Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Expat Life: Repatriation Tips

It's been a month and a half since we got back and now I feel like we never left! The first few days flew by in a whirlwind of activity trying to get life back on the rails heading in the right direction. If you've been away for a while and are on your way back stateside, here are a few things you can do while still in your host country to ease the transition. Many of these you will have already thought about, but here they are anyway.

1. Get a Vonage connection or some other internet phone connection that'll give you a US telephone number:

That way it's easy for you to make the calls you need to make to the US and for the people in the US to call you back in case you have to leave a message. US domestic and long-distance rates apply. Check with Vonage.

2. Set up as many of your utlitiy connections as you can online:
Most gas, water, electricity and telephone companies are online, so it's easy to set up accounts and have them turn on your connections before you get back home so everything is up and running and ready for your arrival. I learnt this the hard way. Our gas was turned off unintentionally and after two weeks of staying in hotels on vacation on the way back from India, we had to check right back into a hotel for four days when we got home just so we could take a shower everyday. If we had arrived back in the winter, things would have been much worse in the house without any heat!

3. Make sure you collect all of your child's school records:

Our school here wanted to see all the work our son had done in the past year. Also, be prepared to have your child take a test pre-registration, especially if you speak another language at home. If possible, call your school from your host country and let them know you have a child that might be entering their school so they are prepared. And if you can call them then it's a great time to check exactly what documents they need for registration.

4. Medical records:

Particularly a list of vaccinations you and your children might have received. Your doctors here will need those to update their files.

5. Packing:

Remember to have documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, medical and school records and all other important documents with you. Packing these to come along with the rest of your shipment is not a good idea because you will definitely need them before your shipment gets here.

6. Activities for Children:

Check with your community, the local YMCA or your local REC center for activities for children when you are back. Even if you're coming back to your old house, remember people may have moved on and your children may not have their old friends. These are great resources for finding friends with similar interests, both for you and your children. Jumping in and getting involved is a sure-fire way of settling in fast.

This is all I can think of right now. Will add if I can think of any more. In the meantime, if you have any tips for repatriating families, please do leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what list you made when you travelled the other way. Ease up! Live a little on edge.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Anon, hmmm, interesting POV. This list I made after I moved back so others might take advantage of my experience. When I moved the other way, I had an Excel spreadsheet with all the account cancellations, contact numbers, account numbers, etc., if it makes you feel any better. :) Even with all these lists, life is on the edge, I promise!

Anonymous said...


lists might not be as helpful when you travel "the other way." you will need to go with the flow.

don't know if i ever recommended the traveler's tales series here - either way, check out "traveler's tales - india" if you haven't yet done so.

- s.b.