The sooner you find out that you are about to move, the better. The best is when it is your decision. I decided to move after some time of hesitation and after I found myself on a life crossroad when I realized that there is no better time to change and try living abroad than now.
This was partly because I have not really ever lived out of the Czech Republic apart for summers when I was teenager and my family was running a travel agency (CK Hanzelková & Zikmundová, how cool is that?!?). I used to spend summers in Croatia, but these were only the holidays working in kitchen and that was it. The longest stay abroad was when I went for IDEA Youth Forum to Bulgaria and from there to Ghent for Zomercursus, which in total took 6 weeks. I wanted to go for Erasmus, which is the most common way of living abroad with a cause, but because I was studying two universities at the same time, I kinda skipped on it.
After I got to know that I would be moving over, I created a checklist (at that time, I was not having allergy towards checklists like I have now, so it was easier) of things that need to be sorted out before leaving. Unfortunatelly it got lost during moving (how typical!), but in a way it was a good thing to compile as I could realize how lengthy this exercise could get. This enabled me to efficiently allocate the remaining time before my departure to Brazil (oh, I forgot to mention that before the actual moving, I got to go for almost a month to South America – highly recommended, but details on this one maybe some other time). Reading out on the Internet on what are the legal requirements is actually not a bad exercise, but sometimes you would find contradicting articles and even the European Union website is not really very specific. Anyway, try Googling yourself.
To the checklist:
1. Before departure – documents and activities
- Having a valid ID and passport is always a good idea (especially if you know that you are not planning on going to your home country during working hours anytime soon – however embassies should be able to help);
- End phone, internet, gas, electricity, TV, radio and other services you are consuming in your home country (can be lengthy, can be a pain, but needs to be done);
- Check with your bank, insurance companies;
- Health and social security – check what you need to do especially when your employment ends – the rule is that you have to be either self-paying or employed in at least one EU country, I was double paying for some time and the Czech insurance company returned me all the money since my start of employment in Hungary (but you have to inform them of your emigration intent);
- Data mailbox – I can only recommend getting one, your record by the Ministry of Internal Affairs gets updated and the authorities communicate with you directly through the mailbox. I managed to sort out many problems (social security, execution for 857 CZK done by the Revenue Authority – I never took the liberty to thank them enough, so at least now, thanks a lot for not informing me about anything for 2 years and sending ridiculous execution and paying 500 CZK extra for the warrant when the debt was 357 CZK);
- Declaration of departure – I created a simple letter declaring my departure from the country and my zero intent to come back in the nearest future (I really enjoyed sending it out to the authorities);
- Have a pet? Then you need to equip it with a chip and vaccinate it before departure. Henry James I. is now also a proud owner of the European Passport. He also took a little Hungarian meow course to be fully compliant with local cicak.
2. Moving planning
- I started moving in batches already in October/November due to my frequent visits to Hungary, I used to come with a big suitcase full of clothes (yes, I realized I have lots of clothes) and was coming back with an empty one with the aim to have as little as possible on the actual moving day;
- If you are not so lucky to have a car,visit the country before moving or having friends coming frequently that could take for you a suitcase or two, you need to go for moving company, I have no experience with this one as I managed to squeeze everything into my Opel Astra Combi (I would not have guessed that the stuff would fit in, but it did!);
- If you live in a rented place, agree with the flat owner on a handover. Beware that they might not want to pest their weekend (was my case) so you need to have a reliable friend, who would do it for you (thanks again V.!) ;
- Make sure you have all the handover documents (especially electricity and gas can be tricky) ready;
- Get some friends to help you (I moved all my books to Moravia in November and I must admit that this has been far the biggest item to plan and it would not have happened if my friends would not have helped me – this was especially hard as the lift was not working on that day and you can have a guess where I was living – yes, in a roof top flat).
I am still planning on making a post on how the actual moving was done as I think that it was a unique and very fortunate experience worth sharing.
3. After moving
- You have 3 months to get registered at the local authorities, I think this applies to continuous stay, which especially in my case when I travel very often does not really apply, but I got my company to get to pay for the registration process and got an assistant to do the lakcímkártya (housecard) and regisztrációs igazolás EGT-állampolgár részere (official registration in Hungary). Funny that on one it says I was born in Czechoslovakia and the other one claims I was born in the Czech Republic. The first is actually true, but even my Czech documents are not referring to Czechoslovakia. The guy registering me was a nice fella, he spoke good English and was a bit annoyed by his job, when I asked him, what is his job like, he answered in a very sarcastic way: “Cool, I got to see how much all the incoming registrants are earning and believe me or not, you are earning twice as much as I do!” so I refrained from asking further questions;
- If you want to do the registration yourself – this is the site you should visit;
- As you start working, your company would also help participate in the health insurance and you would get so called TAJ-kártya (big format plastic card that you should show to public doctors as a proof of health insurance) – one thing that I got amazed about was that I got a tax number – another little plastic card (now if you were following properly, you could count that I am having 4 cards already just for existing in Hungary);
- TAJ-kártya is cool (and make sure it was activated as mine was not and the first visit to the hospital was a bit of pain as the card was not really working in their system), however if you intend to travel around EU, you have to request an EU-kártya (there is an office at Árpád híd). The good news is that they issue it on the spot (strange, right?). So all in all, 5 cards and I am legal to live in Magyarország! Yaaay!
Attentive reader probably noticed that I am not mentioning anything about finding a place to live and I am automatically not referring to moving, but first one needs to find a flat, right? I decided that flat search in Budapest would be an extra post, as I have quite some funny stories about it, so hold on!