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Obtaining Required Documents

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When crossing international borders, you will need several documents to avoid potential complications. Submit your applications far in advance. If possible, allow three to four months before your departure date.

To leave a Country


This travel document attests to the bearer's identity and nationality. Passports are needed when leaving and entering most countries. To obtain a passport, you must have a photograph taken. Order at least two prints for the passports, but as many as a dozen. Passport-size photographs often are requested when applying for other documents.

Follow the detailed instructions for your country of origin on format of photos and documents needed for application. Valid passports, especially those from the United States, are in high demand on the world black market. Protect it! If yours becomes lost or stolen, report it in writing immediately to a passport office or closest embassy or consulate and apply for a replacement or temporary passport.

Certificates of Registration

Any items in your possession that were made in another country should be registered with customs before you leave your country origin. This includes goods such as stereos, appliances, cameras, jewelry and bicycles, etc. If you take the foreign-made items back to their country of origin, you must have proof of previous possession. Otherwise, you could be charged duty for them. To register items, take them to the nearest customs office.

Foreign-made vehicles including ATV's, motorcycles, boats and airplanes also will require registration. American vehicles don't have to be registered when leaving the United States, if you have proof of possession, such as:

  • A certificate of title on which you are named the owner
  • A state registration card for your automobile, truck, camper or motorcycle
  • A Federal Aviation Administration certificate for any aircraft
  • A motorboat identification certificate or a yacht license for a boat

Whether foreign- or domestic-made, firearms must be registered with customs to prove ownership. Make certain the firearms will be allowed at destination before taking the time to register them. If you return to your country of origin, you will need these registrations to avoid confiscation of your firearms. Original titles, free of lien are required for all automobiles, motorcycles, boats or motors in order to export from U.S. territories.

Export Declaration Form:

This document declares your household goods and motor vehicles to be shipped out of the country. A Paradise Relocation agent will complete this form on your behalf before your shipment is packed. We advise you not to pack any boxes yourself, because doing so can cause delays, as customs officials usually inspect boxes that are "packed by owner." Inspections always result in additional charges and these charges are the shipment owner's responsibility. Inspections range in cost from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

To Enter a Country

Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to confirm which documents you'll need when immigrating. You cannot start too early to obtain the appropriate documents. Waiting for approval can take several months, if not longer. For some applications, you will need duplicates of your passport photos. Also, copies of any marriage certificates or divorce decrees can facilitate obtaining permits, so be sure to bring them along. At a minimum, a visa and work permit will be required.

When entering the United States, the documents you will need depend on whether you are a returning resident or a non-resident. A U.S. citizen will need a passport. A U.S. resident alien should have a reentry permit or an alien registration receipt card issued by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. A non-resident must have a valid passport and visa issued by U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Requirements for non-resident and visa vary by nationality. Non-residents also should check with a consulate or embassy to see if they need a labor and/or immunization certificate.

If you're moving to a country other than the United States, you might need several documents in addition to your passport. Your Paradise Relocationmove consultant can provide guidance. Confirm with a consulate or embassy of your destination country which of the following documents you will need.


Before obtaining a visa, you must have an up-to-date passport. A visa is an endorsement certifying that your passport has been examined and that permission has been granted to enter a country for a specified period of time.

Letter of Recommendation

When required, this should be addressed to the consulate/embassy to whom you are applying for a visa. The letter should be from a bank, commercial or industrial firm, trade association, chamber of commerce or public official. The letter may be from a family member or close personal friend. The letter should include your occupation, title and any business references - plus state you are financially responsible. Also, any documents you have verifying a good credit history might be needed.

Residence Permit

Depending on where you're moving, you might need this permit before leaving your country of origin. In some cases, however, you might be allowed to apply for it at destination. In many foreign countries, new residents must report to the police or local registration bureau immediately. Some countries such as China and Brazil, in addition to others, prohibit issuance of a Residence Permit until the client arrives and completes other requirements.

Work Permit

This is normally a prerequisite to gaining employment in another country. Responsibility for obtaining this permit rests with the employer. Working without authorization might result in deportation, fines and jail. Additionally, further reentry might be affected, if a country's work-related polices are violated.

International Driving Permit

If you will be driving your car in your new country, check to see how long you can drive on your current license. Ask if your destination country recognizes an international driving permit or if you should apply for a license in your new country. To obtain an international permit in the United States, you will need an application, two passports-size photos and your valid U.S. driver's license. Your U.S. license must be at least one year old and cannot expire while you're living abroad. If you plan to reside in that country for more than 12 months, normally a driver and license for that country will be required.

If you have a driver's license from another country, contact the automobile club in your home country to see if an international driving permit is available. If you are in the United States and would like a permit application, contact your local American Automobile Association (AAA) branch or: American Automobile Association, 1000 AAA Drive (Mail Stop 100), Heathrow, FL 32746; (407) 444-8408 or (407) 444-8364.

Some countries might not recognize the permit for driving. However, because it is written in nine languages, it could be helpful identification should you need to communicate with the local officials.

Note: Do not let your current driver's license expire if possible. If you do, you might have to undergo the complete testing process upon your return.

Immunization/Medical Certificates

Your destination country might require that you show, along with your passport, a validated International Certificate of Vaccination Health Card as proof of vaccination against certain diseases. This form is available at passport offices and most city, county and state health departments. Check with a consulate or embassy of your destination country to determine which immunizations are required in your new country. Have all required inoculations three or more months in advance, if possible, for full protection.

