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Checklist for moving abroad from Sri Lanka

Whether you're moving for work or to study abroad, there's a lot to think about before leaving home.

The key to a successful move is to do your research and get organised early. Creating a checklist of things to do can put your mind at ease and help ensure you don’t forget anything important.

Here are 14 steps to get you started, from budgets to bank accounts.

1. Check your passport

In Sri Lanka, ordinary adult passports are generally good for 10 years and must be valid for at least 6 months from your departure date. If you've registered to go overseas with the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), then your passport must be valid for at least 2 years.

A new passport can take a month and will require you to submit a digital photograph and original documents, including your National Identity Card (NIC). 

Apply for a passport online

2. Apply for work permits and visas

Each country or region has its own requirements and timings. Make sure you have the relevant applications submitted well before you are due to move, or start work. Some countries require proof of health or travel insurance, as well as a police background check. Take a look at the SLBFE and local government websites for visa checklists and labor law information.

3. Verify your employment agency

While you may be organising your move yourself, many people choose to go through an agency. Confirm that you're working with an authorised organisation, and keep all the receipts related to your overseas employment process. 

4. Open an overseas bank account

How will you access money in your new home country or region? By opening an overseas bank account before you arrive, you can link your global accounts together, transfer funds into your account, and start banking as soon as you arrive.

You don't need to visit a branch to open an HSBC overseas account. Simply sign your account opening documents on any device with Live Sign. Request callback for more information

Inward remittances

Through a Government of Sri Lanka incentive scheme, you can now earn money even as you send money from your salary back home to Sri Lanka. Earn 2 Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) for every USD1 you earn through overseas employment when you convert the foreign currency to rupees.

Explore: Overseas employment remittances

5. Set a budget for settling in costs

Aside from your flights and initial accommodation, there may be other costs you want to save for. These include:

  • Your passport and visa fees
  • Travel costs
  • New clothes
  • Furnishings
  • Security deposit

If you'll be looking for work when you reach your new country or region, make sure you allow for ample time to find employment. It can help to build some emergency savings ahead of time to support you until you're settled. 

6. Start saving money

Once you have your moving budget, set yourself a savings goal so you’ll be prepared when the time comes to move. Make sure your goal is achievable so you can stay on track.

If you feel it will be difficult to meet your budget, there may be simple ways to free up funds.

7. Complete a medical check

Vaccinations and health checks are sometimes needed before you enter your new country or region.

Make sure you'll be able to get any medication you need when you move. Don't forget to pack extra in your carry-on bag, in case your checked baggage is delayed on arrival. If you’re not sure about anything, chat to your doctor about your options.

8. Gather important documents

There are some key things you’ll want to arrange before arriving. This includes your accommodation, finding a school for your children, and making sure you're allowed to drive.

In addition to your passport and NIC, you may also need your:

  • International driving license
  • Proof of kinship, if accompanied by your family
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of funds
  • Language test results
  • Sri Lankan police clearance certificate
  • Rental references
  • Educational certificate

This is not a complete list – you may be asked to provide additional documents. Check with government websites whether your documents will need to be translated, and whether you need to provide original or certified copies. 

9. Pay your bills

Contact your gas, electricity, oil, water, telephone/mobile, TV and broadband suppliers to let them know you're moving abroad, and to pay any outstanding bills. If you bank with HSBC, online bill payments is an easy way to settle your utility bills. 

Bank anywhere with HSBC mobile banking

How to register for the app

Check your balances, pay bills, transfer money and view your global banking activity with the HSBC Mobile Banking App. 

10. Consider travel insurance

A fully comprehensive travel insurance policy can cover you for your belongings, illness, travel delays, missed departure and airline failure. Don't forget to include insurance for your family members, if they're joining you. Travel insurance is not meant to replace your health insurance. It's to cover you until you get settled in your new home. 

11. Give your landlord notice

Some rental properties in Sri Lanka require a large security deposit or 'advance' payment. This could be up to 12 months’ rent. Make sure you get your deposit back by letting your landlord know well in advance that you'll be moving out. The notice period will depend on your tenancy agreement.

12. Sort your taxes

If you're a non-resident living abroad, you'll only be taxed on your Sri Lanka-sourced income. For the taxes you'll have to pay while overseas, the relevant government tax office is a good place to start for information.

Sri Lanka has Double Tax Treaties with many countries. This ensures you won't be taxed twice on the same income. Apply for a Tax Residence Certificate (TRC) when leaving Sri Lanka and moving abroad to prove that you have no outstanding taxes due. 

13. Set up mail redirection

When moving house, you can usually have your mail redirected for 3 months. This can be extended for moves out of the country. Your local Post Office will have the forms you'll need for mail redirection service. 

14. Throw a goodbye party

A going away party is a great way to say farewell to friends and family and feast on all your Sri Lankan favourites. 

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