WELCOME TO SHAPE UKJSU SERVICE COMMUNITY OFFICIAL GUIDE
EDITION UPDATED JULY 2009
This Guide, provided by the United Kingdom Joint Support Unit SHAPE, is a source of
information to service personnel, families and dependants arriving at their new home or duty
station. It is hoped the information contained within the guide will be of use at the time of your
arrival, and throughout your stay. For easy reference this guide is divided up as outlined below:
Foreword by Commanding Officer Page 2
Emergency and Useful Telephone Numbers Page 3
Useful Websites Page 5
In Processing Page 6
Assignment Process Countdown Page 7
Housing and Accommodation Services Page 10
Joint Service Housing Advice Office Page 16
Other Aspects of leaving UK Page 18
Settling in Page 21
Baggage Page 22
Children's Educational/Youth Activities Page 23
Adult Education Page 26
Employment Page 28
Medical and Health Services Page 30
Station and Garrison Facilities Page 34
British Forces Post Office Page 37
Living in Belgium and SHAPE UKJSU Page 46
Money Matters Page 55
Publications Page 58
Welfare Support Page 59
Security and Crime Prevention Page 61
Motoring Page 62
Telephones and Internet Page 69
Clubs and Associations Page 70
Radio and Television Page 74
Emergencies Page 75
FOREWORD BY COMMANDING OFFICER
LT COL P FULLER RE
Welcome to the SHAPE United Kingdom Joint Support Unit dependency. I hope that you find
your stay in Belgium or France a rewarding and enjoyable one and this booklet useful. You are
now a member of a UK community of about 1050 service personnel, civil servants and their
families who live and work in Mons, Brussels or Lille and it is my job to support you throughout
your time here.
The Challenge – My mission statement is below but in essence we are here to provide you and
your family with the full package of national support within resources and current regulations.
That is: to look after the family, to support the professional and to enable a British community
The Family – It‟s our job to provide you with secure and maintained housing and
accommodation, to facilitate dependant jobs and education (including French classes) and to
work closely with the Medical, Dental and Schooling services to ensure they are supporting you
appropriately. To help me, I have a trained and dedicated Welfare team who work hand in hand
with the Hive, Homestart, SSAFA and other welfare agencies.
The Professional – It‟s our job to facilitate JPA, to oversee your pay, entitlements and
allowances, to manage your appraisals and provide education opportunities. We also clothe
you, feed you if you live in and provide you with national transport when authorised within
current regulations. Finally, we enable your annual and pre-operational training.
The Community – It‟s our job to provide up to date information through routine orders, the
British Community News and a website at www.esg.bfgnet.de. We liaise with the local host
nation; manage community facilities such as the “Welcombeek” community centre in Brussels
and the Britannia bar at SHAPE. We sponsor regular community and social events including
“meet and greets” and community forums. Finally, we run annual high profile events such as
the Great British Summer Fete, Bonfire Night and Remembrance Day. I do hope you will be an
active member of our community.
New Arrivals – Arriving at any new job can be a daunting experience. Inevitably, there are a
few bureaucratic hoops to jump through in your first week or so and your nominated sponsor will
help you through these. If you don‟t know who your sponsor is, please let us know. Even once
your arrivals procedure is over, living in an unfamiliar international environment can also be a
little scary, so come and speak to us, visit the website or our other publications to help you
Summary – We are here for you and your family. We work from building 306 at SHAPE, so if
you have any questions, concerns or ideas for improving our service, then please ring or drop
by and let us know. In the meantime, I hope you find this book useful and I wish you and your
family a happy and successful tour.
To provide effective personnel, training, logistic, administrative and infrastructure
support within the UKJSU SHAPE Dependency, in order to enable and sustain military
capability and wider Defence needs.
UKJSU USEFUL NUMBERS
0032 65 44 xxxx
2IC/OC PM 4145
Army Admin 4844
RAF Admin 4796/3378
RN Admin 4347
Travel Cell 4646
Vehicle Registration Office 5320
UK School 5283
OC Families Housing 3801/4353
SSO (Housing/PROPMAN/Accn Svcs) 3801/4620
USEFUL CONTACTS/SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Army Welfare Service..............................................................01722 436569
Army & Navy Confidential Support Line:
From anywhere in the world call back…………………………..0044(01) 198063085
Cyprus..................................................................................... 080 91065
Central Hotel Booking Service.................................................08457 585376
Childcare .................................................................................0800 096 0296
Child Benefit Office (England, Wales & Scotland)...................0845 302 14444
Child Benefit Office Northern Ireland ......................................0845 603 2000
College of Health Waiting List Helpline ...................................0208 983 1133
Cotswold Centre ......................................................................01225 810358
Defence Passenger Reservation Centre .................................0207 218 1460
Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
(Importing Pets) ...................................................................... 0870 241 1710
Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
(Importing Plants) .....................................................................01904 45 5174
NFF ...........................................................................................023 9265 4374
RAF FF .....................................................................................01780 781650
HIVE GB ...................................................................................01722 436499
HIVE SHAPE.............................................................................0032 65 443984
HM Customs & Excise (Importing Vehicles from Overseas) ….0208 929 0152
Joint Service Housing Advice....................................................01722 436575
National Passport Helpline........................................................0870 521 0410
Naval Personnel & Family Service:
Portsmouth ................................................................................023 92 72 2712
Plymouth ....................................................................................01752 555041
Faslane ......................................................................................01436 672798
NHS Direct (England Wales & Northern Ireland)........................0845 4647
NHS 24 (Scotland) .....................................................................0845 4 242424
Northern Ireland Education & Library Boards:
North Eastern..............................................................................028 2566 2303
South Eastern..............................................................................028 9056 6200
Southern .....................................................................................028 3751 2200
Western.......................................................................................028 8241 1263
Pensions & Overseas Benefits Directorate ................................0191 218 7777
SCE (UK) ....................................................................................01980 618244
SSAFA Force Help Special Needs & Disability Advisor .............0207 463 9234
Tri Service Early Years Development Officer .............................01722 436563
Service Community Official Guides - can be obtained through the Service Welfare
organisations or through your local HIVE.
UK, LOCAL & BFG WEBSITES
There are many web pages that can provide information and most of the agencies listed above
have their own web site. Most of the information in this aide memoir including links to these
agencies can be found by visiting www.sftf.mod.uk
Adventure Sports Online www.adventuresports.com
Army Benevolent Fund www.armybenfund.org
Army Families Federation www.aff.org.uk
Army Net www.armynet.mod.uk
Army Welfare Service - Home Page www.army.mod.uk/aws
British Army - Home Page www.army.mod.uk
Directory of Essential Services www.scoot.co.uk
Ex-Service Housing www.haighomes.org.uk
Help With Moving Home www.ihavemoved.com
Information on UK Neighbourhoods www.streetmap.com
Information on your Local Area www.upmystreet.com
Joint Service Housing Advice Office www.army.mod.uk/jshao
Local B&B Information www.opt.be
Naval Families Federation www.nff.org.uk
Postal Services www.bfpo.org.uk
Royal Air Force Community Support www.rafcom.co.uk
Royal Air Force Families Federation www.raf-families-federation.org.uk
Royal Air Force - Home Page www.raf.mod.uk
Royal British Legion www.britishlegion.org.uk
Royal Marines - Home Page www.royal-marines.mod.uk
Royal Navy - Home Page www.royal-navy.mod.uk
Royal Navy & Royal Marines Reference Site www.rnreference.mod.uk
SSAFA/Forces Help www.ssafa.org.uk
Wide Range of Financial Services www.naafi-financial.com
Yellow Pages www.yell.co.uk
Support Group for Families of
Your sponsor and the UKJSU Admin Office will provide all the help you need for in-processing
You and your family will be required to report to the SHAPE International Personnel Processing
Section (SHIPPS), ideally on your first day, in order to arrange vehicle registration and SHAPE
ID Cards. The ID card gives access to SHAPE facilities.
You will need to have some Euros with you as you will incur costs (some of which are
refundable through UKJSU), during in-processing.
Cashier Opening Hours
Tue –Fri 0915-1230 hrs
Service personnel are strongly advised to ensure that they are vetted where required and that
their vetting certificate is forwarded to the PVRO in the Registry of the UKJSU.
FAMILY GUIDE TO THE ASSIGNMENT PROCESS
As soon as possible
Moving Overseas? – Passports for all the family.
Health Issues? – Discuss with GP.
Special requirements? – Notify your new unit.
Pets to move? – Pet Passport, vaccinations etc (Passport not required for entry into Belgium but
the process of obtaining a Pet Passport takes a minimum of 7 months)
Within 14 days
SFA Application Form (MOD F 1132) to SSO, UKJSU, SHAPE BFPO 26 or Fax 0032 65
The next steps
Spouse Employment – Handing in notice.
Looking /applying for a new job?
On receipt of new address
Apply for Disturbance Allowance.
Apply for Removals
Local Information - Contact Estate Manager (EM) concerned (as stated in your letter of
6-8 weeks before move
Mandatory DHE Pre Move „Advisory Visit‟
(applies to those in SFA in GB & NI only)
Mandatory DHE SFA Pre Move „Advisory Visit‟
(applies to those in SFA in GB & NI only)
Apply for Cleaning Scheme? (N.B. There is no SFA Cleaning Scheme available in Belgium or
Pet Passport – Check that it is up to date and all necessary vaccinations have been
28 days before move
Change of Address.
Movements (ferries flights/tickets etc).
Check entitlement to allowances and travel.
Advance of Pay.
1 Week Prior To Move
Children‟s Education: Have you got the record of your child‟s education to take to the new
school? (see Education advice later in this document).
Double Check: Double-check all arrangements with the many agencies that you have dealt
with up to this point. This offers an opportunity to clarify details and rectify potential problems,
such as will the removal company remove pianos or garden sheds.
Pack: Your removal company will offer guidance in this area.
Pets: What are the travel arrangements? Your veterinary surgeon can give help and advice. If
taking a pet, make sure you have enough pet food and water for the journey. Remember if
taking with you on the ferry, pets must stay in the car whereas they remain with you in the car
on the Chunnel.
Telephone/TV: You will need to arrange disconnection of your telephone and reconnection in
you new location. You will also need to arrange for cable television to be disconnected
/reconnected and an address change for your TV license. You may not be allowed to use a
satellite dish on some SFA Hirings, check with the SSO EM.
3 Days Prior to Move
Pack Essentials: Pack a bag with a change of clothes and essential toiletries. Include a
survival kit for the other end: light bulbs, toilet rolls, screwdriver and pliers, matches, paper
towels, cash and a note of important telephone numbers. Do not forget any medication you
might need. Passports/insurance/driving licence/Euros? Remember the boredom threshold of
children on moves, especially those involving long journeys, a bag of „goodies‟ to produce at
critical and stressful times is a good idea!
2 Days Prior to Move
Fridge/Freezer: Empty, defrost and dry out your fridge /freezer.
Moving Day Refreshments: Arrange for refreshments for the next day, bearing in mind that
your cooker may be disconnected. Pack a carton of tea and coffee, UHT milk, juice cartons,
biscuits etc. Plan the evening meal for the move day – it may be easier to eat out. Keep a
kettle and tea handy for the packers! You are under no obligation to provide refreshments to
the packers but a little bit of hospitality may assist in your smooth move!
Toddlers: Keep small children occupied and out the way for their safety.
Pets: Also give thought to what is to happen to pets when the packers arrive. They will need to
leave doors open and will be moving around. Keep them out of harms way.
Emergency Contact: Give your removers an emergency contact number so they can get in
touch in case of delays.
Check House: Walk around the house to ensure all items to be moved, have been placed in
the removal vehicle. Do not forget to check the sheds and garages and behind doors! Make
sure items belonging to the house are kept separately and not removed.
Handover the House: Make sure that the house is ready for handover – it is always best to
discuss any major problems with the housing staff prior to handover. You do not want to be
delayed due to disagreements on damage for example. Any necessary repairs need to be
planned by the housing staff – remember someone else like you will be moving into the house.
Make sure you take a note of utility meter readings so you can check the final bill when it
Read SFA Information Pack.
Note: Unfortunately late notice assignments are sometimes received, or the official posting
order can arrive late. Although a posting authority is required for housing applications and other
aspects of your move start planning early. It maybe possible for your unit to obtain the posting
authority ahead of receiving the assignment order.
STN STAFF OFFICE (SSO) HOUSING, ACCOMMODATION & PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
Information for those about to join SHAPE
A Guide for Service Families on moving to SHAPE
This section offers general guidance, and acts as a reminder for Service families (both serving
and non serving members of the family) who are about to move to SHAPE. Its aim is to cover
the essentials for your move from the UK and overseas and for all levels of experience. It
cannot cover all specialist requirements. It is therefore important that you consult your current
unit personnel, admin staff or SHAPE Sponsor if you are uncertain as to what action is needed.
On arrival you will find in your SFA an information pack and a Housing Community Support
Guide which includes articles concerning day to day living in Belgium, Guidance on the SFA 4
Tier Grading System (4TGS), maps of the local and SHAPE area and many other useful
documentation. Please inform the SSO if you feel that more information or improved/additional
service from the Housing Staff is required. There are many agencies within the UKJSU that are
available for help and advice. These are mentioned within this guide. Start to plan your move
as soon as possible and inform us of any particular or specialist needs you may have prior to
arrival. Do not wait until you arrive – it may be too late to help. There are certain actions/forms
that the serving spouse is required to complete. If your spouse is away on duty, please seek
help and advice from your unit personnel administrative or families office or contact a member
of the SSO housing staff. Unfortunately this document is unable to be quoted as an authority for
claims or provision of services, you need to confirm entitlements to allowances etc via the
UKJSU UPO. More information on most of the subjects raised in this initial section are covered
in more detail in other sections of this booklet or are included in the SFA Information Pack in
your SFA. If you have access to the Internet this information and links to other useful web sites
can be found at: www.bfgnet.de/bfgnet/organisation/shape/uksushape this information is based
on the SP Pol Aide which is available at www.sftf.mod.uk.
There are also individual Service sites that can help:
Royal Navy www.royal-navy.mod.uk/rn/families.html
Royal Air Force www.rafcom.co.uk/
UKJSU SHAPE www.bfgnet.de/bfgnet/organisation/shape/uksushape
If you have any queries about your move, your SHAPE Single Service Desk contact numbers
Royal Navy and Royal Marines 0032 65 44 4347
Army 0032 65 44 4844
Royal Air Force 0032 65 44 4796/3378
Housing 0032 65 44 3801
GFA/Furniture Removal Service 0032 65 445274
Alternatively, your Sponsor will be your focal point once nominated.
Housing (SFA/OSH Information can be obtained from the UKJSU SHAPE Station Staff Office
(SSO) Housing Help Desks (0032 65 443801 or 444620) or your Estate Manager (EM) as
stated in your letter of allocation.
Housing (Service Family Accommodation (SFA))
When serving within the Armed Forces the principle is that you will be provided with family
accommodation (if you are married accompanied, or have legal care & custody of dependent
children) at the duty station of the serving person. There are of course exceptions: some
assignments are unaccompanied and in some stations there can be delays in providing suitable
- 10 -
accommodation. In GB housing is provided through the Defence Housing Executive (DHE),
whereas in SHAPE/France it is through other housing providers managed through the SSO
UKJSU. However, the policy for the provision of family accommodation is the same in all areas
as detailed in JSP 464 Part 2, although there are some slight differences in procedures. The
application form for housing in SHAPE is the MOD Form 1132(SHAPE). This form needs to be
signed by the current unit administrative/records officer and by the serving spouse. If the
serving spouse is absent, you should consult your unit for Families/Welfare Office for
assistance. The main procedures are outlined below. If you need adaptations to your house
due to special requirements, then you must supply an Occupational Therapist‟s report to enable
the housing authority to carry out the works required. However, it should be noted that in
Belgium all SFA are Hirings and Landlord permission is required to carry out modifications and
are unable to be compelled to undertake them. If you are uncertain as to the housing
entitlement relating to your appointment, rank or family size, please consult your unit
admin/personnel staff, details are also contained in JSP 464. If you are intending to use a proxy
to perform your move in/out please be aware that you are bound by any decisions they may
make on your behalf. Proxy move in/out are therefore discouraged.
Service Family Accommodation (SFA)
All Service Family Accommodation (SFA) for British personnel at SHAPE are Hirings. All are
within a reasonable travelling distance and are furnished and equipped by the SSO as near as
is possible to current scales. Normal SFA charges are raised appropriate to the type of hiring
occupied and the designated grading in accordance with the MOD 4-Tier Grading System
(4TGS). SFA occupants should note that Gradings are under constant review and may change
up or down following on from a change in circumstances affecting the number of Deficiency/
Positive Points. Occupants will be notified in advance of the details of any Grading Review
Board that may affect the Grading for charge purposes of their SFA.
Families are not normally to arrive in SHAPE until the agreed “Occupation/March In date”. Only
in very exceptional circumstances will the arrival of the family prior to “March In” date be
authorised. SSO may grant early arrival up to one month prior to the official posting in/
assignment date. Retention rights are to be requested in the current duty station or private
arrangements made if necessary. Advice on the number of nights allowed in hotel
accommodation should be sought from the Unit Admin Office concerned. Application for early
arrival or retention of SFA in SHAPE should be made to the SSO UKJSU SHAPE as far in
advance as possible.
It should be noted that if you decide to take Premature Voluntary Release whilst occupying an
SFA in Belgium that you must move out of and handover your SFA/OSH prior to your discharge
being allowed to proceed.
Applications for SFA
Applications for Officers and WO & below housing are to be made on MOD Form 1132
(SHAPE) which is included with your arrival pack. This should be completed and returned to the
SSO UKJSU prior to reporting at SHAPE. The SSO Housing Section maintains and publish
monthly waiting and fixed lists based on the chronological order of official arrival dates (TOS
date). When you are placed on the Fixed List you will be allocated a SFA and forwarded a letter
of allocation with the address, Type, Grade and contact details of you EM. Allocations are
normally made between the 2 – 3.months prior to arrival date.
SFA Hirings of varying types and sizes are available within a radius of 20 kilometres from
SHAPE. Hirings are allocated strictly in accordance with JSP 464 Tri-Service Accommodation
Regulations (TSAR) and Queen‟s Regulations. SSO allocates SFA from the Fixed List.