A medical certificate from an examining physician might be required for visa applications. Some consulates and embassies designate the examining physician and provide medical examination forms.

The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travel (IAMAT) offers travel clinical record forms, also called medical passports, to use in detailing your medical history. For a form, which is helpful should you need medical attention overseas, write to the IAMAT at 417 Center St., Lewiston, NY 14092, or call (716) 754-4883.

Anyone planning to live in a new country is encouraged to contact the nearest consulate to verify all the required documentation.

Other Question to ASK?

The following are miscellaneous questions you might want to ask a consulate or embassy of your destination country:

  • Are original documents required?
  • Do they need to be translated into the destination country's main language?
  • Do any documents need to be legalized by a consulate or embassy before departure?
  • Are there restrictions on the quantity of goods I can bring?
  • Can I bring more than one shipment?
  • Are other taxes or fees involved besides duty?
  • Are model or serial numbers of electrical items and /or appliances required on the inventory or special forms for customs clearance?
  • Are there special laws or regulations regarding women and children?
  • What is the availability of "special family need" items services (such as dietary needs, medical treatment and prescriptions)? How much prescribed medications may be entered through customs?
  • Must I declare my shipment upon my personal arrival?
  • Must I arrive in my new country before my shipment arrives?

Air Freight Containers:

  • Constructed of triple-layered waxed corrugated cardboard, they range in size from 18 to 96 cubic feet. Larger containers are fitted with skids for ease in moving with a forklift.
  • Restricted to certain dimensional specifications in order to pass through aircraft cargo doors.

Transportation Methods

After your goods are packed your shipment will begin its movement coordinated and managed with the watchful eyes of Paradise Relocation. Your shipment may be moved by rail or motor freight to the port of exit. It will then be shipped via air or ocean to the destination port.

Motor Carrier

  • Provides unlimited access to most geographical areas throughout the U.S. and other parts of the world
  • Used to transport steamship containers, lift vans and full trailer overload cargo
  • Provides expedited pickup when necessary


  • Capable of transporting more goods in certain trade lanes by stacking steamship containers over long distances.
  • More cost effective than a motor freight carrier.
  • Frequently used to transport steamship containers to and from an ocean port to inland locations.


  • Most common way to transport shipments internationally.
  • Typically is significantly less expensive than air freight.
  • Normally comprises the longest leg of a move, in terms of distance and time spent in transit.
  • Most cost efficient means of transporting large shipments, greater than 600 cubic feet or 3,000 pounds.

Air Freight

  • Reduces transit time; used to send time-sensitive items.
  • Recommended for certain countries, depending on the nature of the shipment and final destination.
  • Ideal for smaller shipments
  • Cost is based on cubic size and destination.

Transportation: Your shipment will be forwarded via one or more modes of transportation:

  • Motor freight carrier
  • Railroad
  • Steamship line
  • Airline

After your shipment has been packed and loaded, it will be transported by truck or rail to the port of exit. Depending on the type of transportation selected, the container(s) will be loaded into a vessel or into an aircraft.

Transit Time: The type of transportation used, the distance to be covered, the time required to clear customs and the distance covered by alternate modes, will affect the transit time of your shipment. Paradise Relocation utilizes a computerized status management system to track shipments. As information is received during transit, the shipment's progress is updated. You can receive periodic updates about your shipment by calling your agent. If you have not left your home country yet, the origin agent can help you. When you arrive at your new location, contact your destination agent. We also offer the opportunity for some shipments to be tracked on the Internet. Ask your move manager if your shipment qualifies.

Shipping Cost: To determine costs, a Paradise Relocation agent will survey your entire home. Be sure to show the agent everything to be moved, including any items in the garage, basement or attic. The estimate you receive will detail the charges for packing and transporting your household goods.

Some services, however, will not be calculated into the estimate. Those not normally included are:

  • Extra pickups or deliveries
  • Servicing of electrical appliances
  • Additional valuation in case any item is lost or damaged in transit
  • Access issues and location changes at destination

Other Expenses: In addition to the transportation of your personal property, you will want to plan for the following relocation-related expenses:

  • Travel accommodations
  • Travel insurance
  • Customs duties and/or taxes on your household goods
  • Possible storage of your belongings at origin and/or destination
  • Shipping your car, plus customs duties
  • Automobile conversion to meet government standards
  • Document fees for passport, visa and permits
  • Inoculations and a physical examination
  • Pre-move trip to find housing
  • Temporary housing until a permanent residence is found or until your furnishings arrive
  • Cross-cultural training in advance of your moveTuition costs if your children will be in a private school abroad or in a boarding school at home
  • Medical care

Payment for Services: Unless prior arrangements have been made, payment for your shipment must be received before the goods are moved to the port of exit. As soon as your shipment is prepared, you will be notified of the actual charges. Payment can be made by cashier's check, money order, cash or traveler's checks. A personal check will not be accepted. Corporate transferees will need a purchase order or letter of authorization from their company.

Payments to the destination agent and customs officials often are required to be in the currency of your new country. Any additional charges not included in your transportation cost - such as for extra deliveries, storage, duties, taxes, parking permits and access related expenses - must be paid to the destination agent prior to delivery.


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