You have dealt extensively with your moving plans, thought thoroughly about everything by studying the requirements for moving abroad and now have finally decided to leave Germany and go to Australia (you can also customise the checklist for any country)? Great! Because with this decision you have already overcome a very big obstacle.
Now the next step is to prepare and organise your move. To make this challenge a little easier for you, I’ll give you helpful tips with this checklist, save you a lot of time and effort and possibly also take away a little bit of your fear. Because you should feel well prepared.
The checklist is very comprehensive and detailed with 40 points, but believe me: it will be worth it working through it. For my move in 2019, I created this checklist and it definitely made the preparations easier for me and allowed me to keep track of my to-dos. In general, I love to-do lists and prefer to rather cover too much than too little.
Of course, every move is different. Some people might want to do work & travel for one or two years or have been sent by their employer for a certain period of time, while others want to emigrate permanently with a Skilled or Partner Visa. Therefore, preparation differs in some aspects. At the end of this post, you will also find this checklist as a download so that you can easily adjust it according to your situation, for example by adding or deleting to-dos or adjusting the order. Because it makes a big difference in the process whether you apply for a Working Holiday Visa or a Sponsored Visa.
And now let’s better start, because we have a lot ahead of us!
- Once you’ve decided: You’re moving abroad
- Once your visa has been granted
- One week before your departure
- After your arrival in Australia
- Checklist for download
Once you’ve decided: You’re moving abroad
If you are at this point, you have certainly dealt with the requirements for moving abroad already. If not, jump back to my previous post Moving abroad? 10 important questions you should ask yourself before making the decision before you continue reading.
1. Seek emigration advice
Depending on your situation, it may make sense if you contact a counselling centre for moving abroad. There are institutions in Germany which can advise you on emigration and give you tips. Some of them are even free of charge. Ask Google for options near to you. If required by your situation, you can also consult an immigration consultant. However, these are not free and I cannot share any experiences on this.
Otherwise, the emigration brochure from the Federal Administration Office is certainly a decent guide for the beginning.
2. Create a cost and feedback overview
In addition to this checklist, it makes sense if you create an overview of future costs and feedback you are waiting for. Do this rather sooner than later, because that’s the only way you can keep track of everything.
Check the expiration date of your passport. Because without a valid (or sufficiently valid) passport, no visa.
Start to collect the necessary documentation for your visa application. Depending on the visa, you will need different documents and the application for a Skilled Visa is definitely more work than for a Working Holiday Visa. You might need your birth certificate, a police check, diplomas or a language certificate.
Some documents may also need to be translated into English and certified. Find a certified translator and agree on the costs in advance. The website Germany Translation Service can be helpful for you as well as NAATI. I found a translator for my Partner Visa on the website NAATI and I was absolutely happy with it. The service was super quick and easy and I paid $26.25 (in 2020) for a single page.
Once you have gathered all the documents you can apply for your visa. Either on paper or simply online. Read more about the process for Australia here. If you apply for a visa online, you will create a so-called ImmiAccount. With this, you manage your entire visa process.
5. Vaccination status
Take a look at your vaccination record and refresh your vaccinations if necessary. Consider the recommended vaccinations for Australia as well.
6. Doctor’s appointments
As long as you are still in Germany and can go to your doctors (of trust) for free, you should use that opportunity. When you are already abroad, you first have to look for a new doctor and most likely pay something for every visit. So it’s best to go to your GP and dentist once again. Gynaecologist and dermatologist (I can only recommend the latter when moving to Australia!) as well. If you need to be vaccinated, you can also arrange that directly with your appointments.
When visiting your doctor and if necessary, ask for a copy of your medical results, X-rays and doctor’s letters. This way you would have important information at hand. Some doctors charge a small fee for the copies, just ponder whether you really need the documents or not.
In case you need certain medications, you should also have prescriptions for them. In this context, also check the import regulations for Australia. Basically, the permitted quantity may not exceed a stock of three months.
7. Contracts and insurances
Write down all your contracts, insurances, savings plans, bank accounts, subscriptions or similar. This gives you an overview of your obligations and allows you to easily check which contracts may need to be terminated and which notice periods apply to them.
If necessary, discuss with the respective provider which contracts you could continue abroad, because this is not always given. For example, I have kept my income protection as it also covers me when I’m abroad. On the other hand, I had to stop my liability insurance, because I have deregistered my residence in Germany. You may even be able to get a liability insurance in combination with your overseas health insurance.
