25 June, 2009


Living in the UK


Driving In The UK
All drivers must comply with British minimum age requirements; generally, these are 17 years of age for cars and motorcycles, 18 years for medium sized vehicles and 21 years for large lorries and buses. You may drive provided your full licence remains valid. You can drive any category of small vehicle shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the time you became a resident. To ensure continuous driving entitlement a provisional GB licence must have been obtained and a driving test(s) passed before the 12-month period elapses. If you do not apply for a provisional licence within the first 12 months you must stop driving and obtain a British provisional licence with a view to passing a driving test. Failure to take this action will invoke your original licence invalid, as is the insurance cover.

The driving test consists of a theory examination, which must be taken before the practical road test. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency can provide further information and answer enquiries.

Phone Icon Phone: 0870 240 0009

Email E-mail: drivers.dvla@gtnet.gov.uk

If seatbelts are fitted in any car that you are travelling in, then by law the driver and all passengers must wear them. Children under 3 years old travelling in the front seat must be carried in an appropriate child restraint. If a child restraint is fitted in the front of the car but not the back, then children under 3 must use that restraint. The driver is responsible for ensuring that children under 14 wear seatbelts.

It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle when the level of alcohol in your breath, blood or urine exceeds the legal limit. There is no safe guide to how much you can drink and stay under the legal limit. The only safe guide is: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.

The UK still operates a 6-month quarantine rule for the importation of all animals except from certain European Community countries. You should obtain further advice before you move to UK.

walking in rain with umbrella

The UK has a temperature climate with marked changes between winter, spring, summer and autumn seasons. In general, temperatures increase and rainfall decreases as you travel from north Scotland to the Isle of Wight in the south. The varying effects of polar, arctic and tropical air, and of the relatively warm Atlantic waters to the west, make the weather notoriously difficult to forecast accurately.

Winters can see temperatures lower than -5 °C, while summers may bring temperatures in the 30 °C range in the south. The mean annual average temperature difference between north and south is only 3 °C (8 °C in the north, 11 °C in the south).

The inconsistency of the weather makes it a major conversation opener here in the UK. It also makes it difficult to know how best to dress when going out. Whatever time of year you arrive here in the UK, bring a waterproof jacket and a jumper.

The UK has a diverse culture, consisting of several minority ethnic origins from around the world. The main food shops cater predominantly for the British palette, however many smaller retailers specialise in worldwide foods. These can easily be sought within your local area.

It is possible that you may experience some mild forms of stomach upset with a sudden change of diet. If you do experience any such discomfort do not hesitate to speak to your doctor (GP) or Medical Officer.

You are strongly advised to keep all doors and windows locked when not in the house. Thieves and burglars will take any opportunity to enter a property deemed 'an easy target'. Further security information and guidance should be sought from your local Crime Reduction Police Officer located at the Ministry of Defence Police.


UK Law
The UK has many laws, designed to preserve and protect quality of life whilst bring to justice those who commit offences. Whilst this list is not exhaustive, some of the key laws that families and individuals should be aware of are:

  1. It is a crime to neglect your child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering. This can include:
    • Leaving children alone
    • Assaulting your child
    • Failing to provide for basic needs (shelter, food, clothing etc)
    • Exposing the child to danger

  2. It is a crime to carry a knife or other weapon in a public place.
  3. It is a crime to purchase alcohol for a person under 18 years of age.

The Police
The police prevent and investigate crime and protect life and property. They work closely with communities to ensure everyone's safety. They take racist crime extremely seriously and treat victims of any crime with sympathy and understanding.

If you want to know more contact your local Police Station (their details are in any local phone book) under 'Police'.

NPFS in conjunction with the Naval Chaplaincy Service hold a directory of local & national multi faith contact points. For further information please do not hesitate to contact either your local NPFS office or your Chaplain.

stack of coins

Financial Matters
Banking - There will be a need for you and your spouse to open a bank or building society account as most wages are paid automatically. Most of the 'high street' banks and building societies will accept you as a new customer providing you have proof of identity, employment and fixed address. NPFS can provide supportive letters to assist in this where necessary. Once you have your account set up you will be able to pay many of your utility (gas, electricity, telephone etc) by direct debit, which in most circumstances works out to be a cheaper option.

Loans - Borrowing money in the UK has become extremely easy to achieve. However interest rates and repayment terms will vary considerably. You are strongly urged that if you decide to take on a loan that you should seek advice before entering into any credit agreement. Further advice and information regarding loans, debts and managing money can be sought from you NPFS office or Divisional Officer. The Navy does not provide loans.

Value Added Tax (VAT) - There is a Government value added tax of 17.5% which is added to the purchase price of most household and personal items. Advertised prices will normally include VAT. If in doubt you are advised to ask.

Typical Cost of Essential Items

  • Washing Machine - £250 - £400
  • Vacuum Cleaner - £75-£150
  • Television - £300
  • 3 Seater Sofa & 2 Chairs - £600
  • Average family car - £2000-4000 (second hand price)
  • Iron - £30
  • Fridge (with small freezer section) - £175
  • Single bed - £150
  • Fridge/Freezer - £250 - £400
  • Double bed - £300
  • Petrol (per litre) - £0-80 (March 04 price)

Useful Telephone Numbers


Phone Icon Phone: Dial: 999/112 - You will need to clearly state which service you require.

Defence Housing Executive (DHE)
DHE Regional Office (South East) DHE Customer Care Centre (West Scotland)
Dreadnought Block
HMS Nelson
HM Naval Base
Churchill Square
Argyll & Bute
G84 9HL
 Phone Icon Phone: 02392 726456 Phone Icon Phone: 01383 435929
DHE Customer Care Centre (Plymouth) DHE Customer Care Centre (Crownhill)
Maillard House
Mount Wise
10 Hunter Close Crownhill
Phone Icon Phone: 01752 501197 Ext. 2197 Phone Icon Phone: 01752 706936


Phone Icon Phone:

  • Portsmouth Area - 02392 722707 or 02392 543424
  • Plymouth Area - 01752 553384
  • Faslane Area - 01436 674321 (ext 3817)


St Dunstan's House
201-211 Borough High Street

Phone Icon Phone: 020 7939 000


Phone Icon Phone: 0906 8200290 - (automated information line) (calls cost 60p/min within UK)

website Web site: http://www.usembassy.org.uk


Phone Icon Phone: 0906 5503500 - (automated information line) (calls cost £1-00/min within UK)

website Web site: http://www.australia.org.uk

Royal Marines
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Naval Families Federation
HIVE Information Service
Navy News
BFBS Digital Radio
Help for Heroes
Defence Discount Directory
SSAFA Confidential Support Line

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