June marks the beginning of a very busy time in global mobility. Before the end of the season, many businesspeople and their families begin an international assignment. Still others continue to another assignment in a new location, or return home. In the latter situations especially, where it’s sometimes expected that an assignee has more responsibilities, there can be details that are more likely to slip through the cracks. What are some of these tasks, and what can be done?
Will your pets be subject to requirements in your next location?
Just as accompanying pets can make for difficult family decisions when preparing for an assignment, the same or different issues can arise when a family is preparing to return or move on. Even if Fluffy is returning to the country from which he came, you may find your home country’s rules and regulations for pet importation have changed since your departure. Research and prepare for pet travel in advance of any move, so that there are no unpleasant surprises at critical moments.
Have you obtained everything you’ll need from your child’s school?
Sometimes, this can mean more than transcripts. Be sure to identify who is the correct contact person if your child’s new school has questions about his or her records. If appropriate, consider obtaining translations of official documents — particularly if that will be easier to accomplish in your current location than in your new location. Don’t forget to retrieve or otherwise make arrangements for medication, books, sporting equipment, art supplies, and other “home” items that may have been part of your child’s school day.
Have you decided what to do with things that aren’t coming with you?
In the midst of packing and preparing for moving services, it can be easy to forget that which you intend to leave behind. Consider these items, your timing, and your current environment. If selling items is a possibility, what are the best methods? If you intend to donate them to a charitable cause, what steps do you need to take? If disposal of items is the wisest option, does this need to be arranged for in advance?
Does any of your identification or documentation require updating or renewal?
Many countries require passports to have an expiration date six months to a year after a traveler’s date of entry. Expatriates moving on to another assignment may find that various visa and permit requirements are different in the new location, sometimes dramatically so. Keeping an inventory of your important documents that include details and any expiration dates can be a great help in determining what paperwork tasks should be completed prior to departure.
Have you connected with people and organizations in your next location?
Reaching out to friends, acquaintances, club branches and similar activities in advance of your next move can smooth the transition, just as it may have before. Even if you and your family are simply returning home, this preparation step is critically important to alleviating a phenomenon for which assignees are often underprepared — reverse culture shock.
Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, International Content Manager, Living Abroad