It’s also worth it if you’re already writing the termination letters for contracts you are going to cancel. You don’t believe how much work and stress it will save you later, if you have all the letters ready, maybe even printed and bagged in stamped envelopes. Towards the end everything gets chaotic again anyway, then you’ll be glad if everything is prepared.
8. Sign on for unemployment benefits
Basically it can be said that you are entitled to unemployment benefits in Germany if you were employed for at least 12 months in the 30 months prior to the registration of unemployment (see Federal Employment Agency). So if your job ends, you should report this to the job center at least three months before your last working day (note that you have a 12-week ban if you quit your job yourself!). I recommend that you even do so, if there is not much time between your last working day and your departure because the entitlement for unemployment benefits remains for 4 years. So for example, if you return to Germany after 2 years, you would still be eligible for unemployment benefits.
If you move abroad within Europe, you could still be entitled to unemployment benefits for a certain period of time. However, if you move abroad outside of Europe, the benefits end with your departure, as you will no longer be available to the German job market.
Note that on the first day of your unemployment, you will have to register as unemployed again in person. This is a requirement to receive unemployment benefits.
9. Deregistration of your German residence
This was one of the most difficult points for me and would be actually worth a separate post. But I try to keep it short.
First of all, it should be said that according to Section 17 para. 2 p. 1 BMG you are obligated to deregister your residence from Germany if you move out of an apartment and do not move into a new apartment within Germany (more on this here). However, there are also circumstances in which it makes perfect sense to remain registered in Germany (e.g. with friends or family). For example, if you only travel for a longer period of time.
Among others, a deregistration has impact on:
- Your health insurance
- Obligation to pay into social security (e.g. pension scheme)
- Tax liability
- Terminations of contracts without notice
- Make a new contract (incl. opening of a German bank account)
- Participation in local elections
- Postal address
- Car registration
- Passport matters
There are so many different variants and circumstances that should be taken into consideration in this decision, that it’s really difficult to make a recommendation. So inform yourself well and consider whether you leave Germany only temporarily or permanently. On backpacking hacks, you will find more detailed information that can help you with your decision. Luckily, the final decision can wait a little longer (until point 33).
It’s also important to mention that you won’t lose your German nationality if you deregister. As long as you do not get any other nationality, you will remain a German citizen. You can find official information on this at the Federal Government.
10. Apartment, furniture & Co.
Decide whether it makes sense for you to sublease or to give notice to quit your apartment. Under certain circumstances, for example, if you only go abroad for one year, you are usually entitled to sublease your apartment. It’s the best to clarify the possibilities with your landlord, check your notice period in the rental agreement (usually three months) and request a confirmation of your termination if you terminate.
If you terminate your apartment, remember to cancel your apartment-related contracts for the date of your move-out as well. This can include electricity, water, pay-TV, telephone and internet contracts, household insurance and the GEZ. You can now conveniently unsubscribe from the GEZ online and you may have prepared the remaining termination letters under point 7 already.
If the end of your rental contract lies before the earliest possible end date of the contracts, you can submit your deregistration certificate (given you deregister your residence in Germany) later on so that a termination without notice can come into effect. In some cases, even a flight ticket is sufficient. However, this possibility actually differs from provider to provider.
When you terminate your apartment, you can either store your furniture, your car, your clothes, etc. somewhere or sell it. Start planning it early enough and organise transport if necessary. Depending on your visa, you are not always allowed to ship your entire furniture to Australia with a container. So think carefully about what you need abroad and what you are even entitled to import. In some cases, it’s more worthwhile to let go of some things and buy them new abroad. If necessary, you can also send a few things by post. DHL accepts parcels to Australia up to a maximum of 20kg and is relatively affordable with 101,99€ (2019).
If you store your furniture, I can only recommend that you label and record it accurately. This can help you a lot later on. For example, I stored a few boxes of file folders at my parents. If I need something, I just give my parents the number of the box, the name of the folder and the tab inside the folder. This way you can quickly find important documents and you don’t stress the person too much with avoidable searches.
11. Find like-minded people online
Believe me, you are not alone with your questions, problems and all the organisational chaos before and during moving abroad. Therefore, it makes sense to exchange valuable tips with like-minded people and, in the best case, even to already make contacts.
I recommend Facebook groups, such as “Deutsche (Germans) living in Australia Tips und Austausch (I know the group name is a bit weird ;-)) or “Deutsche in Melbourne – Germans in Melbourne”. In addition to these, there are also numerous of job-related groups on Facebook for Australia.
