Moving to/within Germany
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First of all you need that all important posting order. You will need this before you can apply for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) and before you can claim allowances that you will be entitled to on posting to British Forces Germany (BFG).
Passports - Do you have a valid passport? You can claim back the cost of your passport for all immediate family members where renewal or initial application is necessary. You can claim this in advance to avoid putting yourself out of pocket but you must keep all receipts as proof of purchase as these will be checked by your Regimental Admin Officer (RAO). Passport applications must be processed with plenty of time before travelling. In the UK, allow at least 8 weeks if applying by post. If you don’t have this long before travelling, consider visiting the Passport Office in person to purchase your passport.
Insurances - You will need to consider what your current home insurance covers in terms of removals and what adjustments must be made in order to facilitate this. You will also need to consider travel insurance for you and your family for the journey to your new Unit. You can pick up a European Health Insurance Card (free of charge from the NHS www.ehic.org.uk ) for each of your family members. The EHIC allow you to access health care within the remit of NHS care in Europe, if for whatever reason you cannot attend a military health care facility. The cost of these elements is covered by your disturbance allowance. Again, you can claim in advance for disturbance allowance, approach your RAO for guidance.
Schools and Doctors - Give schools and doctors as much notice as possible on posting. This way the new school and medical/dental centres can make arrangements to attain records. You can find more information on Service Children’s Education (SCE) Schools on their website www.sce-web.com.
Additional Needs - If you have a family member with a disability and/or additional need you will need to register according to AGAI 108 so that your family members’ needs may be supported both by housing and the medical centre. For more information on AGAI 108 click here.
Pets - If you intend to bring a pet you must include the details on your housing application form. Large pets will require Pet Passports (at your own expense) and you must consider pets when choosing hotels etc. You must seek permission from the Housing Community Support Officer (HCSO) of the receiving unit to house large pets (cats and dogs) within SFA. When moving with horses, you must also make necessary arrangements at the receiving unit as well as transportation at your own expense. When applying for Pet Passports consider how long the process will take and any vaccinations pertinent to the date that you are moving as regulations change on a regular basis. Some garrisons will allocate local hirings, some of which do not allow pets, so bear this in mind when requesting SFA. Once you have made contact with your receiving unit’s HCSO, you will be given guidance on current German Law regarding the keeping of pets and in respect of certain breeds that are banned in Germany. All dogs are required to be registered with the HCSO within two days of your arrival.
SFA - You must approach your current Unit Welfare Officer (UWO) for guidance on correctly completing and to authorise a hardcopy of the MOD Form 1132 as the e1132 system in the UK does not apply to BFG at the moment. This must then be forwarded to the Housing Office of the receiving unit at the earliest possible opportunity. This should be done within 14 days of receiving your posting order and in the same time frame you should let the HASC know that you are moving out and organise a pre-move out appointment
The Housing Office should allocate SFA within 15 working days of receipt of your application and you will receive a confirmatory letter detailing the offer of an address and move in date. It is vital that you have this address and date in order to make arrangements for removals and a move out date from your current SFA.
So now you have an address it is time to start thinking about when you plan to move out, booking removals, how long you will remain in the UK to handover your current SFA (bearing in mind you are entitled to stay in a hotel, all expenses paid, for a maximum of 4 nights), whether you will be utilising the pre-paid cleaning service and how you plan to travel to BFG.
Move out - you must take into account how long it will take to prepare the SFA (if you plan to clean etc. yourself) for move out once removals have gone, before booking a specific move out date. If this is not possible, there is a pre-paid cleaning service offered (approach your DIO Housing Officer). Also consider if you will require a proxy as you will need to complete a form and this must be arranged well in advance of the move out date. It is advised that you report all repairs as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary bills.
Advice on move out standards can be acquired from your local DIO Housing Officer.
Removals - Once you have your posting order you should organise your removals although you MUST NOT book a confirmed date until you have your move in date from Germany however the more advance warning you give them the more likely it will be that they can move you when you need it. They will need to carry out a preliminary survey of your contents, so try and make these arrangements as soon as possible. Your UWO will guide you through the application process and it can be done online. It can take as long as 7 days for removals to reach BFG.
Hotel - Do your research and choose a hotel that suits your family’s needs. You can do this before contacting the Central Booking Service and request your preferred accommodation. It is not guaranteed that you will get what you ask for, but if you don’t ask you don’t get. You can also claim the cost of your hotel and dining expenses for the four days in advance. Speak to your UWO/RAO for guidance.
Travel - Your RAO can advise on what you can claim in terms of travel expenses. You must consider what preparations you must make in order to successfully BFG your car once you arrive in Germany. You must have winter tyres fitted before travelling through Germany in winter and have LHD lights fitted to your car. If you plan to travel by air, how will you get to the airport? Hire car facilities are paid for by the MOD if you plan to travel via trooping flight (advice on how to book this from your UWO). If you travel via trooping flight, will there be transport when you arrive or will you need to make alternative arrangements?
If you have never driven in Europe before, it may be worth paying a visit to your MTWO for advice on the European Driving Theory Test. This is not essential, but you will find this knowledge useful when travelling through the continent. Also do your homework on other requirements when driving through France and Holland. If travelling in winter, consider what provisions you may need if you get stranded in extreme weather. It can snow in Europe like you’ve never seen snow! Consider temperatures as cold as -20 degrees Celsius. You will be required to complete a BFG Matrix Test at your unit in Germany in order to BFG register your car. The test covers driving in Germany; however you will be tested on driving in Holland as part of this. The BFG Matrix test is generic to all units in Germany.
