Your Northern Ireland posting

A families’ guide to living in Northern Ireland


01   Service Family Accommodation (SFA)

SFA in Northern Ireland (NI) comes under the Pinnacle contract for allocations and repairs.

Removals can take up to 10 working days for delivery, but the removals company do their best to get your belongings delivered as soon as possible. Your hotel bookings are made through the normal central booking number 0203 668 2210.

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02   Education & childcare

Pre-school funding

The three main camps in NI have on-site pre-school and nursery provision.

Department of Education NI (DENI) funded pre-school places are available, from September, for those children who are in the target age group i.e. they have reached their third birthday on or before 1 July of the same year.

Please contact the on-site setting or the NI Children’s Education Support Officer for further details on

Primary school

NI has seven years of primary education (P1-P7) the same as the rest of the UK (YR-Y6)

Children in NI who are four years old on or before 1 July must start school in the September.

Underage Service children with July and August birthdays MAY be admitted to P1 at the Principals discretion. However, if oversubscribed, the school must accept statutory school age children over those who are underage. 

The school day

Younger children finish school earlier than those on the mainland:

  • P1-P3 children (YR-Y2) finish at 2pm
  • P4-P7 children (Y3-Y6) finish at 3pm

Secondary school

With over 60 grammar schools in NI there is a greater chance of securing a place than in other parts of the UK. Those wishing to transfer to a selective grammar school are expected to sit the Common Entrance Assessment (11+) in P7.

Children not wishing to go to grammar school can apply to the secondary school of their choice.

In NI, if you turn 16 during the school year (between Sept 1 and 1 July), you can leave school after 30 June. Unlike England, there is no requirement to stay in education, training or volunteering until 18.

School holidays

Children have less time off for half terms and Easter and instead have the majority of their holidays from the end of June to the beginning of September, approximately 9 weeks.


If your child has a statement of Special Education Needs (EHC plan), or you require further advice and guidance, please contact the NI Children’s Education Support Officer at or the AFF Education Specialist at

Visit our Education & Childcare section for more information.

Home to School Transport

In NI you may be eligible for Home to School Transport.

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03   Cars

On arrival in NI you must register your car in the province.

Registering your vehicle

Register your vehicle under the registered keepers address.

You can still keep your mainland plates.


Ensure your vehicle is insured through a recognised insurance company who provides cover in NI.


Cars in NI are required to have an MOT test four years from new. MOTs in NI can only be carried out at government registered test centres. Waiting times vary depending on the location of test centres so plan in advance.

Driving licence

It’s a legal requirement to change your driving licence to your current address. You will be issued with a NI driving licence upon doing this.

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04   Medical and dental


Only families posted to Aldergrove are able to register with the Medical Centre in Aldergrove.

Prescriptions are free.

Some health provision offered elsewhere in the UK is not available in NI and waiting list times can be different too.

Please visit the health page for more detailed information.


Families will need to register with the local Dental Practice. Charges are the same as the UK.

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05   Insurance

It is recommended you insure your belongings whilst they are in transit, in storage and in use in NI.

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06   Pets

In NI your dog must be registered annually – you can obtain a licence from your local council. Subject to a few exemptions, when in a public place, all dogs must wear a collar with your name and address on it. (Fines apply for failing to comply.)

For the latest information regarding travelling with pets to or from NI see Taking your pet dog, cat or ferret abroad and Q&As for Pet Travel from 1 January 2021

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07   Allowances

Whilst in NI, serving personnel will receive the Northern Ireland Residency Supplement (NIRS), this is paid directly into the soldier’s wages at the end of the month.

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08   NI Journeys (Warrants)

Your family will be entitled to three travel warrants per year to visit friends or family on the UK mainland. This can cover flights or ferry travel and includes either a contribution towards the fuel costs or connecting travel such as onward rail, car or taxi costs. These are particularly useful during leave periods where travel can prove more expensive.

An unaccompanied/single soldier will receive 12 warrants per year in NI.

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09   Employment in NI

People can be wary about job searching in NI. There is absolutely no reason for you not to work during your posting, should you wish to.