Unfortunately, refusal of the initial offer of an SFA may entail the individual concerned being
removed from the top of the Fixed List to the bottom of the next list to be issued. In accordance
- 11 -
with current regulations a second refusal will result in the individual being removed from the
Fixed List for at least 3 months.
Applying for Removals
On receipt of your assignment or movement authority, or within 8 weeks of your planned move
date, you should obtain the relevant removals application form (F MOV 713 Overseas/AF P9727
UK) from your unit. Check with your unit what you are required to do. If your future Service
house/delivery address is not known, the form should be annotated as such with „Address to be
confirmed‟ and then forward the application as directed to prevent a delay in it being processed
on time. You should also contact your current and future DHE Customer Care Offices to
discuss your move in/out appointment before making arrangements for removals as difficulties
can occur if dates are not co-ordinated.
• Within the UK and NW Europe, (SHAPE is within NW Europe), married and single
homeowners and householders may normally move up to 67.92 square metres. Ask your unit
for the full details of your entitlement (exceptional authority can be sought for excess baggage
or weekend moves in special circumstances. Seek advice through your unit). The unit will
contract a removal firm to undertake the move.
• Once you have been informed which removal firm will be used, you will be required to liaise
with them directly to organise the move itself. The contractor will carry out a pre-move survey to
estimate the amount to be moved: they will require access to all areas of your house/garage/
shed/cellar. You should tell them if you require boxes to allow you to pre-pack prior to this
survey, so that the surveyor can deliver them at the time of the survey.
• Insure your belongings in transit; do not assume you are already covered.
• You should also check what items the company will move – pianos and garden sheds may
need special arrangements. You should also be aware that there are restrictions on first and last
moves - check with your unit personnel staff.
Families should be aware that transport is not provided from SFA onto SHAPE base. It is,
therefore, an advantage if both the Service person and their spouse drive. There is a bus
service between most villages/towns stopping off outside the SHAPE main entrance.
Timetables are available from the HIVE.
Not all landlords allow pets in SFA Hirings. For this reason it must be indicated on your
application form for SFA if you intend to bring a pet (dog/cat) with you. The SSO may then be
able to allocate a SFA according your needs, should one be available. You should be aware
that any animal, particularly dogs, regarded by the local Authority to be potentially dangerous
(different from the lists in UK) will not be allowed on any of the Purpose Built Housing (PBH)
patches, however they may be allowed in some Individual Hirings. The Department for the
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) (Tel: +44 (0)870 241 1710 (Monday to Friday -
8.30am to 5pm UK time) can advise you on the Pets Passport Scheme. If you are moving pets,
make sure you have the appropriate cage/means of transport. See also the advice for moving
to/returning from overseas below. You will also need to check the requirements for pets
travelling abroad. Check the website www.defra.gov.uk for full details or ring the PETS Helpline
0870 241 1710.
All hiring‟s are furnished (if requested), as near as possible to current scales. A limited wharfing
scheme is available in SHAPE but it is not always possible to provide this service as and when
required by occupants, especially during the summer months (Jun - Sep). However, providing
- 12 -
the Furnishing List (attached to the MOD 1132 – SFA Application form) is submitted direct to the
SSO, UKJSU, SHAPE, BFPO 26, at least 4 weeks prior to arrival in SHAPE the hiring will be
prepared to the level required. Additional requests are to be submitted to the Estate Manager
(EM) responsible for the property after occupation.
A Get-You-In-Pack can be provided on request from the EM for a 28 day loan or longer if
necessary. This will be placed in the SFA Hiring on initial occupation. It consists of crockery,
glassware, cutlery, pans, kettle, blankets, sheets and pillows. If you should require this pack
please notify the Estate Manager, SSO at least 10 working days prior to your arrival. These
packs remain in Officer‟s OSH as part of the standard inventory.
Privately Owned Furniture
Due to the type of construction of many SFA Hirings, a hoist is often required for items of
furniture to be moved onto the upper floors or flats and some properties. It is an individual‟s
responsibility to confirm with the SSO EM on allocation of SFA if a hoist is necessary and then
advise the removal company/assessor accordingly. It is the removals company‟s responsibility
to provide a hoist. Hoists are not available via the UKJSU, the hire of a hoist locally can cost
between £200- £400 so ensure that you complete the relevant section of the FMS form correctly
and also if appropriate inform the assessor of this requirement.
Single/Unaccompanied Other Ranks
Single and married unaccompanied JNCO or equivalent personnel are accommodated in a
Barrack Block (309) and dine in the British Mess. All male/female JNCOs are accommodated in
single rooms situated on separate corridors. Each floor has a communal sitting room and
kitchen, with washing and drying facilities. Single and married unaccompanied WOs and
SNCOs or equivalent are accommodated in Building 309 and eat in the British Mess. After their
arrival they may elect to move into a misappropriated married quarter in SHAPE village, if
available. These are two bedroom flats and two WOs or SNCOs (or their equivalent) share a
flat and eat in the British Mess. This type of accommodation does not attract any form of living
out allowances. There is a recreation room and a bar (the Britannia Bar) in Block 309 for use by
all British members of SHAPE. Single accommodation is very limited and you should contact
the Accommodation NCO on Ext 5240 before arrival to ascertain availability. You should confirm
in writing to the UKJSU your requirements.
All Other Ranks posted to Brussels will be allocated an official service hiring. Living out
supplemented rates of LOA (LOSLOA) will be paid. You will be required to pay the appropriate
food and accommodation charges. You will also be entitled to domestic assistance.
For further information contact: RQMS, Building 309, ext 5548.
Single/Married Unaccompanied Officers
Single/Married unaccompanied officers are normally accommodated in the SHAPE Inn
(Bachelor Officers‟ Quarters (BOQs) or Official Single Hirings (OSH). Personnel living in BOQ
are paid single rates of LOA plus Special Messing Allowance (SMA) which is intended solely for
the purchase of meals. Single and Married unaccompanied officers pay food charges. SHAPE
Inn charges are paid from public funds accommodation charges are therefore payable. Early
application for a BOQ (through the UPO UKJSU) is recommended. One or 2 bedroom flats are
normally available for single or married unaccompanied officers. Initial applications for OSH
are to be made via the respective UKJSU UPO Administrative Section prior to arrival. SSO will
then allocate dependent upon availability as appropriate. All OSH are fully furnished and
equipped to a basic standard to enable occupants to live comfortably without some creature
comforts, i.e. TV, Washing Machine/Dryer, Microwave etc. However OSH occupants receive
generous supplemented rates of LOA to cater for the lack of these items in addition to a
Cleaning Allowance, details of which may be obtained via the UPO UKJSU.
- 13 -
There is no Officers‟ Mess as such; instead there is an International SHAPE Club with limited
facilities. The building consists of a Dining Room, Restaurant, Bar and Function Rooms. The
Dining Room and Restaurant are only open for lunch-time meals throughout the week with the
exception of Steak Night on Thursday nights. The Officers‟ Club is normally closed on most
weekends. However, there are occasional Sunday Lunches laid on. There is a small kitchen in
each BOQ block (2 barrack type blocks separate from the club) and officers are advised to
purchase locally or bring basic utensils, e.g. kettle, cups, saucepan, plates and cutlery. Each
kitchen contains a washing machine, tumble dryer, ironing board and an iron. It is suggested
that Officers bring their own iron and ironing board. These items are not issued as Officers
accommodated therein receive the SMA. There are two types of rooms within the BOQs, both
with cable TV (BBC 1 and 2 are currently available) and a fridge. The smaller type of room is a
bed sitting room with shared toilet facilities, one toilet between 2 rooms. The larger type is a
self-contained suite consisting of bedroom, sitting room and bathroom. There is no batting
service although rooms are cleaned, beds made and clean towels provided Monday to Friday.
There are no box rooms or garages although parking spaces are available. Pets are not
normally allowed in the BOQ or OSH accommodation.
Any change from planned arrival dates are to be notified as soon as possible as otherwise
accommodation may not be available on arrival.
Private Accommodation: If you live in your own accommodation, you may wish to let or sell
the property, or you may be considering buying a house on assignment. The Joint Service
Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) can advise you (Tel: 01722 436575). You may be entitled to
assistance with legal expenses or other relocation expenses. Unit personnel/allowances staff
will be able to advise. If you wish to move into service housing at your new location you must
submit an application form (MOD Form 1132 (SHAPE)). There are many other issues related to
buying selling a property. Your estate agent should be able to provide you with a checklist of
the actions you need to take.
Other Accommodation Aspects
If you are assigned from GB to an overseas location, you should do the following:
• Notify your existing DHE Office that you are posted within 14 days of receipt of the Assignment
Order (unless you are deployed on operations or at sea when this may not be possible, in which
case you are to notify DHE within 14 days of your return). This enables DHE to assist you in
making arrangements to vacate your house and also enables DHE to pre-allocate your house to
an incoming family.
• If appropriate, submit a request for retention of your existing service house to your current
DHE Office, if there are educational, welfare, medical or other service related reasons which
would entitle you to retain your existing SFA.
• Contact the DHE to arrange a mandatory Pre-Move Out Advisory Visit at least 2 months
before your intended date of vacation. This is to assist you in preparing your house for vacation,
enables DHE to explain how the occupant funded opt in cleaning scheme operates, and helps
DHE establish the extent of any works needed on the SFA before it can be re-occupied.
• Notify DHE of your vacation date.
• If you wish to opt into the Pre-Payment Cleaning Scheme operated by DHE in GB and have
not yet applied to do so, you must contact your local DHE Customer Care Centre before the 28-
- 14 -
You may be entitled to transit accommodation to help your move to your new locality (up to five
nights). Consult your unit personnel staff regarding eligibility. If there is no Service-provided
transit accommodation, the Central Hotel Booking Service should be used to book
accommodation, Tel: 08457 585376. Please note that if you make private arrangements you
may not be entitled to a full refund. The Services Cotswold Centre can also supply 3 or 4
bedroom chalets. Contact through your Service welfare staff or direct on 01225 810358.
Provision of Rubbish Bags and Water Purification Salt
Each household has an allowance of rubbish bags free of charge, these can be collected from
the Station Stores in Building 202. Certain houses are equipped with water purification
equipment. Householders in these SFAs are entitled to the salt that is added to the equipment.
The salt can also be collected from the Station Stores in Building 202.
Further information. If you require further information, you should contact your local housing
staff on Ext 3801.
- 15 -
THE JOINT SERVICE HOUSING ADVICE OFFICE (JSHAO) -HELPING YOU TO CIVILIAN
What is the JSHAO?
The JSHAO provides Service persons and their dependants with housing information and
advice. We also, where possible, help you to obtain placement in social housing on leaving the
Service. We help army welfare/compassionate cases and separated families from overseas to
find appropriate housing on return to the UK.
Helping you to civilian accommodation
The JSHAO runs „Housing Solutions‟ education briefings for Service Personnel. These briefings
inform you of the greater choice that you now have in the way you can provide civilian housing
for yourself whilst still serving. The JSHAO also run one day „Housing the Options‟ courses at
Resettlement Centres. These courses give you the information to make informed choices on
how and where you provide civilian housing for yourself and your family when you leave. While
these are normally attended in the last 2 years of Service, any Service person and/or their
partner is welcome.
What information do we hold?
We have a database of information to help Service leavers find housing, provided by the 400
local authorities in the UK. We also have information and contacts for most of the UK‟s housing
associations. We have contacts for relocation companies that specialise in finding property to
purchase for Service personnel. We can provide you with pamphlets and information sheets on
the multitude of different subjects on making housing provision. All this information is available
to you, just call or e-mail our office.
The MOD Nominations Scheme
The JSHAO runs the Ministry of Defence Nominations scheme; this scheme maybe able to help
you if you are looking for council or housing association housing on leaving the Service.
Information and an application form can be found on our website or call the office and talk to
one of our Nominations staff.
Low Cost Home Ownership
These days there are lots of different methods and schemes for low cost home ownership when
you leave the Service. For example, Shared Ownership allows you to purchase part of a
property from a housing association and then rent the other part from the same housing
association. Homebuy helps successful applicants to buy their home using a government
interest free loan to fund part of the property. If you are in council housing the Right to Buy
scheme is still available in most parts of the country. We can advise you on all these options
and where they are available in the UK.
Buying your own house
Buying a house is one of the most exciting things you ever do. However it is also one of the
most daunting. The JSHAO has booklets that explain the process. We can advise on websites
you will find useful to get details of properties, solicitors and surveyors. We can even point you
to a number of helpful individuals who can assist you in finding the right mortgages for you. For
those of you thinking of building your own home we have some very practical advice and
Help from the Services
In 1996 the MOD introduced the Long Service Advance of Pay Scheme for Army and RAF
personnel, (the scheme has been available to Naval personnel for many years).
- 16 -
The JSHAO holds details of the scheme and current application forms. Never commit yourself
to purchase until you receive confirmation from the Tri-service LSAP centre of your eligibility for
JSHAO monthly magazine Housing Matters
Ten months a year the JSHAO produces a magazine. It contains lots of information designed to
help you when you are considering your civilian housing. Copies should be easily available
within your unit but if you have difficulty in getting a copy ring the JSHAO.
How to contact us
We have lots of information that may be important to you so why not contact us.
JSHAO on line www.army.mod.uk/jshao
HQ Land, Erskine Barracks
Wilton, Salisbury SP2 OAG
Tel: 01722 436575 Fax: 01722 436577
SPACES – Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex-Services
If you are single and about to leave, SPACES may be able to help you find somewhere to live.
SPACES is tasked to help place single Service leavers in appropriate accommodation as they
leave. It is located within the Resettlement Centre at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.
Catterick Resettlement Centre,
St Aidans Road,
North Yorkshire DL9 3AY
Tel: 01748 833 797
Fax: 01748 835 774
SSAFA Forces Help‟s Housing Advisory Service
Once you leave the Forces and/or MOD accommodation, you can still get information, help and
advice with your housing problems from SSAFA Forces Help. Contact the Housing Officer
(Information) c/o Joint Service Housing Advice Office, address above, or ring 01722 436400.
This service is available to your dependants and wider family (parents, etc) whilst you are still
- 17 -
OTHER ASPECTS OF LEAVING UK:
Start Planning Early! There are extra arrangements and considerations for overseas moves
which will depend upon which country you are posted to; but you should note the following:
• Ensure your unit has completed F/Mov/564 and if travelling as a family a F/Mov/546. This is
sent to the Defence Passenger Reservations Centre (DPRC). You should then receive an
information pack from them. If you do not, contact your movements clerk. DPRC Tel no is 0207
• If you intend to make your own travel arrangements, authority must be obtained from your
current unit before travel commences. The rules for this type of travel are complex so check to
ensure that this is the best option for you. A route card can be sent to you by your sponsor on
• Complete and return the „Certificate of Willingness to travel‟ to DPRC which they will have sent
• Apply for/or renew passports: (these are supplied free to family members, or costs can be
reimbursed when your spouse is posted overseas): spouses and children (even babies) need
separate passports, although passports which currently include children on a spouse‟s passport
will remain valid until renewal. Non-EEC spouses will need to have their passports endorsed
with a status stamp. DPRC can advise. If you intend to travel through other countries there may
be other entry requirements. You can also seek advice through the National Passport Helpline
Tel: 0870 521 0410.
• Finance: Make sure your financial matters are in order – you will need to open a bank account
overseas. You are advised to maintain your UK bank account to enable you to pay out
outstanding debts or receive payments from the Department of Work and Pensions and Inland
Revenue such as Child Benefit and child tax credits, if entitled. Maintenance of an UK bank
account will also help you to keep your credit rating in the UK. You can make arrangements as
to how much of your pay is paid into each account. There are also a number of other financial
issues you need to be aware of when on an overseas posting/drafting, such as rates of local
overseas allowance, cost of living, and local banking arrangements. You will need to speak to
your unit personnel/welfare/admin staff or Sponsor to find out the details.
• Voting: You are advised to register as a postal voter or vote by proxy when going overseas.
Your unit can advise you on the actions you need to take. See also www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.
• Travel/health insurance: The MOD will supply medical care at your assignment location.
However, if you are travelling to, or through, other areas whilst abroad, you will need medical
insurance. If travelling within the EU you should have an EH1C certificate, which allows for free
emergency treatment whilst travelling between EU countries, and it is advisable to also have
your own medical insurance whilst travelling. You can obtain an EH1C form from a post office or
your local HIVE. You may need vaccinations depending upon where you are going or which
countries you intend to visit – check with your GP or unit medical officer.
• Baggage Insurance: Insure your belongings in transit - do not assume you are already
covered. You will receive a copy of the baggage guide F/Mov/713 from your unit, which will tell
you how to move your belongings. It will be your responsibility to complete and submit the
relevant form as instructed in the baggage guide. You should note that you may not be able to
move all your possessions with you overseas and some may have to go into storage. Your
entitlements include storage in the UK at public expense.
• Medical: Check that you have all the appropriate medical documents.
- 18 -
NHS – we apply for your documents when you register.
Military – come with all other G1 documents.
If you are pregnant or have recently had a baby, there will be restrictions on travel:
Cannot fly > 24 weeks.
Travel by ferry > 36 weeks.
If any of your family have any special needs or medical requirements you must inform the
medical staff, as there can be limited facilities/medical care available overseas and not all
specialist care is available. All special needs have to be registered with the Unit. However, the
sooner you inform the staff, the more likely it is that arrangements can be made to provide the
care. Patients with ongoing health needs should ensure an adequate supply of medication
before posting/drafting, as some drugs need procuring from the UK, which can cause a delay.
You should take your NHS card with you - if you don‟t already have one, you can get one from
your GP. If you have a complex medical history, please request a copy of your computer record
to take with you. This will help your new GP whilst records are being forwarded.
• Education: There is an International School at SHAPE with a British Section that caters for
Primary Education. Secondary Education is either as a Weekly Boarder at Windsor School in
Germany, Boarding School in UK and there is a possibility of enrolling at the US, Belgian or
German schools on SHAPE. You must inform the Unit Welfare Officer, UKJSU and the relevant
School if you have any children with special educational needs. It is not possible to provide the
full range of specialist educational help overseas, due to the limited numbers of children being
educated compared to a UK local authority. There are also not the resources to provide the full
range of specialist staff. You should take your children‟s educational documents with you and
not put them in storage. If you have children in boarding school, you are advised to contact
your unit personnel/admin staff to advise you on school children‟s visits. You are eligible to
claim for 3 visits per school year. You are responsible for any escort arrangements for your
children. Children in higher education will only get one paid visit per school year. For further
information on Schools go to the Section on Children‟s Education/Youth Services.
