YOUR “MOVING TO GHANA” GUIDE
Have you packed everything you’ll need for Ghana? Do you have all the right paperwork in place? Do you know what to expect? This handy checklist will help you to prepare for your big move to West Africa*.
If there’s anything we haven’t covered here that you’d like to know about please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re always happy to help!
6 – 12 MONTHS ‘TIL RELOCATION DAY
- Research the area of Ghana you wish to move to. If you can afford to, or if your employer will cover it, plan a “look see” visit. Accra is Dwell Ghana’s home. Let us show you around… Our orientation program will help you to get a general idea of Accra, the housing market, the available facilities, schools, and everything else you might like to know before you decide to move to here.
- Begin the process of obtaining a visa/work permit as soon as you know you’re moving to Ghana (if you’re moving for work your employer will likely take care of this for you). This process can take some time, so it’s a good idea to get started as soon as you know of your relocation. Just like other bureaucratic processes in Ghana, visa applications can have many potential pitfalls if you don’t fully understand the processes involved. So, using a reputable relocation company such as Dwell Ghana to handle the application for you can save you a lot of time and stress.
- Most expats in Ghana enroll their children in an international school. It’s best to check availability of spaces with the international schools in your destination area, and get on a waiting list, as soon as possible. Some schools allow you to register before you arrive in the country.
- Dwell Ghana has handled many school applications and registrations in the past, and we’d be happy to help you to choose the school that would best suit your child. See the School Search page of our website for more information.
- If you plan to work predominantly with Ghanaians it’s worth considering starting Twi language classes. Although English is the country’s national language Twi is the language spoken most widely in Ghana. The Live Lingua Project provides a free online Twi basics course. Alternatively, Dwell Ghana can arrange for you to have Twi lessons in person once you’ve arrived in Ghana.
3 MONTHS ‘TIL RELOCATION DAY
- Ensure that your visa application is on schedule.
- Make sure that all your official documents (passport, photo ID, driver’s license, etc.) won’t expire for at least 6 months after your move date. Be sure to apply for new ones if needed.
- Begin sorting your belongings by what you want to move, sell, give away, or donate. There are a number of things you’re not allowed to import into Ghana. Learn more about them here.
- Check whether your appliances and electronics can be used in Ghana. Many may require power adapters or converters. This will help you to decide whether or not to ship them, sell them, put them in storage, or give them away. In Ghana the power plugs and sockets are of mainly G (British, 3 square pin), and some type D (South African, round 3 pin). The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
- Inform your child’s current school of the upcoming move. You’ll need them to provide you copies of your child’s records or transcripts.
- Research international movers and request removal and shipping quotes from 3 – 5 reputable moving companies.
- Book flights to Ghana.
- If you are selling your home, consult a realtor to make sure of market conditions, and if possible put it on the market.
- Start learning about Ghana’s culture. There are several free resources available below. We also offer a customised cross-cultural training program that will help you to settle in well and adapt successfully to Ghanaian culture.
- Contact an expatriate organization or group in Ghana. They are often an invaluable resource for answering your questions before and after your move, as well as networking and making friends. Facebook expat groups are very active in Ghana, and there are also expat forums like Internations that host regular social get togethers in local venues.
- Obtain health insurance. Here are some links to reputable health insurers that can cover you and your family’s healthcare needs in Ghana:
- We also recommend that you consider membership with the West African Rescue Association (WARA). They provide a private ambulance and clinic service, which can be crucial in an emergency situation.
- Review your relocation budget and ensure that you have sufficient funds in place to cover the whole moving process, i.e. shipping your belongings, rent and security deposit on a home, setting up a local mobile phone account, hiring or buying a car, etc.
2 MONTHS ‘TIL RELOCATION DAY
- Check laws and regulations for the importation of pets into Ghana. You can find basic information on this on the Accra Expat website.
- Gather your family’s medical records together and ensure that you all have the necessary vaccinations for travel to Ghana. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required upon entry for anyone above 9 months old. Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus, Diphtheria and Polio vaccines are also recommended. Malaria is common throughout Ghana. Discuss the pros and cons of taking a Malaria prophylactic with your doctor.
- Select a moving company, book the moving date and arrange insurance for your items in transit.
- Inform your regular service providers, e.g. gardening or cleaning services, of your upcoming move so that they can discontinue their service at the appropriate time.
- Research the neighbourhood(s) you’d like to live in so that you can focus on getting to know these areas once you move and are looking for a home. This is easy if you’re utilising Dwell’s orientation program, which will help you to get a general idea of Accra, the housing market, the available facilities, schools, and everything else you might like to know before you decide to move to here.
- Arrange for temporary housing when you arrive. You can use hotels, or services like Airbnb to find temporary housing, or let Dwell Ghana arrange this for you. We will make sure that you have temporary housing available until your shipment arrives, and you are ready to move in to your new home.
- If you are planning to rent out your home while in Ghana begin advertising it and finding tenants. If you’re unsure how to do this, or if you wish to have a management company handle the tenancy for you, contact a local real estate agent.
1 MONTH ‘TIL RELOCATION DAY
- Time to declutter… Hold a yard sale, sell items online, or donate the things you don’t want. Arrange storage for items that you’re keeping, but not shipping to Ghana.
- Decide what to do with your car. It’s best not to leave a car unused for a long period of time, so don’t just put it in storage. You could sell it, donate it, or lend it to friends or family to use while you’re in Ghana. If selling or donating it remember to cancel your car insurance.
- Notify your phone, internet, TV, gas, water, and electricity providers of your move and schedule the end of their service for the day after your relocation.
