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 us. Esther Thomas, Manager Overseas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 following:
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 should get 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 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 DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.gov.uk
Single parents or dual working family, be aware that wraparound childcare is not currently available in all overseas locations.
Will your children be in a critical stage of education either before you are due to arrive or when you are due to depart? 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.
Will your children remain in the UK at boarding school whilst you are overseas? 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.
Overseas Education clearance – All parents need to obtain educational clearance for their children, aged 0 to 19 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.
Can you drive? 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.
Do you have children who are not in full time education aged 18 to 24 years? If yes, then they may not be entitled to accompany you at public expense or be ‘entitled’ to military allowances and local support.
Will you 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.
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.
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.
Financial issues – Overseas you will be able to claim Living Overseas Allowance (LOA), which is an allowance to compensate for the additional day-to-day living costs. Each location has specific rates, which are regularly reviewed and can fluctuate with exchange rates. In addition to this you may claim Disturbance Expense on the outward and return journey, however, AFF’s evidence suggests that for many overseas locations this does not fully compensate for actual costs, so budget accordingly.
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.
Personal admin – Passports – 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.
F&C families – you 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.
Civil rights – 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.
JCCC – 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.
Transition – 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.
BFPO – For a list of all British Forces Post Office (BFPO) locations, together with their respective numbers and postcodes, click here.
Click here for more information on how to use the BFPO, claim compensation and use the Enduring Families Free Mail Service (EFFMS).
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.
Action – 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.
Alternative sources of information for overseas locations can found either through the other Families Federations or the HIVE and iHIVE:
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.
The tri-Service International HIVE (iHIVE) provides location-specific guides and information available to download from the iHIVE blog at hiveinfo.blogspot.com