The essential employee relocation checklist.

The essential employee relocation checklist.

Kristina Lupp
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The essential employee relocation checklist.

You’ve found your first international hire. Yay! But you’re a little nervous about the relocation process. Or maybe you’ve already got some hot new international talent and want more. Last time the process didn’t go so smoothly. All that paperwork and all those different documents to keep track of, it’s a lot.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you.

Having helped relocate more than a few people internationally, we know all the ins and outs of relocation and all the forms you’ll need to fill out. And to make it a little easier for you, we’ve put together this handy checklist to make sure you don’t miss a beat or a form.

Timing is everything

We’re not going to sugarcoat it, relocation takes time. The process from start to finish can take between one to three months. During this time, a lot has to happen. Documents must be signed, sealed and delivered –– possibly translated and apostilled. And let’s not forget about the actual move.

In other words, the sooner you start the relocation process, the better.


The most important part of the relocation process is getting all the necessary documentation. Any mistakes or missed forms can delay the process. The exact documents you’ll need will differ depending on the country and the length of stay, but in most cases, they will be:

The contract

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the employment contract is everything. In most cases, you won’t be able to apply for a work visa without one. The work contract must be ready before you begin the relocation process because you won’t get very far without it. When we’re helping with relocation, it’s surprising (to us) that we sometimes have to wait weeks for a contract, which already delays a lengthy process.

A valid passport 

This may seem obvious, but not everyone keeps a valid passport ready for travel at any moment. A passport should not be close to expiring and should have at least two blank pages for the visa. Some visa applications may require additional photos. Do your research and check what size and how many you’ll need.

Visa/work permit

Do you know what, if any, visa your new hire will need? What about their spouse and children? Will the visa allow their partner to work as well? You may need to write a letter of support for your new hire to show they have a full-time employment contract. Be sure to check what documents, like a birth certificate, marriage certificate, adoption papers, etc., are needed to apply for a visa or work permit and if they need to be translated.

If your new hire is relocating with their family, you’ll need to provide a marriage certificate or common-law partnership certificate, as well as birth certificates for children. Depending on where you’re relocating, these documents must be apostilled or attested in the case of the EU.

Most countries will also require you to disclose any criminal records or better yet, prove that you don’t have one.

Will a medical exam be required for the visa?

Some countries like the Netherlands require that visa applicants undergo a physical exam and specific medical tests to apply for a visa or temporary residence permit. Often, these tests and exams can only be performed by doctors that the local embassy approves. The Netherlands also require some applicants (depending on nationality) to undergo a TB test.

Driver’s license

Will your new hire be able to drive in your country? EU countries, like Estonia, require an international driving permit to be able to drive until you can change your license to a local one. Other countries want you to swap your license for a local one or take a driving test. And the Netherlands has further conditions for swapping your license, like a physical health certificate from a local doctor.

Health insurance

Does your country offer health care for expats? Or will your new hire need health insurance? What will be covered? Will it include dental? Bringing along medical/dental records can ease the transition to finding a local GP. 

Travel and contents insurance

Accidents happen, especially when moving. If your new hire is shipping their entire home contents to your country, look into contents insurance. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

School/education records

Will your new hire be relocating with children? Look into local schools and provide a list of options. Education records, like report cards, will also be needed.

Relocating with pets?

Ensure your new hire’s pets have a good relocation experience, too. Bringing cats, dogs, and iguanas overseas is not as easy as buying a ticket and putting them on a plane. At the very least, they will need a passport. Pets may need an exam before travelling, and some countries require that pets be quarantined upon arrival for up to three months.

The benefits package

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all relocation package. Each talent’s situation is different. Some will be relocating alone, and others together with their families. So think about what you’ll cover, and ensure you communicate it to your candidate. Here are some things to consider:

  • Work visa. How will you help your new hire navigate all the paperwork?
  • Health insurance. In most cases, new international hires will require health insurance in their new country. Will you cover the costs for them and their family? And for how long?
  • Financial support. Will you be covering the cost of relocation? And the cost of temporary housing while they look for permanent accommodation?
  • Settling in. Once your new hire has moved, how will you help them get to know their new city? Find a school for their kids? Offer language courses or cultural training? Set up a bank account? Helping your new hire settle in is key to a successful relocation.

We know there’s a lot to think about when hiring internationally. But you don’t have to do it alone. Hiring a relocation partner can give you the support you need to ensure that the relocation process goes smoothly for you and your new international hire.

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