Before Arrival - Deciding what to bring

The United Kingdom is a full Joint Federal Travel Regulation and Joint Travel Regulation weight allowance area for accompanied members, and for unaccompanied/single Air Force members E-5 and above.

The first shipment to plan is your unaccompanied baggage (hold baggage). Pack with the idea your hold baggage will arrive three to six weeks after ship date. You should pack a few dishes, cutlery and cooking utensils, linens, and extra clothing. Ask your sponsor what you'll really need prior to making a shipment. Many loaner items are available through family services.

If your hold baggage arrives before you do, it'll be placed in temporary storage at government expense for up to 90 days. This period begins on the arrival date of your property, provided your justification for storage meets the criteria in AF Supplement to JFTR, Volume 1/JTR, Volume 2. Otherwise, you'll be required to accept immediate delivery.

When shipping your POV, remember it takes time for the car to physically move from the port serving your old duty station to England, so be prepared to wait. Motorcycles and mopeds, regardless of size, are considered motor vehicles and count against your tax-free concession vehicle allowance. Unleaded gasoline is readily available, both on and off base, so you don't need to remove catalytic converters.

Once you get here you'll need to complete a Customs and Exercise Form 941 at the pass and registration section. This form is used to process your car through British customs. Again check with your TMO for all the necessary information regarding shipment of vehicles to the United Kingdom.

Things to consider

British houses are generally smaller than American homes. Bringing oversized furniture, such as an 8-foot sofa, large dresser or king-size bed, should be given careful thought. Even if you have a room large enough to accommodate your oversized furniture, narrow staircases, passageways and doors may prevent you getting it there. If you can't fit it into your house, you'll have to sell it or store it at your own expense.

Consider carefully what electrical items you ship. Electric current in the United Kingdom is 220/240 volt, 50 hertz versus the American 110 volt, 60 hertz. Unless the appliance is dual voltage it may not operate without a transformer to step down the voltage.

Items like electric clocks won't keep accurate time because of the difference in cycles per second (hertz). In addition, some items such as microwave ovens will undergo more than twice the wear and tear due to the difference in hertz. Although not necessarily dangerous, it can shorten the life of the appliance.
Television sets can also provide some problems. American color sets (NTSC format) won't work in the United Kingdom with the British broadcasting system (PAL 1 format) and can't be adapted.

Televisions are readily available to buy or rent, either through the base exchange or local shops. Also, if you have an American VCR, it won't play British recorded videotapes. However, your American television and VCR will work together, and American format tapes may be rented or purchased on base.

On base and leased quarters are furnished with appliances, and guaranteed-rental quarters with refrigerators and stoves. If you're going to be living on the economy, your house may not have the appropriate hook-ups, or room, for your American washer and dryer.

You should bring your draperies, particularly if they're large and heavy. Most homes have large windows. Heavy draperies keep out drafts in winter, and keep out the light in summer when the sun may not set until 11 p.m. and rises before 4 a.m.

Bring your lawn mower and garden tools because most houses have gardens. The British take pride in their flowers and lawns, and you'll be expected to do the same.

What clothing to bring should be another consideration. You may find it cooler in England than you're used to, both indoors and out. Average daily temperature in the summer is 60 to 70 degrees and 30 to 40 degrees in the winter. However, a rainy summer day can be as cool as a sunny winter day.

You should bring a full complement of military clothing. Both your service dress and summer uniform are optional for all-year wear. However, there are some summer days when you'll find long sleeves and sweater more suited to the weather than short sleeves.

During base-wide exercises, everyone wears ABUs or flight suits, so be sure to bring at least one set with you no matter what your job, more if you customarily wear ABUs on duty. And don't forget a raincoat.

Once you've decided what you're going to bring, go to TMO and complete a DD Form 1434. Be sure to list all items in your shipment and file a general description.

After you arrive on base, one of the first and most important stops will be the TMO Personal Property Section located in building 1073. The section is tasked with getting your property to you quickly, giving information on your inbound shipments and assisting you should you have need for claims actions.

Firearms, shotguns: You and the law

The U.K. has tougher gun laws. We suggest anyone contemplating shipping a shotgun or firearm into the U.K. think twice before doing so. Certain types of weapons are illegal (specifically handguns) and others require a firearms certificate which is much more difficult to obtain than a shotgun license.

If you intend to ship any weapon, be sure it's listed on the United Kingdom Customs Declaration, DD Form 1434.

The bottom line is the U.K. isn't the ideal country for weapon enthusiasts. Access to hunting grounds is limited and expensive. The firearms regulations here are in a constant process of review. If you do ship a weapon that's illegal, it'll be confiscated.

If you want to shoot here wait until you arrive to purchase a weapon and join a good club. All weapons stored on or off base must be registered with pass and registration and the British police.

An alternative may be to store the weapons at your current base or leave them with relatives.