Rest of the world

A families’ guide to living in remote locations and non-routine postings

Overseas opportunities and considerations - wherever you are in the world - we're there with you

Please check our COVID-19 section for up-to-date information, as the coronavirus outbreak may affect the advice given on this page.

To help support families based in the more remote locations and non-routine postings such as Loan Service, Defence Attaché or a NATO posting, AFF has a dedicated Manager Overseas.

It is impossible to list all locations and different terms and conditions of Service, so whether you are considering a potential location and would like to gain more information on that location, or you are currently overseas and have an issue, please do get in touch with Esther Thomas, Manager Overseas at overseasmgr@aff.org.uk.

If you are already in receipt of an overseas assignment order you should contact the Families Section at MOD Abbeywood in order to obtain the family travel pack. The email for the Families Section is UKSTRATCOM-DefSp-DSCOM-FamSec@mod.gov.uk.

All families contemplating an overseas assignment should consider the information on this page.

Contents

01   General overseas assignments advice

When considering an overseas assignment your serving person should ask their career manager for a copy of the Overseas Location Compatibility Checklist. This is an MOD tool which may be useful when considering the suitability of an overseas assignment location for the Service person and dependants.

Remember – it is never too late to reconsider whether an overseas assignment is the right decision for your family. Seek specialist advice as early as possible and research the location thoroughly as in some areas there are limitations on spousal employment, childcare/schooling, medical support and financial implications. It is better to be fully informed than to make a quick decision, which may have longer term consequences for your family.

Upon receipt of an overseas Assignment Order you should contact the Families Section at MOD Abbeywood at UKSTRATCOM-DefSp-DSCOM-FamSec@mod.gov.uk in order to obtain the family travel pack and initiate supportability checks.

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02   Health & Additional needs

Do you or any family member have disabilities/additional needs? If yes, then you should discuss these needs with your assigning authority as early as possible to ensure that suitable support can be provided prior to your assignment being confirmed. All families moving overseas will need medical and dental clearance.

Any families wishing to discuss medical issues in confidence prior to accepting an overseas assignment order may contact the Global Medical Support Cell by email to SGDPHC-O-GMSC-GroupMailbox@mod.gov.uk

Do any of your family have Special Educational Needs (SEN)? Not all overseas locations are fully equipped to support SEN. You should discuss your children’s needs with CEAS and get educational clearance prior to moving overseas. Email RC-DCS-HQ-CEAS@mod.gov.uk

Planning on starting or extending your family whilst overseas? Some locations have a non-confinement policy, so you need to do some research if this is on the agenda.

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03   Children/Education

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All parents need to obtain educational clearance for their children, aged 0 to 18 years of age, before proceeding with a move overseas. Educational clearance is provided by the receiving MOD school or by CEAS, dependant on the assignment location and the age of your children.

As the clearance process can take up to nine weeks it is recommended that an early application is made to ensure that the needs of the child can be met in the new assignment location. Click here for further information on educational clearance. If you wish to Home Educate whilst overseas you are advised to seek advice and approval on this as soon as possible as it is not supported in some locations.

A critical stage of education is defined as being within two years of a public examination, usually GCSE and A-Level or their equivalents. If yes, then you may wish to consider the longer terms implications of moving a child from the UK education system against other options.

Think about the implications of their start/end of term travel arrangements. Are there airlines that offer an unaccompanied minor service from your proposed overseas location? How will you manage exeats weekends/half terms? Do you have a couple of trusted friends who would be willing to act as guardians in emergencies? Also, basic issues like generally maintaining communications if you are in different time zones.

Single parents or dual working families, be aware that wraparound childcare is not currently available in all overseas locations and using other options like au pairs and nannies may be challenging and will take time to arrange.

If yes, then they may not be entitled to accompany you at public expense or be ‘entitled’ to military allowances and local support.

As complexities around travel are going to continue for some time, it is important to ensure that children and young adults who are regularly flying between an overseas posting location and school/university have as much proof of status as possible.

This will ensure that check-in staff at airports understand the unique position of these young travellers and can make the experience run more smoothly.

An example pack of useful documents that children and young adults should travel with includes:

  • Copy of child’s passport.
  • Copy of parent’s passport.
  • Copy of parent’s visitor records.
  • Copy of flight itinerary.
  • Copy of soldier’s assignment order to the posting.
  • Copy of child’s visitor record if they have one (these were given to children who were home schooled in Canada for example during COVID-19 lockdown).

