. Exhale … and so it begins.
Moving overseas is a grand effort in every way conceivable, that much you’re aware of given the work that went into sorting things out in the run up to a journey abroad. Now that you’ve sorted out all the essential details, the focus shifts to how to make settling in as straightforward as possible.
Remember, it’s about starting something new, a dramatic departure from everything you’ve ever been used to. If you do it with conviction, gumption and authority, you are certainly in a better position to adjust to things with less anxiety. Confidence matters.
With that in mind, this short guide is designed to help foster an air of fearlessness, highlighting some important areas of activity that British expats will benefit from pursuing during the first few weeks of arriving in their new destination.
Sign up to the British Embassy
Depending on where you move to, a British Embassy might also be known as a High Commission or Consulate. For the most part, commonwealth nations have British Consulates, but their modus operandi differs very little.
It is recommended that British expats sign up to an embassy, which can be done through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s LOCATE online service. It’s mainly about safety, which is not to say where you’re heading to is any more dangerous than in the UK, just that being a foreigner amplifies things.
Therefore, the details you provide allow the embassy to contact you should you need assistance in an emergency – civil disturbance or a natural disaster for example – and a means by which you can contact an arm of the British government in similar situations.
Mingle with the expat community
While the best advice is to get out there and socialise with people native to a country, there are invariably some sizeable obstacles, language barriers being one. As such, this is something that will happen over time.
To make integration easier then, and provide you with an emotional link back home, it is worthwhile finding out about established expat communities, be it a social group or an association.
A simple Google search will bring to your attention a list of such groups and associations, as well visiting the relevant embassy website. Here, you will find people that are either established in the country or going through the same experience as you. That’s the kind of knowledge you can’t buy.
Get to grips with non-resident banking
Within the European Economic Area (EEA), British expats can apply for a non-resident bank account, which provides them with a local conduit through which to access money and pay bills.
This will be, to all intents, the default banking system for the first three to six months, which is to say the time it takes to be granted a residence permit. After this has been approved, expats will be able to apply for a standard bank account.
Another consideration is to stick with your current provider and to open up an international bank account, but this will depend on whether the institution offers such a service.
Inform yourself of the rules of the road
Whether you’re a driver or not, it is important to be familiar with the laws and customs of driving and using transport in the country, as there will invariably be some unique differences in comparison to the UK.
Take for example America and the offence known as jaywalking. It’s a colloquial term that has come to define the illegal act of crossing a street/road “illegally”, which is to say an area that is not designated a pedestrian crossing or a section that has marked crossings, but is not used properly.
Drivers should note that in the EEA, a UK licence is fully valid so long as a vehicle is insured. Some countries require British expats to swap their UK licence for an EEA one, which is usually done after acquiring resident status.
The big move abroad is always going to be a testing time, but the fact that you’ve been bold enough to relocate is enough to diminish any unease about the most challenging part – settling in. By taking into consideration the pointers highlighted above – which are by no means comprehensive – professionals have an improved opportunity to embark on an experience that will utterly transform their lives forever.
Cadogan Tate is a preeminent moving and storage company that specialises in international shipping.