You should note that the school in JHQ will be closing at the end of the academic year
2012/2013 yet to be decided. Education for children aged 11 and above is under review and
details will be published when finalised.
• Employment: You should take original copies of any qualifications you have in case they are
needed in applying for a job. Personnel interested in applying for a job should contact the Head
of Civil Administration who is located in the UKJSU main building and is contactable on Ext
• Social Care: If you or your family are receiving any ongoing Social Services advice you should
discuss with your advisor how this is to continue overseas - they may need to contact the
Headquarters of the Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) who provide
the statutory social services for the Armed Forces overseas. Job Seekers Allowance should be
available. You should contact your local DWP office early to establish the criteria.
• Uniform: There can be long lead times to order specific clothing in Belgium, so you are
advised to ensure you have your full kit prior to arrival.
• Compassionate Leave Travel: There are specific rules and arrangements in place for
compassionate leave travel. A guide on the action close relatives should take in the event of an
emergency are available from your unit. Please make sure you obtain and pass a copy of the
card JPA P001 to them. Only the JCCC can authorise Compassionate Travel. Although you
may wish to contact your parent unit for advice or support, you should contact the JCCC
directly, so that your case can be dealt with without delay. Retrospective authority to travel
will not be granted, you must get authority prior to travel from the JCCC – Tel Mil 95471
7325 or Civil 0049 1452 519951.
- 19 -
Welfare Support: If you are experiencing problems at home and the assignment notification is
causing distress, contact your unit personnel/welfare staff for help.
Local Information: The HIVE can provide information on the new local area.
Allowances: You may be entitled to Disturbance Allowance to help cover the essential
expenses when moving. This is payable one month in advance of assignment change. Rates
vary depending on your circumstances. Contact unit personnel/allowances staff to apply for
Disturbance Allowance and to find out what other allowances you may be entitled to, such as
Motor Mileage Allowance, and Nightly Rate of Subsistence Allowance.
Change of Address: You will want to inform the various agencies as well as family/friends/
firms etc of your new address. You can arrange with Royal Mail in the UK for your mail to be
forwarded for a small fee. See the checklist on the last page.
House Insurance: You will need to move your house insurance to your new house. However,
make sure the house you are handing back is still covered in case there is damage that you
may be able to claim for on your insurance (depending upon the type of insurance you have
- 20 -
Takeover your House: Ensure you are at the SFA or if pre-arranged at the SSO EM Office at
the pre-arranged time as agreed by you and the SSO Housing Section. Make sure you check
the condition of your SFA on March In with the EM. Note any damage not noticed by the EM
and report facts to him ASP after occupation if not noted on the March In. If you are dissatisfied
with the condition of the house make sure you raise it at the time with the Estate Manager. You
may refuse to take the house if it does not fulfil the MOD laid down standards. In the event of
dispute the SSO will act as an arbitrator. After occupation please complete the March In
questionnaire and 14 day defect report. Report all defects as soon as they are noticed and do
not wait until your departure.
Unpack: Your removal company may undertake this task. Check if they are required to do so
under the contract. If you intend to unpack your own belongings you will be asked to sign the
release form - ensure you state on the form that there was insufficient time to unpack
belongings. Make sure you report any dissatisfaction with the service – your removers have
been contracted and are paid to provide a certain level of service. Do not sign any forms
Doctors: Register with the SHAPE Medical & Dental Centres as soon as possible. Contact the
Medical Centre reception via Ext 5824.
Dentists: Dental Health Care will be provided by Service Dentists based in the SHAPE Dental
Centre (reception Ext 5878). Payment is on NHS rates. Entitlement can be confirmed with the
Dental Centre. The Dental Centre is closed at SHAPE on Wednesdays when they run a clinic
at Sterebeek, Brussels. If however, you have a NHS Dentist in your permanent UK home, you
may wish to retain the use of this dentist. This will entail you undertaking your regular check-
ups and treatment at this dentist. No financial or travel assistance is available should you
decide on this.
Education: If your child has problems in settling in to the new school then discuss this with the
school. You can also obtain advice from CEAS on the steps you can take to help your child
Pets: You need to keep an eye on pets, particularly cats, until the animal is settled. If the
animal has been micro chipped, inform the relevant agencies of the change of address.
Remember that some Landlords do not permit the keeping of pets in their properties and that
the SHAPE BOQ and in Officers Officers Single Hirings pets are not normally allowed, if in
doubt speak to the EM or SSO Housing Section in the case of Hirings and to the UAO in the
case of the BOQ. Details of local vets are published locally in the British Community News and
are included in the Housing Booklet in your SFA.
- 21 -
Your personal effects and household belongings will be transported to SHAPE or Brussels by
one of the following methods:
Accompanied: The individual makes all private arrangements, without the assistance of a
removal company . If you choose this method of removal then you will have to complete SHAPE
Form 368 and comply with current customs regulations. You should discuss this with your
Admin Office before departure and allow plenty of time for processing of forms.
Unaccompanied: This is the most common method of baggage removal using a contracted
removal company (FMS(NWE)) for married accompanied personnel or Unaccompanied
Baggage Allowance (UBA) Normal Scheme (sometimes called MFO) for single and married
Address for UBA
Baggage moved under the UBA (NORMAL) Scheme for SHAPE and BRUSSELS (excluding
houses/flats in Brussels):
Rank and Name
UK Joint Support Unit
The QM‟s department will contact you once your boxes have been received at SHAPE.
- 22 -
CHILDREN'S EDUCATION / YOUTH ACTIVITIES
CEAS is a joint Service organisation which exists specifically to give advice and help on all
Service children‟s educational matters including special educational needs. It is advisable to
start early to give more time to resolve problems.
Note: If your child is at a critical stage of their education e.g. in their GCSE, AS or „A‟ level year,
you may be able to retain your house in your current posting/drafting to avoid having to disrupt
their education. Seek advice from CEAS, and as necessary apply to your local housing office
for retention of your Service house.
Belgium. In the SHAPE site there is an SCE school which follows the English National
Curriculum of education. For further details see WWW.britishsection.be. In other areas your
children may have to go to the local school. Contact CEAS who will advise you what the
education provision is for the area that you are assigned to. The SCE (UK) Helpline is available
for any Service children‟s education questions: Tel: 01980 618244.
The provision of pre-school education is catered for with the foundation stage which is for 3 to 5
year olds. This is provided by the British Section of the SHAPE International School. It is
geared to prepare children to enter Foundation Stage 2. Childcare/childminding is the
responsibility of the individual, however there are a number options available to those at
SHAPE; for example St Denis offers a Nursery and a Kindergarten. The Nursery takes children
from 18 months to 2 years 6 months, a charge to parents is made. The Kindergarten takes
children from 2 Years 6 months to 5 years old.
Special Education Needs (SEN)
If you are assigned overseas (Belgium) and have a child with SEN you must inform CEAS.
Although SCE schools will try to meet the needs of your child they cannot cover all SEN
requirements. Local authorities in UK are dealing with a far higher number of children, and
consequently have the resources to offer a range of specialists. Please note that if you arrive in
Belgium without having informed CEAS you may find that you are returned to the UK if they
cannot meet your child‟s needs. Other assistance for children who have special needs can be
obtained from: SSAFA Forces Help Special Needs and Disability Advisor Tel 0207 463 9234.
For advice on playgroups that welcome and cater for children with special needs you should
speak to the Tri-Service Early Years Development Officer Tel 01722 436563. (See also advice
under special equipment needs below).
Some parents may wish to consider boarding school for their child to ensure continuity of
education. Children Education Allowance (CEA) is available which can help towards the school
fees (there is a minimum parental contribution of 10% of the fees; however, the amount that you
have to pay can be greater, depending upon the school fees and other extras). There are
special rules which apply to this allowance – ask your pay/administration office for details.
CEAS can also advise you.
Need Education Advice? Ring CEAS: 01980 618244
SHAPE International School. There are 3 secondary sections (Belgian, German and US) at
the SHAPE International School. All will accept British children, and at present there are some
in each section. In most cases these sections will not be suitable for children approaching
GCSE, but they may be an option for children aged 11-13 who prefer not to board and can cope
- 23 -
with a foreign language and a non-British environment. In all cases parents considering one of
these sections should take advice from the Headmaster on ext 5283.
One of the strengths of the Belgian educational system is the provision which it makes for pre-
school education. Free playschool places are available for all children from the age of 2 years,
and British personnel serving at SHAPE are fully entitled to take advantage of these facilities.
The kindergartens used are:
St Denis. The St Denis kindergarten is located 2 kms from Domaine de la Brisee. Children
from the age of 2 until entry to primary school may attend either morning sessions or all day
sessions (0830-1500 hrs). A cooked lunch is provided for a small charge (optional). On
payment of a small daily charge younger children (18 mths – 2 years) are accepted for the
morning session or all day (0830-1530 hrs) in the nursery section.
International Kindergarten. The SHAPE International School provides full kindergarten
facilities for children aged 2+ years of all SHAPE personnel. The language of instruction is
French, but many of the teachers also speak English. No charge is made, other than for meals.
Children from all SHAPE nations attend and the environment is stimulating.
The UK Section of SHAPE International School (SIS) is for primary (elementary) age children
only, taking children from the academic year in which they are aged five to eleven years of age.
As a general principle, the UK Section is organised to take British children through the UK
National Curriculum but, where space is available, children from other SHAPE Nations are
accepted. Parents who wish to apply for a place for their child must complete one of our
application forms obtainable from the school office Room 105 in Building 702 (N).
The administration and staffing of the UK Section is done through Headquarters, Service
Children‟s Education, (SCEA), which is located near to Rheindahlen, Germany. All staff are
engaged directly from the United Kingdom or are dependents of British personnel serving at
The curriculum followed and the organisation used are similar to those found in the UK – the UK
national curriculum is the one followed. This will be the basis of the education of all children
enrolled at the UK Section whatever their nationality. The UK Section is located in Building 702
(N). All children registered at the UK Section are expected to follow the school‟s dress and
behaviour codes. Copies of these are available on request at the school office.
There are 7 other elementary sections in the SHAPE International School, most of which will
accept children from other nations. For various reasons, a small number of British parents
choose to send their children to one or other of these sections.
THE US Elementary Section
The U.S. Elementary Section has an enrolment of approximately 600 students (Preschool-
Children disabilities – Grade 6). American children compose approximately 66% of the student
population. The rest are dependents of military members of other NATO nations. The resource
educators include: Reading Recovery teachers, speech therapist, Special Education Teachers,
Host Nation Teacher, Guidance Counsellor, Media Centre Specialist, Physical Education
Teacher, Art Teacher, Music Teacher, Teacher for the gifted, Compensatory Education
Teacher, English as a 2nd Language Teacher, Health Educator and Psychologist. A traditional
American curriculum is offered; reading/language arts, math, social studies, science, health, etc.
In addition, students study Belgian culture and have an introduction to French. Other activities
which enrich the students‟ educational program on a regular or seasonal basis include: Student
- 24 -
Council, Art Enrichment, International Sports Day, Chorus, Environmental assemblies, and field
trips to coal markets, towns, festivals, museums and areas as far as the Ardennes.
School Children‟s Visits (SCV)
There are a number of travel options for public funded School Children‟s Visits. To qualify, each
visit must be for at least 7 consecutive days. You will be sent full details and an application form
if you have children at Boarding School, University or State School and claiming Guardians
allowance. Your normal entitlement is 3 return publicly funded SCVs per year and one per year
for children in higher education. Additional LOA is paid for each day your child is in Belgium on
an authorised SCV."
Unfortunately there is no SCE (NWE) UK Secondary School on SHAPE. Parents of children
aged 11-18 have 3 choices:
Boarding School in UK. Parents considering this option should take advice from the
educational and pay staff at their current unit. Boarding School Allowance will normally be
admissible, and the “continuity principle” will apply; advice on the financial aspects of boarding
education is available from your current Admin Office.
Windsor School, Rheindahlen.
Windsor School in Germany is the nearest SCE (NWE) secondary school to SHAPE and it has
boarding facilities for children from a number of isolated locations in NW Europe. It provides a
normal UK education for the 11-18 age group. Exceptionally, there is no charge for this school
other than for the food. This charge is payable each term in advance. LOA is still payable for
children at Windsor, but a Home Savings Element is charged for each day spent at the school.
Application for entry to Windsor School should be made on SCE Form 3001, which should be
completed and returned to HQ SCE (NWE), BFPO 140. Weekly transport is provided by the
UKJSU to ensure that these children are returned to Belgium safely each weekend. Should a
child wish to take a friend home for the weekend then permission must be obtained in advance
from both parents Further details are available from the School House. In addition the Bus
Coordinator/Escort is to be advised. You should note that the school in JHQ will be closing at
the end of the academic year 2012/2013 yet to be decided. Education for children aged 11 and
above is under review and details will be published when finalised.
- 25 -
The Education Centre, UKJSU, is established to provide for the educational needs of Service
personnel during their tour in SHAPE or HQ NATO. Certain educational services are also
available to dependants. The Education Centre is located in Building 309 and staff can be
contacted on Ext 5234.
Individual advice on educational matters is available at any time, and both service personnel
and dependants are invited to drop into the centre when ever they are visiting the UKJSU.
SHAPE does not have a full time education officer but receives support from 34 AEC, BFPO 40.
UKJSU Learning Centre
The defence community are sometimes disadvantaged as they live in remote locations and are
often unable to travel to centres of learning. To redress this and to promote the Government‟s
Lifelong Learning initiatives, a UKJSU Learning Centre has been established within the
Education Centre which provides a wide range of online courses; the most popular being the
European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) and the City and Guilds Adult Literacy and
Numeracy certificates. After initial registration, learning can be conducted either at the Learning
Centre or from home.
The Learning Centre employs staff who provide initial Advice and Guidance and support to
learners throughout their course when they require assistance. The Learning Centre can also
provide access to specialist course tutors whenever necessary.
The Learning Centre Advisors‟ may be contacted either by telephone on Ext 7808 or 0032 65
447808 or by e-mail to email@example.com
The IT Suite is an Instructor Led training facility that assists individuals with learning IT Skills
such as Touch Typing where a unit certificate is awarded on completion of the course to Word
Processing, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Graphs and Charts at Beginner, Intermediate and
Advanced levels; successful students of these courses have the opportunity to gain an eDCC
(electronic Digital Competence Certificate) which is accredited by the OCR (Oxford, Cambridge
and RSA Examination Board). All of the courses on offer are advertised in either the SHAPE
Community Life, British Community News (BCN) or flyers to dependents.
Standard Learning Credits Scheme (SLC).
Service personnel can receive financial help through the SLC. Personnel should complete mod
Form 1950 (prior to the course commencing) which is then signed by the Adjt and sent to
ETS Branch, along with an application and payment for the course of their choice. When the
course is completed the student should complete Army Form 09578 to claim a refund (80% of
course fees up to a maximum of £175 in the financial year). Tutorial support for OU foundation
courses is provided at JHQ Rheindahlen on several weekends during the year.
A range of courses is available through the Scottish Polytechnic Colleges Group. For further
details, contact 34 AEC JHQ Mil 94872 3303 or civil 0049 2161 472 3303.
- 26 -
Short University Courses
A number of universities offer short courses which are available to both Service personnel and
civilians. There is no charge for the courses. Civilians may be allocated places on a fill-up
basis only, and may claim travel expenses at the discretion of the budget manager.
The Education Centre is an Examinations Centre for civilian examinations including OU exams,
IGCSEs and A-Levels. The Defence Examinations Centre (DEC) offers GCSEs and A-Levels
through a variety of resources. When details of civilian examination dates are received from
DEC they are published on Unit Routine Orders. It is then the responsibility of potential
candidates to enrol via the Education Centre and to pay the appropriate fee. GCSEs and A-
Level examinations can be taken in either June or November.
French: UKJSU Education Centre. The Education Centre offers French classes at 6 basic
levels. The courses are held to coincide with normal school terms and involve 3 – 4 hours of
instruction per week at each level. Anyone arriving mid-term will be put on the waiting list for
the next term. A brief interview should be booked before the start of the new term for new
students, to assess which class would be most suitable. There is a fee for these courses.
SHAPE Language Centre
The Language Centre is situated in Building 253 and holds courses in the following languages;
French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Turkish, Greek and Polish. There is
a fee for these courses. For more information contact the Language Centre, Ext 4971.
Other Info Centres
Learning about Belgium (L.A.B.)
L.A.B. is a free 3-half day programme, open to all SHAPIANS, interested in exploring,
discovering, and experiencing their new life in Belgium. During the 3-half days of the course
your instructor discusses a wide variety of topics, such as: Belgian history, geography, the
monarchy, the economy, social customs, the official languages, tipping, shopping, household
produce and food, telephones, parking machines, public transportation and local medical
facilities. For more information ring Ext 4269.
SHAPE Community Library
The SHAPE Community Library is situated near the UKJSU and holds a wide selection of
fiction/non-fiction books, music CDs and videos. Children of all ages are very well catered for.
The library staff are happy to help you look for a particular book and are able to order books
from other facilities within Europe.
In addition, there are workstations for Internet access or word processing and printing/
photocopying facilities for a small fee.
The library is free to all SHAPE members and their dependants in possession of a SHAPE ID
card. This is mainly an American run facility.
- 27 -
There are a number of schemes in operation to help spouses find new employment. Within
SHAPE there are numerous opportunities to find employment. These range from admin type
jobs within the support unit and medical/dental centre and support staff at the school to cleaning
and waiting jobs at the Shape Officer‟s Club and UK Mess. Alternatively, jobs are available on
the local economy but there are tax implications with this. Personnel interested in applying for a
job should contact the Head of Civil Administration who is located in the UKJSU main building
and is contactable on Ext 5236.
SHAPE Community Services Fund (SCSF) Personnel Section
Employment is available for SHAPIANS within the International community in Recreation, Clubs,
Messes, Community Services and Youth Services. For enquiries and application forms contact
SCSF Personnel Section ext 4075.
NATO Civilian Employment
Temporary Contract Secretarial and Administrative jobs are available at SHAPE for dependants,
who apply immediately upon arrival through the Civilian Personnel Office, in the Main
Headquarters, Building 102 (Room 224), ext 4357.
