Arriving in BFG
British Forces Germany
British Forces Germany (BFG) is the overarching term used to describe the British military elements and civilian component, which are based in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Headquarters British Forces Germany (HQ BFG) exists to deliver the Firm Base within Germany, and the wider European Dependency, and to manage the Germany end of drawdown and rebasing to the UK. Supported by a range of providers, demonstrating the whole force concept in action with Regular, Reserves, Civil Servants and locally employed staff as well as private and third sector organisations, we are committed to delivering excellent services. Together we support current and future operations by enabling British Forces to live, work and train in Germany.
Information you need
HIVE is an information network available to all members of the Tri-Service community. It serves both married and single personnel, together with their families, dependants and civilians employed by the Services.
Your local HIVE can provide you with a welcome pack for your BFG destination. HIVE international locations can be found on the British Army website.
If you are a UK Civil Servant considering a posting in BFG, then some useful information on the context and package on offer is available in the Civilian Narrative attached to the job description in Civil Service Jobs.
You will be supported in your move, however the processes and entitlements may differ according to your individual circumstances.
This checklist is designed to provide helpful guidance for arriving in BFG. The information provided here is generic and not exhaustive, so please check with your Unit Welfare Office (UWO) or HR Office for full details.
* Those points below marked with an asterisk can or should be started before you leave for BFG.
Passports & Visas
Check passports and visas are up to date.* If you need to apply for a new or replacement passport, you should do so immediately.
The Unit Welfare Office will provide assistance if you require a SOFA stamp - necessary for all non-EEA passport holders. Ask them about a Schengen Visa.
Apply for Housing.*
Details of housing matters, including application processes and allocation are covered on the Housing Pages.
Schools and Childcare
Apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) before you travel.*
The BFG Health Service covers serving personnel and families whilst in Germany, but for travel elsewhere or en route to your new posting you should take your EHIC with you.
EHIC is free of charge and valid for up to 5 years. It can be renewed up to 6 months before expiry. Check that your EHIC is still valid before you travel.
Official website: www.nhs.uk/ehic NB. Avoid unofficial websites, which charge to issue EHICs.
The Matrix Text
Complete the Matrix test, which is a test on European traffic laws.*
ALL drivers (including dependants) of BFG registered and White Fleet vehicles are required to do so.
Pet Passports and Injections
Make the necessary arrangements for bringing pets to BFG.*
If you wish to bring a cat or dog into Germany, the animal must have been vaccinated for rabies at least 30 days, but no more than 12 months prior to entry. Proof of examination must be presented at the border.
More information is available at www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad
When you arrive in BFG, you MUST register your dog at the Station Community Support Office.
Civilian & Dependant ID Cards
Before you arrive, you can complete the application forms.* - download the forms.
Children aged 8 and over require their own ID card.
On arrival, take your completed application forms to your local welfare office and they will issue your ID cards.
You must register your vehicle with the Vehicle Licensing Office (VLO) within 45 days of arrival.
Read the Initial BFG Registration Guide and contact your Local Vehicle Licensing Office (LVLO) who can assist you through the process.
German Bank Accounts
You should set up a German bank account as soon as possible after arrival.
You will need your passport, ID card and money for the initial deposit.
HIVE will have details of banks local to you.
Telecoms and Internet Access
BFBS Television and Radio
British Forces Broadcasting Service BFBS transmits a range of television and radio and channels to the British Forces personnel serving overseas.
Contact HIVE for details of where to pick up your BFBS set top box.
Check if you are eligible for Kindergeld, which is a top up to UK Child Benefit from the German authorities. Application forms and guidelines are available in the Kindergeld pages or from HIVE.
Tax Free Shopping
Familiarise yourself with the process for Tax Free Shopping / ‘Mehrwertsteuer’ (MWSt)
Almost everything sold in Germany has 19% VAT (MWSt) added. Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), as a BFG-entitled person, you can purchase goods over the value of €51.13 free of tax.
Many shops in Germany participate in this tax-free scheme and HIVE or Mehrwertsteuer (MWST) offices will be able to advise you further. HIVE produce a ‘Guide to PX Shopping’ and the following are some useful links:
Exchange Stores (PX)
Defence Discount Service