It may be helpful to request a letter from your Unit Welfare Officer or unit admin team to accompany the above documentation confirming that the traveller is on a school children’s visit (SCV) flight.

The letter should be signed by a named contact such as someone from the unit’s admin cell (e.g. the Regimental Admin Officer (RAO) or Financial Systems Administrator (FSA)) or welfare team confirming that a parent is a serving British soldier, stating where they are assigned to and that the travelling child or young adult attends boarding school or university in the UK.

The letter may explain that during school/university breaks, the traveller lives with their parents overseas, authorised and paid for in full by the UK government.

It could also confirm that COVID-19 restrictions applicable at the time will be adhered to by the traveller and that the parents will meet the traveller at the airport.

Travellers should of course always ensure they have the phone numbers of their parents and other emergency contacts to hand.

Email contact@aff.org.uk if you need further information.

British Defence Staff United States (BDSUS) and the Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP) have produced new guidance for those preparing for a posting to the USA, which looks at the issues surrounding children’s education as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

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04   Driving

Many overseas locations are remote with poor public transport. Consideration needs to be given to the practical requirements of day-to-day living should your soldier be deployed. In some locations the inability to drive will have a considerable impact on family life. It is often best to get a UK provisional driving licence before you depart the UK as some countries require you to be resident for at least six months before you can apply for a licence.

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05   Employment

Spousal employment – What are the implications for seeking employment overseas? Are your qualifications transferable overseas? How will you keep up professional registration? Many overseas locations have restricted employment and training opportunities. Consider how you plan to continue your career/training. Jobseeker’s Allowance can be claimed on return to the UK, but strict timescales apply. Spouses accompanying serving personnel overseas can obtain National Insurance credits towards State Pensions whilst overseas. Visit our Benefits, National Insurance and Tax page for more details.

National Insurance Numbers – should you be overseas and either your child (aged between 15 yrs 9 months old and 20 yrs old) has not received their initial NI number, or you have lost yours please be aware that there is a dedicated telephone number for overseas enquires / advice Tel +44 191 203 7010.  Further advice can be found here.

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06   Financial

Will your spouse/partner be working away from your overseas assignment station either temporarily or permanently? If yes, then this could affect entitlement to a range of allowances including Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), Living Overseas Allowance (LOA) and housing. You are strongly advised to obtain written evidence of any advice that you are given on such matters.

Financial issues Overseas you will be able to claim a Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) package. Each location has specific rates, which are regularly reviewed. In addition to this you may claim Disturbance Expense on the outward and return journey. AFF’s evidence suggests that for many overseas locations this does not fully compensate for actual costs, so budget accordingly.

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07   F&C families

F&C families are advised to seek clarification on additional visa requirements for your intended overseas location if you do not hold a British Passport. If you do hold a British Passport, you need to be aware that the current Get You Home (Overseas) allowance only entitles you to a flight back to the UK and not to your Country of Origin.

For more information see the Overseas assignments for F&C families page.

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08   Passports & personal admin

Most overseas locations will require you to have at least six months’ validity left on a passport. Check them today!

Ensure your Next of Kin details are up-to-date on JPA.

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09   Further information

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Don’t lose your right to vote overseas. Register as an Armed Forces overseas voter. Remember that the Armed Forces Covenant applies overseas, so do let AFF know if you feel that you are being disadvantaged due to being an Armed Forces family.

Are your extended family in the UK aware of what they need to do if a compassionate case arises whilst you are overseas? Click here for more information. Ensure your Next of Kin details are up-to-date on JPA.

Is your serving person expecting to exit the Service at the end of your overseas assignment? If yes, then you need to plan ahead and be aware of the limitations regarding timely access to resettlement facilities, financial and housing briefs. Visit our Transition page for more information.

As a result of EU Exit all parcels sent to overseas BFPO locations need to comply with  International Mail Import/Export Regulations

HIVE
On behalf of the chain of command Army HIVE delivers information, arrival packs and deployment packs to support the military community on a variety of topics affecting their everyday Service and personal life.

In some locations support is available face-to-face through a network of HIVE Information Centres and HIVE information support officers, as well as online through the local HIVE blogs and social media www.facebook.com/ArmyHIVE and www.twitter.com/ArmyHIVEinfo.

iHIVE
The tri-Service International HIVE (iHIVE) provides location-specific guides and information available to download from the iHIVE blog at hiveinfo.blogspot.com

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