The move to California

Preparing for a move to California is no easy feat. Indeed, this implies that you are preparing to live abroad. Thus, certain points are already to be anticipated when you are in France. The question of visas, the various administrative papers and especially that of the transport of your belongings will quickly arise. Here is a small checklist of the tasks that await you to make your move to the West Coast of the United States go smoothly.

administrative procedures

In a move that is described as traditional, the administrative procedures can already prove to be restrictive. Indeed, you must think about your change of address, to notify the various organizations to which you are subscribed (gas, water, electricity, Internet, etc.). You must also forward your mail for a period of time, make the change of address on your daily papers such as your driver’s license, your identity card or your passport.

Gather the essential papers

But as soon as you leave the euro zone and what is more to go to the United States, it is essential to apply for a visa at the French consulate. For California, you can contact the Los Angeles Consulate General or the San Francisco Consulate directly. There is a service specially designed for French people who want to settle in California. By already going to the website of the Consulate General of SF or Los Angeles, you have a first overview of the different steps you can take: marital status, passport, identity card, education, elections, etc. In addition, if you move to California, it is a priori to reside there permanently. Therefore, you must absolutely work in this region for a visa (work or stay) to be granted. It is therefore important to apply for a work permit.

Regarding the driving license

For your driving license, check with the Consulate to find out if it is valid and for how long, if applicable. If in doubt, you can already get an international permit while you retake your American permit.

About the school

If you have school-age children, notify the current establishment of your move. Do not forget to ask for your child’s school record, the various reports, diplomas, etc. Indeed, all this paperwork will be used to register your child in his new establishment in California. In summary, a good reflex to adopt immediately is to photocopy all your important documents such as the family record book, birth certificates, your diplomas. Scan and send these documents to your inbox for access from California or in case of loss or theft. Ideally, finally, would be to have each of these documents translated.

Health procedures

In terms of health, it is essential to take a look in your health record and check if all your vaccines are up to date. If in doubt, do a full check-up with your doctor, talk to him or her about your plan to move to California. This is because some of your usual medications may not be available across the Atlantic. Likewise, ask if he can help you find a doctor in California. At the same time, you must contact your social protection organization, but also your mutual insurance company, your pension fund and CAF. Notify them of your departure to California.

Visa application

To move to California, it is imperative to apply for a visa at the United States Embassy in Paris.

The first registration

First, you can complete an online form, the DS-160. This form is of course available directly at the embassy if you can get there. Once completed, return said form to the Embassy. It is very important that all answers are correct. Indeed, once your file is sent, it is difficult to make corrections. Do not forget, either, that errors or a non-response to a question inevitably results in a delay in processing your file, or even its hypothetical refusal. When applying for a temporary visa to the United States for relocation, we recommend that you contact a consular officer. You will then make an appointment with the Consulate General of the United States Embassy in Paris. Note that each phone call is charged 14.50 euros and that the opening hours are between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Each appointment is granted in order of request, but be aware that student requests come first.

Build a file

Before your meeting with the consular officer, you must pay the fees for the USA visa application. This rate varies between 1278 and 216 euros depending on the category of the visa. This is a mandatory and non-refundable payment, even if your visa application is ultimately refused. During your appointment, you must have certain documents with you. Gather in a file the confirmation page of the DS-160 form, a proof of payment for the visa application and a photo. Depending on the type of your visa, you must also present other documents:

  • The I-120 form with the SEVIS receipt (student visas)
  • The DS-2019 form with the SEVIS receipt (visa for exchange programs)
  • The I-797 form (H, O and P visas for temporary work, artists, athletes, etc.)
  • Form I-129S (visa for category L)
  • Form DS-156E (E visa for investors)
  • A diplomatic note for officials and diplomats
  • A letter from your employer for B1 visas (business), C1 visas (crew members) and I visas (journalists).

What happens in case of visa refusal?

If your visa application turns out to be refused, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons for the refusal. 2 major reasons explain the refusal of a visa:

  • Your documentation is insufficient: the solution is simple since all you have to do is return the missing documents to the consular officer with whom you had an appointment within one year of the first visa application.
  • Your attachment to France is insufficient. It is therefore preferable to wait until your situation is rectified before postponing your move.


Transportation of your belongings

Once you have gathered all the supporting documents for your move, it is time to take care of the material aspect.

A methodical move

First, you need to assess the volume of your business. This is the volume in cubic meters (m³) needed to store all your belongings, furniture and other personal effects. For example, for 4 people, it takes between 30 and 40 m³.

The storage solution

The storage room can be a very interesting solution, especially in the early days. Once you have found your bearings, you can then move your belongings from France to your final accommodation. This short and medium term solution costs, on average, between 150 and 350 euros / month in France.

The choice of container

To itch all your stuff, you can use a container. This transport is traditionally done by boat. It is important to anticipate the transport by boat, as there is no departure every day. In addition, this process takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks. So, check with A.D.C movers to compare prices and carefully study the services and benefits. Pay attention to the period of the year to which you want to move, the type of insurance to take out, favor companies that offer damage-type insurance that is often paid but which covers you correctly. Some moving companies to the United States and especially California may include certain services. These concern the move itself, containerization and delivery to your future home (with or without unloading). In order to recover your container, you must complete 2 formalities:

  • Pay the disembarkation fee with an agent of the shipping company that transports your belongings.
  • You pay the costs to the customs authorities.

As a general rule, the price of this service varies between 1,000 to 2,000 euros.

What about your car?

Usually, the car travels more from the United States to France, as fares in California are cheaper than in France. But if you still want to transfer your car from France, you must have your vehicle registration document and the manufacturer’s certificate. This is essential to verify your vehicle’s compliance with State of California standards. Only certain brands can be easily imported. Ultimately, your move to California will cost you around $ 8,000 to $ 15,000.

The shared container option

Here is an alternative that is developing more and more. Indeed, if you do not have a lot of boxes to take to California, if the volume of your belongings does not even exceed 10 m³ or if you are looking for an attractive price and if you have no date requirements, then the shared container solution is made for you. The principle is very simple since the moving company gathers all the goods of different customers in a single container bound for California. On the other hand, you only pay in proportion to the space used. For this choice, generally, your belongings and your furniture are not protected, it is up to you to get down to the task. The packaging of your belongings can be done by parcel, by pallet or in metal canteens.

The question of customs

Of course, bringing your stuff into the United States is not free. You must free yourself from customs fees. As part of a professional transfer or as part of a current visa, you will benefit from a customs exemption regime and will not have to pay taxes. To complete the customs formalities related to the export of your belongings to California, you must bring:

  • A detailed inventory of your belongings (in French and English), signed and dated, this inventory will be made by ADC Déménagements before loading.
  • A copy of your identity document
  • Proof of transfer such as an employment contract, a residence permit, a certificate for a change of residence, etc.

You must also complete a French customs declaration for the transfer of certain goods. This is the case for cultural goods such as works of art, for gold and precious metals, etc. if you use the services of ADC Déménagements this form will be completed with our local agent. To identify the elements to justify to customs, contact directly with a customs office in the United States or more precisely in California. Finally, do not forget to choose an approved moving company and especially recognized in the United States to limit the risk of your business blocked at customs, favor professionals from the I.A.M. network.