You should be aware however, that accepting temporary employment at SHAPE or on the
Belgian economy may affect your status. Seek advice from the UKNMR or the UKJSU Legal
Employer (QM) prior to changing or accepting one of these positions.
Dependants from countries which are not members of NATO may also have difficulties finding
employment at SHAPE. Advice should be sought from the UKNMR or UKJSU Legal Employer.
Job Seeker‟s Allowance
To claim Job Seeker‟s Allowance (JSA) in another EU country you must have been in full-time
employment and paying full National Insurance (Class 1) contributions for at least two relevant
income tax years prior to the claim. You must not have voluntarily left your job without „just
cause‟ (accompanying a spouse on posting is now recognised as „just cause‟). JSA is only paid
for a maximum of three months at UK rates (approx £55 per week). If you are already
unemployed and claiming benefit you may be able to continue to claim benefit upon your arrival
Service dependants wishing to claim JSA must visit their local DSS office and explain to them
that the usual four weeks registration does not apply to spouses accompanying service
personnel overseas and if they are in doubt ask them to call the Overseas Benefits Directorate
on the number below.
When you leave your UK job to accompany your spouse overseas you should ensure that your
employer is clear about the reason why you are leaving and enters the reason on Form ES585
and remember to collect your P45 before you leave. You must register as a Jobseeker at your
local UK Job Centre with four complete working days remaining before your departure overseas
(Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays do not count).
Before you leave UK make sure you get an introductory bilingual letter from your Job Centre
and leave your forwarding address (preferably your spouse‟s new unit address) for Forms E303
and E301 to be posted to you if they are not available before you depart. Please make sure that
they send them to you and not to an office in Brussels as it makes the next step here in Belgium
easier if you can take them to your local office. You need to register in Belgium within 7 days
and you can find out all the information when you arrive from the HIVE or the Welfare Office.
- 28 -
If you have any problems you can contact the Overseas Benefits Directorate on 0191 203 7010.
Special provision is already made for Service families when overseas and they will normally be
regarded as „Resident in the UK‟ for benefit purposes. The following benefits should be payable
to Service families overseas if all other qualifying criteria are met. However, each case is
considered on its merits:
• Incapacity Benefit
• Disability Allowance
• Attendance Allowance
• Invalid Care Allowance
• Maternity Allowance is payable in EU countries provided that the claimant has recently been
employed and paying UK National Insurance, as required in the rules.
This is only a summary; different rules of eligibility apply to each benefit. Any queries regarding
social security benefit payments when going overseas should be addressed to the Pensions
and Overseas Benefits Directorate in Newcastle Tel : 0191 218 7777. There have been cases
where the local benefit office has given incorrect advice, so do not take no for an answer. There
is a social security leaflet GL26 explaining the rules on benefit payments for Service Families.
This leaflet should be available through your local Social Security office. If you have a problem
with benefit payments because you are overseas, please bring it to the attention of the SFTF
through your unit/Service. Working Tax Credit is paid by the Inland Revenue. If you are already
in receipt of this Credit, payments should continue when you move overseas. However, you
must inform the Inland Revenue of your new address. They should send you a reminder to
renew your claim at the end of your current entitlement.
Sure Start Maternity Grant is payable overseas through a MOD ex-gratia payment scheme. If
you need more information consult your unit pay staff. Child Benefit is paid by the Inland
Revenue in mainland Britain and overseas, and you need to notify them of your change of
address – but not if your bank details remain the same! In Northern Ireland it is paid by the
Department of a Health and Social Services check where to claim by contacting the Helpline
listed below. If you are moving from Northern Ireland to mainland Britain or from mainland
Britain to Northern Ireland you will need to notify your Child Benefit paying department and re-
register with the new department. Contact the numbers below for more details:
• England, Wales and Scotland Tel 0845 30214444
• Northern Ireland Tel 0800 220674
- 29 -
MEDICAL AND HEALTH SERVICES
If you are on a waiting list for a consultation or an appointment, take action now. You will need
to seek advice from the SHAPE Medical Centre. Some treatments may be quicker to start the
process again in Belgium whilst, in other cases, it may be better to retain your position on the
UK waiting list. However, no guarantee can be made on reimbursement of travel costs.
Irrespective of where you are moving from you are advised to take the following action (if
moving overseas you must inform your unit personnel staff of any family medical problems).
You may have the option to:
• Remain on the waiting list of the original hospital for inpatient/outpatient treatment/appointment
– BFGHS will provide authority for travel to UK for patients.
• Arrange to transfer your care to a hospital in the area to which you are moving.
You should discuss these options with your GP before coming to a decision. GPs should be
aware of waiting times at the hospitals they may refer patients to. In addition, to help make an
informed choice, patients can telephone the College of Health‟s Waiting List Helpline or NHS
Direct to obtain information on waiting times locally. These telephone numbers are given below.
The College of Health Waiting List Helpline 0208 9831133
NHS Direct (England, Wales & Northern Ireland*) 0845 4647
NHS 24 (Scotland although does not yet cover whole area) 0845 4242424
* NB: advice on hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland will be limited. Alternatively visit or
telephone your local HIVE who will be able to give you contact numbers.
If you choose to remain on the waiting list of the original hospital you should:
• Inform your GP, or equivalent, that you are about to move but have chosen to still have your
inpatient/outpatient treatment at the original hospital.
• Inform the hospital you are about to move but have chosen to remain on the waiting list of the
original hospital. Give new contact details so that the hospital can arrange a suitable date for
• Register with the SHAPE Medical Centre upon arrival, inform the Doctor that you are waiting
for inpatient/outpatient treatment at the original hospital.
• Tell the original hospital the name and address of the new Doctor so that postoperative
continuity of care is assured.
If you have asked for your care to be transferred you should:
• Inform your GP, or equivalent, that you are about to move and have asked that your inpatient
treatment be transferred to a hospital in the area to which you are moving.
• Keep in touch with the original hospital to get details of the hospital, (including name of
consultant) to which you have been transferred.
• Register with the SHAPE Medical Centre upon arrival, inform the Doctor of the need to
- 30 -
• The SHAPE Doctor will arrange for an appointment with a local consultant and then liaise with
the appropriate Hospital.
It is important to follow these steps so that health professionals are aware of your situation and
can assist you in this transition. You should always ensure that you notify your GP and the
hospital about a change of address so that they can contact you swiftly. If you are experiencing
problems then please notify your unit personnel staff.
Special Equipment Needs
Where it is practical to do so, UKJSU SHAPE endeavours to provide a standard of support and
facilities for disabled and SN dependants commensurate with those available and accessible in
the UK. This standard, reflecting current UK legislation, tri-Service policy and the MOD 'duty of
care' as an employer, is necessarily constrained by resource availability and therefore more
acute or unusual cases may be beyond the support capability of the Command. In order to
determine whether specific support can be provided for each individual case it is essential that
the UKJSU Staff Assistant receive notice of disabled or SN dependants so that consideration is
given prior to the family moving to Belgium. All medical, educational, social special needs must
be declared. ISODETS may not be able to provide suitable services for such cases and advice
is sought from BFGHS/BFSWS/SCEA before assignment. If you need special adaptations to
your house, please inform the SSO Housing Office, but bear in mind that all SFA in Belgium and
in most cases will require the Landlord‟s permission to carry out all but minor modifications.
You will need a report from an occupational therapist so that suitable adaptations can be made
to your new house. Community equipment (with the exception of wheelchairs), should be
transferable between Local Authority areas. Do not accept any difficulties placed upon you by
the local authority. Speak to your personnel staff in good time to allow them to assist you prior
to your move. There is not the same provision for the transfer of wheelchairs. However, NHS
Executive Guidance HSG(96)34 states „if a person who has been provided with a powered
indoor/outdoor wheelchair moves into an area, where under local eligibility criteria they would
not be eligible, the wheelchair should not be withdrawn unless there is a good clinical reason for
doing so‟. Again, seek assistance from the unit personnel office and do not take no for an
Obtaining orthodontic treatment can be difficult and it is not always possible to transfer
treatment between orthodontic specialists. The nearest Military Specialist is at JHQ
Rheindahlen, approximately 3 hours away. This can cause difficulties due to the length of some
treatments. You are advised to consult the dental Officer early on if any of your family is
undergoing treatment to see how it can best be continued. If you have children at boarding
school any treatment must be carried out at the school location so it can continue irrespective of
moves. It is extremely difficult to find treatment on the NHS, and long waiting times should be
expected pending approval from DPDS (Senior Dental Officer Germany).
Medical and Dental
Medical and dental treatment is available to service personnel and their registered dependants
under British Tri-Service and International arrangements at SHAPE. For all other temporary
visitors, (i.e. your house guests), non-routine medical assistance will be provided as long as you
have recorded your visitors with UKJSU Admin Office prior to their arrival in SHAPE. Medical
Insurance and possession of an E111 are both strongly advised.
Vaccinations. You should consult your private doctor or medical officer before you leave the
UK to discuss vaccinations. Your spouse and children may wish to be vaccinated against
Tetanus and Diphtheria. There is a legal requirement in Belgium for everyone to be immunised
- 31 -
Location. The UK Medical Centre is located in the SHAPE Health Care Facility (Level 1) and
provides all necessary information on registering. A separate Health Care Guide can be
collected from the centre on arrival. The UK Dental Centre is located in the SHAPE Health Care
Facility (Level 2).
Registration of Dependants. In order to ensure speedy transfer of NHS Documents to the UK
Medical Centre, heads of families should register their dependants at the first opportunity. You
will need NHS Numbers and the address of your last GP.
If any family member is receiving ongoing treatment for a special medical condition it is
advisable that you bring with you a note from your Medical Officer or GP giving details of the
medical requirement and of repeat prescriptions.
Charges. There are no charges for medical treatment or prescriptions authorised by the
Medical Officer, however, NHS dental charges will be levied against spouses and dependants
with the following exemptions:
• Expectant mothers.
• Mothers who have had a baby within the last 12 months.
• Dependants under 18 years of age.
• Dependants in full-time education – up to age 23.
• Dependants in possession of NHS charge certificate AG2.
• Those in receipt of family credit.
* Written proof is needed in all cases, i.e., passport/college letters/birth certificate.
Boil all water for babies and very young children. Bottled water is available in the GB at
SHAPE. Kettles and irons need de-scaling regularly because the water is hard; Kleenoff” is a
good brand which you can use on both kettle and iron. A cheap alternative for your kettle is to
use ready made vinegar and water solution from the GB (clear bottle) and boil in kettle 2-3 times
or until the lime scale is fully detached. A simple alternative to regular de-scaling is to invest in
a water filter jug (Brita is a good brand) available at the GB along with the replacement filters.
Learn how to drink responsibly
Responsible drinking in a social context is a well-established and recognised element of the
Armed Forces culture of group bonding. However alcohol misuse can lead to all sorts of
problems, professionally, personally and domestically. The effects of excessive drinking are
severe. Not only does it impair judgement, endanger health and degrade performance; it is a
major cause of ill discipline. It generates a loss of self-control, which can lead to unacceptable
behaviour such as criminal violence, risky sexual activity, misuse of drugs or just acting like a
complete idiot! Personnel under the influence of alcohol or suffering from a hangover cannot be
relied upon to perform their duties competently. This is why the Armed Forces cannot tolerate
excessive drinking. Help will be offered to those genuinely willing to reform, but those who
persist in excessive drinking and do not respond to rehabilitation will be considered for
When you drink, do it sensibly. Learn to identify your limit and when you reach it stop. Drink
water in between alcoholic drinks to extend your evening, to keep you hydrated and to reduce
your alcohol intake. When you wake up next morning you won‟t have a hangover, you will be
able to function properly and you won‟t be on the receiving end of a caution or charge. Don‟t
forget it takes an hour for your body to process one unit of alcohol, so if you drink eight pints of
weak beer (about 3%), that is 16 units, which is 16 hours for your body to get it out of your
system. 16 hours in which you will still be drunk or have a hangover and in which you cannot
drive. Learn to calculate how many units you are consuming and stick to the government
- 32 -
guidelines for men and women. The stronger the drink the more units it has in it. Learn to drink
sensibly before you wake up with a hangover that won‟t go away!
- 33 -
STATION AND GARRISON FACILITIES
The UKJSU Welfare Officer is also the Housing and Community Support Officer. They are
located in building 306 and is the first point of contact for welfare matters, help and counselling.
Other agencies eg RELATE, BFSWS, Chapel Centre, etc offer support on many matters such
as bereavement, divorce, marital problems, etc. The Welfare Officer is contactable on ext:
8529. During silent hours, welfare matters will be dealt with by the UKJSU Duty Officer via the
UK Duty NCO on 065 444960. The Assistant Welfare Officer is located in building 309 and can
be contacted on ext 5346.
Childminders are to be registered and approved by the Army Welfare Childminding Service
(AWS) at Rheindahlen. AWS visit SHAPE regularly and appointments can be made through the
Welfare Officer, ext 8529 or Assistant Welfare Officer, ext 5346. Alternatively, personnel may
contact AWS childminding supervisors directly on 0049 2161 472517.
The HIVE is located in a Portacabin adjacent to the UK Mess. The HIVE provides advice and
information on a wide variety of subjects and is particularly useful for new arrivals to SHAPE.
Additional services include: Internet facilities, tourist information, travel guides and much more.
The main aim of the HIVE is to provide a friendly and helpful environment to assist you with any
problems or queries that may arise whilst living at SHAPE. If the staff are unable to answer
your questions they will refer you to someone who can. The HIVE is open 0900 to 1500
Monday to Friday.
HIVE Information Centres
Germany, Holland and Belgium
HIVE Information Centres support the Chain of Command and tri-Service Communities through
the provision of up to date and relevant information.
What Can Your HIVE Offer You?
• New Arrival Guides for all families and single personnel.
• A “ Get You Back Pack ” when assigned back to UK.
• HIVE can assist with providing information on „Relocation‟ worldwide.
• A comprehensive and up to date range of Department of Work and Pensions
(DWP)/HM Revenue and Customs Information.
• Details of travel facilities, including air, rail and road, both locally and further
• Children‟s Tax Credit, Child Benefit and Sure Start Maternity Grant forms.
• Details on Passports for pets.
• American PX details.
• Referral service to all outside agencies.
• Local facilities in and around the Station, such as opening timings of the gymnasium,
swimming pools, ice rinks, including details of forth-coming local concerts, Anglo German
events and places of interest you may wish to visit HIVE BFG has its own website which
includes links to schools, education centres, employment vacancies in your area and other
useful sites. It has contact details of all HIVEs worldwide and details of „What‟s On‟ in your local
Visit your Information Centre, at the HIVE, to receive a first class, customer friendly information
and referral service. We await your enquiry!
- 34 -
Home-Start volunteers visit families regularly, in their own homes, usually once a week for
between 2-4 hours. The visits are flexible and the volunteer and family together decide when
the visits should take place and how the time will be spent. Sometimes a parent may want
someone to listen, someone to talk to about their concerns and problems or even just someone
to share adult conversation. At another time, they may want some more practical support such
as help to play with the children or to get the family to the shops or hospital appointments.
Volunteers are not babysitters or home helps so any practical help is given as a friend would.
For families, this simple type of support makes a world of difference. While Home-start does not
have a magic formula to take all the problems away, parents tell us that having a friend to
confide in, to cry with, to laugh with and to talk to can make all the difference. All volunteers are
bound by a strict code of confidentiality.
Home-Start has a drop-in centre, SHAPE House, at 351 Domaine de la Brisee, where families
can meet for coffee and a chat in an informal environment. There are regular activities planned
for both children and adults. SHAPE House is open Mon-Fri in the mornings.
The Home-Start Office is situated in Building 309 and can be contacted on ext 3990.
The UK Chaplain is happy to meet members of the British community, especially new arrivals,
either in their homes or in his office. He is prepared to offer advice about most subjects if
requested to do so!
The UK Chaplaincy office is in room 61 at the SHAPE International Chapel Centre, Building
601. This is situated near the Shopping Centre. Everyone is welcome to visit or contact the
office and speak to the Chaplain or the Chaplain‟s Assistant. The office telephone number is
The UK Chaplain, who is Anglican, is happy to provide advice on baptism, confirmation and
marriage, and can easily put those of other denominations in touch with their own clergy. He
can also provide details of services in the surrounding area, including Anglican services in
Brussels, Leuven, Ypres and Lille.
Any service person wishing to marry a foreign national needs to apply in writing to the CO
Church of England
There is an Anglican service at 1015 hrs on Sundays in the East Chapel. It is normally a
service of Holy Communion. The worshipping community includes American Episcopalians and
Canadian Anglicans. After the service there are refreshments in the Hall. The third Sunday in
the month is normally a Family Service. A Sunday School is arranged when required. There
are also special services for Mothering Sunday, St George‟s Day, Harvest Festival, Battle of
Britain Sunday and Remembrance Sunday.
Mass is celebrated in English at 0900 hrs on Sundays in the East Chapel by the American or
Canadian Chaplain. After Mass there are refreshments in the Hall. On Wednesdays Mass is
celebrated in English at 1215 hrs in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel by the German Chaplain.
There is a Protestant service in English at 1130 hrs on Sundays in the East Chapel conducted
by an American Chaplain. Holy Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of the month.
After the service there are refreshments in the Hall.
- 35 -
There are ecumenical and international services on Women‟s World Day of Prayer, Good
Friday, and Harvest Thanksgiving.
There are several Women‟s Fellowship groups that meet in the Chapel Centre. The UK
Chaplain is happy to provide further information on these. There is also normally a Lent
Faith Communities other than Christian
The UK Chaplain is happy to provide advice and appropriate contact details to those of other
faiths. There are occasional Jewish services in the Chapel Centre and there is a representative
of the Jewish community based in SHAPE.
- 36 -
BRITISH FORCES POST OFFICE
It has recently been proposed to close all Forces Post Offices within NATO. As a result,
BFPO have been directed to ensure that the affected FPOs will close by 30 Sep 2010.
Any future information pertaining to the impending closure will be promulgated, giving
further direction and guidance.
There are 2 British Forces Post offices (BFPO) located within SHAPE station, one is situated in
the main shopping area (BONN) and the other within the Main building (Top SHAPE). A full
postal service is available from both offices, services include; purchase of Postage Stamps,
Postal Orders and post office saving Stamps. Information is also available regarding the
purchase of National Savings Certificates and Premium Bonds. The BFPOs in SHAPE also
operate a Post Shop, selling items such as stationery, packaging materials, wrapping paper,
plus many additional items.
