So if you’re just finding my blog, Welcome! My primary reason for starting this blog is because of our upcoming move to SPAIN! There are a lot of travel blogs, some really good ones too, that I’ve found. But none of them were about 1) Moving overseas & 2) From a military spouse point-of-view. There were a few that have since been abandoned. I was looking for as much information I could about other families experiences moving overseas to Spain like I am.
I’ve put off doing this post for months until I actually did all the steps myself.
I found a great group of military spouses on Facebook that have given me a waterfall of great information. Some of which I can’t wait to meet when we finally get there at the end of the summer. That group has been my only source of first hand knowledge and/or experience.
Sure, there’s the Overseas Package and the “Welcome Aboard” Package that every command or station has. Those give you all the big steps. What they don’t account for is the hundred roadblocks you’re going to run in to or the tips that will save you time.
For operational security there are some specifics I absolutely can’t mention here. I also recommend checking the commands website before looking to other people for tips.
My favorite tips so far:
- Make copies of all your paperwork. It is highly probable that it will get lost or misplaced.
- Start early, like as soon as you have the official orders.
- Don’t wait on anyone to prompt you to do something, they’re your/your families orders – be proactive
- Actually read the Welcome Aboard Package
- Get a calendar to note all your appointments and deadlines to get stuff done
- Get your passport early (They tried to put a staple in my birth certificate at the post office – “um no! Paperclip it instead, that’s my birth certificate you’re trying to put a hole in”)
- You won’t possibly be able to calculate all your expenses in advance, so save save save!
- Lodging, rental cars, luggage, food, (if you’re flying with a pet) – getting your pet a spot on the airline, pet carrier, vet visits and shots/meds,
- If you’re unsure about something, call the people responsible to directly – don’t rely on email, those get overlooked.
- Breathe! It’s way easier done then it sounds.
I’m traveling with my daughter – 9 – and my dog, a small Japanese Chin (14 lbs) that will have to fly in the cabin with us. Each airline has different rules and guidelines for flying with animals. Reference the airlines website first, then call and confirm over the phone. Sometimes what you see online could be outdated.
I’m using the Bergan Comfort Carrier Soft-Sided Pet Carrier for my dog and we are taking a space – ‘A’ flight over to Spain.
If you’d like to follow along – check out my pinterest Travel board! It’s full of travel hacks/tips.
The biggest step to the whole process so far was our medical screening. Because we have insurance through the military, we did 95% of the whole thing on the military base – with the exception on dental which had to sign off on our packet that we were good to go. My daughter needed to have her most recent x-rays included in her overseas screening packet, but I didn’t. Once it was completed (which took us about 2 weeks/a month to do (because we had to schedule several appointments) we turned it in to be reviewed. After the review, we got out packets back about a week later. So you don’t want to put this off. It was the very first process we completed. My daughters took longer because she is on special medication, but it wasn’t complicated at all, just one additional step.
At the same time we did the medical screening we did our passports. Before you even bother with the application – get your 2X2 photos done, you’ll need 2 – but go ahead and get 4 because you’ll also need (2) 2X2’s for your no-fee passport (more on that further down). We filled out the application online and printed it out to take to the post office. Check your post offices guidelines online first- some offices are walk in only (in which case you’ll need to be there before sunrise to get in line to sign up like we did) and others only take appointments (which there could be a wait-list for that is a mile long and it could be months before you get your appointment!) It’s so important to know this before you go – and even after you submit your application it will take an addition 6-8 weeks before you get your passport in the mail. The post office will take your birth certificate DON’T LET THEM STAPLE IT TO THE APPLICATION – they could just as easily paperclip it. It’s going into an envelope – it won’t get lost. Do you really want a hole punched into such an important document? Probably not. You will get your birth certificate back in a separate envelope than your passport, generally before your passport arrives – but my daughters passport came and we’re waiting on the birth certificate.
After the we received our passports, B.C.’s back and we got cleared by medical we started our no-fee passport books. This is a must. Though if you ask me it’s a waste of time and extremely redundant! But, you still need it. (How is my state I.D., passport, and military I.D. not enough?) This also takes several weeks. Unless you have multiple copies of your birth certificate – you won’t be able to start this until your birth certificate comes back in the mail from when you applied for your regular passport. For the no-fee passport books we had to go through a military facility to get these but essentially the process is the same. You still need all the same official documents – that other set of 2X2 head shot’s I mentioned (which can be done at Wal-Greens or Rite Aid, etc.)
That was all the time consuming stuff.
Now all that’s left is to schedule our flights – schedule the household goods movement (more on that later) – and schedule our car to be shipped over!
Though because we are traveling with a pet, there are a few things that need to be done before hand as well. Rabies shot MUST be done before hand. They won’t acknowledge those 3 year shots and it can’t be done in the 30 day window prior to leaving. We are leaving in July so we are doing it this month (May), that way it’s as current as possible. Your dog will also need an international health certificate.
We are getting ours done at Banfield Pet Hospital inside PetSmart. It’s going to cost ~$140, plus the check-up visit ~$50. The rabies shot ~$30. Assuming that’s all your dog needs too, you’re looking at ~$200. That’s before you even buy the carrier or calculate how much it’s going to fly your dog over on the plane. Our Space-A/Rotatory flight will allow us to bring our dog in the cabin with us (she has a flat face so she can only fly in cabin anyways) and that will cost us $120 (calculated based on weight groups – learn more here). That brings the grand-total, for us, to ~$350.
::UPDATE:: I’ve since learned that the military base near where I live has a veterinarian and they are not only certified to do the international health certificate for my dog, but it’s a fraction of what PetSmart was going to charge me. I can also get her re-chipped and rabies vaccinated, and the wellness check less than what I would have spent on just the certificate elsewhere. Don’t worry – I did some research and just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean worse service. This is what they do all day – help families get their pets ready for a big move and making sure the pets are good to go. ::
Luckily for us, Spain doesn’t require pet quarantines upon arrival. A simple Google search about the country you’re traveling/moving to and their requirements should reveal all you need to know about it without having to go into the deep internet. Though, when we arrive she will have to be cleared by the Veterinarian on base. According to Spain’s regulations, you will need to have the pets international health certificate with you at all times if you take your pet anywhere – and your pest must be micro-chipped. Best have the information with you as well.
From the sound of it, we will have to have a darn file box with us every time we step out of our house. Amiright?!
I’ll do another post about our move to Spain as more happens. I hope this helps anyone considering moving overseas with/without a military affiliation.
As I said before, these are just my own experiences and tips. As a general rule, you should still verify with the appropriate officials.