LinkedIn doesn’t have groups for emigrants, but it can be helpful to connect with recruiters in your home of choice. This way may open up job opportunities for you.
12. Pension scheme
An unpleasant topic, I know. But it is very important.
If you move abroad and do not receive a salary in Germany anymore, you will no longer pay into the German pension scheme. Therefore, determine whether it makes sense for you to continue to voluntarily pay into the German pension scheme (the minimum contribution per month is 83,70€).
In addition, there is a social security agreement between Germany and Australia, which you should read carefully so that you can make your decisions well prepared. The pension scheme in Australia is called superannuation or in short super.
Another annoying to-do. For me personally, this was one of the most challenging tasks ever, as I had to dissolve my entire apartment. I had always planned to declutter my household, but before I moved, I was finally forced to go through all my belongings. Even if you may only sublease your apartment, it can still be good to let go from one or the other ballast. A new phase of your life is about to begin and you want to start into it relieved, right?
Therefore, go through your entire apartment, the basement/attic and your wardrobe. Sell your furniture, clothing and Co. for example online via ebay Kleinanzeigen, Facebook Marketplace or Kleiderkreisel. There would also be the possibility to organise a flea market in your apartment. Or just register for a normal flea market. The money you’ll earn there can be useful later on. Giving away or donating some things would also be a good alternative, at least for a few things. Also, note that bulk rubbish should be requested early enough if necessary.
In addition to the furniture and different items, you should also declutter your documents. Take into account the storage periods. To save you a step later on, it’s the best when you directly make digital copies (laptop/cloud/external hard drive – best all possibilities) of important documents that you won’t need as a hardcopy, but which you may need to access when you are abroad (e.g. income statement).
From my own experience, I can say: start earlier than later with the decluttering!
Once your visa has been granted
First of all, congratulations! It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? 🙂 Now things are getting serious. You REALLY move abroad! So let’s move on to the more interesting part.
Before you book your flight ticket, I recommend you to register with the frequent flyer program of a preferred airline. If you plan to travel to Germany more often (or you generally fly a lot) and also prefer to usually fly with the same airline, this can definitely pay off. With the miles earned, you can upgrade your ticket at best or use other amenities. Note, however, that the miles expire after a certain period of time. Then book your flight ticket and check with which airline you can take the most and heaviest luggage with you. You will thank yourself later for that.
Once you arrive in Australia, you have to stay somewhere. Therefore, look for either a temporary accommodation or, if possible, a permanent one. For temporary accommodations Airbnb would be a good option and for permanent accommodations the group “Fairy Floss Real Estate” on Facebook, Real Estate or Domain and for both options even Gumtree.
16. Health insurance
Depending on how and for how long you move abroad, the decision about your health insurance depends on that. For some visas, you will need a valid foreign health insurance at the time of your application, for others you can take care of that later. If you go abroad as an expat, your health insurance must be more extensive than for someone with a Working Holiday Visa.
By the way, the statutory health insurance in Australia is called Medicare. I’m not sure if there’s a visa with which you directly would be eligible for Medicare, or if it’s only possible as a permanent resident or with a Bridging Visa.
I chose my health insurance for my Working Holiday Visa with HanseMerkur and I’m more than satisfied. The costs are acceptable, the cover continued during the coronavirus pandemic, I could even see a specialist and the costs were reimbursed without any problems.
Make some research about the services which are important when it comes to health insurance and then call the different providers to compare. It’s time-consuming, but if there’s an insurance claim, you’ll be happy if you pay a little more, but get the better services. Don’t save when it comes to your health!
Speaking of health insurance. If you do not have any benefits from your German health insurance, you should cancel it. If you have been covered by the statutory health insurance and returning to Germany, the Auffangversicherungspflicht (sorry, there is no English term) applies anyways, which means that you are entitled to be readmitted to a statutory health insurance. If you still feel more comfortable with an underlying entitlement (“Anwartschaft” in German), you can apply for it at your health insurance. You would pay a fix monthly fee and thus would have the security to be readmitted into your favoured health insurance. From my point of view, this doesn’t make sense under consideration of the Auffangversicherungspflicht and apart from that, you would pay a fee for something that hasn’t aa real benefit for you.
If you decide to cancel your health insurance, it’s best to ask directly what information and documentation is needed. Some insurance companies require a deregistration letter or a flight ticket to prove that you are moving abroad.
One final note: if you receive unemployment benefits, you are insured by the job center with your previous health insurance (see from page 69).