Postal Orders and cheques can be cashed at the BFPO, but please note there is a £2.50
encashment fee of certain cheques. Further advice can be sought from BFPO staff.
Entitled Users of the BFPO
The following is a list of entitled users of the BFPO:
All British Military serving personnel and their dependents.
UKBC (United Kingdom Based Civilians) and their dependents.
MOD employed civilians and their dependents, (employed from the UK).
German Forces personnel are entitled to send letters and cards up to 50 grams to family
and friends living in Germany under the 5p agreement. German Forces must adhere to
the correct mail addressing policy.
NATO civilians and their dependents are not entitled to any banking or compensatory facilities
through the BFPO.
It is important that you use the correct form of BFPO address during your stay at SHAPE as this
will prevent your mail being unnecessarily delayed. The following is the recognised format
which will avoid delays:
Number, Rank, Name
Branch and Division
Note: The inclusion of ‘Belgium’ or ‘Mons’ in the BFPO address is unnecessary and will
cause mail to circulate via the Belgian civil Post Office, thus causing a delay.
There are post boxes situated around SHAPE which are emptied on a daily basis, these are
located in the following locations:
UKJSU (Main foyer) - Emptied Mon – Fri
Brit Block - Emptied Mon – Sat
BFPO(Bonn) - Emptied Mon – Sat
BFPO(Top SHAPE) - Emptied Mon – Sat
- 37 -
Mails for Northern Ireland and Eire
Mail for civilian addresses in Northern Ireland and Eire is NOT to be posted in the post box,
these must be handed over to the BFPO staff to deal with it accordingly to ensure safe
transmission to the recipient.
BFPO Opening Times
DAY Counter Opening Hours Mail Collection Counter Opening
Top SHAPE Timings Top Hours
Monday 0830-1200 1000-1200 CLOSED
Tuesday 0830-1200 1000-1200 0900-1230
1230-1600 1400-1600 1300-1630
Wednesday 0830-1200 1000-1200 0900-1230
1230-1600 1400-1600 1300-1600
Thursday 0830-1200 1000-1200 0900-1230
1230-1600 1400-1600 1300-1630
Friday 0830-1200 1000-1200 0830-1230
1230-1500 1300-1500 1300-1500
Saturday CLOSED CLOSED 1000-1200
Sunday CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
Currently, mail is received from the UK 5 days per week, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu & Sat. All mails,
once received into BFPO Northolt are sorted daily ready for despatch on the next available
outlet. Personnel should be aware that if something is posted on a Wednesday in the UK,
depending on when it is received at Northolt, it may miss Thursday or Saturdays outward
despatch to SHAPE. This would then have an impact on the delivery of the item as the next
despatch to SHAPE would not be until Monday. Similarly, if an order was placed to a company
in the UK, they may advise the customer that the item has been despatched from their
warehouse on the day the order was placed. However, this may not always be true as the item
may not be despatched to Northolt until the container is full. So, you may find that the item(s)
you are expecting will not arrive at your location until after the anticipated date.
Commercial Receipts – Consignments to BFPO Addresses via Commercial Receipts
To avoid disappointment and frustration please read the following information:
Any company using the British forces Post office (BFPO) to deliver parcels to customers at
BFPO locations may only do so under one of the following options:
Applying postage at the appropriate (HM Forces) rate and physically posting the item at a Post
Office. This allows for the onward shipment cost. (Documentation required ParcelForce World-
wide PFU 5 dispatch pack).
Use an independent carrier for the inland journey. Then be in direct contract with the BFPO
Agency for the onward shipment to the BFPO customer.
Deliver items to the BFPO Agency using your company‟s own transport. Then be in direct
contract with the BFPO Agency for the onward shipment to the BFPO customer.
Enter into a contract agreement with ParcelForce for the inland journey to BFPO Northolt. Then
be in direct contract with the BFPO Agency for the onward shipment to the BFPO customer.
- 38 -
Enter into contract with ParcelForce under their “One-Stop-shop”.
This allows for the onward shipment to the BFPO customer.
Items are returned to sender mainly for the following reasons:
Returned by FPO
The sender/company is not in contract for onward shipment to BFPO addresses.
The item exceeds the BFPO/ParcelForce size limits.
The item exceeds the BFPO/ParcelForce weight limits.
Returned by ParcelForce
Any of the above.
Incorrect documentation – requirement:
PFU 132 ParcelForce Dispatch Pack.
PFU 163 International Schedule service indicator.
(This documentation is automatic if the company is under the correct contract with ParcelForce
to process into the BFPO system).
NOTE: Many companies are in contract with ParcelForce for collection of goods direct from
their premises for addresses in the UK mainland only. This does not allow for the correct
documentation or onward shipment cost to the BFPO customer.
Carrier Companies Under Contract with BFPO
Various carrier companies have a contract with BFPO. This means that any items delivered by
them on behalf of a mail order company not under either a direct contract or the ParcelForce
One-Stop-Shop scheme will be accepted. The following carrier companies have a contract with
Business Express (Includes Reality & Home Delivery Network)
Fedex (Formally ANC)
Items Refused Onward Carriage by Commercial Receipts
All items that are refused onward carriage by Commercial Receipts are recorded on a database.
The item refused is also endorsed with the reason why and a postcard is sent to the addressee
explaining why the item was refused.
More information can be found by logging onto:
- 39 -
Use of BFPOs to Operate a Business
A. JSP 462 Ch 41 – Regularity and propriety in Public Expenditure.
B. SI BA(G) 5206 sponsored by HQ UKSC(G) and C&L BFLO(G).
All personnel are reminded that the use of BFPO by customers, who are operating a business
overseas for personal gain, are not authorised to use the BFPO facilities to forward or receive
mail items connected with that business. The MOD pays for the transportation of mail to and
from overseas by air or surface means. To allow customers to use the BFPO to operate a
business for personal gain would constitute an abuse of public money.
Individuals who are authorised to operate businesses overseas, are to be advised that they
should use local civilian Post Offices to receive or send goods connected with their business,
whereby full international rates of postage would be charged.
Customs & Excise
It is emphasised that it is not permissible to import into the UK via the British Forces Postal
service from another EU member country certain items which are prohibited or deemed
All aerosols of any type from being sent through the BFPO, Royal Mail and ParcelForce mail
This list is not exhaustive, if you require further advice please contact a member of the BFPO
The following is an extract from the HM customs and excise Authorities:
It is illegal to import into the UK (including Northern Ireland) by post through the BFPO, the
following type of goods:
Cigarettes (50 may be given as a gift)
Other tobacco products
Spirit based perfumes
Where no prior arrangements with the HM Customs and Excise exist.
Belgian Civil Postal Service (La Poste)
- 40 -
The Belgian Post Office (La Poste) is located within building 102, (SHAPE main building). Civil
postage rates vary and are dependent upon weight, size and type of mail and more importantly,
the final destination. Full details of postage rates and services available can be found at La
Poste office in SHAPE.
The BFPO staff is only too pleased to assist you with any difficulty that you may have with your
mail. Please do not hesitate to contact the BFPO staff either by telephoning SHAPE Ext 8164
or the office in top SHAPE on Ext 3526.
INTERNET SHOPPING AND BFPO NUMBERS
Service personnel serving abroad are often frustrated when attempting to purchase
products online as a result of online traders not recognising the BFPO number as a valid
address. These sites are often configured to accept only UK post codes as the online
traders use computer software that compares the supplied delivery address against the
Royal Mail Postal Address File to ensure that the address is valid. BFPO numbers do not
exist within the Postal Address File as they do not indicate a specific address, merely a
service person within a dynamic environment.
Royal Mail operates another system called the Address Interpretation System that
recognises all post codes in the Postal Address File. Though BFPO numbers are not
registered in the Postal Address File, this system is able to recognise the BFPO phrase
at the bottom of the address line allowing the system to create a virtual address so all
mail can be sorted to BFPO London. As a result the software used by the online trader is
unable to verify the address and therefore the purchase is unable to go ahead. This
situation can often be resolved by contacting the supplier directly.
A growing number of online traders are making use of software that recognises BFPO
numbers as a valid address. Unfortunately the problem is still an all too common
occurrence also experienced by our NATO allies when they serve abroad. BFPO and
Royal Mail are however currently in the process of looking at ways in which to improve
the service to entitled personnel serving abroad.
- 41 -
89 Postal & Courier Unit
Royal Logistic Corps
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- 42 -
Q. How long should it take for letter mails to reach this office once they have been received
at BFPO London and vice versa?
A. This depends on the location of the FPO in question and the day/time the letter was
received at BFPO. Timings stated below are a mean average of performance statistics
gathered over the last four months. Timings have been rounded off to the nearest day.
a. North America.
Inbound 2 days.
Outbound 6 days.
b. South Atlantic.
Inbound 4 days.
Outbound 3 days.
c. S Europe.
Inbound 3 days.
Outbound 4 days.
d. NW Europe.
Inbound 1 day.
Outbound 1 day.
Q. How long should it take for a parcel to reach this office once it has been received at
A. This depends on the location of the FPO in question and the day/time the parcel was
received at BFPO. Timings stated below are a mean average of performance statistics
gathered over the last four months. Timings have been rounded off to the nearest day.
a. North America.
Inbound 2 days.
Outbound 6 days.
b. South Atlantic.
Inbound 4 days.
Outbound 4 days.
c. S Europe.
Inbound 3 days.
Outbound 4 days.
- 43 -
d. NW Europe.
Inbound 1 day.
Outbound 2 days.
Q. Is there a size restriction on packages delivered to BFPO?
A. The maximum weight for packages is 30kg and the dimensions are 1.05m in length and
2.0m in length and girth combined.
Q. Do BFPO keep a record of redirected mail for normal letters?
A. BFPO does not keep a record of redirected mail due to the volume of redirected mail,
however a record is maintained for recorded mail, registered mail, a contracts parcel or 24/48hr
Q. Why can the BFPO not provide the special delivery 24hr service?
A. BFPO cannot ensure items posted in UK can be delivered within 24 hours. The Royal
Mail Group offers a 24 hour delivery service within the UK only.
Q. Can I purchase Premium Bonds through the Forces Post
A. BFPO no longer offers this service but information pamphlets
are available in all FPOs. Applications may be made on line but a UK
address is required.
Q. Can I track my item?
A. This depends on the item:
Due to the large volume of mail sorted by BFPO London and Royal Mail group it is not
possible to keep track of an individual letter.
b. Recorded/Special Delivery.
Items can be traced once they have been received by Royal Mail Group. They may be
tracked via the Royal Mail Internet site (www.royalmail.com) or Telephone Helpline 08457
740 740. (The item number required to trace the item can be found on the receipt for the
Inbound to UK parcels can only be traced once they have been accepted by Parcelforce
in Coventry. The Butt Label number is required when making a trace.
- 44 -
Q. Can I use the BFPO system if I am one of the following?
a. Civilian working for NATO.
b. NATO Armed Force member or dependent.
d. Ex pat living in Europe.
A. No. Entitled users of the BFPO are; all members of the
Armed Forces, UK Based Civilians and their dependents and
certain civilian organisations, details of which can be
obtained from FPO staff.
Q. Why are items purchased from online companies who
guarantee next day delivery not delivered in the time promised?
A. The companies that offer a next day service only undertake to deliver the item to BFPO
London within the guaranteed time frame. Once the item has entered the BFPO mail system it
will be subject to the timings discussed in question one. BFPO are not able to offer a next day
parcel delivery service due to the obvious resource constraints.
Q. What items can I purchase from online companies to be delivered via the BFPO mail
system and will these companies be recognised by BFPO?
A. You may purchase any item that may legally be mailed via BFPO, the postal systems of
the country of origin and the country in which you are stationed. Dangerous goods are not
allowed. More information on these goods can be obtained from your local FPO staff. If a
company‟s web site states that the company delivers to BFPO then BFPO will recognise that
company. In all other case please check with the company or with the FPO staff to find out if
the company is in contract with BFPO.
Useful Phone Numbers:
0845769 79 78
89 PC Unit HQ Clerk:
020 8589 3312
- 45 -
LIVING IN BELGIUM AND SHAPE UKJSU
Belgium is divided in 3 regions and has 3 linguistic communities, the Flemish (Dutch), the
French and the German. Its capital is Brussels.
The north of the country is called Flanders, it has about 6 million of inhabitants and the
language is Dutch/Flemish. Main cities are Antwerp, Brugge and Gent.
The south of the country is Wallonia with some 3 million inhabitants. The language here is
French. Mons is located in the south-west of the country, near the French border; other
important cities are Liège, Namur and Charleroi. In the east of Wallonia we have the German-
speaking area with about 70,000 inhabitants; it was German territory but became part of
Belgium after the First World War.
In the centre of the country there is Brussels and the surrounding area of 19 communes which
form the Brussels Capital Region. It has just over 1 million inhabitants. The region is officially
bilingual but it is mainly French-speaking.
History and Traditions
The city of Mons today exhibits relics of its past but it is interesting to note that the site was
originally nothing more than a wooded hill. In the 7th Century, a lady from the local region by
the name of Waudru decided to devote the remainder of her life to prayer and established a
monastery on the hill. The reputation of Saint Waudru and the attractiveness of the local area
encouraged many local people to settle nearby – thus giving birth to the settlement that became
In the 10th Century, the Count of Hainaut constructed a castle and walls that enclosed the
monastery and several other local buildings. A section of this wall can still be found in Rue
Terre du Prince, close to the Collégiale Saint Waudru. The protection provided by this
enclosure drew merchants and craftsmen to the hill. The settlement grew quickly, resulting in a
new wall being constructed in the late 13th Century. This wall remained standing until the 19th
Century and influenced the layout of many of the streets found in the city today. In 1861 the city
was able to expand beyond its established boundaries following the passing of a law which
enabled the fortifications to be dismantled.
A significant event in the history of the city is the outbreak of a plague epidemic in 1349. In an
appeal for clemency from God, the residents of Mons and Soignies brought together the bodies
of the Patron Saints of Hainaut, Saint Vincent and Saint Waudru. The epidemic passed and to
show their gratitude, the citizens of Mons decided to organise a procession in her honour each
year. This procession, known as the „Car d‟Or‟ or golden carriage, takes place on Trinity
Sunday and also recalls the religious history of Mons.
The Grand Place of Mons was created in 1348 and began life as a small market place. It is now
one of the largest in Belgium and is surrounded by restaurants, bars and cafes. The 15th
Century Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) dominates this part of the city, with the Campanile above it
housing the city‟s oldest bell. This is traditionally sounded once per year on Trinity Sunday as
the Car d‟Or passes through the Grand Place. The Tourist Information Office is also housed
here and lots of information is available in English on the local areas of interest.
Adjacent to the Hotel de Ville is the famous „Monkey of Mons‟ which, it is said, will bring you luck
if you touch its head with your left hand. There are many museums to visit in Mons including the
War Museum, the Porcelain Museum, Prehistory and Natural History Museums and the
Collegiale Treasury, which contains exhibits of gold and silver religious artwork from the city.
- 46 -
On the same day as the Car d‟Or procession, the famous „Lumeçon‟ battle takes place in the
city. The re-enactment follows the story of St George slaying the dragon. In 1380 the
fellowship of Dieu et Monseigneur Georges was founded with the aim of preserving the
veneration of St George. Members of the fellowship accompany his relic shrine during the Car
St George‟s battle against evil is replayed as part of the Trinity events with St George, sporting
a yellow helmet and white leggings, being accompanied by his helpers – les Chinchins. The
green dragon is made of willow branches, with its tail being a young tree, and is 9.5 mtrs long
with a weight of approximately 180 kgs. If you manage to pull a hair out of the dragon‟s tail this
will bring you luck for the whole year.
The dragon moves around knocking down les Chinchins, before finally being defeated by St
George. Once the play is complete, the crowds disperse for food and drinks. The legend is
extremely popular and huge crowds cram into the city to be part of the celebration. These
festivities are commonly known as the “Doudou” or the “Ducasse”.
The Battle of Mons – 1914
An interesting tour of the First World War sites of the Battle of Mons can be undertaken. A guide
and map is available from the Tourist Information Office, with several of the sites being close to
The military cemetery at St Symphorien, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves
Commission, is also worthy of a visit.
Local Customs & Law
At a conference with as many as 15 or so people, where you are all going to sit round the table,
you have to go round each one and shake hands. It can be embarrassing to be one of the last
there! No chance for late-comers to sneak in unnoticed, as you are expected to shake hands
with at least your near and not-so near neighbours. The same goes for leaving early.
The Belgians tend to kiss a lot too. Not full on the lips but a peck, called a bise, on each cheek.
The French are content to do this action on each cheek, but the Belgians distinguish themselves
by doing it three times, hence the expression, les 3 bises. Remark: To say hello it is one kiss
only; 3 kisses is custom if you want to congratulate someone. This habit of kissing to say hello
or goodbye is more of a habit in the south of Belgium, not so much in the north. Men kiss each
other too to say hello; it is not uncommon at all.
It does not come easily to Belgians to call casual acquaintances or even work colleagues by
their first name. You will really need to know someone quite well before doing this and it is best
that the Belgian makes the first move. In the same way, don‟t use the French tu or toi (the
familiar form of “you”) unless they have been used in addressing you first.
Try to understand the linguistic problems, or at least be aware of them, as quickly as possible.
If you know someone is Flemish, don‟t insist on speaking French with him or her unless that
person cannot speak English. In the same way, if you go into the Flemish part of the country,
speak first in English, if you cannot speak Dutch. If the person you are speaking to does not
understand you, then try in French. The person will probably speak the language, but you will
have established the fact that you are not Belgian as opposed to a Walloon who refuses to learn
the other national language.
- 47 -
Eating out can produce some surprises. Only the most sophisticated restaurants will lay the
table with bread plates and knives, although it is becoming more and more fashionable. In an
ordinary eating house, Belgians will put their bread on the table beside their plate and use the
one knife offered for the meal to butter it with. Beer will be drunk more at lunch time than in the
evening with food, but wine is drunk with both meals. Beer will sometimes be considered the
best accompaniment for a meal.
