The first stage of planning is to get information about where you are going, so talk to your Unit Admin in the first instance. You can find general information about the country you are going to on the internet.
Some of the questions you need to think about
- How long will you be abroad?
- What is the cost of living like where you are going?
- What extra things will you need to pay for?
- Do you need to open a bank account in that country?
- Will anything extra be deducted from your pay, for example, housing costs?
- What allowances will you get?
- Are you planning to take your own car or will you have access to one when you are out there?
- How much will a car cost if you have to buy one?
- Do you or your family members have a special diet? Will you be able to get the food you need?
- Will your partner and children come with you?
- What will happen to your UK accommodation while you’re away?
- What will happen to your pet?
Talk to your partner
If you are married or live with your partner you need to discuss the situation with them. If they are working, will they be able to find a job in your new destination? Would it be better for them to come with you or stay in the UK?
did you know?
The Royal British Legion's Benefits & Money Advice Team can help you with questions about debt or state benefits wherever you live. They have 96 branches overseas.
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Make sure you have got a valid passport for you and all your family members.
Think about whether your child(ren) will come with you or whether you wish to keep them at school in the UK. Are there any suitable schools in the country you are being posted to? Do you have a child with special educational needs? Talk to CEAS (Children’s Education Advisory Service) about what help is available. They can also help with any aspect of your child's schooling, including advising you on whether you may be eligible for a Continuity Education Allowance (CEA).
If both you and your partner are going overseas, you will need to inform the Child Benefit Office and HMRC (if you are receiving tax credits), of your change of address.
If your partner and child(ren) are staying in the UK, let the school know that you are in the Armed Forces. They can then access the Service Pupil Premium. The Premium enables state schools in England to provide extra, mainly pastoral, support for children with parents in the Armed Forces. Children continue to qualify even after the parents have left the Armed Forces, for up to a maximum of six years.
It doesn't mean that your child(ren) is underachieving, the Premium is provided in recognition of the additional support schools often need to provide for them.
If your children are going with you overseas, see Posting overseas and children.
Check with your unit HR and look at Expenses and allowances to see if there are any allowances you may be entitled such as:
- Local overseas allowance, which compensates you for the extra cost of living in some locations. The precise list of locations and the amounts payable change frequently, so check with Unit HR and don’t make long-term plans based on a specific level of LOA.
- Separation allowances (if going without your partner/spouse).
You pay will continue to be paid into your UK bank account but you can arrange for some (at least 10%) to be paid to your overseas bank account. Where possible, the Forces Fixed Rate (FFR) of exchange will be used to exchange sterling for the currency you will need overseas. In all other cases, the Government Actuarial Rate (GAR) is used.
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Find out what the banking arrangements are where you are going. Talk to your Unit Admin and talk to your own bank if they have branches there, about setting up an account. Find out what identification you will need and make sure you have the right documents with you.
You might need to open a joint bank account so that your spouse or partner can have access to money, especially if they won’t be working. Find out if there are any charges for running your bank account. Also check what compensation limits apply to your savings, should things go wrong and the bank goes bust.
If you have money commitments at home for example a mortgage, loan or school fees make sure you leave enough of your salary in your UK bank account to cover them.
Make a budget
Once you have got all the information together it’s time to make a budget.
- Sit down with your partner and work out a budget taking into account all the information you have gathered - go to our Budget planner.
- Work out a repayment plan for any debts – look at our Credit card calculator.
- Plan what you would like to save for and work out how you can do it.
Money fitness tip
Remember to change your address on your driving licence - there's no charge, see Gov.uk
If you are planning to take your car with you, you will need to consider
- customs, and
- refund of car tax.
If you are leaving your car in the UK, you should think about
- Where you will keep it – you probably won’t be able to leave it on base .
- Insurance – can you negotiate a lower insurance?
- Car tax – do you need to make a SORN (statutory off road notification)? If your car will be left in a place that is not a public road, you do not have to pay the vehicle tax – look at Gov.uk website for more information.
If you are planning to sell your car before you leave
- Make sure you give yourself enough time to sell it.
- Think about what you will do for transport after it is sold.
- If you are unable to sell it before you go, do you have a friend or family member who can deal with this for you?