17. Plan last meetups
Nowadays, most of us have a busy schedule, so it makes sense to plan last gatherings with family and friends early – especially if they don’t live around the corner. It’s nice to see your loved ones once again because it can take some time until you can catch up again.
18. International driving licence
Apply for an international driver’s license at the department of transport if you are going to drive abroad. This one is only valid in combination with your German driving licence. Check for your future state when an Australian driver’s license may be required. VicRoads, for example, provides information for the state Victoria.
19. Police check
In any case, it cannot hurt to apply for a police check. It doesn’t cost much and it can save you trouble later on. Either you need it for your visa application anyway, or some employers request it, or it will be required to apply for another visa when you ‘re already in Australia.
For example, I came to Australia with my Working Holiday Visa and then applied for a Partner Visa onshore. For this visa process, the police check was required and without a German online identity card, the application can be tricky (especially during the coronavirus pandemic).
20. Tax return
If you are under the duty to lodge a tax return, make sure that this is easily possible from abroad. You can submit it either in paper, directly via the Elster portal, or via another software. Note, that you need an identification option for the digital way.
For example, I previously filed my tax return with my old Windows laptop. Here in Australia, I only have my Mac on which I now have to install the Elster software and also ensure the identification. However, it’s not possible to apply for the identification option without a registered address in Germany. In short, there is certainly a way to manage it somehow, but it’s complicated, so it’s best to make it as easy as possible for you and to check it before you move.
21. Certified translations
If necessary, you can get a certified translation for your school and graduation certificates, reference letters as well as for doctor’s letters, etc. Don’t hurry here and rather save the costs, because in some cases this is not necessary at all. For example, reference letters are not very much relevant for applications in Australia. Just take the originals with you and get them translated in Australia by a certified translator (see point 4), if really necessary.
22. Australian bank account
Open an Australian bank account. To name just a few options: Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB, Westpac Bank. Inform yourself about the goods and services and of course about how many branches they have. With some banks, you can already open an account from Germany, or at least lodge your details, so that you only have to go to the branch for the final setup upon arrival.
I’m at the Commonwealth Bank and very happy with it.
23. Exchange money
If you have already opened an Australian bank account, you could transfer money to the account in advance. For this, I can recommend TransferWise or Currencyfair to avoid high fees for a normal international bank transfer.
If you haven’t opened an account yet, you can exchange cash (sometimes it has to be ordered at your bank first) so that you have at least a few dollars in your pocket when you arrive. At the beginning, for example, I simply used my German credit card from the comdirect Bank to withdraw money for free at an ATM in Australia, of course, based on the current exchange rate. If I would have paid with my German credit card directly, I could have looked forward to very high fees.
24. German bank account
In the event that you no longer need your German bank account, you could cancel it. I personally would keep a German account and with some banks, it’s not a problem if you have your residence now abroad (e.g. Consorsbank, netbank, DKB and comdirect). If you still have ongoing payments in Germany, it definitely makes sense.
If you keep your German bank account, you should inform your bank right before your departure that you are moving abroad for a longer period of time/permanently. In the worst case (actually good in terms of security), your cards may be blocked if regular debits or withdrawals from abroad appear.
25. Handover of your old apartment
Plan an appointment with your landlord or the property manager for the handover of your apartment. Here it should be discussed whether anything in your apartment has to be fixed before you move out (e.g. painting walls, make repairs). Therefore, do not set this appointment for your last day in Germany! Either take care of the final handover yourself or assign this to a person of trust if you’ve already left. Also, read the electricity and water meters on the last day.
It’s best to write down from the beginning which mail you usually receive, because then you know which post or advertisement you can unsubscribe from. This is easier for you and also save the sender work and costs.
If you want to save some money, you can simply change your mail manually to another address of a close person in Germany so that you don’t have to submit a change of address order. Don’t forget to include the c/o note for your friend’s/relative’s name.
Decide if you’re parking your car at someone’s place, deregister it for the period of your absence, or selling it. As mentioned earlier, point 9 also plays a role here. If you are not yet sure about it and may assign the sale to a person for later, it makes sense to clean the car thoroughly and take photos for an online ad already. Then, later on, everything is ready for an advertisement and a test drive.