Fingers are used for eating frogs‟ legs, quails and other birds, and for shelling any crustacean
that is served unpeeled. If you try to eat mussels with a fork you will probably find yourself in
difficulties in the end. It is better to take the shell containing the mussel in one hand (left if you
are right-handed) and an empty shell in your right that you use as a pincer to take the mussel
out. Lobsters will come with crackers and a special fork so that you can extract every delicious
scrap of flesh from the claw. Snails will also be served with their own utensils: a special
instrument that fits around the shell and small fork for extracting the meat.
If you want to eat quickly at lunch time, select the menu or dish of the day (plat du jour). This will
have been made in quantity and should be served relatively quickly. If you don‟t fancy it, you
can also ask the waiter for a recommendation as to what can be served quickly. This way he or
she should register that you haven‟t five hours to eat. Otherwise, expect to take two or three
hours for lunch. [This is when you take a three course meal; one course would take about one
hour.] There is nowhere in Belgium, except at a fast food outlet, where eating is not considered
as one of the greatest pleasures in life. You will be expected to respect and enjoy this tradition.
If you have a dog with you, ask the restaurant owner for permission to bring it in. In many
cases, particularly in the country, this will be tolerated. While we are on the subject of dogs,
“doggy bags” are not generally indulged in; in fact, asking for one is considered rude.
You will be expected to tip the person keeping the lavatories clean in a restaurant, public place
or hotel. Sometimes you will just find a saucer on which you are expected to place a few coins;
the norm is usually 30 Euro cents unless a signs indicates otherwise.
It is quite usual to stop for coffee and some delicious cream cake or a piece of tart if you are out
in the afternoon. This is known as the quatre heures. Unfortunately, many of the old teashops
have disappeared, but you will sometimes find a bakery which still has a salle de dégustation
attached. In the more touristic areas you will find numerous cafés or tea-rooms, well equipped
with a variety of pastries to sample.
If you are invited for a meal to a Belgian‟s home, never go empty handed. Belgians who are not
used to mixing with foreigners would not really understand if you took a bottle of wine or alcohol.
Flowers and chocolates are best and safest; flowers fit any occasion. However, do let the florist
guide you with numbers and varieties. Don‟t, for example, offer those football-size
chrysanthemums that you see in the Autumn, especially the white variety. These are taken to
the cemetery on or around November 1 (All Saints Day, commemorated more as All Souls) and
put on graves. For a large reception where you might feel awkward arriving with something in
your hand, send the flowers either before or later. It is quite usual to send a bride flowers for
If you are invited into a Belgian‟s home, consider it a privilege. This honour is normally reserved
for family and very close friends. If you are invited to lunch on a Sunday, be prepared for it to
last all day. The programme could start with drinks, then move on to a three or four course
meal. Around four o‟clock, coffee and tarts might be served and then, about six, a cold supper
laid out. If your hosts protest fairly strongly to your going earlier, you will know that you are
expected to stay. They have probably bought, and often prepared, all the food especially, so
don‟t walk away and leave them with meals for a week. When you return their hospitality, the
- 48 -
Belgians are open to new ideas and will enjoy tasting the cuisine of another country, particularly
if it is one with which they are not familiar.
A cloth on the floor just inside the door of a private home, office block or public building is there
for you to wipe your feet on.
Doormats do exist but are not always sufficient to take all the dirt off your shoes when stepping
inside. Belgians are very house-proud and spend a lot of money on equipping their homes.
Belgians find it very hard to queue. At one time, every public building you went into had a pack
of numbers put up somewhere and you took the top number on arrival. When your number was
called, it was your turn. This custom has virtually died out except in the very popular food
shops, and there is a certain amount of order. However, you should watch carefully in shops
and check who is in front of you; otherwise you might wait a long time. Bus, tram and train
queues don‟t exist. Everyone for himself is still the order.
Mons is a French speaking area of Belgium, however the standard language of NATO is
English. There are plenty of opportunities to learn or improve your French if you wish to do so.
Sundays in Belgium are still regarded as a day of rest, as such mowing lawns, washing cars
and similar „noisy‟ activities are not permitted on Sundays depending on the local Commune
laws. Similar laws may apply on religious festival holidays.
Spouses and dependants will be issued with a Belgian ID Card. This card must be carried at all
times, failure to do so may result in a minimum fine of €90.
In the UK individuals carry a card to volunteer to be an organ donor. However, in Belgium you
are automatically considered for organ donation unless you register otherwise with the
Registration Office upon arrival.
You are not permitted to walk your dog into open fields or forestry unless there is a clear sign
stating you may do so. All dogs must be kept on a lead at all times unless you are on private
Belgian towns and cities have a market one day a week. Flowers, produce, antiques and bric-a-
brac are sold at these town markets. The hours are usually 0800-1200 hrs.
Monday: Dour, La Louviere, Leuze, Quaregnon.
Tuesday: Cuesmes, Quievrain, Soignies, Tubize, Wasmes.
Wednesday: Courcelles, Enghien, La Bouveriem, Reniazm, St Ghislain.
Thursday: Ath, Beaumont, Braine-Le-Comte, Jemappes, La Louviere,
Paturages, Pont-a-Celles, Le Roeulx, Tubize, St. Niklass, Havre (pm).
Friday: Beloeil, Mons, Peruwelz, Thin, Wasmes, Thuin
Saturday: Binche, Frameries, Lessines, Nivelles, Tournai, Tubize, Ghlin, Tetre (pm).
Sunday: Charleroi (largest in area), Waterloo (open air antique market) Mons (flea, veg
& flower market), Silly, Chievres, Tongren (antique).
- 49 -
Mons holds a good open-air market (fish, flowers, vegetables) every other Friday morning.
There are numerous large supermarkets/malls in the local surrounding areas. An extensive
guide is available at the HIVE complete with a size conversion table, dictionary of foods and a
street map of Mons.
The SHAPE Shopping Centre complex is centrally located on the SHAPE site. The area is
open Monday to Saturday. Tax-free shopping is available at the GB SHAPE, near the TOTAL
Concessionaire contracts with the Dry Cleaners, Flower Shop, Beauty Shop, Barber Shop,
Opticians and TOTAL assure that the prices charged by these concessionaires are in line with
similar activities in the local Mons area.
Branches of the Fortis Banque are located in the Main Building and in the Shopping Centre
Barber and Beauty Shops
Highly specialised personnel provide a complete range of hair care for ladies and men (perm,
hair-setting, tinting, afro style, etc.). For Beauty Shop (Shopping Centre) appointments, call 065
311720. For Barber Shop (SHAPE Main Building) call 065 364569.
The Press Shop is located in the Shopping Centre and in the main building(102). It provides a
large selection of newspapers, magazines and books in many languages. A film processing
service is also available. The shop is open Monday to Friday 1000-1700 hrs and Sundays &
bank holidays 1000-1300 hrs. Tel: 065 311774.
Rationed Items Store (RIS)
The RIS provides the outlet for duty free rationed items. Purchases of spirit, wine, liqueurs,
tobacco, perfumes and Petrol Cards can be made here. Your ration card must be presented to
make use of this facility. A very wide range of all goods are available. Opening Times Tue-Fri
1100-1800, Sat 1000-1600. Note restrictions of some dependants cannot buy make-up
The GB supermarket sells fresh meats, fish, produce, various canned and dry goods. There are
many items from NATO countries. There is also a bakery, delicatessen and cheese shop and
the Inno Shop within the GB sells cosmetics, jewellery, clothing and household items.
GB Drink Centre. Belgium is not only known for its lace, crystal, diamonds and chocolates but
also for its excellent beers. The Drink Centre sells Belgian beers, waters and sodas by cartons
and cases. The Drink Centre is the only place where bottles can be returned at the GB SHAPE.
GB Home Centre. Plumbing supplies, light fixtures, light bulbs, rugs, home repair items,
transformers, electrical appliances and some furniture items are available at this outlet. There is
also a catalogue section where furniture, building supplies and hardware can be ordered. Tel:
Opticians. The Opticians have a selection of frames for glasses. A contact lens service is also
available for hard, soft and semi-soft lenses, Ext: 5621.
- 50 -
The Moderna Laundry and Dry Cleaning Service is opposite the RIS. Tel: 065 354729.
Services Available: Normal Service (3 to 4 days), Express Service (next day), Same Day
Service (in before 1200 hrs, out by 1730 hrs), Carpet Cleaning Service, Laundry per kilo
Service, bed sheets, quilts and pillows.
Flowers are selected by the Flower Shop Manager from the flower market in Brussels
every 2 days and plants every Monday from a greenhouse in Gent. Tel 065 44 5623.
BBL is located within the main building (102) and offers a complete range of travel services. Tel:
Tax Free Shopping
As a member of NATO forces you are permitted to purchase certain goods tax free within the
EU. Details of the procedures to be followed, and the items which may be purchased within this
concession are available from the Unit Admin Office.
There is a NAAFI at JHQ Rheindahlen, unfortunately there is no automatic right to shop at this
facility for those serving in Belgium. However, it may be used by those who are detached to
JHQ on temporary Duty. A temporary pass may be issued.
Repair Shop provides general repair and maintenance services (i.e tune ups, wheel balancing,
grease jobs, etc.).
Sells car accessories. You can also order tax-free auto parts from TOTAL.
Purchase tokens at TOTAL Shop desk.
There are six self-service islands for your convenience, available seven days a week. Fuel may
only be purchased by use of a TOTAL Fuel Card. For more information on other services Tel:
The Thrift Shop is a handy place to look for those items you may need but do not wish to buy
new. You can also sell unwanted items through the Thrift Shop. The Thrift Shop is located in
the SHAPE Events Centre. Hours of business are as follows:
Taking in Mon & Wed 0900-1130 hrs
Selling Mon & Wed 1300-1500 hrs
Orders of Dress
In view of the international nature of SHAPE it is essential that the highest standard of turn-out
is maintained by all ranks.
During the summer month‟s individuals have the opportunity to wear the „warm weather dress‟
this period is generally from May to Oct and changes are published in Unit Routine Orders
(UROs). The order of dress is laid down in Unit Standing Orders but, in general, is he same as
normal Service conventions in North West Europe.
- 51 -
Individuals may continue to wear combats under single service rules and Army personnel are
given the opportunity to wear the dress shown below.
Army Officer Warm Weather Uniform
No 4 Dress - stone coloured lightweight Service Dress pattern.
No 6 Dress - stone coloured lightweight Parade Dress - bush jacket pattern.
No 7 Dress - stone coloured lightweight short sleeve shirt and trousers.
Entitled officers will receive a free issue of No 4 and No 6 Dress pattern uniforms (your Unit QM
will advise you). Officers who have received an allowance for No 4 and No 6 Dress within the
last 12 years will only get replacement uniforms on repayment. After 12 years replacement is
No 4 & No 6 Dress can be ordered through UKJSU QM‟s Dept. The supply time is
approximately 8 weeks.
Foot Guards Officers should apply to Supply Branch, London District to arrange local
It is the responsibility of the individual officer to apply to his Unit QM for issue of No 4 and No 6
Dress. See Mat Regs Vol 3, Pam 3, Annex B, Sect 3 para 6(a). Officers who think they may
have received an allowance or have been issued No 4 and/or No 6 Dress in the dim and distant
past (12 year rule) should contact their Army Pay Office, who will validate eligibility for issue.
Army Officers & Soldiers
No 7 Dress or combats are worn as working dress during the summer. Two sets of No 7 dress
must be demanded by your Quartermaster‟s Department prior to assignment using your posting
order number and date as authority.
RAF & RN Officers, Airmen & Ratings
Normal UK Summer dress is worn at SHAPE. Warm weather uniform is not required unless you
are posted to an appointment which requires regular detachment to warm weather areas.
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)
Allied Command Operations
Allied Command Operations (ACO) is one of 2 major military commands of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation (NATO). ACO safeguards the area that extends from the northern tip of
Norway to North Africa and from the Atlantic coastline to the eastern border of Turkey. This
equates to nearly 2 million square kilometres of land, more than 3 million square kilometres of
sea and a population of about 320 million people in Europe.
SHAPE was activated on 2 April 1951 in Paris and established at Rocquencourt (west of Paris)
on 23 July 1951. SHAPE moved when the French withdrew from the military section of NATO
to its current location on the outskirts of Mons in Belgium and became operational on 31 March
The site at Casteau, formerly known as the “Captain Moreau Barracks” was acquired by the
Belgian War office in 1825. The buildings in the industrial area (200 area) housed the horse-
drawn field artillery from the 1880s until after the First World War. Several of the buildings still
feature the iron rings to which the horses were hitched. While being used as an artillery range,
the guns were placed at the end of the strip of land running out to the west gate. When the
guns were fired, the shells landed in the area now covered by the shopping centre, sports fields
and schools. On the site now occupied by the Main Building was a grass airfield. An aircraft
- 52 -
hangar and club-house sat where the flags are now located at the front of the establishment. In
1940 the industrial area was used as a prisoner of war camp by the Germans; ironically when
the war ended it was the German troops who were imprisoned at Captain Moreau Barracks.
SHAPE is the military headquarters of ACO. At SHAPE, the Supreme Allied Commander
Europe (SACEUR) and his international staff plan and conduct exercises and other operational
functions for ACO.
The Forces of ACO
NATO‟s New Strategic Concept states that the primary role of the forces of ACO is to guarantee
the security and territorial integrity of NATO member nations in Europe.
This role must take into account the current strategic environment, in which a single massive
and global threat has given way to diverse and multi-directional tasks. The forces of ACO have
functions to perform in peace, crisis and war.
ACO‟s mission in times of peace
In times of peace the role of the military force is to guard against risks to the security of the
Alliance members; to contribute towards the maintenance of stability and balance in Europe and
to contribute to the preservation of peace.
They can contribute to dialogue and cooperation throughout Europe by their participation in
confidence building activities, including those that enhance transparency and improve
communication, as well as verification of arms control agreements.
Furthermore, the member nations could be called upon to contribute to stability and peace in
Europe and beyond NATO borders by providing forces for United Nations and the Organization
for Security and Co-operation in Europe missions.
ACO‟s mission in times of crisis
In the event of crises which might lead to a military threat to the security of the NATO member
nations, the forces of ACO can complement and reinforce political actions within a broad
approach to security, and thereby contribute to the management of such crises and their
This requires that these forces have a capability for measured and timely responses including
de-escalation in such circumstances; the capability to deter action against any member nation
and, in the event that aggression takes place, to respond and to restore the territorial integrity of
ACO‟s mission in times of war
Although in the current security environment a general war in Europe has become highly
unlikely, it cannot be finally ruled out. The military forces of ACO, which have as their
fundamental mission to protect peace, have to provide the essential insurance against potential
risks at the minimum level necessary to prevent war of any kind, and should aggression occur,
to restore peace.
The mission of SACEUR is to contribute to preserving peace, security and territorial integrity of
the NATO member nations. To ensure this, he will recommend the forces required to promote
stability, to contribute to crisis management and to provide for effective defence. However,
should aggression occur, he will take all military measures within his capability and authority to
demonstrate the solidarity of the Alliance and preparedness to maintain its integrity, to
safeguard freedom of the seas and economic lifelines and to preserve or restore the security of
the area of ACO.
- 53 -
National Military Representatives (NMRs)
The co-ordination and integration of requirements, plans and procedures between the allied
headquarters and NATO, national military staffs and commands is facilitated by the presence at
SHAPE of a National Military Representative (NMR) from each country which has military forces
in the allied integrated military structure. The NMRs are responsible for liaison with their Chiefs-
- 54 -
The UKJSU provides accounting services for personnel posted to SHAPE, NATO HQ and
The Currency in much of mainland Europe is the Euro.
Personnel are reminded that payment into an overseas account may take up to 6 weeks and
they should therefore plan finances accordingly.
Cheques may be cashed through the cashier for the first 3 months after arrival. This is
restricted to 4 cheques per month and up to the value of your net monthly salary.
Normal Banking facilities are provided by Fortis Banque at SHAPE. You cannot open an
account until you arrive at SHAPE and it is a lengthy process so be prepared for a long wait.
They are able to offer you banking in English language. More details regarding the types of
account can be obtained from 065 445517.
Alliance & Leicester
An Alliance and Leicester current account can also be used at any British Forces Post Office. It
is advantageous to open an account prior to arrival, however, the Post Office do hold application
Personnel with an Alliance and Leicester accounts are able to transfer money to/from the UK
and may also cash cheques up to the maximum allowed on the cheque guarantee card.
Issue of Pay
You may choose to have one of the following methods of receiving your monthly salary:
• All pay may be credited to a nominated local Belgian bank.
• All pay may be credited to a nominated UK bank.
• A fixed allotment/deduction may be made to the UK bank and the remaining pay credited to a
local Belgian bank.
• A fixed allotment may be made to a local Belgian bank and the remaining pay credited to the
If your spouse remains in the UK, you are to make arrangements for him/her to be provided with
funds. The simplest method is to arrange a fixed sum from your pay to be credited to their bank
account in UK. You should consult your present Pay Staff/PSF for further details.
Advance of Pay
An advance of up to one month‟s pay may be granted on posting (subject to single service
regulations) You are strongly advised to discuss this with your current UPO/Admin Office/Gen
- 55 -
You will find that your first 3-4 weeks at SHAPE can be expensive taking into account the
additional taxes and charges that can be levied. All personnel are strongly advised to ensure
that they have access to sufficient cash funds during this initial period.
Local Overseas Allowance
Local Overseas Allowance (LOA), is paid whilst you serve in Belgium, beginning up to 6 days
before the date shown on your assignment order, or your arrival in Belgium if later. It is paid
to cover the difference between the cost of living/lifestyle in Belgium and that of living in UK. It
will vary subject to an annual pricing review, a 3 yearly lifestyle review and whenever the Forces
Fixed Rate of Exchange changes. If married accompanied and you and your spouse are absent
from the duty station (not including leave) for any period exceeding 17 continuous days or 90
days in a 12 month period, then this will attract absence deductions from your LOA. All such
absences are to be declared to the UPO/UAO/Admin Office.
LOA is intended to meet the reasonable needs of the average person/family. Although your
lifestyle may be different in some respects to that on which the LOA calculations are based, it is
obviously not possible to have separate rates of LOA for every individual.
How you spend your LOA is up to you. If you spend less on the „essential‟ things in life, in order
to buy a car or some other expensive item, that is your choice. Do not assume that LOA will
always stay the same. LOA does increase or decrease from time to time and you should not,
therefore, commit yourself to expenditure which depends upon your LOA never being reduced.
