Preparing to move

Immigrating to a different country is likely one of the biggest moves anybody can make.

So it’s advisable to have a ‘to do list’ that will essentially help you check off the important things you need to get done before your big move.

  • Make sure your passports have plenty of time left on them

This applies to all family members involved in a migration application. Ideally you should ensure passports have a validity period of at least 4 years left. If you have a passport that is due to expire in 3 years and under, it’s advisable to have it renewed.

  • Ensure all other personal documents are in order, such as birth and marriage certificates. Getting such documents issued from the relevant departments can take up a lot of time and very often people underestimate how long document collection can actually take. It’s therefore always advisable to have all documents relating to personal particulars in order. This includes paperwork relating to divorce documents and custody arrangement.
  • When you have a clearer idea on when you’d like to make your move (and this is where the guidance from immigration advisers can be very important), you can start looking at obtaining quotes from shipping companies and check quotes for flights. Similarly, if you wish to have your pet/s move with you, it’s advisable to obtain quotes and preparation procedures as early as possible.
  • Another important step is to look at opening a bank account in New Zealand as well as discussing the transfer of your funds to New Zealand (for instance, with a Forex expert).
  • Obtain your medical files/medical history from your doctor/dentist/optometrist so that you will have them ready to take with you when you sign up with healthcare professionals in New Zealand.
  • Look into your temporary accommodation needs in New Zealand, as well as researching schools in the area you are likely to settle in. Very often, the area a person wishes to settle in will very much depend on where the job offer is. But there is no harm in researching schools in New Zealand in areas that you would ideally prefer to be in.
  • When your visa has been approved, you can look at finalizing all other personal admin such as cancelling your internet connection, digital TV subscription, telephone subscription etc.
  • Think about arranging picnics or ‘farewell outings’ with family and friends. It certainly helps make your big move a little easier and can also help strengthen your friendships before you leave.
  • If you are expecting mail to arrive for you in New Zealand, but you do not have a permanent address, then New Zealand Post can set up a ‘private box’ or ‘private bag’ at a post office in the city or town in which you plan to stay. Many organisations, such as banks, will accept a post office box or private bag as your official address. You can set up a New Zealand Post post box on line at their website; (

Just a word of caution though; do not make drastic changes to your life such as selling your house or giving notice until you actually have your visa in your passport and your passport in your possession.

The following are some suggestions to help you with the final packing;

What you need to pack in your luggage

It is very important to pack wisely, bearing in mind the weight limit the airline requires if you are flying to your new home. Generally your luggage is divided into two types; luggage you will check in which will stowed in the luggage hold of the aircraft and hand held or cabin bag.

Bear in mind that once you have checked your luggage in you will not have access to it or anything in it until you reclaim it at your destination. Consequently anything which you will need on the journey needs to be packed in your hand-held bag which you need to watch very closely at all times both in the airport terminals and in the aircraft.

It is very important when you move to a new country you take the following documents with you. All of your documents should be originals, not copies. If they are not in English, take a certified translation with you.

  •    Birth certificate/s for you and each member of your family
  •    Your marriage certificate
  •    Academic qualifications
  •    References from previous employers
  •    CV (Curriculum Vitae/ Resume)
  •    Credit references
  •    International driver’s license

Make sure you have all the documentation well ahead of time as applying for new issue can run into delays.

Consider sending your important documents, with the exception of your International Driver’s License, to your New Zealand address by courier rather than carrying all important documentation with you in your luggage. While it is relatively rare, there have been occasions when checked in luggage or even hand luggage has been lost and while the airline may compensate you for the value of the luggage they cannot replace the documents.

When packing consider the climate, season and weather at your destination region. If the weather is changeable pack a range of clothes and remember to keep something warm and a light rain jacket separate for the journey, it could be raining when you arrive.

Check with Customs Service about what you can and cannot take in your bags.  New Zealand has very strict rules around things like food.  You can find out more about the restrictions applying to New Zealand at the MAF Biosecurity website.

With all the recent and ongoing changes to regulations relating to what can be carried in, in particular liquids, or as hand luggage, check with the airline, your travel agent or your migration agent before finalizing your packing.

Things to do in the last week

One of the most important things to do in the last week is  . . . . . . . . . . keep calm. That may sound obvious and a great many folk feel they are always calm, however there will be a number of things to do and a calm approach with to-do list in hand will make sure it all gets done.

If you have sold your vehicle and have not yet delivered it now is the time to do so. Contact the necessary departments and companies to cancel the license and insurances.

Cancel the insurance on the contents of your home as soon as your furniture is packed to ship or sold and delivered whichever option you have chosen.

Find an ‘identifier’ for each of your bags which will be checked in at the airport. A piece of ribbon, a special tag, bright coloured locks, anything distinctive and the same for all your bags. This will help you to easily identify your luggage on the baggage carousel at your destination despite having just completed a long flight. Bear in mind there may be other folk with identical luggage and it is often difficult to read the name tag on a bag as it slides past on the carousel.

This is a good time do a trial run of packing your bags. There may be one or two details which you have overlooked. The other thing to consider is the ‘universal law of luggage’ which says; “the number of ‘essential’ items will increase to fill all the available space” and this will give you an opportunity to prioritise ahead of the final pack. Remember the limitations on what you may pack in your bags.

Put your name, addresses and telephone numbers, preferably your New Zealand contact details and a contact in your home country, both inside and on a luggage tag on each piece of luggage. In the event a piece of luggage goes astray this will help to reunite it with you.

Check your tickets and your foreign exchange and take careful note of where you have put them, do not put them is such a ‘safe’ place even you can’t find them. If possible try to pre-book your seat/s bearing in mind your comfort over the length of the flight. A window seat can be very enticing but if much of your flight is at night there will be very little to see whereas an aisle seat will give you freedom of movement to go to the bathroom or just stretch your legs.

Confirm how long before departure time you need to be at the airport and check with the person who is taking you that everything is still on track and set a time for them to pick you up.

The flight to New Zealand is likely to be one of the longest you have undertaken. Organise some ‘in-flight entertainment’ of your own. A good book, a puzzle book, a sketch pad and pencil, make it something easy to carry in your hand luggage.

An MP3/4 player/iPod loaded with a selection of music, enough to last longer than the flight, is a good way to stay relaxed during the flight.  Load some games onto your laptop or iPad to help pass the time. Make sure the battery on any electronic is fully charged before you board.

If you have a smartphone be aware some airlines require all cell phones need to be switched off during then flight including those phones with ’in-flight’ mode or the ability to switch the network connection off. Check with your airline/s as to what their policy regarding smart phones is before you rely on your phone for your entertainment.

Take time out for some last fare wells. Relax, everything is running smoothly. Allow the excitement to begin to bubble, a new adventure, a new life is literally just over the horizon.
The closing of one chapter allows space for the start of a new one.