28. Job application
If you are going to Australia without a job, it may be helpful to translate your application documents into English now. Then you can start looking for a job right away when you arrive. Note that you do not include a photo in your application. This is unusual in Australia. In most cases, you also don’t need to attach reference letters. First, no one understands German anyway (assuming you didn’t have a certified translation) and second, in Australia, they work with references. Australians place value on references, which will also be relevant when looking for an apartment. Therefore, mention the contact details of former supervisors (inform them and make sure they can communicate in English) or mention “Available upon request” in your resume.
29. Power of attorney
It can be helpful if you give a trusted person in Germany a power of attorney for certain matters. You can define exactly what the person is authorised for (for example, for government procedures that require personal appearance) and what they are allowed to do on your behalf. It’s best to get legal advice on this because the validity depends on the correct wording. Some banks have their own power of attorney, so you would have to issue them separately.
One week before your departure
Day X is slowly but surely coming closer. The excitement in you is certainly growing and you wish the preparations were finally done. It’s not long and when you’re on the plane to Australia, you can finally take a deep breath and relax.
Start packing a few days before your departure. It may be the case that not everything fits in your suitcase and you still have to sort things out. Consider the total weight of your luggage to avoid unnecessary costs at the airport. And don’t forget the adapter for your electronic devices.
31. Shipping to Australia
If like me, you are not able to take all the things right away with you, you can send the remaining things by post (see point 10). It makes sense to send them now, as you don’t have to ask someone to do it for you and it probably will arrive not long after you’ve arrived in Australia. Don’t send very valuable and personal things with the post, you never know. Also, don’t send anything you need directly on your arrival and the most important thing is to seal the package carefully with package tape. One of my packages arrived demolished and half-opened, although I had already sealed it very well.
32. Scheduled payments
Check all your schedules payments and, if applicable, cancel them.
33. Deregister your place of residence in Germany
Referring to point 9, now is the time to decide whether to deregister your residence in Germany. If so, fill out the deregistration form, take your ID and passport with you, as well as your new address abroad. You will then receive a sticker on your identity card that you no longer have a main residence in Germany, as well as a deregistration certificate.
34. Terminations without notice
Some contractors where you have terminated your contracts with notice already may still request a copy of your deregistration, so that you can, for example, get out of the contracts earlier. Send them a copy of your deregistration letter (or via e-mail).
35. Inform the job center
If you are receiving unemployment benefits from the job center, you should now state the date of your departure in your online account. With this day, your entitlement for unemployment benefits usually ends.
36. Take important documents with you
Important documents should be with you of course. For my travel, I always make a copy of every important document or information (e.g. my passport, flight ticket, vaccination record, addresses, telephone numbers) and store them not only in my handbag/backpack but also in my suitcase and hand luggage. I know, maybe it’s a bit paranoid, but if you lose something, you have at least one more copy with you.
It also makes sense if you share your future address with your family or a friend. If there’s something wrong (which we don’t hope) or they want to send you a postcard, they know where you live.
This is probably the most difficult part – to say goodbye for a(n) (indefinite) time. In all the chaos, pleasant anticipation, panic and to-do lists, it’s easy to forget about the time with your loved ones. Therefore, use the remaining time with them as much as possible and be present.
And then it says: Have a good trip!
After your arrival in Australia
Welcome to Australia! I hope your trip was fine, without any problems and that you can “cure” your jet lag. Take a little time to arrive and digest what happened the last days and hours.
38. To-Dos upon arrival
You’ve done already a lot and prepared your departure in Germany in the best possible way. Unfortunately, we are not completely done with the checklists yet, as some to-dos for your new start are due now. For this, just jump to the next post To-dos for your first week in Australia. But don’t worry – it won’t be as extensive as this checklist ;-).
39. Lodge your tax return
When this task becomes relevant, probably some time has passed already. I hope you have settled in well. You’ll now be bothered again with the German bureaucracy. If you are obliged to do a tax return in Germany, because you had income within the last financial year, you should submit your tax return on time.
Depending on when you moved out of your apartment, your bond may not have been fully refunded yet. This may be due to the fact that the landlord has to prepare the utility cost statement first (usually in June of the following year). So, keep this point in mind, because you don’t want to give away any money.
Checklist as download
As already mentioned at the beginning, I provide a download for my checklist. The file is a bit more extensive because I’ve separated some tasks and summarised them here in the post. Because during the preparation of your move, some to-dos repeat or become relevant again at a later date. Therefore, simply customise the checklist for your situation.
Download your personal checklist for moving abroad here:
I hope that my tips and checklist are helpful for you and that you can start your adventure perfectly prepared!
Please let me know if you’re missing any information, if you’re having any questions or issues with the checklist.