If you are planning to drive overseas, make sure you know the local traffic laws. For example in some countries it is compulsory to carry spare bulbs or a warning triangle. If you fail to comply with these laws you may face a fine. HR at your overseas unit will be able to point you in the right direction.
Leaving your UK accommodation
Whether you live in Service accommodation, rent privately or own your own property, there are many things to consider when you are moving abroad. Whatever your situation, get your post redirected - either to your address abroad or to someone who has authority to look after your affairs in the UK.
You may be able to take advantage of the temporary housing at the Services Cotswold Centre if you're in transit between postings.
If you are in Single Service Accommodation, speak to your Unit Admin when you get notification of your posting.
If you are in Service Family Accommodation (SFA), you should speak to your Housing Allocation Service Centre (HASC) within 14 days of receiving notification of your posting. An inventory check will be taken; if you are considered responsible for damage to the property or furnishings in the property you will be asked to pay for those damages.
If your family are not going with you onyour posting, they may be able to stay in the SFA. For further information see JSP 464 Part I.
If you are currently renting you will need to give notice to your landlord as soon as possible.
You must contact the following:
- Your utility providers – gas, electricity and water. Read the meters on your last day in the property. Email or phone through the readings to your supplier. You will need to give them a forwarding address for the bill and ensure arrangements are in place to pay the final bills.
- Your local council – inform the Council Tax office of your date of moving and your forwarding address
If you have your own home you need to think about what will happen to it while you are abroad.
Letting your property
- If you decide to let your property you should consider using a letting agent. Bear in mind that letting agents will charge a handling fee which will reduce the amount of rent you receive each month, but it will also give you peace of mind that your property is properly managed. Give yourself time to shop around and find out the going rate for rent for similar properties in your area. Different agents charge different rates for managing properties. Check what is included for their fee. Do they charge VAT on top?
- If you have a Long Service Advance of Pay (LSAP) outstanding, check the rules on letting the property - see LSAP - help with buying a home.
- Check with your mortgage company about letting out the property – are you allowed to under your current mortgage deal? See Buy to let for more information.
- Check that your insurance – buildings and contents - will cover you if you let out your property
- If you are leaving your property furnished, make sure you have a complete list (inventory) of everything you are leaving in it
- Think about what you will do with the items you don’t want to leave in the house – will you have to pay for storage or can a friend or family member look after them?
- What will happen if you can’t let out your property? Will you still be able to keep up the mortgage repayments?
Leaving your property empty
If you are only going overseas for a short period of time you might want to leave your property empty. If you do this, there are still a few things you need to think about:
- Can you afford to pay the mortgage if you do not let the property?
- Make sure you turn the water and gas off at the mains so there are no nasty surprises when you get back.
- Ensure someone has the keys to your property and goes in regularly to check everything is OK.
- If you have an alarm, you should inform your neighbours and your alarm company of the name and contact details of your key holder.
- Inform your mortgage company and insurance (buildings and contents) company that the property will be empty.
- Consider whether you should cancel or reduce any TV or telephone package that you subscribe to.
- Check with your local council to see whether you will be liable for Council Tax while you are away.
You’ll have to decide what you’re going to do with your possessions – leave them in storage in the UK, or take them with you. Whatever you decide consider taking out insurance to protect them from damage in transit or in storage. And when you get them overseas find out what type of contents insurance you will need.
Let your UK insurance company know you are going abroad – some, like the Services insurance companies can cover you abroad, but the general high street companies probably won’t, so you might have to cancel your policy.
If you have a pet you will need to think about what you will do with them. Dogs, cats and ferrets can be exported and imported from and to the UK under the Pet travel scheme. You can find out more about this on the Defra website. You can find out about transporting other pets on the same website.
Direct Debits and standing orders
Are you making reqular payments for something you will not be using whilst you are away such as gym memberships, or club subscriptions. Review your bank account and cancel what you don’t need and let the companies know. See Direct Debits and standing orders.
Mobile phone and broadband contracts
Can you use your mobile phone overseas on the same contract – what are the extra costs? Will the phone or broadband company suspend your contract whilst you are away? Talk to them early and you might be able to avoid paying for the remainder of a contract you can’t use. If you have mobile phone insurance, let them know too.
While you are there
Think carefully before committing to any contracts whilst you are overseas. How long is the contract and are you likely to be posted back to UK before the end? Don’t get landed with an ongoing contract you can’t use.