If you are eligible for and/or allocated a SFA then you may be entitled to claim disturbance
allowance up to 45 days prior to your arrival here. This should be confirmed with your current
Longer Separation Allowance (LSA)
This allowance may be paid if you are serving unaccompanied in a different theatre to your
spouse, eg if your spouse is living in UK.
The Army Over 37 Provision
If you are 37 or over you may serve unaccompanied subject to certain conditions and pay
abated food charges, no accommodation and receive LSA. You may also be able to claim
Disturbance Allowance and use the Service Contract System for removals.
There are reciprocal agreements affecting maternity benefits between the UK and countries of
the European Community: Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain.
These agreements may help you to qualify for UK Maternity Allowance (MA) if you have paid
the other country‟s contributions. For more information write to the DSS stating that you are
assigned to Belgium. The address is:
Department of Social Security
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
There are 2 ways to claim child benefit when posted overseas:
If you or your spouse has a Department of Social Security Child Allowance Book and your
children accompany you to Belgium, you should collect child benefit up to the date of departure
- 56 -
then present the allowance book to the Admin Office who will arrange form Overseas Child
Benefit (OCB) to be paid into the Service persons‟ pay account. Or:
Prior to departure, you may return the allowance book to DSS requesting payments to be made
into a UK bank or building society, monthly in arrears. If you choose this method of payment,
you should take a note of the Child Benefit Number on the front of the book; this will be required
by the UKJSU Admin Office.
If you already receive child benefit into your bank account, you only need to change your
address with the DSS.
Parents should note that when a child reaches the age of 15 years and 10 months they must be
registered for National Insurance purposes through the DSS and will then be issued with a
National Insurance Number. Application forms are available from the Unit Admin Office.
- 57 -
British Community News. This is your magazine and is distributed monthly. If you have
something you wish to be included in the BCN please send it (ideally on disc) to the Editor,
British Community News, UKJSU.
SHAPE Community Life. Fortnightly International magazine with details of „what‟s on‟. It may
be picked up in the Main Building, Shopping Centre or UKJSU.
- 58 -
Within our dependency, welfare support for all three services is provided by the Army Welfare
No problem is too big or too small
The Army Welfare Information Service (AWIS) exists to give information and advice to
Servicemen and women and their families.
Personal Advice & Information
Trained personnel who are thoroughly experienced in most of the problems encountered by
Service personnel and their families staff the Service.
It doesn‟t matter if the query is simple, routine, or difficult, of a personal or family nature - the
staff of the Service will either answer your question or put you in touch with one of the military or
civilian agencies who can provide you with help and assistance.
There are few matters on which AWIS cannot give you sound and sympathetic advice.
AWIS Information Sheets
AWIS produce and circulate information sheets and leaflets on a wide range of subjects to units
and HIVEs. The AWIS information sheets are also available on the Internet. The information
sheets and leaflets provide a vast fund of reference information, which is instantly available to
all Military personnel and their families. If you require advice or information you can contact
AWIS direct or via your local AWS Office, Unit Welfare Officer or HIVE.
How to contact AWIS direct:
Army Welfare Information Service, HQ AWS, HQ Land Command, Erskine Barracks, Salisbury,
Wilts, SP2 0AG.
Military: 94331 2569/2461 Fax: 94331 2307
Civilian: (01722) 436569/436461 Fax: (01722) 436307
ALL HELP AND ADVICE FROM AWIS IS FREE AND CONFIDENTIAL
The Army Families Federation
The Army Families Federation (AFF) is the unique two-way communications link between the
British Army and its families. AFF is working hard to improve the quality of life for Army families,
and ensure that they are in no way disadvantaged because they “follow the flag”. AFF
represents all members of a soldier‟s family and is recognised as their representative voice. The
media and national organisations on issues concerning Army families.
Where to find AFF
AFF can be found wherever there are Army families in the world. The hub of the network is AFF
Central Office, based at Upavon in the UK, and there are AFF Branches in Northern Ireland,
Germany and Cyprus, with local representatives in overseas locations, such as Belize, Canada,
- 59 -
Gibraltar, Italy, Nepal and the USA operates through a network of Co-ordinators and volunteers
who listen and represent the views and concerns of Army families to the policy makers.
AFF employs four “Specialists” who each concentrate on a particular area of concern for Army
families, and deal with all aspects of that subject for AFF.
Education; Housing; Special Needs; and Territorial Army and Reserve Forces.
Our experts represent AFF at all relevant meetings with outside agencies, and offer advice and
information to families with queries or concerns in their subject.
The AFF Families‟ Journal - Army families‟ own magazine
The AFF publishes a quarterly magazine, the AFF Families‟ Journal, written and edited by Army
spouses, which promotes communication between Army families, wherever they live, on issues
which affect their lives. It is full of interesting articles and useful information, keeping families up-
to-date, and includes a lively letters column which brings current issues to the fore. The Journal
is distributed FREE to all Army families worldwide, visit www.afj.org.uk for further information or
to download back issues.
Giving families the chance to ask their own questions
AFF holds regular Conferences in Britain and its Branch locations, which are open to all Army
dependants, giving them the opportunity to put questions directly to the speakers at these
Conferences, which include senior military officers, politicians and executives from the relevant
housing, health and education agencies. www.aff.org.uk
Our website is a useful source of information for all Army families and offers up to date news
and information on our special lifestyle. If you want to know how to contact your nearest AFF
Co-ordinator to voice your views, visit www.aff.org.uk.
AFF Germany, Block 1 Hammersmith Barracks, Herford, BFPO 15
AFF Germany website: www.affgermany.org
Tel: 00 49 (0)5221 9953180
Fax: 00 49 (0)5221 9953182
- 60 -
You are reminded that the threat posed by terrorist action still exists in Belgium and vigilance
must be maintained. Anyone who sees any activity which they consider to be suspicious is to
report the details, without delay, to any of the following:
International Police Ext: 3333
Unit Security Officer Ext: 4145 (2IC UKJSU)
UKJSU Duty Room Ext: 4960 (Silent Hours Only)
UKJSU Duty NCO: 0478 223116
There is hard crime in Belgium that some times involves weapons. The majority of crime in and
around SHAPE areas seems to be breaking into homes and cars for items such as currency,
electronic equipment, car stereos, cameras and passports is fairly common. It often happens to
SHAPIANS and some individuals would say it is because we have a blue registration plate
which is different to the local red one issued to the Belgians, but we have no hard evidence to
The SHAPE military police have suggestions for securing your valuables and reducing the
chance of your home and vehicle becoming a target for thieves. If you are concerned about
such occurrences then please contact the SHAPE Police who will provide you with useful anti-
theft advice you should contact the SHAPE International Police, ext 3725.
The most prevalent crime in what we class the married quarter areas is theft from the gardens
and this is mainly carried out by the local youths stealing things such as: bikes, trampolines and
The majority of quarters are fitted with burglar alarms but unfortunately some families fail to
activate the alarm prior to leaving the house or going to bed at night, it is highly recommended
that you make full use of the alarm system if fitted in your property.
- 61 -
Exporting Vehicles from UK
As you all should be aware, there is now a system in UK of declaring your vehicle „off the road‟
or having to tax it. If you do not complete a „Statutory Off Road Notification‟ (SORN) and you do
not tax your vehicle, you will be subject to an automatic fine. It therefore follows that you should
pay particular attention to the routines for exporting your vehicle from UK.
The correct procedure, for exporting a vehicle from UK is that a Certificate of Export (V561) is
applied for and is issued in lieu of the V5. This should be done in advance of your departure
from UK. Any individual who has not done this in advance of posting and who has surrendered
their V5 in accordance with Belgian Law should complete and return a V756 to DVLA, who will
then issue an Export Certificate.
The new style V5 has a perforated tear-off section to declare that the vehicle has been xported.
This should be removed, signed and returned to DVLA prior to the V5 being surrendered
You would also be best served to obtain a License refund form prior to departure. Forms and
comprehensive up-to-date advice can be found on the DVLA website:
Tax Free Motor Vehicles
The tax free privileges at SHAPE differ from those for British Forces in Germany and elsewhere.
Individuals posted to SHAPE for a 2-3 year tour are currently permitted to purchase and own tax
free vehicles as follows:
Single/Married Unaccompanied: 1 x vehicle per tour
Married Accompanied: See below
If you arrive at SHAPE with a tax free vehicle which is less than 6 months old, this will count
against your entitlement until it has been owned for a full 3 years.
Married Accompanied personnel should be aware that there are various rules for working
spouses which may affect the entitlement to tax free privileges. Advice should be sought before
a spouse commences employment.
If you wish to register a second vehicle during your tour at SHAPE, you will be required to pay
Belgian road tax. This amount varies according to engine capacity, however, as a concession,
the tax will be levied against the lower engine capacity regardless of which vehicle you
All vehicles will be registered in the name of the Service person. All drivers must have a
SHAPE ID Card and a valid UK or European driving licence. The driving licences and vehicle
documents must be carried in the vehicle whenever it is being driven.
Other dependants under 25 years of age who are resident in Belgium and in full time education
in Belgium, who have a driving licence, may also have a tax free vehicle purchased for them.
Again, advice should be sought in advance of purchasing the vehicle.
The rules and regulations can be quite complex and there are many variations that necessitate
consultation with the Belgian Authorities. You should therefore always seek advice if you have
any doubts about your position. You should also note that special authority from both the
Belgian Tax Authorities and the UK National Military Representative is necessary if you wish to
register more than 3 vehicles in the course of a 3-year tour.
- 62 -
Finally, you should note that there are two types of tax-free vehicles:
“T2” vehicles which are intended for use within the EU area and have no liability to Import Duty.
“T1” vehicles which are intended for export from the EU and are liable to a 10% Import Duty
when they are finally registered in the EU. Diplomatic sales and those vehicle sold to British
Forces Germany, or elsewhere in the EU, may require Import Duty to be paid so you are
advised to check and make provision for the payment if necessary.
Prior to arrival ensure your insurance green card is completed correctly, failure to do so will
cause you much irritation. After arrival all car owners should borrow and study a copy of the
Belgian Highway Code from the UKJSU MT. There are very significant differences between the
rules for driving in Belgium compared with Germany and the UK. For example, the right of way
differs and car documents must be carried at all times in your car.
In Belgium right-hand dipping headlights are mandatory. There is no requirement for yellow
lights. Dipped headlights are mandatory in built up areas at night, side lights (or parking lights)
are permitted only when the car is stationary. Two rear fog lamps are permitted but mandatory
that one be fitted on the off-side (left hand side when facing the rear of the vehicle).
The wearing of seat belts is mandatory for all passengers except pregnant women and certain
medical cases. Children under the age of 12 years must not ride in the front seats if there is a
vacant seat in the rear.
The subject of motor insurance can be very complex as many insurance companies in the UK
(including some of the better known large companies) cannot insure your car with policies
issued by their UK office. If in doubt consult your own insurance broker. Alternatively you can
arrive on a temporary „Green Card‟ and arrange your insurance locally. This is quite acceptable
but is usually more expensive and may marginally delay the provision of SHAPE registration
plates whilst you negotiate your insurance cover with the local representative. If you do go to
one of the UK Companies suggested it is very important to ensure the following:
Green Card to be valid for full 12 months.
Green Card to show CHASSIS No not a Registration Number.
Green Card MUST show your Belgian correspondence address i.e.
SHAPE, BFPO 26.
If you or your dependants do not hold a full UK Driving Licence, you are advised most strongly
to obtain one prior to arrival at SHAPE. In Belgium only qualified and licensed driving schools
are permitted to give instruction to learner drivers. The cost of obtaining a licence in Belgium is
prohibitive because of the high fees of driving instruction and interpreters‟ fees unless you are
fluent in French or Flemish.
SHAPE Gendarmerie Registration Section (SGRS) will advise civilians and dependants who
wish to obtain a Belgian driving licence and will issue the required documents. For further
information contact UKMT Bldg 244 Ext: 5297
SHAPE Licensed Vehicles and Belgian Road Tax
Belgian road tax is not payable on the first registered vehicle at SHAPE (including motorcycles
over 250cc) as this is considered to be for travel between home and place of work. Caravans or
trailers are never exempted from road tax. Road tax is payable on any second or subsequent
- 63 -
car, unless your spouse is in certain types of full time employment and resides with you at
SHAPE and one of the vehicles is registered in their name.
How much Road Tax is due? Road Tax is calculated according to the size of the vehicle
engine (in cubic centimetres). Road Tax on caravans or trailers is a fixed amount. However, be
aware that vans, trucks, motor-homes and horse trailers have their road tax calculated by
weight and are subject to reduction when they are more than five years of age. As a
concession, road tax may be paid on the smallest vehicle (determined by engine size). The
Vehicle Registration Office (VRO) will inform you on how much road tax is due.
How to pay Road Tax. SHAPE personnel have to pay road tax annually before the next
following tax period. Under the sole condition that SHAPE members are posted for a limited
period, they are allowed to pay for 1, 2 or 3 quarters of the remaining time of their last year at
SHAPE. SHAPE members then have to declare to the VRO that they will leave SHAPE at a
presumed date. Road Tax will be calculated to the end of the last quarter.
Extension of Posting in Belgium. If for any reason an extension of posting in Belgium occurs,
SHAPE members must report with a document of extension to the VRO before the end of the
last quarter of road tax. They then have to pay road tax for the remainder of that tax year.
Note: Having registered a vehicle for just one day into a quarter means road tax is due for the
Late payment of Road Tax. Late payment of road tax - even by one day - will result in an
administration fine; this applies to all Belgian residents.
Unforeseen Departure from Belgium. If a SHAPE member is leaving Belgium before his or
her scheduled date of departure, a request for reimbursement of road tax for unused quarters
can be made at the VRO. The name, address and account number of a SHAPE member
staying in Belgium has to be given to the VRO as the Belgian administration does not reimburse
outside of Belgium.
Reimbursement on Disposing of a Vehicle whilst remaining at SHAPE. If a SHAPE
member disposes of a vehicle on which road taxes have been paid they have 2 options:
Transfer road tax to another vehicle to be registered under their name. Or; Request
reimbursement of road tax for unused quarters at VRO on production of the current SHAPE
plate for cancellation when the vehicle has been exported, sold or wrecked.
Transfer of Road Tax. When an individual is selling his vehicle for which he paid road tax, the
residue of road tax may be transferred to the buyer if he/she is also liable to the payment of
road tax. In such a case, the seller must return the licence plate of that vehicle to RO for
cancellation. The lump sum of road tax is not transferable.
Information. If you have any problems or further questions regarding replacing vehicles,
transferring ownership, transcription of road taxes etc, please contact or visit VRO for advice in
Building 210, Ext: 4148/5147.
Note: Road Tax on caravans or trailers is a fixed annual amount and is not subject to
Warning Triangle, First Aid Kit and Fire Extinguisher
All vehicles registered in Belgium must be equipped with a warning triangle, first aid kit and fire
extinguisher, all of which must meet the Belgian specifications. All these items can be obtained
locally. A tow-rope is also advisable.
- 64 -
Vehicle Licensing and Registration at SHIPPS
Both vehicles in a two-car family must be registered in the Service person‟s name unless the
spouse has privileges in his/her own right. Spouses should ensure that they have a full UK
licence prior to arrival in order to avoid the Belgian driving test. Trailers and caravans also need
to be registered.
You will need to produce the following documents:
Car Registration Book
Evidence of ownership
Current “Green Card” (see page 52)
Driving Licence and spouse‟s Driving Licence if appropriate and in
addition a passport size photograph.
Control Technique Pass Certificate, for cars four years and over
On completion of registration you will be given a Military Registration number and issued with
new registration plates on payment of the registration charge. Once you affix these plates you
must remove your „GB‟ sticker and you must replace it with a (Belgian) „B‟ one. These are
issued with your SHAPE plates or can be purchased locally in Belgium. You will also be issued
a BENELUX 4 (Customs document) which together with all other vehicle documents must be
carried in the vehicle at all times. This Benelux Form 4 must be handed in when you finally
leave Belgium. The registration will be valid for the entire period of your posting to SHAPE,
whilst the vehicle remains in your ownership. However, there is a requirement to revalidate the
registration on each occasion that your International Insurance Certificate (Green Card) or your
SHAPE ID Card is renewed.
The revalidation is indicated by two stickers on the rear plate. There is a charge on each
occasion that you revalidate the registration.
Caravans can be stored in the MT park with the appropriate permission from MTWO.
Vehicle Technical Inspection (Control Technique (CT))
Vehicles temporarily registered in Belgium which are four or more years old (which includes
vehicles registered by SHAPE and NATO personnel) must undergo an annual vehicle
inspection at a testing station certified by the Belgian Government. Vehicles must be presented
for testing during the anniversary month of their original registration (i.e. when new or first
purchased). If you bring to SHAPE a vehicle which is 4 years old or more, this vehicle must
undergo and pass the annual vehicle inspection before SHAPE registration plates will be issued
regardless of whether it has recently undergone a similar examination in the UK. This „CT‟ is
more expensive than the UK MOT.
The CT centre is 5 mins from SHAPE on the way into Mons. It is not possible to pre-book so
you are recommended to go early and join the queue. The UK MT will give advice if required.
For those wishing to sell a vehicle, regardless of its age, an inspection must be carried out on
change of ownership; this is the responsibility of the seller. The basic requirements of road
worthiness are detailed hereafter.
For further information contact: TCWO UKMT Bldg 244 Ext, 5297
Lights installed by a manufacturer or by the owner must be maintained in proper working order.
Exterior lights with broken or missing lenses are not considered to be in proper working order.
Parking Lights. Two white lights on the front of the vehicle separate from the headlights.
- 65 -
Headlights. Two high (main) or two low (dipped) beam highlights, correctly adjusted. They may
be white or yellow but both lights must be of the same colour. You are strongly advised to
purchase European Headlights as the stickers are only a temporary measure.
Directional Signal Lights. Left and right turn signal lights at the front and rear of the vehicle.
The front lights may be white or yellow and the rear lights yellow or red, but in both cases each
pair must be of the same colour.
Tail and Stop Lights. Two red tail lights and two red stoplights on the rear.
Licence Plate Light. A lamp must be so placed as to illuminate the rear licence plate and
make it clearly visible at night.