- If anyone in your family takes prescription medication make sure you have enough to cover them until can get the equivalent prescription in Ghana. As luggage can sometimes get delayed or lost en-route to Accra it’s best to travel with this medication in an insulated cooler bag inside your hand luggage, together with the prescription.
- Change your address for any subscription mail you might receive, and ask a friend or family member if you can have your mail forwarded to them. The postal service in Ghana can be incredibly slow, and many houses do not have a house number. So, it can be very difficult to receive post in Ghana unless it’s sent by courier.
- Notify your bank about your relocation and set up your online banking for any ongoing debit orders, repayments, or other expenses you’ll continue to have in your home country.
- Cancel your gym and other memberships. Most require 30 days’ notice.
- In order to avoid double taxation or other penalties, notify the tax authority in your home country that you will be working abroad. Unfortunately for some nationalities, you may still have to file a tax return in your home country. If that’s the case, use expat groups to ask for a recommendation for an accountant who specializes in taxes for both Ghana and your home country.
2 WEEKS ‘TIL RELOCATION DAY
- Arrange for childcare and/or a pet sitter for relocation day so that they are out of the way of the moving company crew, and so that you can concentrate on making sure everything and everyone gets to the airport on time.
- Start using up the perishable food that you can’t take with you. Any unused canned goods could be donated to charity.
- Buy extras of your favourite products, cosmetics, and/or toiletries that you won’t have access to in Ghana, or to last you until you can find a shop in Accra that stocks them.
1 WEEK ‘TIL RELOCATION DAY
- Double check that you have all essential documents (passports, driver’s license, ID cards, birth certificates, marriage certificate, medical and dental records, school records, and other legal documents) in one place.
- Buy some Ghana Cedis (if available) or US Dollars. If your bank has released your card for international use you should be able to use ATMs/Cash machines with your debit card or credit card in Ghana, but it’s safest to have some cash with you when you first arrive.
- Start packing the clothes and other things you’ll need during travel and for the first few days.
- Separate the items you’ll be taking with you from those going to storage so that the moving company doesn’t accidentally pack them for shipping.
- If you have been renting, clean your home and repair any damages so that you can get your security deposit back.
1 DAY TO GO!
- Defrost and clean your fridge and freezer.
- Get some snacks and drinks ready for tomorrow.
- Make sure you know where your important documents are so that they do not get packed.
- If you haven’t arranged for a babysitter or pet sitter try to keep children and pets out of the way while the moving company’s crew pack up.
- Ensure you are present and give clear instructions to the moving crew. For example, ensure that they label which items should go where (i.e. kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc.).
- After everything has been packed up do a final walk-through of the whole property to ensure nothing has been forgotten.
- The moving crew should put together an inventory list as they pack. Once they’re finished, carefully go through the list and sign the inventory to confirm they’ve packed everything. They should also provide you with a copy of this list.
- Take a deep breath and get ready for your Ghana adventure!
AFTER YOU ARRIVE IN GHANA
- Register with your home country’s high commission or consulate in Accra. By doing so they will know that you’re living in Ghana now, and they can assist you and/or your family in the event of an emergency.
- Register your child in a school if you weren’t able to do it before arriving. Dwell Ghana has handled many school applications and registrations in the past, and we’d be happy to help you to choose the school that would best suit your child. See the School Search page of our website for more information.
- Open a local bank account. Opening an account in Ghana is very simple but may vary from bank to bank. Though some banks may include or require some few processes for security reasons and customer satisfaction purposes. Find out more about the basic process on our upcoming “Getting Started” blog post, or let us set an account up for you. We offer this service as part of our Settling In Program.
- Get a mobile phone (or get mobile phone service if you’ve already got a phone). There are two options to choose from; either pre-paid or post-paid service, depending on your mobile data consumption, wants and needs. To find out how to go about registering for either option look out for our upcoming “Getting Started” blog post. This is another service covered by our Settling In Program.
- Check that all outstanding bills in your home country have been paid.
- Start your home search. Explore the neighbourhoods you’re interested in, and make sure they’re conveniently located between your work place and other facilities you’ll use regularly. Traffic in Ghana can get quite bad at rush hour, so a good location could save you a lot of time. Dwell Ghana is always on hand to assist you with making the best choice of neighbourhood and with finding a home to rent or buy. Find out more on our Home Search page.
- Once you’ve found a home, and the sale or tenancy agreement has been finalized, provide the address to the moving company so that they know where to deliver your belongings.
- Choose an internet provider, and get internet set up in your new home. The waiting time for installation can be many weeks, so you may want to book a date before you’re even moved in. We can assist you with this as part of our Settling In Program.
- On delivery day for your container:
> Make sure you are there in person to guide the moving crew about the placement of boxes and furniture.
> Check every item off the inventory list as it’s unpacked.
> If some items are damaged or missing, take a picture (if there’s damage) and make sure the moving company is aware before their crew leave. File an insurance claim as soon as possible.
- Find a local doctor. This is especially important if anyone in your family requires prescription medication. A list of health practitioners used by many expats is available on the Accra Expat website.
- Start making friends. Expat groups, weekend sports teams, and mommy groups are a great place to start. Our Partner Support service focuses on helping spouses settle in and find friends in Ghana. Find out more about that here.
- Explore! There are many wonderful places to explore in Ghana. Follow the Dwell Ghana blog for regular suggestions of sites and activities to enjoy across the country.
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* Please note that the timelines suggested in this post are estimates, and Dwell Ghana does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damages incurred through unmet deadlines for applications or bookings of any kind.