One-step checklist for PCSing to the UK

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

Welcome to the U.K. — Here is a one-stop checklist to help you get settled in a timely manner:

PRE-ARRIVAL

  • Ensure you obtain correct paperwork for entry into the U.K.
  • Military members require NATO orders. 
  • Military dependents (U.S. citizens) require a U.S. no-fee passport and must be on orders. 
  • DOD civilians/contractors and their dependents require an Entry Clearance visa/vignette in U.S. passports and must be on orders.
  • Collect Biometric Residence permit within required timeframe.
  • Ensure lodging arrangements are made before arrival.

ARRIVAL

  • Report to unit and Military Personnel Section on first duty day after arrival.
  • Visit Airman & Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) for relocation assistance.
  • Attend in-processing and newcomers’ briefings.
  • Sign up for an APO mail box if you don’t already have one.
  • Register with Pass and Registration installation access system.
  • Enroll in TRICARE Overseas and complete medical in-processing.
  • Obtain a tourist passport for travel outside of England.
  • Dependents who are U.S. citizens are encouraged to apply for a no-fee exemption vignette if wanting to work off-base, use off-base schools, or for ease of entry back into the UK if traveling without their spouse.
  • Purchase pay-as-you-go SIM card for cell phone or sign up for new mobile contract.
  • Download your installation’s mobile app for updates and information (if applicable).

MONEY

  • Establish pounds sterling account or bill pay option with local on- or off-base bank.
  • Clarify any charges payable on the account and frequently asked questions.
  • Determine entitlements with Finance Office.
  • Contact U.S. banks to transfer funds as needed.
  • Obtain a ration card from your unit or Military Personnel Section.
  • Consider a housing advance to help pay for off-base housing deposit.
  • Visit A&FRC for financial assistance.

CARS

  • Get a rental car (if desired) to get around while in processing.
  • Show rental agreement and PCS orders to get fuel on base for up to 30 days.
  • Study the official Highway Code online at www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code
  • Study and use the free Stripes European Road Guide.
  • Attend driver’s training as soon as possible after arrival. 
  • Pass driving exam and obtain your Driving/Fuel permit (USAFE Form 435).
  • If driving from Europe, register for customs clearance at Pass and Registration.
  • If buying a car, ensure it has a valid Ministry of Transportation (MOT) vehicle inspection test and V5 registration form. 
  • Purchase road tax (www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax) and U.K. insurance.
  • If you have shipped a U.S.-spec vehicle, ensure a registration/license plate is on the vehicle or it cannot be driven.
  • Book and complete the MOT test for vehicles over 3 years old or Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) for vehicles under 3 years old for the day you pick up your vehicle.
  • Complete light conversions (if applicable) within 30 days of arrival.
  • Register all vehicles through Pass and Registration once inspection is passed.
  • All vehicles must be registered within 30 days from pick up.
  • Enroll in fuel ration program. 
  • Obtain international license for driving in mainland Europe.

HOMES

  • Contact the Housing Office upon arrival (two business days is recommended).
  • Schedule appointments to tour homes.
  • Ensure Housing Office inspects property and reviews contract.
  • Sign paperwork after the Housing Office has reviewed it.
  • Establish Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) and Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA). 
  • Sign up for communication services.
  • Purchase liability and renter’s insurance.
  • Contact your installation’s Furnishings Management Office, A&FRC loan locker, browse thrift stores, charity shops, car boot sales, flea markets and local stores for household items.

MEDICAL

  • Add U.K. emergency numbers to cell phone. 999 is the official emergency number for the U.K.
  • The European Union’s 112 is currently accepted for general emergencies (police, ambulance and fire).
  • If there’s an emergency on base, always call the on-base-emergency services as they will respond quicker (emergency numbers for installations are in the resource section of this guide).
  • Connect with local medical providers.

KIDS

  • Have vaccination records, transcripts, PCS orders, passports and birth certificates readily available.
  • Contact Enrollment Office to begin application process for DODEA-Europe. You can also download forms from the website and fill out ahead of time at www.dodea.edu/Europe/enrollment/resources.cfm.
  • Contact School Liaison Officer (SLO) for information about British schooling, homeschooling and early education childcare off-base.
  • Visit installation child care facilities to apply and get on waitlist. Register through militarychildcare.com.
  • Ensure vaccinations are current and schedule wellness exams. 

PETS

  • Register pet at RAF Feltwell within 30 days of arrival or getting pet.
  • Find off-installation vet clinic that provides emergency care.
  • Understand and adhere to U.K. pet laws see www.gov.uk.
  • Purchase pet insurance (including liability).
  • Obtain pet passport. 
  • Get updated ID tags with your contact information.
  • Find a boarding center or pet sitter.
  • Use monthly worming, flea and tick preventive medication.
  • Maintain all required annual vaccinations during overseas tour.

PERSONAL ENRICHMENT

  • Update resume and research job/volunteer opportunities.
  • Visit Education Center to learn about course offerings.
  • Contact A&FRC for help to update resume, take employment classes, learn about spouse tuition assistance and see what your area has to offer.

EVERYDAY LIVING

  • Pay attention to and respect local customs and traditions.
  • Start recycling according to local requirements.
  • Get to know your neighbors and blend in with the locals.
  • Join spouses’ clubs or other activities.
  • Contact a Military & Family Life Counselor (MFLC) to help you through any difficulties and cope with extra stress.
  • For any off-base concerns or interests, such as community complaints or getting involved with the locals, contact the Community Relations Adviser for assistance.
  • Plan trips to explore Europe with the help of StripesEurope.com.
  • Pick up the bi-annual Stripes Europe Magazine.

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