The Families Employment Support Officer (FESO) is based in Lisburn but covers the whole of NI. This service is unique to NI and they will help you to update and ‘civilianise’ your CV, offer advice and coaching on interview technique and how to complete application forms. They can also, in conjunction with 38 Bde security,G2, give security advice about working in NI. For more details, contact

Forces Families Jobs is an employment and training platform specifically designed to support Service families into meaningful employment and provide opportunities for training and development.

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10   Security advice for families in Northern Ireland

The chain of command provides regular security briefings for families on their arrival in the province about the current security situation. It is important that your family attends this security brief shortly after your arrival.

The following information provides some background and will help families in NI understand what steps to take to make their lives as secure as possible.

The threat

A residual threat remains from Dissident Republican groups towards identifiable military personnel, the police and MOD establishments.


This is the means by which terrorists and/or criminals obtain information about soldiers, trying to identify patterns of movement, vehicles and activities on and off duty to then allow them to mount an attack.

Much of the information useful to terrorists is in the public domain – newspapers, Soldier Magazine and the news; however, much more specific information can be obtained from the internet.

The increased popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook has resulted in soldiers and their dependants posting personal information on the internet, including photographs, which identifies their military connection and in some cases their location and activities.

There are ways to enjoy social networking sites but still remain safe.

  • First and foremost, never disclose your contact details such as home address and phone numbers anywhere online or on your main profile.
  • Do not post any photos or information that shows a military connection.
  • Privacy settings can be heightened to allow you to customise who can and cannot see your personal details – consider setting these to ‘just friends’ rather than ‘everyone’.

‘Identity crime’ is a generic term for identity theft, allowing criminals to create a false identity or commit fraud by impersonating people on line. To reduce your vulnerability, remember:

  • Your identity and personal information are valuable and can compromise your security.
  • Personal information should be destroyed and not thrown out with household rubbish. This includes day-to-day correspondence and anything with your name and address on it.

What can we do to raise the level of our personal security?

The chain of command can impose security measures for serving soldiers, but we all have a responsibility to carefully consider the safety and security of our own families.

Avoid a set pattern or routine; vary the route you drive to work, schools etc. and around town.

Do not wear your security pass off camp, never leave it in the car, and report any loss immediately.

Avoid revealing your military connections, retain a level of anonymity.

Do not display military items/clothing off camp.

Security at home

Security at home is largely common sense, using the same basic crime reduction measures you would implement wherever you live – Northern Ireland should be no different.

  • Take care of house keys
  • Positively identify visitors before opening the door
  • Beware of any suspect or unexpected objects or parcels that are delivered
  • Be considerate to your civilian neighbours and keep them on side. Many will have had military neighbours for a number of years and can be watchful on your behalf
  • Talk to your children – you are best placed to help them understand that there are security issues – and without alarming them unnecessarily, get them to also be suspicious and vigilant
  • Report any security concerns immediately.

Security of vehicles

Whether you keep your existing registration and number plates or get NI plates is entirely up to you. There are a number of GB plated vehicles in NI, so you will not stand out if you decide to keep your GB number.

  • Avoid stickers on the vehicle that might attract additional attention
  • Clear the contents of your vehicle, keep it locked and if you have one, use your garage
  • As a basic crime reduction measure, when out of camp, try to use secure parking, as it is safer than general street parking

Security when out and travelling around the Province

Be aware of your surroundings and get to know the areas that are safe and those that may be considered ‘no-go’; remain as conscious of crime prevention as you would on the mainland.

There is a Restriction on Movement (ROM) list held at all camps for the safety and security of military personnel – the list is mandatory for soldiers and it is highly recommended that families use it as well.

  • A number of taxi firms are recommended for use – ask the soldier or UWO for details
  • When travelling on public transport, make sure no one in the family carries anything that has a military theme such as a bergan, day sack or unit t-shirt.

Check bus routes in advance – some bus services do go through red areas.

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11   Further sources of information

See the HIVE BlogSpot for NI

If you have any further questions or issues about your posting to NI, please contact us on

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