Au Pair Arrival Checklist and Advice to Welcome Your Au Pair

This post was originally published in July 2019 and revised in February 2024 by other contributors.

Now that you’ve matched with your au pair, it’s time to start getting ready for their arrival. The weeks leading up to your au pair’s arrival to your home are an exciting time, and there’s plenty to do to prepare! Keep reading to learn how to be a great host family for an au pair.

If you’re unsure what to do or where to get started, we’ve created an au pair arrival checklist to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here’s what you can work on in the month prior to your au pair’s arrival, including some expert au pair tips for families from our very own Local Coordinators.

Time to get ready to welcome your au pair! Image courtesy of Local Coordinator Katie Bryan.

Pre-Au Pair Arrival Checklist

  • Complete your Home Orientation Handbook.
    • Your Local Coordinator (LC) should have provided a hard copy of this valuable resource at your Host Family Interview. You can also download a PDF copy from Passport.
  • Set up your au pair’s bedroom and purchase some basic necessities.
    • Local Coordinator Mary Beth from North Carolina shares, “One thing female au pairs always seem to buy is a hair dryer because of the voltage and outlet differences in the U.S.A. My most recent new host mom gift-wrapped a hair dryer and had it waiting for the au pair. The au pair was thrilled!”
  • Add your au pair to your car insurance.
    • Write a “To Whom It May Concern” letter to keep in the glove box that says who your au pair is and that they have permission to drive your vehicle.
  • Add your au pair to your approved school pickup and emergency contact lists.
    • You can also include your au pair on family memberships, such as the gym or museum.
  • Get a copy of your kids’ health insurance cards for your au pair.
  • Send your au pair a letter to arrive at your home address.
    • Mail with the au pair’s name on it, at your address, can act as proof that they live there.
  • Ask your bank or credit union what they offer for student and/or ATM only accounts.
    • Your au pair may need their Social Security number before they can open a bank account, but knowing which bank is best for them will help minimize the research spent after their arrival.
  • If you plan on giving your au pair a debit or credit card to use for your kids, order it now.
  • Research adding a line to your cell phone plan.
    • Be sure to ask your au pair if they’re bringing an international (unlocked) phone or will need a physical phone. If you’re purchasing a new phone, preload important numbers in it.
  • Let your neighbors/extended family know about your au pair’s arrival.
  • Have an emergency plan ready to share.
    • Include where extra keys are stored and which neighbors can help in case of an emergency.
  • Locate the local grocery store that has foods from your au pair’s home country and visit it soon after they arrive.
    • Local Coordinator Suzanne from North Carolina suggests, “Take your au pair out the first weekend to a local grocery store or shop from their culture, if possible. It’s nice to see foods from home and a great chance for them to get something, like their favorite tea or candy, to share with the family as a connection point!”
  • Have a welcome plan for airport pickup and your first day/evening together.
    • Ask your au pair what their favorite food is or what foods they’re excited to try and choose a restaurant or meal that matches their preferences!
    • Consider the hours spent traveling and jet lag your au pair may have before planning your welcome day activities.
    • Local Coordinator Aimee from New York says, “My au pairs always appreciate when their host kids make them a welcome sign or welcome cards. Some of my host families hang photos of the au pair’s home country on a cork board in the bedroom so they have a touch of home immediately when they arrive.”
    • Local Coordinator Jill from New York suggests, “Get everyone vested in the arrival of their au pair. Everyone should have a job to do to welcome the au pair – even the littlest kids. Little ones feel important when they have a job, like showing the au pair around the house or how the remote controls work.”
  • Schedule your first two weeks.
    • Include driving practice and visits to the Social Security Office and DMV.
    • Remember that for your au pair’s first three days, an adult must be present with them in the home.
    • Your Local Coordinator will call you within 48 hours of your au pair’s arrival and will visit in the first two weeks. Schedule these check-ins prior to your au pair’s arrival to ensure you remain compliant with the U.S. Department of State Au Pair Regulations.

Being organized and prepared for your au pair’s arrival is a great way to ensure you can be fully present during their welcome and first moments with you. What au pair tips would you add to our checklist? Let us know!

Joy Lo

Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the U.S. and various countries around the world including the UK, Australia and Indonesia. She has a unique perspective on working and thriving in other cultures. She's been a contributing author on Au Pair USA program.