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Need to know items

Posted 3/12/2007   Updated 3/12/2007 Email story   Print story


3/12/2007 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- Calling England:
England is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the US. When dialing a commercial number from the US you will dial 011, then the country code-44, a 4 digit area code-xxxx, and then the six digit number-xxx-xxx. If you see a five-digit area code with a 0 as the first number you will drop the zero and just use the last four digits. For example, 01638-555-555, you would dial 011-44-1638-555-555. You can make DSN calls to the base by calling 314-238-XXXX. Again keep in mind the time difference. This can be frustrating, and makes contact with your sponsor challenging, so email may be the best solution.

The currency used in the UK is pounds or sterling. The pound is divided into 100 pence. Paper money comes in 5, 10, 20, or 50 notes. Pence (similar to what we call coins) are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, or 50 or the 1 or 2 pound coin. Money can be exchanged from dollars to pounds (or vice versa) at the bank, credit union or clubs on base (with membership).

What should I bring?

Household items
Many people want to know what household goods to bring and not to bring to England. The answer unfortunately is, "that depends on the house." Unless you are coming in from a remote assignment, more likely than not, you will live on the economy for a period of time before being offered a base house. You will have the opportunity to select a house that will accommodate all your furniture, but you should keep in mind the following:

Consider storing large items
When you live on the economy in England, the US government will not pay for storage, so you must ensure all your furniture and belongings will fit in the house you choose. Houses on the economy are typically a lot smaller and older than you will be used to. So you may want to scale down the amount of furniture you decide to bring or use. Many people also like to get antiques, so if you like that sort of thing, you'll want to save room for that too. Rarely will you find an open floor plan. Most rooms have a doorway that your furniture will have to fit through. The doors are sometimes at a sharp angle from the main doorway. Therefore you may want to store oversized furniture, such as sectional sofas or large wall units.

In some houses there are also narrow stairways to consider. King size or even queen size beds, may be challenging to maneuver. Definitely consider this before deciding on a house. Some people have actually ended up cutting their box springs to get them up stairs. If you find a 3 or 4-bedroom house, one of the bedrooms may not be much bigger than a walk-in closet. Many British homes do not have built in closets and garages tend to be narrow and are usually just big enough for one car. Storage space can be very limited.

RAF Feltwell's Furniture Management Office has appliances and furniture issued for the duration of your tour, so strongly consider storing these items.

Electrical appliances:
When you live on the economy you will need a transformer to convert all your 110 voltage appliances to 240. People tend to buy British or dual voltage items here. Also, electric American clocks will lose time unless you run them on batteries.

Not all economy homes have the appropriate connections for washers, dryers, refrigerators and freezers. If you live in off base housing, a transformer is required to convert the electric current from 240 volts to 110 volts. Electrical appliances such as toasters, electric frying pans, broilers, or appliances relying on heating elements will operate on 50 cycle electrical current. This will cause some electrical appliances to operate slower and slightly warmer. Service life of these items may be reduced.

American televisions are usually not compatible with the British (PAL) broadcasts transmitting system, but you could use it for playing videos or if you are in some base housing you'll pick up AFN, the American Forces Network. You must pay for a TV license. If you have an American TV and don't want to watch the British channels you will need to contact the TV Licensing Department at www.tvlicensing.co.uk and they will come out and disconnect the receiver in your TV so you will not be able to receive the British TV signal. The current fee is £131.50 per year, and this allows you to view the four main British channels. The money goes towards the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to maintain their television and radio channels without any advertisements, and the license fee also helps them pay for documentaries and period dramas. One TV license is required per household no matter how many TVs you may own. You may claim for reimbursement of the TV license through Finance (100 CPTS) so be sure and keep a copy of your receipt. You will be reimbursed based on the exchange rate of the day you paid for the license.

You can bring and use American phones here, but you will need to purchase an adaptor, which can be bought at a local electrical store or the BX. However, cordless telephones manufactured for use in the United States and Canada operate in a different frequency range than cordless phones are allowed to use in the UK and Europe. While your U.S. cordless phone may seem to function normally, you could be interfering with the radio frequencies used by local emergency services every time you use the phone. To prevent disruption of emergency services communications, the European Union passed directives in 1998 and 1999 banning the use of all cordless telephones not designed to operate on approved UK and European frequencies. Store all US cordless phones and if you prefer to use a cordless phone approved models are sold in the BX and through local merchants.

Preparing your shipments
In your unaccompanied household goods shipment you should include items that you will need to set up your household. Perhaps your pots, pans, and linens even though our Airman and Family Readiness Center Loan Locker can loan them to you. A shower curtain, towels, and pillows definitely because those are items the Loan Locker does not have. Toys for the children, a TV, and a phone, are a few other useful items you may want to consider.

As far as clothing, almost any time of year it is best to layer. The weather changes quickly and few of the buildings are air-conditioned, so even if it is cool outside it may be stuffy inside. We have sunny weather, but it can also get rather gloomy. It does not rain as much as you may think, but it is best to have an umbrella and/or some rain gear handy at all times, and these can be purchased locally for just a few pounds. The majority of the year you will need warm clothes and jackets. Since shopping is more expensive in England you may want to stock up before you get here. However there is always the Internet.

For general Personal Property Information please visit the Air Force Move web site located at http://afmove.hq.af.mil/default.asp

Prohibited and Restricted Items:
Alcoholic beverages are restricted items and should not be shipped as this generally causes customs delays.

Firearms/Ammunition/Explosives are prohibited (couple exceptions on BB guns and air guns)

Knives such as Flick (switchblade) knives, butterfly knives, swordsticks, knuckle-dusters, telescopic truncheons and some types of martial arts equipment are prohibited and cannot be shipped into the UK. All prohibited weapons are seized and destroyed by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise officials. In addition, importation or possession of handguns pistols/revolvers is an offense punishable by a lengthy prison sentence.

More information can be found here for shipping items to the UK:
Click the Query CG tab; then Country Instructions tab; select United Kingdom from the drop down menu and hit submit; and click on the detail icon.

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