Your EJSU posting

A families' guide to living in EJSU supported locations

Overview

The European Joint Support Unit (EJSU) HQ provides tri-Service support to  more than 4,000 Service personnel and families, in over 110 locations across 26 countries in Europe. The main headquarters is based at SHAPE, which is in Mons, Belgium. EJSU has 16 National Support Elements (NSE) with locally based EJSU staff while the remaining units are supported centrally from EJSU HQ.

Covering such a diverse area, it is impossible to provide specific information for all EJSU supported locations, so the details below are intended as a broad outline of areas for you to consider, coupled with some details on where to find more information if you need it.

A previous CO of EJSU once said: “It is best to come with an expeditionary mindset” to make the most of your assignment and time in Europe.

In AFF’s experience certain locations can be challenging for some families, so please seek specialist advice as early as possible and research the location thoroughly so you know what to expect.

Most people would view the standard of living in Europe as equal to, if not better than, the UK and while the EJSU endeavours to match UK standards as far as possible, there are constraints and limitations in some areas, – for example on spousal employment, childcare, schooling and medical/dental support as well as  financial implications for living abroad. It is better to be fully informed than to make a quick decision, which may have longer-term consequences for your family.

See the Considerations section below.

If you are thinking of a family posting to EJSU, please do get in touch so AFF can provide you with the information and contacts you need to make an informed choice at ejsu@aff.org.uk

EJSU HQ has recently launched EJSU.net, an information gateway providing details on living in Europe and Turkey. There are helpful guides for most locations and some useful contact details. It is being updated all the time and a really useful place to get a flavour of the locations you might be considering.

Contacts to other organisations who might be able to help can be found at the bottom of this page.

See our BREXIT – EU Transition page for up-to-date information.

Contents

01   Considerations

  • 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.
  • Accommodation is all in private hirings and often in short supply, so you are unlikely to be able to choose and you may be issued a Non-Availability Certificate (NAC) if housing is not immediately available.
  • MOD schools aren’t available in all locations. Education and nursery provision may not be available in English and elective home education isn’t supported in all EJSU locations.
  • Can you drive? Many destinations are remote so driving may be essential. You will need to get an International Driving Permit from a UK Post Office and to learn to drive in the host nation you may need to hold a provisional licence.
  • Dependants aged 18-24 who aren’t in full-time education may not be entitled to accompany you without exceptional pre-authorisation.
  • Medical and dental facilities may be sourced by local providers within the host nation.
  • Do you have children who may need to travel to and from your duty location alone? Please check airlines and other carriers for constraints – there might not be an unaccompanied minors’ service to or from your proposed overseas location.

Remember – it is never too late to reconsider whether an overseas assignment is the right decision for your family.

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02   Pre-screening

Once you’ve received your assignment order, you should be able to access a web link to the EJSU welcome pack. This provides key information on your posting, and also includes all the forms you will need to complete prior to booking your removals.

You are responsible for completing all the necessary supportability clearances in advance of your posting. This means declaring any medical, educational, or other needs that might require support prior to accepting your assignment. This is to make sure you and your family can be well looked after in your posting location.

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03   Passports

Check them today! You are responsible for ensuring that everyone in your family has a valid passport and in some cases a valid visa. Passports need to have at least six months left and be less than ten years old on the day of travel.

You can claim back the cost of your passport for all immediate family members where a renewal or initial application is necessary; your soldier’s Unit Admin Office (UAO) will guide you.

Non-UK passport holders should initially seek advice on appropriate travel documents for the overseas location and countries through which you many travel (e.g. Schengen area countries) from the Defence Travel Visa Section – DESDSCOM-Visa-Group@mod.gov.uk

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04   Allowances

You are entitled to allowances such as Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) and Get You Home (Overseas) Allowance, Overseas Private Vehicle Provision (OPVP) and Respite Provision while abroad. These allowances help to offset some of the additional costs of living abroad as a family. They are designed to reflect the differences in the cost of living overseas against the UK and are reviewed regularly Please ask your unit admin for more information or see our Military Allowances page for information.

