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Fast Facts

 Defender Park at RAF Lakenheath

Location:  Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Lakenheath, Suffolk, United Kingdom, is located 70 miles northwest of London and 25 miles from Cambridge. The closest town is Lakenheath village which is located two miles from the base. RAF Mildenhall and Mildenhall village are approximately seven miles away. RAF Feltwell and the village of Feltwell are approximately eight miles away. RAF Lakenheath is the largest U.S. Air Force-operated base in England and the only U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) F-15 fighter wing. RAF Lakenheath homepage.

Cost of Living: The United Kingdom is a high cost of living area for the military. Personnel should be prepared to defray added expenses not normally found in the States, i.e., television license and road tax.

Base Operator:  011-44-1638-523000, or DSN 314-226-1110

Population:  RAF Lakenheath consists of approximately 5,500 active-duty military members, 2,700 British, Icelandic and U.S. civilians, and includes geographically separated units at nearby RAF Feltwell as well as Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland.

Area Population:  Lakenheath Village: 8,200

Child Development Centers:  The RAF Lakenheath Child Development Program has an overall capacity of 341 full-time spaces in two locations for children of dual employed families. Full-time care is provided at both the East Center (located between the Alterations shop and base housing) and the West Center (near Gate 2 and base housing). Care is provided to children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years of age. RAF Lakenheath Child Development Programs work with 26 classrooms, adapting environments, to ensure the demand for care is met.

Parents can use full-time care for their child while they work throughout the week or hourly care spaces when short-term care is needed. Registration forms (AF Form 2606) may be obtained here. For more information please contact CDC East at 011-44-1638-523285 (DSN 314-226-3285) or CDC West at 011-44-1638-525812 (DSN 314-226-5812).

Family Child Care (FCC) program provides experienced, licensed and inspected care of children in government housing. Our FCC providers offer developmentally appropriate care for children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 12 years in full-time, part-time, hourly, evening, weekend, swing shift and extended basis. For more information or to obtain a provider list call 011-44-1638-522170 (DSN 314-226-2170).

Child Care for PCS - Air Force Aid Society pays for up to 20 hours of care per child in licensed AF FCC homes on base. Families with PCS orders must get a Child Care for PCS certificate at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. Certificate must be used within 60 days of arrival. For more information contact Airman and Family Readiness Center at 011-44-1638-523847 (314-226-3847)

Schools:  RAF Lakenheath/Mildenhall/Feltwell School Complex has five schools with approximately 2,500 students. They are all Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS).

On RAF Lakenheath, there is Lakenheath Elementary School, which is Kindergarten through 3rd Grade; Liberty Intermediate School, which is 4th and 5th Grades; and Lakenheath High School, which is 9th through 12th Grade.

On RAF Feltwell (which is 11 miles from RAF Lakenheath), there is Feltwell Elementary School, which is Kindergarten through 5th Grade, and Lakenheath Middle School, which is 6th through 8th Grade. Also located at RAF Feltwell is the Isles District Superintendent's Office and the School Bus Office.

Parents may pre-register their child/ren for DODDS at http://www.dodea.edu/Europe/enrollment/index.cfm.
Parents enrolling students are required to furnish the following:

  • Proof of sponsor's overseas status (Orders, verification of employment etc.)
  • Proof of sponsor/dependent connection (Child listed on orders, birth certificate, etc.)
  • Proof of a new DEROS as applicable
  • Tuition paid in advance if applicable
  • Verification of minimal age requirement for Sure Start, Kindergarten and 1st grade students (PCS Orders, Birth certificate or passport) 

Note: Children entering Sure Start, Kindergarten, First Grade must be 4,5 and 6 years old respectively on/before September 1.

Also required: (The below documents ARE required but will not keep a students from starting school.)

  • Immunization records 
  • Copy of previous school records, including report cards and other academic records such as reading and math records (as applicable)
  • Copy of standardized test scores if applicable
  • Copy of Individual Education Plan (IEP) if applicable
  • Transportation - Student transportation within DoDDS is provided based on pre-determined areas. When you register your child for school, you will be provided a school bus registration form. All students must be registered at the appropriate school bus office, as well as at the school, prior to being assigned a bus stop location. Since driving in the UK is very dangerous, we have initiated strict School Bus Misconduct Penalty Guidelines to better ensure the safety of our children.

