We recently moved to The Netherlands (read about that here). There was so much to prepare! You probably reading this because you’re either interested in moving abroad or you are already in the process of moving and need a few tips or guidelines. Either way, I hope this will be of a little help.
Finding a job in Europe on a South African Passport
We only have our South African passports. “So how did you get it right to move to a Europian country?” you might be wondering. Well, my fiance was offered a position as a Highly Skilled Migrant – which basically means you are offered a position that the company was unable to fill locally. We came over on his visa (he is my sponsor). If you are still looking for work then try to find a company that offers relocation. Not only does this help you financially, but they will also handle the intense part of the paperwork.
Where did you look for work?
My fiance searched the entire internet. There is not only one place to look. Look everywhere! Like, Google is your new best friend. Here are 3 popular job search sites:
If you are busy applying for jobs, even if you haven’t, start collecting paperwork from Home Affairs. These documents can take time to process and you could end up in a position where you don’t have enough time to collect it all before leaving.
In most cases, some of your documents would still need to be apostilled.
In South Africa, you can currently (at the time of me writing this) only do this in Pretoria (DIRCO). Importantly, they will not accept any documents older than 12 months.
Here is a list of the basic and most important set of paperwork you should consider processing as soon as possible. PLEASE NOTE: This list might not be applicable to you and could vary from country to country, but to get you started, you probably won’t go wrong with these:
If you haven’t already got one, then applying for work abroad is a bit pointless. They don’t take long to receive – we waited a week.
- Legalized and Apostilled Long Version Birth Certificates
The long version birth certificate includes your parents’ names and their birthplace. The waiting period for this is quite unpredictable. Our application forms were sent to two different branches because our parents were born in different cities. Mine took just over a week to arrive whereas Ryans’s took nearly 3 months and it still had to be apostilled.
- Legalized and Apostilled Maritual Status
In a nutshell, even if you’re single you will need to declare that you can get married abroad.
You will need either one of the following: – Marriage Certificate
– Legalised and Apostilled Divorce Certificate
– Legalised and Apostilled Certificate of not being Married
- Police Clearance
This can take up to 6 weeks to receive and can be applied for at your local police department.
Notify your Bank
I don’t even know where to begin with this. It should have been the easiest and fastest part of the entire process. Make absolutely certain your South African bank knows you are moving abroad.
I’m not going to name drop, but the bank I originally banked with completely messed me around. When we got word of our move, I went to my bank to find out if it would still be possible for me to handle my account from abroad. The lady informed me it wouldn’t be possible and that I would only be able to view balances and transactions. Nothing more.
She was so wrong. I revisit the bank twice only to be told the same story. Whatever you do, MAKE SURE YOU SIGN A FORM INSIDE THE BANK, NOTIFYING THEM OFF YOUR MOVE AND THAT YOU WILL BE IN TOUCH TO UPDATE YOUR CONTACT NUMBER VIA EMAIL.
DO NOT leave the country without signing this form. Do not allow them to tell you it’s not necessary, IT IS!
To cut a long story short, we end up opening a bank account that formed part of the Barclays Group so that we would be able to cover other costs in South Africa in the fastest and most painless way.
South African bank cards in Europe
Be VERY aware that you might not always be able to use your Master and/or credit card in Europe. We were never given a proper reason why, but it just didn’t always work. Fortunately, we were able to draw from ATMs.
Cancelling and Closing Contracts / Accounts
This is very painful and can also be quite costly in the end. There’s normally a payout fee. Do try and provide creditors with proof of your move, you might just get a discount on the outstanding amount.
I would seriously consider renting a unit for the first year while you are away. Moving abroad is really a big decision and sometimes doesn’t always last long term. Before I left for Thailand, I sold and gave away almost all my things. I wasn’t planning on returning home for at least 2 -3 years. The plan was to travel around. Things didn’t work out and I returned home after a year to start all over again. Financially it held me back for a few years. I was blessed with quite a number of things from family and friends. It’s just a plan B and something to consider should anything not work out abroad.
Moving Pets Internationally
Pets are family and understandably there are situations when it’s just not possible to move your pets too. If the opportunity stands, go for it, keeping in mind that it’s quite a bit of prepping. You should start preparing your pet’s travel at least 3 months in advance from your departure. Unfortunately for us, we had 2 months to prepare our cat Ohana. This meant she had to remain in South Africa, after we left, for a month or two. We only saw her 2 and a half months later.
Firstly, you have to make sure your pet is chipped and registered with all your contact details. Then request for the Chipped Certificate. All vaccinations have to be up to date and logged into a Vet / Pet booklet. You then have a minimum of 90 days before your pet’s departure to have her Tetra test done. Blood is drawn to make sure that the Tetra Level is high. The blood samples are sent to Pretoria and the wait for these results can take up to 8 weeks.
A health Checkup needs to be completed at your local vet 10 days prior to the pet’s departure. All the documents are then sent to The State Vet for final approval – in the odd case your pet might need to have another check up there.
We worked with (and I would highly recommend) Pet Travel to make sure Ohana would be safe and that everything would go smoothly. It is possible doing the entire procedure on your own, but using an agent will really help lift a bit of the moving stress off the shoulders. Moving your pet can be quite stressful for both you and your pet. I simply kept reminding myself that the people in this industry are professional.
Ohana’s first reaction after seeing us was so special. She knew who we were as soon as she saw us. She settled in at home very quickly. The agency advises you have food, water and a litter box available and ready for when your pet arrives. Ohana didn’t eat or drink much while traveling and ran straight for her food when we got home.
Be prepared for loads of smiles, loves and cuddles.
The final stretch and the most difficult part of it all. How do you decide whats going with and whats going to stay!? We flew with Condor Airlines to Germany and took a connecting flight with KLM to Amsterdam. In total, we were only allowed to take a 23kg’s as check-in luggage. We were also allowed hand luggage and a separate handbag and/or laptop bag (ie. another small bag) EACH.
It’s so difficult packing up home. Parting from all silly sentimental things is a nightmare.
Believe it or not, but I actually packed in a painting of my Dad’s. It was light and could be packed right at the bottom of my bag. I also brought an A5 photo album. We moved to The Netherlands with a plan to stay as long as this beautiful country will have us so we had to bring a few homey items along – we also paid for overweight luggage.
It’s very important to pack a waterproof warm jacket or two, gloves, scarves, tights and beanies. Try getting your hands on thick, soft socks. Comfortable shoes are vital and you won’t go wrong with some sporting attire. Gone are the days of pretty high heels! Get ready for sneakers and dresses. I love it!
So there you have it, my list of things to remember and/or consider doing 🙂