Rear Fog Light. At least one red rear fog light must be fitted. This light must be of an
approved type and marked „B1‟. It must be fitted at the middle or between the middle and left of
the rear of the vehicle. Two red fog lights may be fitted; in this case the lights must be marked
Red Reflectors. Two red reflectors of any shape, except triangular must be fitted at the rear of
Optional Lights. Two white or yellow fog lights may be fitted at the front of the vehicle but they
must work in conjunction with the headlights. One searchlight may be fitted on the front of the
vehicle and one or two reversing lights may be fitted at the rear of the vehicles. These must
function only when reverse gear is selected.
Vehicles registered from 15 June 1968 onwards must have seat belts for the driver and front
The shock absorbers must be in good working order.
The speedometer must be in good working condition and show the speed in kilometres per
The wiper(s) must be efficient and capable of operating without the continual intervention of the
The vehicle must have 2 means of applying brakes. If connected, they must be so constructed
that the failure of one will not affect the other. They must be able to bring the vehicle to a
smooth stop within a certain distance, which may vary according to the type of vehicle, with no
evidence of side pull.
The tyres of all vehicles capable of exceeding 25 kph must be in good condition and must show
sculptures of at least 1mm deep all over the tread. Tyres fitted on an axle must be of the same
type. When radial tyres are fitted on the front of the vehicle radial tyres must be fitted on rear.
Retread and studded tyres are not permitted.
An approved fire extinguisher must be placed so as to be accessible to the driver.
- 66 -
In Belgium the driver is required to have a reflective vest to be worn in case of breakdown. In
France all occupants of a vehicle must have their own reflective vest in case of breakdown.
First Aid Kit
An approved First Aid Kit must be carried at all times.
An approved Warning Triangle must be carried at all times.
Traffic rules within Belgium are different and you should note these differences before your
arrival. This will help you to prepare for an accident free tour at SHAPE. Belgium uses the
international road sign system.
There is a general speed limit on all roads of 90 kph except where otherwise indicated. On
motorways and four lane two way roads with a separation barrier the speed is limited to 120 kph
except where otherwise indicated. When entering a built up area (rectangle white sign with the
name of the place written in black; some of these signs represent a city landscape on their lower
part) in these cases the speed limit is implicitly 50 kph.
Headlamps must be used when visibility is poor. Rear fog lamps may only be used in fog,
heavy rain or snowfall, and only when visibility is less than 100 metres. Front fog headlights can
only be used in conjunction with the rear ones.
Unless otherwise indicated, vehicles approaching from the right have priority. This
applies at all times including crossroads and „T‟ junctions. The law concerning
roundabouts changed on 1 Jan 95 and is now the same as in UK where those on the
roundabout have priority. Exercise caution however, some locals have been driving by the old
regulation for a long time and there may be still some drivers who find it hard to remember the
In Belgium the police frequently stop cars in order to carry out spot checks. At these checks the
police will want to see that you are wearing seat belts and that you have with you all the
essential documents. These include all the registration documents for the car, your insurance
certificate and your driving licence. The police are empowered to make very heavy fines via the
SHAPE Gendameries if you are not carrying your motor documents. It is advisable therefore to
keep the relevant documents in the car at all times. The police will also examine the car to
make sure the tyres, lights, windscreen wipers etc are working and in good condition. The
number of checks is increasing every year with the increase in motor regulations.
Operation of Power assisted Cycles/Bicycles
Belgian law requires all bicycles intended to be operated by persons over 12 years of age to be
registered. A number of specific regulations exist and advice can be sought from SHAPE
Vehicle Registration Office.
Drinking and Driving
Permissible levels of alcohol whilst driving are the same as those in the UK. It is pointed out,
however, that the small print in many policies render the insurance null and void if an accident
occurs when under the influence of alcohol.
Petrol Ration Cards
- 67 -
Duty free petrol cards are available from the HQ SHAPE Building. The Total Station in SHAPE
and most Total garages in Belgium will accept the cards. The monthly ration which varies
according to engine size, is adequate but is issued to only one car per family.
Garage charges for repairs and servicing are high and 21% TVA (VAT) is added. There is an
Autofixit Workshop at SHAPE which you can use to carry out minor repairs and maintenance on
your car. The Total garage at SHAPE is equipped to carry out routine servicing and
maintenance. Spare parts for your car can be ordered there and they offer a large stock of
common user items at discount prices. Most Continental and UK manufacturers have agents in
One of the most important places to follow Belgian customs is behind the steering wheel of your
car: the old maxim of „he who hesitates is lost‟ could, at the worst, mean dead. Do take your
priority, otherwise you will upset the other driver. Should you decide to relinquish it, let him
know you are doing so.
There have been some terrible accidents with internationals here, caused by the flashing of
headlights in broad daylight. This sign is usually used to indicate „I am there‟, „I am taking my
priority‟. In Britain it generally means „I am letting you go first‟. You can imagine the
consequences. Of course, if the car signalling is behind you, it generally means you are in his
way. Belgians are particularly good motorway drivers: mostly they keep well to the right (and
that means in the inside lane) and leave the way clear for overtaking traffic. You will soon
become unpopular if you hog the middle or the outside lanes and you won‟t do much for our
public relations image if you have a SHAPE licence plate or a country sticker on the back of
If you should have an accident and it doesn‟t look as though a „gentleman‟s agreement‟ can be
organised early, or if someone is hurt, call the Federal Police on ext 3334, civil 065 443334.
Do not drive on parking lights, whatever the time of day. They have no legal status here. If the
weather is bad or if you are driving at night, drive on dipped headlights. Beware of parking in
front of garages and entrances. You will be surprised how small some of these can be and how
they can be dressed up to look like something else. A garage or entrance does not have to
have a miniature car number plate with the owner‟s car number attached to it, although wise
residents will make sure this information can be seen clearly. If you park across someone‟s
entrance or garage he has the right to ring the police and have your vehicle towed away.
Besides the inconvenience of finding out where your vehicle is, getting there and paying for it
being towed away, you will also be fined.
- 68 -
TELEPHONES AND INTERNET
Many hirings have a telephone line installed and only require a reconnection. Occupants who
wish to have a telephone connected/installed must enter into a private contract with the local
Belgacom have a representative in SHAPE and they can advise you of their deals which
ncludes free calls to UK during evenings and weekends (up to a generous limit). They also
have a very useful website at www.belgacom.be where you can find details of their phone and
The Country code is 0032 for Belgium and the area access is 65, access to SHAPE is 44
followed by the last four digits for the required extension number (i.e. 0032 65 44XXXX). Local
Belgacom Internet start-up CDs are available from any Belgacom outlet.
Belgian Call Boxes require either coins or Belgacom Telecards. Some kiosks can only be used
for a zonal call. If it is a Mons area call, only numbers prefixed by 065 can be dialled. To make
an international call or inter-zonal call you need to go to your local Belgian Post Office or find a
kiosk decorated with the EC flags.
Personal Telephone Calls on Military Phones. A system of prepayment cards has been set
up in SHAPE which enables personal telephone calls to be made on SHAPE telephones.
These cards are available through the Fuel Ration Card Purchase Office in 'Top SHAPE'.
These cards may also be used on other telephones throughout Belgium including your home
BT Friends and Family. BT run a discount scheme for their residential customers in the UK
called Friends and Family which can give 5% off all phone calls to a registered international
number. For further details the UK subscriber should dial 150.
BT Chargecards. The use of BT Chargecards to call from the UK can be expensive and, in
many cases, the use of mobile phones can work out cheaper. You will need to consider the
best options available.
- 69 -
CLUBS & ASSOCIATIONS
SHAPE International Club Section
The SHAPE International Club Section (ICS) operates a number of facilities including the
SHAPE Club, the HQ Cafeteria and Continental Mess. Each location provides excellent fast
food or restaurant facilities and is available for private functions at competitive rates.
SHAPE International Women‟s Club
The purpose of the club is to sponsor activities of interest to members and to promote friendship
and exchange ideas among its members. For more information see the ads in the SHAPE
Community Life or listen to AFN Radio.
British Senior Ranks Association
There is a Warrant Officers‟ and Sergeants‟ Mess at SHAPE which holds regular functions.
Some of these are formal, so Mess Kit is to be brought, along with appropriate attire for
spouses. Membership is compulsory for all senior ranks serving at SHAPE; further information
is available from the RSM, UKJSU on ext 3907.
British Junior Ranks Association (BJRA)
There is a British Junior Ranks Association which meets and arranges many functions for the
The Pizza Bowl is an ABC/WIBC sanctioned 12 lane centre consisting of Brunswick synthetic
lanes, AMF pinsetters and the Mendes automatic scoring system. The Pizza Bowl boasts a
large youth programme, the Young American Bowling Association (YABA) is open to all children
under 16, men‟s, women‟s and mixed bowling leagues along with RENT-A-LINE bowling
(bowling for a one to two hour period at a reduced price). Also offered at a reduced price is
NOON TIME BOWLING IN UNIFORM. Bowling birthday parties, complete with party favours,
shoes and bumper bowling are perfect for the little ones in the family. Teen and adult birthday
parties are also available.
The Pizza Bowl also has a bar, located near the lanes, which carries a large variety of beer and
soft drinks and a snack bar which offers fried chicken dinners, taco salad, assorted fast food
items, ice-cream, soft drinks and, of course, pizza.
SHAPE Travel Group
The SHAPE Travel Group organises trips for all SHAPE and NATO I.D. card-holders, their
families and house guests. Our Headquarters at SHAPE is an ideal place from which to travel
to other European countries and find out more about their people, their history and their
heritage. The Group‟s aim is that trips will also enhance solidarity, friendship and mutual
understanding among members of the whole SHAPE and NATO communities. The Travel
Group is a non-profit activity run entirely by volunteers.
See the SHAPE Community Life or British Community News (BCN) for the latest excursions.
SHAPE Trips and Tours
SHAPE Trips and Tours specialises in coach travel for one day and overnight visits throughout
Europe. In addition, Trips and Tours can provide limited multi-day tours using non-coach travel.
Associated travel services, offered free of charge, include advice concerning hotel
- 70 -
accommodation, theatre tickets, trip routes and general tourist information. Trips and Tours is
positioned most favourably in price, quality and reputation. SHAPE Trips and Tours is located
in the Community Activity Centre, building 303 ext 3884 and the current schedules are
advertised in the SHAPE Community Life magazine and in the BCN.
The Outdoor Recreation Rental Centre offers a complete line of camping equipment for rent.
Party canopies, canoes, bicycles, camping cookers, tents, sleeping bags, air mattresses and
heaters are just some of the items offered. Equipment for volleyball, badminton and croquet as
well as tables, chairs, ski equipment, roof boxes, may also be rented for a nominal fee. Contact
the Outdoor Recreation staff on Ext: 5380 or call into the Community Activity Centre Bldg 307
(side entrance of the library).
The SHAPE Entertainment Centre
Provides year-round opportunities for members of the SHAPE community of all ages to display
or develop their talents behind the scenes or on stage, and to make new friends while having
fun in the performing arts. Programmes include talent shows, musicals, comedies, revues,
workshops, dinner theatre shows, theatre field trips and more. Volunteers are sought in every
aspect of the performing arts, and no previous experience is needed to join the fun. For more
information, drop by or call the Entertainment Centre to be placed on the SHAPE Entertainment
mailing list. The Entertainment Centre includes a 170-seat auditorium, lobby with refreshment
counter, backstage areas, theatre offices, and a rehearsal annex. Costumes and props are
available for rent. The facility can be booked for meetings, classes, and other events, call Ext:
4257 for more information.
The SHAPE Cinema shows a variety of current and old films, including new releases often
before Kinopolis (large movie theatre in Brussels). The cinema seats 697 and refreshments are
available. Films are usually shown Thursday through Sunday with extra afternoon showings at
the weekend. Film schedules are published in the SHAPE Community Life, SHAPE Wide Web
and International Orders. The Cinema is located next to the Pizza Bowl, call Ext 5600 for the
Arts & Crafts Centre
Provides a wide range of courses such as ceramics, picture framing, upholstering, porcelain doll
making, stained glass, flower arranging and water/oil painting. Prices for courses vary
depending on the course and instructor. Found in Bldg 209 and 307 or contactable on Ext:
Auto Crafts Shop
Provides a self-help outlet for privately owned vehicle maintenance and repair. The Auto Crafts
Shop has 13 bays, there is a small charge for the use of a bay. Other services and equipment
the Auto Crafts Shop has to offer include: engine tune up, welding equipment, pipe
bending/flaring, pre-control technique testing, wheel balancer, tyre changer, charging system
tester, battery charger, headlight aligner, brake tester, CO tester lather (petrol & air gas
adjuster), valve/seat grinder, steam and vacuum cleaner, and even car disposal. There is
always a certified mechanic on duty to help you with your needs, contactable on Ext, 4695.
SHAPE has a thriving Scout pack with children aged from 5 to 11 in all 3 groups of Beavers,
Cubs And Scouts. All leaders are CRB Cleared and are all fully warranted leaders. They meet
during school term in the evenings and are also on the look out for adult volunteers to help run
the pack or even became leaders themselves. Full support is giving to all children and adults.
- 71 -
Brownies and Guides
Rainbows, Brownies and Guides are very active in the SHAPE community. As they enter into
their Centenary year in 2010 there are increased opportunities for girls in the organisation.
Some of the highlights that are planed are a Centenary Camp, a large scale party, planting of a
centenary garden, termly district parties, international events and lots more activities and
adventures for members. Here at SHAPE there are 3 very popular units:
Rainbows (girls aged between 5 and 7 years) meet on a Tuesday at the British School from
15:30 – 17:00.
Brownies (girls aged between 7 and 10 years) meet on a Wednesday at the British School from
15:30 – 17:00.
Guides (girls aged between 10 and 14 years) meet on a Tuesday at the Brit Bar from 18:30-
They have also had a number of requests for a Senior Section (girls aged between 14 and 25
years) so they are hoping to initiate a Senior Section starting in September.
They also have a great team of adult volunteers who have energy, ideas and contribute to make
the District a great success. If you are interested in enrolling your daughter or joining the team
as an adult leader please contact the District Commissioner on 065 339799.
Physical Fitness and a Healthy Lifestyle
The UK Element plays a full part in the latest tri-Service guidelines for physical fitness and a
healthy lifestyle. There are a number of programmes specifically aimed at promoting the
general well being of all Service personnel and their dependants at SHAPE. They range from
healthy diet provisioning in the UK Mess to circuit training, aerobic classes, a computerised
fitness evaluation system, a Nautilus equipment suite, a range of indoor and outdoor
recreational facilities including a 25 metre heated swimming pool plus year round international
Sports & Recreational Facilities
SHAPE offers a wide range of sports facilities. The Main Gymnasium (Building 313) contains 3
squash courts, 2 racquetball/handball courts, a Nautilus equipment suite, male and female
saunas, a 25 metre swimming pool and a main floor area marked for badminton, basket ball and
volleyball plus associated changing facilities. The Bookings are co-ordinated through the Main
Office Ext: 4405/5345.
Outdoor sports catered for are American Football, soccer, rugby, cricket, cross-country, softball,
baseball and tennis with a 400 metre tartan athletics track. With all these facilities it is not
surprising that there is a sporting event taking place almost every day.
Intra Mural and SACEUR Sports
The intra mural programme is intended for sections/divisions to compete against each other at
softball, soccer, basketball, volleyball and flag football. The programme is not intended for
national team representation. The SACEUR programme is an annual competition in which
national teams (some of the teams are made up of groups of nations) compete in 10 different
sports throughout the year with the cumulative results counting towards the much coveted
SACEUR Trophy. This is presented annually at the SACEUR Sports Banquet. The programme
consists of volleyball, badminton, cross-country, soccer, tennis, track and field, table tennis,
- 72 -
swimming, squash, racquetball, shooting, and basketball. If you intend to compete in either
programme you should contact the UKJSU Sports representative for further details.
There are various fitness programmes offered through the gymnasium:
• Aerobic dancing by Body Shape Up.
• Water aerobics for conditioning and flexibility without the stresses of aerobic dancing.
• Swimming lessons for adults and children.
• Circuit training for all.
• Personalised fitness evaluation assessments using state of the art technology.
Details may be obtained from the Main Office Ext: 4405/5345.
Clubs and Activities
In addition, there are numerous clubs and associations known as Group 2 Activities to suit
everyone in SHAPE. Should you wish to obtain further details call the listed club point of contact
or the Group 2 Co-ordinator at the Main Gymnasium, ext 4405/5345. Details of the points of
contact for Group 2 activities are listed in the BCN.
- 73 -
RADIO & TV
Radio & TV
The American Forces Network (AFN) transmits TV locally but you will require an NTSC
compatible or Universal TV to receive its programmes. AFN has a local radio station which
broadcasts non-stop on 101.5 MHZ. A multi-system TV and/or video will be required in order to
receive the cable TV signal. BBC1 and 2 are available with cable TV in certain married quarter
locations. The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) is relayed from Germany on FM
107.6. BBC Radio 4 is on Long Wave - 198 khz, and Radio 5 is available on 606 MW. There is
a BFBS Radio 1 Show dedicated to and transmitted from SHAPE on Mondays and Wednesdays
from 1600-1800 hrs.
SKY Satellite TV can be ordered and installed by a local English speaking supplier. Details of
Satellite installation engineers can be found in the British Community News.
- 74 -
UK Duty Staff
SHAPE Mil Ext 4960 or Civilian 065 444960
Numbers for the Civil Emergency Services
Fire - 100
Ambulance - 100
Police - 101
For Emergencies on SHAPE the following numbers are to be used
SHAPE Mil Ext 4017 or Civilian 065 444017
SHAPE Mil Ext 3333 or Civilian 065 443333
SHAPE Mil Ext 5379 or Civilian 065 445379
SHAPE Mil Ext 5379 or Civilian 065 445379
SHAPE Mil Ext 7111 or Civilian 065 447111
Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre (JCCC) – 24/7
Mil 95471 7325 or Civilian 0044 1452 519951
OUT OF HOURS MEDICAL COVER – Contact the British Forces Germany Health Service
(BFGHS) at JHQ Rheindahlen on 0049 2161 472 2969 or go direct to your nearest A & E Dept
of your Local Hospital.
We hope this document has been of use to you. Should you find a mistake or would like
to make a suggestion to improve on the document, please don‟t hesitate to contact the
UAWO on ext 4683.
- 75 -