British Schooling -- If you are considering the option of sending your child to a British school, there is detailed information at the public service website which will help answer many of your questions.

British school admissions are handled by the county in which you reside. The School Liaison Office works closely with Suffolk, Norfolk, and Cambridgeshire counties to offer families general information on the British school admissions process and ongoing support.

The School Liaison Officer (SLO) acts as a community facilitator; connecting schools, families, and community services to address education issues impacting military children.  No matter where military service takes our families the SLO is there to help make a positive school transition.  For school questions relating to your inbound or outbound transition or issues that arise during your assignment, please contact the RAF Lakenheath/Mildenhall School Liaison Office. 

School Liaison Office: DSN 314-226-5077/5078 or 01638 52-5077/5078.  Email: 48msg.ccl@lakenheath.af.mil

Youth Programs:  Lakenheath Youth Center provides opportunities for youth to develop their physical, social, emotional and cognitive abilities and to experience achievement, leadership, enjoyment, friendship and recognition. Programs provide a wide variety of services, instructional classes and activities for children 5 to 18 years of age including before and after school programs, full day camps during summer vacation and school holidays, youth sports and youth transition and support services.

Before and after School is designed for children in first to sixth grades. This program is offered in the morning before school starts and again in the afternoon when school is out. All activities are planned as an enhancement to the child's learning, with an emphasis on enhancing children's social and development skills. This program employs professionals trained in safety, nutrition, creativity, child guidance and other areas of self-esteem.

The Youth Center also offers a variety of instructional classes available for all age groups to include: ballet and tap, wall climbing, guitar and piano lessons, gymnastics, Tae Kwon Do, jazz dance and cheerleading.

For more information call 011-44-1638-523180 (DSN 314-226-3180).

Airman and Family Readiness Center: The Airman and Family Readiness Center is one part of the overall installation family support system, which is the network of agencies, programs, services, partnerships and individuals that supports your personal and family life readiness, mobilization and deployment readiness, and mobility and economic readiness. And should be one of your first stops upon arriving at an installation; its programs and services are an important resource for you and your family.
The relocation program provides an array of services to meet you and your family's needs when experiencing a permanent change of station (PCS) move. Service includes a loan closet for temporary loan of needed/basic household items while awaiting household goods. Items include dishes, pots and pans.

Airman and Family Readiness Center also provide the base Wing in-processing and Orientation. All personnel must report to the Airman and Family Readiness Center, bldg 950, the first Monday after arrival at 0915 to start registration. If personnel arrive at Lakenheath during the business days, they must report to base in-processing coordinator to receive wing in-processing instructions.

For more information or to schedule a briefing please call 011-44-1638-523847 (DSN 314-226-3847).

Housing: The Main Housing Office is located in Bldg 429 at RAF Lakenheath. There are approximately 1,875 military family housing (MFH) units serving RAF Lakenheath and RAF Feltwell, located in 13 different locations. Some government housing areas are located on Lakenheath and others are as far away as 31 miles from the base.
Government housing is provided to military members who meet the appropriate criteria. This includes:

  • Members with dependents authorized to reside with them 
  • Military-Married-to-Military couples assigned to same or adjacent base and reside jointly
  • Housing amenities include:
    • Washer/Dryer
    • Electric Cooker
    • Microwave
    • Parking Space and/or Garage

If you desire to live in government housing, please submit an advance application for assignment, DD Form 1746, through the HMO at your losing installation with a complete copy of your PCS orders. The effective date of the application is the date you depart your prior installation (including members with TDY enroute) or the date ordered to active duty.

Applications can also be submitted upon arrival during your first visit to the HMO. HMO staff will be able to assist in the completion of the application and will review PCS orders and housing options with you. For walk-in applications, as long as you apply for government housing within 30 days of arrival, you will be placed on the waiting list effective the date you departed from your previous installation. After 30 days, the application date will be the date of the walk-in.

Please be sure your application identifies and includes supporting documentation for an impending promotion or gain of dependents so that you can be placed on the appropriate waiting list. Call the Housing Office-Lakenheath, 011-44-1638-52-2000/2804.

