Welcome to RAF Croughton, England, United Kingdom. RAF Croughton is located near Brackley, Northamptonshire, just 20 miles north of Oxford and 70 miles northwest of London. RAF Croughton is a warm and friendly base with extensive travel opportunities both in the UK and on the European continent. There is plenty to do, much to see, and lots to experience.
For more than 75 years, RAF Croughton has been an integral part of the Brackley community. From its formation in 1938 to the present day, the base has served several different roles. The Royal Air Force station was constructed in 1938 on 692 acres of land comprising three farms and named RAF Brackley. In July 1941 it was renamed RAF Croughton. During the Second World War, Canadians, South Africans, Australians, and New Zealanders, flew Hampdens, Blenheims, and Wellington bombers from the base and consequently attracted the attention of enemy bombers throughout 1941. In August 1942 Croughton began training the Glider Pilot Regiment, an army unit that flew troop-carrying gliders, whose pilots fought alongside the troops they carried after landing. Flying ceased in May 1946 and the base was used to store ammunitions until the USAF took it over in January 1951. The geographical location of the base was ideal for the technological advances made in communications during the war, and the USAF saw the potential for RAF Croughton to be an effective and important communications center for the U.S. military in Europe. For more information about current happenings at RAF Croughton, visit the installation ABS homepage.
RAF Croughton is home to the 422nd Air Base Group (ABG). The 422ABG provides world-class combat support enabling communications and global strike operations at RAF Croughton, RAF Fairford and RAF Welford. The group is composed of six squadrons: the 422nd Air Base Squadron, 422nd Civil Engineer Squadron, 422nd Communications Squadron and 422nd Security Forces Squadron, all based at RAF Croughton, the 420th Munitions Squadron operating at RAF Welford, and the 420th Air Base Squadron based at RAF Fairford. The 422ABG provides command, control, communications, and computer support to Department of Defense and civilian agencies across the European theater, as well as base-level functions and services.
RAF Fairford, is approximately 47 miles southwest from RAF Croughton and home to the 420th Air Base Squadron (420ABS). The 420ABS provides mission support and also receives beds down, and sustains deployed forces to enable US and NATO warfighters to conduct full spectrum flying operations from USAFE’s only Bomber Forward Operating Location. Any personnel assigned to this base will us e RAF Croughton for their services. If you have any questions or needs, please contact the RAF Croughton Airman & Family Readiness Annex at DSN 314-236-8011 or 011-44-1280-70-8011.
RAF Welford is approximately 46 miles south of RAF Croughton and is home to the 420th Munitions squadron (420MUNS). The 420MUNS provide rapid War Reserve Materiel munitions movement capability and perform routine munitions stockpile maintenance in support of USAFE's only Bomber Forward Operating Location. Any personnel assigned to this base will use RAF Croughton for all of their available services. If you have any questions or needs, please contact the RAF Croughton Airman & Family Readiness Annex at DSN 314-236-8011 or 011-44-1280-70-8011.
RAF Welford was built in the 1940’s as a World War II airfield. On D-Day, Horsa Gliders were launched from here. In the early 60’s the U.S. Air Force built the Munitions Storage Area at RAF Welford. The base was split in 1991, with half being transferred back to the RAF. In 1993, the Ammo troops assigned to Welford were transferred to the 424th ABG. The RAF pulled out of Welford in December 2000, and the team came under 424 ABS control in October 2002. In 2010 420 MUNS was re-aligned under the 422d ABG.
We are composed of 51 Ammo personnel working out of here and RAF Fairford, supported by Ministry Guard Service, Civil Engineering and Defense Infrastructure Organization, and Vehicle Maintenance.
420 MUNS provides a valuable capability to receive, store, maintain, and distribute munitions to mission partners worldwide. Our munitions storage area is the second largest in USAFE. There’s been an Ammo presence at RAF Welford since the 1950s, and this munitions storage area has been and continues to be a significant asset in the USAFE theater.
Cost of Living
The United Kingdom is a high cost of living area for the military, so you should prepare and start saving for the move months before you PCS. To help offset the higher price of non-housing goods and services, you will receive an Overseas Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). To find more information about COLA, visit the Defense Travel Management Office website. Remember that in securing rental housing at a new location, you may be required to pay the first month's rent (which can range from 500 pounds to 2,500 pounds) in advance and also a security deposit equivalent to a month's rent, which is a major expense. Personnel should also be prepared to defray added expenses not normally found in the States, i.e., television license (annual cost is approximately 150 pounds), and road tax (approximately 200 pounds a year).