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05   Housing

In EJSU, all Service Family Accommodation (SFA) allocations are processed by DIO. You must complete an MOD e1132 (application to occupy Service Family Accommodation) at the earliest opportunity and return it to DIO SD OS Accm. This will enable DIO to assign suitable housing for you and your family. Please note:

  • DIO and the MOD do not own any houses within EJSU, all are private hirings and as such there is no excess stock. You are unlikely to get more than one choice of property which you have no automatic right to refuse .
  • The rental market in EJSU is extremely challenging and DIO always does its best to accommodate you as soon as possible, but you may be issued a Non-Availability Certificate, if there is nothing available at the right time. As a result you may face a period of separation at the start of your overseas posting where your soldier begins their assignment unaccompanied, and suitable accommodation is sourced.
  • Depending on your posting, you are unlikely to be allocated a house on a traditional patch, you are more likely to be located within the local community, which gives excellent opportunities to learn the language and fully immerse yourself in a country’s culture.
  • The general housing stock within EJSU is of an excellent standard and usually modern.
  • Please be aware that although DIO can make some adaptions to houses, to suit an individual’s medical requirements, they cannot always do these if the works required would be extensive or if the landlord does not consent to the changes to be made to the property.
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06   Spousal employment

Spousal employment is a key issue for families overseas. AFF is aware that partners are experiencing issues when wishing to work remotely for a UK-based company whilst accompanying their soldier on an overseas assignment. These issues include their tax residence status and any potential impact of working remotely on their dependency status as part of the status of forces agreement (SOFA) or host nation agreement.

Read our news article posted on 8 December 2021 – Guidance on working remotely overseas

Working in EJSU locations

Now the UK has left the EU any non-EU national wishing to work in the EJSU host nations will need a work permit and or visa (requirements vary according to location). The application processes can be lengthy and convoluted and you may need to have a job offer in advance. Please do your research and consider your options.

Training and educational opportunities

These are also limited across EJSU.

United Kingdom Dependant (UKD) jobs

United Kingdom Dependant positions are available in some EJSU locations under the provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), although they are limited in the more isolated areas.

At SHAPE for example there are about 95 positions, jobs become available as people move in and out of the area. Part-time and full-time employment opportunities are offered in various departments including EJSU, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, The British Section of SHAPE International School and the Medical Centre.

Job opportunities at SHAPE – Find out more & apply in advance

You can register to receive information on the current vacancies in SHAPE by emailing the automatic registration system using EJSU.jobinfo@proximus.be as the address and quoting ‘Register’ in the subject line. You don’t need to wait until you arrive in SHAPE – you can apply in advance.

In other locations

The availability of UKD jobs is far more restricted across the rest of EJSU, especially in the more isolated areas. For information on job opportunities in other locations please contact the local Community Liaison officers, these jobs are usually advertised on the community Facebook groups and newsletters.

NATO SOFA

Following AFF discussion with the Global Support Organisation, a new Force Information Note (03/2022) has been developed and is available from EJSU National Support Elements. Read our update posted on 15 June 2022.

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07   Primary education

Education provision varies across EJSU supported areas. In some locations, MOD schools are used. The only EJSU locations that have access to MOD schools are SHAPE, Brunssum, Naples and Ramstein.

Where MOD schools are not available, international schools are used where possible. However, parents should be aware that some of the international schools offered will not be suitable for all children and there is no English speaking provision in some locations. Please bear this in mind as it could affect your child’s ability to read and write in English.

Using a local school can bring other holistic benefits to a child; it exposes them to a different culture and community and gives them the opportunity to learn a different language at a young age.

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08   Secondary education

There are no MOD schools providing a secondary education in EJSU. Secondary education is covered by using international schools, where possible, which either provide the facilities for children to complete the International Baccalaureate or IGCSE’s. There can be quite a considerable amount of travel involved for children to get to these schools, and in many locations there is no access to a school bus, which will mean that you will be responsible for taking and collecting your child from school.

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09   Childcare

Childcare for children up to three years old is available through the local host nation provision and sometimes the American Child Development Centres (CDC) in the larger NATO bases. Please be aware that host nation childcare will differ from UK standards and will, more than likely, not be in English. The American provision, where available, is full time only and there is a priority waiting list dependant on the working status of both parents.

For 3 to 4-year-olds the provision varies across the EJSU locations, but in general, families should be able to access 15 hours of childcare per week for 38 weeks free of charge as per UK entitlement as well as the 30-hour provision if eligible. Both entitlements may be restricted by local provision in some EJSU locations.