Off-Base Housing: The HMO provides up-to-date listings of available economy units, translation services, and landlord/tenant mediation.

The communities surrounding Lakenheath and Mildenhall offer a number of affordable and beautiful rentals for those seeking off-base housing. The Lakenheath Housing Office has a team specifically for off-base referral inquiries. Be aware that road conditions change seasonally; for most of the fall and winter months, driving to and from work will occur in the dark and English roads are not well lighted.

Housing within the immediate area of the base is primarily detached (single house), semi-detached (duplex) and terraced (in rows). Housing on the economy may not be what you're used to in the U.S. British houses are generally smaller and larger houses are two stories with steep staircases. The hallways and doorways are narrower with most of the fitted kitchens not being able to accommodate U.S. specific appliances.

If you are bringing pets, or plan on buying a pet while in the UK, please be advised that 80 percent of all rentals off base do not allow pets. Those that do may require additional, upfront payment from you as a security deposit in the event of damage incurred. This may cost you anywhere from an additional 100-500 pounds sterling.

Personal Property Insurance - You need to obtain legal liability and personal property insurance for your possessions and should choose the options and amounts that best fit your needs and lifestyle.

Employment:  Like many other overseas locations, RAF Lakenheath is a challenging environment for spouses who are seeking employment outside the home. It is not uncommon for applicants to wait 6 months or longer to gain a job commensurate with their education and/or experience. Employment opportunities exist on base through local community banks, credit unions, AAFES, Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF), DECA, DoDDs, area contractors and the concessionaires at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall. Visit the Human Resource Office website for information about employment opportunities on base.

Base Services:

48 Force Support Squadron

  • Page Community Activities Center - services include the Parent-Child Fitness Room, snack bar, Community Activities office, Skating Rink and Game Room.

  • Arts and Crafts Center - offer supplies, custom picture matting and framing, heat seal lamination and dry mounting, signs, engraving, ceramic, pottery wheel use, embroidery, trophies and plaques, photographic services, banners and posters, Magic Touch color printing for coffee mugs, t-shirts and mouse pads, a self-service Photo print kiosk plus classes.

  • Auto Hobby Complex - provide MOT/SVA testing and custom mechanic services for minor tune-ups, oil changes and light conversions, tire changing, battery charging, welding, electronic engine analyses and brake drum and rotor cutting.

  • Breckland Pines - provides a 9-hole (18-tee position) course.

  • And much more.

Commissaries: Open 7 days a week. Services include bakery, deli, fresh sandwiches to go, party cakes and salad bar.

Exchange System: Open 7 days a week.

Financial Institutions on base: Community Bank and Keesler Federal Credit Union

Medical Services:  The 48th Medical Group (48 MDG) at RAF Lakenheath provides general and specialized medical services to more than 700 military and civilian members. It is the largest Air Force medical facility in Europe. The 48 MDG is the referral medical facility for the US Air Force, Navy and Army personnel assigned to the United Kingdom, as well as a referral facility for USAFE. Its focus is to provide customers with local service whenever possible. The group also offers several surgical procedures performed nowhere else in the USAFE. Call 011-44-1638-52-8010 or DSN 314-226-8010.

Most clinics are open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, but are closed on weekends, holidays and down days. The Emergency Department is open 24/7.

For more information call 011-44-1638-52-8010 (DSN 314-226-8010).

Critical Information: 

Lodging - Make temporary lodging arrangements as far ahead of your arrival as possible -- there is no guarantee that you will be offered a Temporary Living Facility. Due to the high volume of personnel in the area, the TLF fills up quickly, particularly during high PCS season. It is possible that individuals and families may be required to stay off base during these times.
If you are issued a non-availability letter, contact your sponsor for assistance in making a hotel reservation in the local area. The Lodging Reservations Office can also provide a list of recommended accommodations in the local area.

Lodging facilities are located at RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall. They provide family, officer and enlisted quarters on a priority basis to all military and authorized civilians relocating to the area. People on temporary duty or leave are accommodated on a space-available basis. The maximum TLF stay is 30 days if available.

For more information or for reservations call 011-44-1638-526713 (DSN: 314-226-6713).

