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Living Abroad

It’s always a bit scary, the first time that you have to move abroad. Not only because you are going to be so far away from all your family, but it’s all the little things that worry you. You can’t speak the language, you can’t drive on that side of the road, you


However much you worry about the move, it will never be as scary or as bad as you first thought. Most people love living abroad with the Forces and are sad when they have to return home. There is a huge amount of support, a great sense of community and quite a few financial perks too.


Just to give you an idea, here are some of the perks you can expect.


• Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) – Contributes to the additional costs of day-to-day living in an overseas county

• Living Out Supplemented Rates of LOA (LOSLOA) – For single or unaccompanied personnel, may be available instead of LOA

• Small Station Local Overseas Allowance (SSLOA) – May be available instead of LOA to help with additional costs of day-to-day living if the overseas station you are assigned to has less than 20 UK Service personnel.

• Special Messing Allowance (SMA) – For personnel living in Single Living Accommodation or equivalent without access to Service messing or self-catering facilities. This contributes towards the extra cost of food and beverages.

• Overseas Rent Allowance (ORA) – When there is no suitable Service accommodation this allowance contributes towards the added cost of rent and utilities.

• Overseas Furniture Provision Scheme (OFPS) – This contributes towards the cost of buying furniture if you have to rent an unfurnished property that cannot be furnished through official sources.

• Get You Home (Overseas) GYH – Contributes towards the cost of a return journey home (with your spouse/civil partner and dependent children that are living overseas with you) once per assignment year.


The general move should be a similar process to moving in the UK. You may have some other considerations such as putting some furniture in storage but you will be given help with managing this. As you march into your new home, they will give you a huge amount of information on the local area.


There will be other considerations when you arrive in your new home in your new country. You will have so many questions that you won’t know where to start. The first thing to do is to get to your local HIVE and your Welfare Office.  They will help you with practical advice like how to set up a bank account, organise any driving tests and get you orientated.


Signing Contracts

Always read the small print when signing contracts. You may be signing up for things that you will be unable to cancel should you get posted back to the UK.


In Germany for example, some people have signed up for their telephone line and have not been able to cancel it when they have left. Once you enter into a contract, it is legally binding. If you default on payments, the telecommunication providers will quickly engage debt-collecting agencies, which with the authority of the German courts can charge massive fees and interest, which are added to the original debt. These registered agencies are also able to pursue debtors inside and outside the boundaries of the German Republic.  


Benefits abroad

If you are serving in the Armed Forces abroad, you and your dependants may still be able to claim some benefits in the UK. You may be able to claim:

You can find more information on benefits abroad for veterans, those serving in the Armed Forces and their dependants on the Ministry of Defence website at

If you are refused a benefit you think you should get, you can contact the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen Families Association (SSAFA) for help to appeal. Their contact details are:

Telephone: 0207 403 8783

TV License

TV Licensing appreciates that many Service personnel have to relocate regularly and you can claim a refund for the time you are posted abroad. You are entitled to a refund for every three consecutive months in which you do not need your licence again in the UK before it expires. Refund forms are available from TV Licensing or their website.



Service voters and their husbands, wives or civil partners can vote in person or can opt to vote by post or proxy.


Postal votes are only sent out about a week before Election Day.  If you are living abroad, it may be better to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf as there may not be enough time for your postal vote to reach you and be sent back before voting closes.