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Visas and documents required to move abroad

To be able to relocate overseas and start your new life abroad, you'll have to organise the necessary documentation. Find out about the required documents for moving internationally.

Visas and documents required to move abroad

To visit some countries you need a visa before you arrive, as without one you could be refused entry.
It’s important to find out if you need a visa before planning your move and to leave plenty of time to apply for one. Visit the Foreign Travel Advice section of gov.uk to investigate the visa requirements for your intended destination.

Applying for a visa

If your intended destination does require a visa, it is important to allow plenty of time to apply, as the application process can be lengthy and complicated. Check how long the application usually takes and if possible allow some extra time.

The application process will be different depending on the country, but you usually have to send your passport and this process often incurs a fee.

The local consulate of the country you are moving to is your first point of contact when you know you will be moving to a new country. It may also be worth researching the country's embassy to find out what is needed. To speed the process up, sometime you can apply directly at the issuing office, or use a visa service. 


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Work permit

If you have a job offer, unfortunately this still doesn't guarantee an automatic work permit. To obtain any visa you must make a formal application and this invariably involves a lot of paperwork.
Beyond proof of employment there are certain documents you must provide which vary from country to country. In all cases, make sure you have a valid passport that is not close to expiry.
Other documentary requirements may include:

  • Proof of qualifications and job references

  • Birth certificates

  • Marriage certificates

  • Divorce certificates

  • Medical certificates and health reports

  • Bank statements

  • Tax returns

  • Details of investments

  • Criminal record checks.

Paper trail

While trying to obtain a visa it is important to be organised and keep a paper trail. Once you have arrived in the new country, this still stands. While on a temporary work visa your circumstances may change, or your work visa may expire.
It is important to obey the visa laws of your new home country and ensure your visa and the associated paperwork is all up to date, or you could face arrest or deportation.

page last updated June 2015


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Please note: as we are awaiting information about the UK’s exit from the EU, this information is only correct up to 28th March 2019. As soon as we have more information, we will update these pages.

Comments (1)

  • Holly Starkey

    posted on 16 Aug 2017

    Hi, me and my family wish to move abroad, my mother is worried about her age and visa as she is 46, and hoping she could get a visa to move abroad please. Could you give me some advice on this please? I would appreciate it. Kind regards Holly.

    Reallymoving response

    Hi Holly,

    The question really is whereabouts you want to move. Whilst Britain is still part of the EU, you can move freely within EU countries without visas being a problem. It may be worth researching where you want to go. In terms of your mother getting a visa if travelling further, you could check the desired skillsets on some immigration websites, she may be in a job that's desired in certain countries. It's also possible she could retrain and enter on a student visa, to allow her to train in a job that is desired in that country. Multiple elements affect visas in different countries, including speaking the language, levels of education and job, not just age. 

    Lots of people move abroad at different times of life, so do not be disheartened, it's entirely possible! Check out our international advice pages to get some inspiration about where you might want to move, and then research the visas in that location. It's also worth looking on ex-pat websites - they're a mine of information regarding moving and what life is like once you're there.

    All the best
    the reallymoving ream


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