Retirement abroad requires careful planning. Here are some important steps to take before you go:
Check Visa and Residency Requirements
- Immigration and residency laws differ greatly from country to country.
- Review the Department of State’s Country Specific Information to determine if you need a visa to visit or live in a certain country.
- Review our information on dual nationality if this pertains to you.
Know the Local Laws
- Seek professional legal advice before settling abroad.
- Determine whether your trust, will and powers of attorney may be legally enforceable in your country of destination.
- Check the U.S. Embassy website for a list of local English-speaking lawyers.
- Review the local traffic laws and licensing requirements if you intend to drive.
- Be sure to find out what civil liberties and political rights you will have as a foreign resident.
- Become familiar with the local laws for obtaining a work permit, if you plan to work.
Prepare Your Finances
- Allow for exchange rate fluctuations
- Consider whether or not you should open a local bank account
Research Medical Care and Costs
- Medicare, the U.S. government health plan for people aged 65 and over, does NOT cover health care overseas.
- We highly recommend that you get health insurance to cover private medical and dental treatment and for medical evacuation to the United States just in case.
- Many countries have national health systems, but it is important to investigate eligibility, availability and quality beforehand.
- Note that environmental conditions at your overseas destination may contribute to specific health concerns, particularly if you are sensitive to altitude, air pollution, humidity, or other conditions.
- For more tips related to health issues, visit our website.
- Health information may also be found at the Travelers’ Health page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Understand your Social Security Benefits
- Can you receive your social security benefits overseas?
- The Social Security Administration's Office of International Operations (OIO) provides such information, and consular officers at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate also can assist you.
Pay Your Taxes
- Leaving the United States does not exempt U.S. citizens from their U.S. tax obligations.
- You must file annually with the IRS.
- Even if you move all of your assets to a foreign country.
- Retirees abroad also must fulfill any tax obligations of their foreign country of residence.
- The United States has tax treaties with a number of countries that address double taxation, but these treaties generally do not exempt residents from the obligation to file a return.
- For more information, please review the IRS’s tax information for residents and U.S. citizens living abroad.
Research Accessibility and Accommodations
- For more information, check out our section on Traveling with Disabilities.
Vote from Overseas
- U.S. citizens 18 years or older who reside outside the United States are generally eligible to vote absentee in U.S. elections.
- For more information, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website.
Beware of Scams
- Beware of romance, friendship or financial scams.
- Scammers operate primarily via the Internet, email, and phone.
- For more information, please review our information on International Financial Scams.
Prepare for Emergencies
- Leave emergency contact information and a copy of your passport biographic data page with family and trusted friends.
- Carry emergency contact information for your family in the United States with you when you travel (Be sure to also pencil it in the emergency contact information section of your passport).
- Know the contact information for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and provide that information to your family and friends.
- If there is an emergency where you are staying, such as civil unrest, disrupted transportation, or a natural disaster, prevent undue worry or concern by contacting your family and friends as soon as possible
- Enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive important information from the Department of State, including the location of the nearest embassy and consulate and safety conditions in your destination country.
- By enrolling, the Department of State can also contact you, your family, or your friends in an emergency, according to your wishes.