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Living Abroad

Whether you are planning to move abroad or are already residing outside of the U.S., you should review the information about safe travel and consular services available to you, since most of it applies equally to U.S. citizens residing abroad. The following is information about services you are more likely to need if you are living abroad.

Marriage Abroad
U.S. consular officers abroad cannot perform marriages. Depending on the law of the foreign country, local civil or religious officials generally perform marriages.

Procedures vary from country to country, and some require lengthy preparation.

Many countries have requirements that the parties have been resident in that country for a specified period of time before a marriage may be performed there. There may be requirements for blood tests, etc. There may be requirements for parental consent. There are also, in many countries, a requirement that documents certifying the end of a previous relationship (such as a death or divorce certificate) be submitted, translated into the local language and authenticated. Some countries require an affidavit by the parties as proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract. (This affidavit can be executed at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.)

The process can be time-consuming and expensive, and, therefore, persons planning to marry in a foreign country should find out the requirements of that particular country before beginning travel. Contact the embassy or tourist information bureau of the country where you plan to marry to learn the specific requirements.

Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found on the Country Specific Information for each country. If you are already abroad, consult with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Once your marriage has taken place abroad, U.S. consular officers can authenticate your foreign marriage document. Note that this authentication simply signifies that your foreign marriage documents are real; it does not necessarily mean that your marriage will be recognized by your home state in the U.S. If you are married abroad and need confirmation that your marriage will be recognized in the United States, consult the Attorney General of your state of residence in the United States.

Driving Abroad
It is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in many countries. You should check with the Embassy of the country where you plan to reside, to find out more about driverís license requirements. Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found on the Country Specific Information for each country.

Many countries do not recognize a U.S. driverís license. Some, however, will accept an international driverís permit. It is nevertheless a good idea to qualify for a local driverís license as soon as possible, since international driverís permits are not always valid for the length of a stay abroad, and often are only valid if presented in conjunction with a valid U.S. or local license. To renew a U.S. driverís license, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your home state.

Be Prepared For Emergencies When Overseas
Make a list of the following for all family members. Leave a copy of this list with a trusted contact at home. Update periodically and carry with you when moving from one locale to another: Passport numbers and dates of issue Bank account numbers Credit card numbers Insurance policy numbers Car registration, serial, and license numbers U.S. driverís license numbers Social Security numbers (including childrenís) Current prescriptions, including eyeglasses Contents and location of safe deposit box(es) Assets and debts Names and addresses of business and professional contacts

Rent a safe depository in your home country and put the following into it:

.  Copy of will(s) -do not put original of will in safe depository.
.  Power of attorney (one of the originals).
.  Birth and marriage certificates.
.  Naturalization papers.
.  Deeds.
.  Mortgages.
.  Stocks (or leave with broker in case you want to sell).
.  Bonds (or leave with broker in case you want to sell).
.  Insurance papers - life, car, house, medical, and household.
.  Current household and personal effects inventory.

Execute a current power of attorney for each adult family member and have several originals made. Make several copies as well. These are needed to transact business on behalf of spouse or other adult.

Learn the current laws of your legal residence and place of domicile with regard to taxes and property.

Establish credit that will be adequate for emergencies. Obtain individual credit cards for employee and spouse.

Establish a joint checking account, or two joint checking accounts, enabling each spouse to work from either account in the event they are separated for a period of time.

Consider getting an ATM (automatic teller machine) card for your bank account that can be used all over the country. Make sure both spouses know the PIN (personal identification number).

Have the employeeís paycheck sent to a U.S. bank account rather than to post. Checks lost in the mail can cause extraordinary difficulties.

Put checkbooks, bankbooks, credit cards, some travelers checks, and a small amount of cash in a safe (but easily accessible) place.

Keep a list of regular billing dates for all recurring expenses -- insurance, mortgages, and taxes.

Make and continually update an inventory of all your possessions, including jewelry and clothing.

Decide what to take to post and what to put into storage based on where you are assigned.

Consider personal property insurance.

Pack both winter and summer clothing, regardless of post.

Update scrapbook and photo albums. Consider leaving sentimental photos or negatives in safe deposit box.

Gather all employment documents for adult family members, including resumes and letters of reference. Keep duplicates in your home country residence.

Make duplicates of all personal address lists.

Discuss with your immediate and extended family what to do in case of an emergency (evacuation, hostage-taking, illness, or death). Give them the emergency telephone numbers for your agency.

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