Childcare for 3 to 4-year-olds will either be through MOD-provided settings or through access to the MOD Overseas Nursery Authority (ONA). The ONA allows parents of 3 to 4-year-olds to apply for reimbursement of nursery fees. More information can be found at gov.uk/guidance/childcare-for-service-children. Wraparound care may not be available so please plan accordingly.

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10   Medical & Dental

Healthcare in EJSU is managed through Healix. In SHAPE, Naples and Brussels, UK military clinics provide primary care. In all other locations it is sourced from local providers using host nation public health services or the private sector. Secondary care is provided locally in all locations.

It is essential that all medical screening forms are completed for each family member as soon as possible prior to arrival to ensure that you are eligible for medical treatment. You will need to complete both MOD and Healix medical screening for all family members.

On leaving your current NHS GP Practice (if you are UK based) all families are required to register with the Central European Practice (based in SHAPE). This ensures that you are able to have medical oversight by the EJSU UK medical team if needed and a summary of your medical records are accessible during your posting.

Your UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will continue to be valid until its current expiry date. Thereafter you will be able to apply for a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). (Please note a GHIC will only cover you in EU countries, they do not apply in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.)

EHIC and GHIC are issued free of charge – be wary of unofficial websites that may charge.

For more info, see Apply for your GHIC and www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card

EHIC and GHIC do not replace travel insurance so make sure you have appropriate travel insurance with health cover for any pre-existing conditions before you travel. You can read advice on buying travel insurance with the right cover at gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-insurance

All dental treatment is delivered through host nation provision (apart from at SHAPE and Brussels where this is a UK Dental Practice). Where there is a local NSE they will be able to advise and help with sourcing local provision. Your family will be entitled to standard NHS treatment but any treatment beyond this must have UK approval first. All boarding school children within EJSU (including SHAPE and Brussels) must be registered with a UK dentist as there is no entitlement for host nation dentistry during their holidays (apart from emergency treatment).

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11   Pets

Families planning on bringing pets with them to EJSU supported locations should be aware that they will need to comply with local law as well as UK regulations in taking their pets abroad and then back to the UK. The UK is now a Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme. This means that a current EU pet passport issued in GB is not valid for travel to the EU. Please check to make sure you know what the requirements are at www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad.

You need to include the details on your housing application too, as contracts laid out by some landlords state that they do not wish to have pets in their property.

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12   List of EJSU Locations

EJSU has 16 National Support Elements (NSE) in locations with larger numbers of Service Personnel and families. These are managed by locally based EJSU staff, whereas the smaller and more isolated areas are managed by a dedicated team based at HQ EJSU.

NSE supported locations:

Belgium – NSEs in SHAPE, Brussels

Denmark – Copenhagen, Viborg, Aalborg, supported by Stavanger NSE

Finland – Helsinki, supported by Stavanger NSE

Germany – around 30 locations including NSEs in Ramstein, Ulm, Wesel

Italy – 9 locations including NSEs in Milan, Naples, Poggio, Rome

Netherlands – 8 locations including NSE in Brunssum

Norway – 4 locations including NSE in Stavanger

Portugal – 4 locations including NSE in Lisbon

Spain – 6 locations including NSEs in Madrid, Torrejon

Sweden – Stockholm, supported by NSE in Stavanger

Turkey – 4 locations including NSEs in Istanbul, Izmir  

EJSU HQ supported locations:

Albania – Tirana

Austria – Vienna

Bulgaria – Sofia

Croatia – Zagreb

Czechia – Prague

Estonia – Tallinn, Tartu

France – 22 locations including Lille

Greece – Athens, Thessaloniki

Latvia – Riga

Lithuania – Vilnius

North Macedonia – Skopje

Poland – Bydgoszcz, Elblag, Szczecin, Warsaw

Romania – Bucharest

Serbia – Belgrade

Slovakia – Bratislava

Please note – the list is changing all the time so for the most up-to-date details visit ejsu.net

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13   Alternative sources of information

Alternative sources of information for EJSU can be found either through the other Families Federations or the HIVE and iHIVE:

Families Federations:

Naval Families Federation
RAF Families Federation

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. 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 social media https://www.facebook.com/ArmyHIVE and www.twitter.com/ArmyHIVEinfo and the local HIVE blogs:

SHAPE, Belgium
Brunssum, The Netherlands
Naples, Italy

iHIVE

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

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