Unaccompanied Members - Single or unaccompanied military members in grades E-1 through E-4 ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TEMPORARY LODGING ALLOWANCE. After your sponsor meets you at the airport, your first stop on base should be the Dormitory Reception Center to be assigned a room. If you arrive on a weekend, holiday or down day, your sponsor can stop by DRC one day earlier to get keys to a hospitality room until you can contact DRC.

Driving Guidelines

Drivers MUST have a 3rdAir Force driver's license to operate a vehicle on base and to obtain fuel from the base service station, as well as the service stations at other USAF bases in the U.K.

Driving in the U.K. is a privilege, not a right. All personnel assigned to RAF Lakenheath who require driving privileges:

  • Must take the 3rd Air Force Driver's Training class within 30 days of arrival and pass the written exam
  • Must have a valid U.S. driver's license (not provisional or restricted) 
  • Must possess the 3rd Air Force driver's license to operate a vehicle on base
  • Must be 17 years old or older

You and your dependants (if applicable) will attend the driver's briefing during in-processing with the Airmen and Family Readiness Center. The exam will be administered during that time.

Members must study The British Highway Code book online.

Travel Documentation

Visit your Military Personnel Office to obtain Government Fee-Paid Passports for your family members; these passports allow them to travel to and from the overseas location.

You are also encouraged to obtain fee passports because the No-Fee passports WILL NOT allow entry into some European countries. To travel freely within Europe you and each family member should obtain a Tourist passport at your own expense.

You can apply for a tourist passport before or after your arrival. If you apply after you receive a No-Fee passport, you can use the No-Fee passport as proof of citizenship, however may not be able to travel as freely initially.

Other documents you should be preparing and updating early:

  • Spouse employment and education records 
  • Children's immunization and school records
  • Medical records (including X-rays and similar items)
  • Financial records 
  • Insurance documents 
  • Pet medical records
  • ID cards for all family members (mandatory for all children over the age of 10, though highly encouraged for all ages)
  • Documents for PIPS

Shipping Your Pets

A couple of other things to note when shipping your pets are:
In step one, you see that you must have a microchip implanted in your pet. The microchip implanted in your pet must be a 13-digit encoded chip. Many widely available microchips in the US do not meet the UK requirement, so have your chip checked by your vet before you assume it is acceptable.

In step three, the USDA certificate is addressed. Finding out where your state's nearest USDA vet is located will help determine if you need to mail the paperwork to them, or drive the paperwork there to get it filled out. Expect to pay at least $70.00 for this additional requirement.

In step six, you prepare your pet for shipping. It is important to mention that contacting the airline you will be flying on about a month out is of the utmost importance. There tend to be very limited spaces for animals and there is typically a date when spaces are available for you to book your animal for the flight. TMO will not arrange the shipment of your pets for you. Communicating with the airline about when and where to drop the animals off is important as well, as the cargo areas that will accept pets for international shipping varies from airline to airline. With that said, pay close attention to the DEFRA website's pet travel scheme as there are only a few places that your pets may originate from in the US. Working with the airline and TMO together to sync everything up will make this process much smoother for your family. Be prepared to do most of the coordination yourself.

There are also other considerations like the breed of the animal and the time of year you plan on flying that may affect, or even prevent you from bringing your animal via commercial carrier all together. Once you have worked out those details, you must make sure your pet's carrier is of the appropriate size for your pet. Your pet must be able to stand in the carrier without their ears touching the top, or it will be considered too small. The carrier must also be fastened together with metal hardware to keep it from coming apart, i.e. nuts and bolts. Some cheaper carriers lock with plastic tabs, and are not acceptable for airline transport. Finally, the carrier must be outfitted with a food and water dish that can be accessed by the airline without opening the door. Fastening it to the door with zip ties is acceptable.

After your pet gets here and clears the border, you will need a way to get them to your new home. The RAF Lakenheath Outdoor Rec has a shuttle you can reserve for a fee,that will pick you and your pets up. The normal airport bus service will not accommodate pets. Please plan and call well in advance to book the ODR shuttle. Alternatives to the ODR shuttle are available on the economy.

Explore the links to the left for in-depth information.

Need personal assistance?

Call your relocation manager »

Or, for 24/7 assistance, call Military OneSource. »

MilitaryOneSource.mil, No question is too big or too small 800-342-9647

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