Move in - You’ve made it to Germany and it's move-in day. Here in BFG the SFA is managed by the Senior Estates Manager who will be a serving WO1 and a team of Housing Estate Managers (HEM) who are retired or serving Warrant Officers who all come under the command of the Housing Community Support Officer (HCSO). These are all garrison staff. You will be met by your HEM at your SFA. He/she will run through the same process as a DIO Housing Officer would do on move-in in the UK. A point to note here is that in Germany the 14 day report will generate maintenance appointments but it is advised that you report them to Babcock (maintenance company) yourself as well.
ID card - First thing on the to-do-list! Visit your receiving UWO and apply for Dependants ID Cards and Ration Cards. You will need an ID card to access the barracks and the many BFG Dependants benefits available to you.
School - All SCE schools encourage visiting before choosing your preferred school. Some locations only have one school, so bear this in mind. For more information on SCE schools visit www.sce-web.com.
Services - Your UWO will be able to advise you on services and local information can be found in the HIVE. You must also register all dependants at the Medical and Dental Centres at the earliest possible opportunity. If you are seeking employment, register with the GLSU (Garrison Labour Support Unit).
BFG your vehicle - You must BFG register your vehicle within 45 days of arrival in Germany. Visit your BFG Office at the earliest possible opportunity to apply.
Money - It may take time to arrange a German bank account, therefore it is recommended that you carry enough Euros with you until you can go to a BFPO (Royal Mail) on camp who offer some of the best exchange rates and from whom you can withdraw from your UK bank account without a fee. Also, when choosing a German bank, be aware of what cash facilities are available locally and on camp, as most cash points will charge for withdrawals if they are not your affiliated bank.
Tax Free Goods - Before splashing out on a new car, sofa, dining table etc. in the UK, bear in mind that you can claim back German tax on most goods in BFG. For further advice on this process, please contact the BFG Office/UWO on arrival.
Receipts - Keep all receipts that you are covered by allowances safe. Your RAO will need these to complete your claims. No receipt = no claim and paying back everything that you have claimed in advance.
Phone/Internet/Sky - You may find yourself without a means of contact for as long as a month. It is advised that you acquire a German mobile to account for this period. Most units have free internet access that you can use. You can also loan a BFBS box from the SSVC on camp - this will allow you to watch most popular UK programmes as well as Sky Sports and children’s television.
Food Shopping - Embrace the German culture and save yourself a packet. Most German supermarkets are competitively priced and you will adapt. You do still have the NAAFI on camp for all your home comforts but it pays to shop around. You can also claim back German tax from some supermarkets (visit your BFG office for guidance).
Readdressing - It is advisable to use your unit address annotated with your soldier's regimental number for all mail from the UK, official or personal. Firstly it is cheaper and secondly it is easier to trace. If you register your UK bank account before leaving the UK with your unit’s BFPO address, this will help when using services back in the UK and UK online shopping whilst in BFG. It's advised you register your German bank account with your new SFA address to facilitate easier access to German services (phone/internet etc.) and German online shopping.Back to top
If you already live in Germany but are about to be posted to another garrison within BFG here is a helpful list of things to remember:
In order for any move to be arranged, you need to wait for the Assignment Order.
Once the Assignment Order has been received, see your Unit Welfare Office to arrange your move.
- Applying for your SFA. Within Germany we do not have the electronic 1132 system, like that in the UK. You need to manually complete your 1132 at your Welfare Office, who will then fax this off for you.
- Removals. Your UWO will give you the appropriate form to complete to apply for removals. Some units might refer you to the Pay/Admin Office but ask your UWO first.
- Entitlement to hotels and subsistence claims. Again in some units, this will be arranged via your Welfare Office, whilst others will direct you to the units Pay/Admin Office.
- If you have a family member with a disability and/or additional need you will need to register according to AGAI 108 so that your family members' needs can be supported both by housing and the medical centre. For more information on AGAI 108 click here.
- Arrange a pre-move out survey. This is done in most cases through your Welfare Office and during the visit they will discuss what needs to be done to bring the SFA up to move out standard including your options for cleaning.
Telephone: Whilst you are waiting for your new address contact your bank and telephone/internet provider to ask about transferring your accounts/closing your accounts.
Boarding school: If you have children at boarding school you must call CEAS to request a new certificate of eligibility to claim the Continuity of Education Allowance. This needs to be done every time you move on posting.
SFA: Once an allocation has been made, inform your Welfare Office if you accept your allocation.
Medical: Contact your medical centre to inform them of your move. If you have any on-going health issues, it is a good idea to ask for a copy of your medical records to take with you. You must also arrange to have an adequate supply of medication to take with you when you move. If you have a Social Worker you must inform them of your move.
Education: If you have children you must inform their school that you will be moving. They will give you information of SCE schools in your new area, a list can also be found in the HIVE Garrison Guide that will be sent to you. Once you have researched the schools in the area you are moving into, you must contact them to register them. This is the same process for pre-schools. There is no transport provision for pre-school children, it's the parent’s responsibility to get children to pre-school.
Insurance: Contact your insurer, both car and home, and inform them of your move.
BFG Office: Go to your BFG office to inform them of your move.
Once you arrive at your new posting, remember to:
- Fill in your 14 day report on move in
- Register your family with the doctor and dentist
- Register your car with the BFG Office
- Visit your Welfare Office to renew your ID
- Register any pets you have with HCSO (details of the office can be found in the HIVE Garrison Guide)
In BFG it is important to note, that every garrison will do things slightly different from each other. For more information visit your local HIVE or www.bfgnet.de