25 June, 2009


Serving Overseas


Local Foreign Service (LFS)
So you've been offered a foreign posting - do you accept, have you discussed it with your partner and family, do you know where it is? These, plus a multitude of other questions will be racing through your head at this time. Don't make the mistake, as some have done, of assuming that your loved ones are as keen as you are about "going foreign"!

As with all things it is much easier when you have some knowledge of the location and an idea of the logistics of relocating overseas.

Flight Times

Preparing yourself both physically and mentally for the upheaval of moving is vital for your smooth transition. It's hard enough organising to move with-in the UK, let alone to a place which there's every chance you have never visited before.

Start to think about the country and particular area that you are about to move to. There might well be some challenging cultural differences which you could find hard to comprehend if you are not geared up for them. The Internet can be an excellent tool to get a feel for a particular region; but you should also take any opportunity you may have to speak to the person you're relieving.

Other matters which you would do well to include in your groundwork might be:

  • Check that all family Passports are valid.

  • Try to make an early decision as to whether your children will need to be found schools in the new country, or perhaps they will stay in the UK at boarding school. Think about your children's age and continuity of education.

  • Where are you going to live? The chances are you will be happy to leave these arrangements with the Defence Estates Housing organisation. Your UPO can point you in the right direction.

  • If you are planning to take a pet with you, you will need to contact your vet at the earliest opportunity. The process of preparing to take animals out of the country is not a particularly fast one. You may wish to get some specialist answers from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

  • Check with your insurance company so that you can make any necessary changes to your policy before you go.

website Web site: Passport Information

website Web site: Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs

The Move
Deciding what you will take with you will, of course, to a large extent, depend on the type of accommodation to which you are moving. If you are unsure of what facilities and type of furnishings to expect, speak to your Defence Estates Housing office.

website Web site: Defence Estates - Housing

Education & Recreation Overseas Service Children's Education is a tri-service agency responsible for the education of the children of Service families, whilst overseas. SCE schools are intended, as far as possible, to provide the same pattern of education as that given in the UK. When you're considering educational matters for your children, there will be a multitude of question to be answered, these might include:
  • Special Needs
  • Educational Systems
  • Uniforms
  • Personal Accident Information for pupils
  • Charges
  • Parental Involvement

Check with the HIVE organisation for more local information and other facilities for children and young people in the community you are moving to.

website transparent icon Web Site: HIVE Local Information

website Web site: Service Children's Education

Local Overseas Allowance
Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) may be payable during your time abroad, and can vary from month to month depending on the MOD's fixed rate for that month. You should bear in mind that LOA is designed to provide compensation when the cost of maintaining a UK lifestyle at an overseas location is higher than UK. Taken into consideration are a range of goods, services and other costs checked by the MOD - including food and drink, car insurance and spares, social and recreational costs, clothes and toys. It does not cover such major areas as loss of spouse's income, compensation for inability to let private homes in UK or the extra cost of flying home to UK.
Dealing with Emergencies
It will never happen to me… but emergencies do happen, and staying in an unfamiliar country where you might not be totally fluent in the local lingo can of course make matters far more anxiety-provoking. You could fall ill or have an accident; you could have money or luggage stolen; your family may need to fly out to be with you if there is a serious incident. Getting help while you are abroad is not as difficult as it may at first seem. Firstly make contact with the relevant Naval or equivalent authorities in your immediate area. If this is not an option then you should look to The British Embassy for assistance. Often the HIVE organisation in your locality will have the experience and answers to help.

website Web site: Foreign & Commonwealth Office

website transparent icon Web Site: HIVE Local Information

info More Information: NPFS & RM Welfare

Medical & Dental Services Overseas
As a military family overseas you will receive Primary Care, that is GP services, from the military medical centre. If you need hospital care whilst the family is posted overseas, routine and emergency care will be provided in local hospitals if available; otherwise you may be flown out to either a neighbouring country or back to the UK. You should speak to the new unit to find out the details.

The MOD is not responsible for any medical/dental expenses incurred by Service personnel or their dependants during leave periods taken outside the country of posting. You are strongly advised to take out medical insurance before taking leave outside that country.

UK passport holders are entitled to medical treatment free, or at a reduced cost, when temporarily visiting a European Union (EU) country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Only treatment provided under the state scheme is covered. In order to obtain treatment you will need to take a completed Form E111 with you, which you can get, free of charge, from your nearest post office.

N.B. The Form E111 is due to be replaced by the European Health Insurance Card during 2005.

info More Information: Medical and Dental - Overseas

website Web site: Health Advice for Travellers

Welfare Benefits
Information on benefits can be found in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) pamphlet - GL26 'Service Families' which is a basic guide to benefits you may be able to get while you are abroad or if you are returning to the UK. The information can also be found on the DWP web site.

info More Information: Welfare Benefits - Benefits whilst Overseas

website Web site: Department for Work and Pensions

website Web site: GL26 Service Families

Keeping the right to vote in general and European Union elections is important for some of us. You retain your right to vote for up to fifteen years after moving abroad; but if you are living abroad you can't vote in UK local government elections. In order to retain your right to vote, you need to:
Already be registered to vote in the UK.

Contact the electoral registration office at the local council where you were last registered to vote, and the forms will be sent to you. This also applies if you are only abroad temporarily on polling day: you should inform the registration officer of the date you are returning to the UK.

website Web site: Your Vote

Job Listing
Employment Overseas
Just because your partner has been drafted overseas doesn't necessarily take you out of the job market. If you choose to find work, check out what rights you have under your destination country's employment law. Let your tax office know that you are going...

Even if you transfer abroad as an employee for a UK-based firm, you may not have the same employment rights as if you were working in the UK. Requirements for working hours and entitlements to annual holidays and public holidays can vary.

Other consideration are perhaps:

  • How will I get to the place of work?
  • Will I have access to a car…and indeed does my UK licence cover me to drive in the country concerned?
  • Pensions!
  • Language Barriers!
  • Will I need a bank account for my salary to be paid into?

homesReturning Home
On receiving your return Draft or Appointment you may have some of the same concerns as going out to a foreign country. Start planning early for your move back to the UK; and consider the following points for your checklist.
  • Housing - Where are you going to live? Will you need to contact DE(H), or have you been letting your own house back in the UK...if so...will you need to give notice to your tenants to vacate?

  • Passports - Make sure that all family members have a valid passport.

  • Schools - It is your responsibility to forward your child's School Transfer Folder to his or her new school back in the UK. This document will include details about progress, achievements and other relevant information for your child's new teacher.

  • Childcare - Will you need to have pre-arranged childcare for your return. Will there be a waiting list?

  • Allowances - Check with your UPO to see to what financial assistance you might be entitled.

  • Pets - Contact your local HIVE for advice and information about bringing pets back with you. Alternatively contact your local vet or the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

  • Plants - The best advice on what you can and can't bring back with you is from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

  • Importing your car - It is important to follow the correct procedures to avoid a bill for UK VAT on the vehicle. You must also register your vehicle promptly after arriving in the UK - there is no period of grace. You will need to register with Customs & Excise and DVLA.

  • Employment - If you are looking for work, but want to make a claim for Job Seekers Allowance when you first arrive back in the country, it's in your interest to register with the Job Centre at the earliest opportunity.

  • Healthcare - Notify any medical centres that you may have registered with during your time away that you will be leaving. Ensure that you collect any documentation that will need to be passed on when you re-register with a doctor and dentist in the UK.

  • Benefits - Close any overseas bank accounts and notify the Department of Work and Pensions of your pending move.

website Web site: Defence Estates - Housing

website Web site: Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs

website Web site: Education Issues

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