Airman and Family Readiness
Please visit the Airman & Family Readiness (bldg 72), DSN 314-236-8011 or 011-44-1280-70-8011, for a wide range of relocation services and programs. An overview of available resources will be provided to you at your Newcomer Orientation. The Briefings are held every first and third Thursday of the month and include the ‘Local Conditions Course', a required briefing for you to acquire your UK driving permit. Spouses are welcome to attend the entire briefing, but MUST attend between 1300-1400 (or make alternative arrangements with the Safety Office) if the intend to drive in the UK. Please do not bring children to these briefings due AFI mandated briefings. Ask the A&FR about PCS child care, the Child Development Center for drop in care, or plan on attending these briefings alternately with your spouse. Household items, GPS, and cell phones may be available for loan to assist with house-hunting and settling in. Other basic furniture items and appliances may be borrowed from Furniture Management Office (FMO) 314-236-8772 or 011-44-1280-70-8772.
The School Liaison Office provides a focal point on the milita ry installation for school support matters, assists the installation commander in accomplishing school support responsibility and liaison among the installation, school, and community. All off base school matters must be handled by the School Liaison Office. The School Liaison Office can be reached by calling DSN 314-236-8578 or Comm 011-44-1280-70-8578 or by email.
There are several avenues for educating children while you are stationed at RAF Croughton, depending on the age of the child. For children in grades K-6, RAF Croughton has it’s own Department of Defense Dependents School (DoDDS) – Croughton Elementary. This school consists of a multi-age set-up, where more than one grade is taught in each classroom. If parents decide not to utilize the base school, they are welcome to attend their local British State School, or be Home Schooled (at the parents expense). British children in the UK start school as young as three on either part or full time basis - determined by the particular location. When living on the economy, US children would have the same options. British Schooling -- For detailed information on Education and Learning in Britain, https://www.gov.uk/browse/education/school-admissions-transport is a good place to start. If you are considering the option of sending your child to a British school contact the School Liaison Office for frequently asked questions that will help you make a decision.
There is not a DoDDS middle or high school available at RAF Croughton. Children in grades 7-12 have the option of attending a Private British School off base (funded through the Non-DoD School Program – NDSP), attend their local British State School, or be Home Schooled (also funded through NDSP). For detailed information about the schooling options at this age level, it is recommended that you contact the School Liaison Officer (SLO) on base.
School Registration at DoDDS-Europe is an annual requirement by DoD Regulation to determine continued eligibility for school enrollment. Accurate and complete school enrollments assist principals and district superintendents in projecting appropriate resources to support the coming school year. School principals across Europe are working diligently to ensure the annual registration process is efficient and customer service oriented. Registration for new students takes place year-round. DoDDS-E Students can register in one of two ways:
DoDEA has changed its Early Childhood Education programs entrance requirements for all DoD Schools. Age requirement are:
If you have any questions about possible exceptions, contact DoDEA (however, exceptions will be difficult at best).
Buses contracted from local commercial companies provide school bus transportation from the military housing community at Caversfield. Students living on base are close enough to walk to the base Elementary school.
To enroll in the Free or Reduced School Lunch Program at Croughton Elementary, complete an application and send it along with a copy of your MOST RECENT LES to the School Liaison Officer. Applications can be turned in to the School Liaison Office loc ated in building 203. It is recommended that everyone complete an application – the limits for approval are higher than most people expect and even the higher ranks (enlisted and officer) can still qualify.
Installation Education Center
The Education Office assists Service members, and their adult family members, with the education options available on base. Located in Building 202, office Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. - DSN 314-236-8620 or 314-236-8132.
Tuition Assistance counseling is available to all Air Force military personnel upon request. This includes counseling for CCAF, Bachelors, Masters, and certificate programs. Please call or stop by the Education Office to obtain the most up-to-date information.
Additionally, Spouses of active duty service members in pay grades E-1-E-5, W1-W2, and O1-O2 are eligible for MYCAA, which provides up to $4,000 of Financial Assistance for military those who are pursuing degree programs, licenses or credentials leading to employment in portable career fields. Eligible spouses can earn a maximum financial benefit of $4,000 with a fiscal year cap of $2,000 (Aug 1-July 31) and must finish their program of study within three years. To apply, visit the website.
College Classes -Universities
The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) offers a wide range of courses including general education requirements for the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), Certificates, Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees. For more information call DSN 314-236-8136, email email@example.com, or check out our website.
RAF Croughton also offers other contracted colleges with representatives at other bases. They are:
Visit the Air Force Housing website to find your new home with the Air Force. This website serves as a one-stop shop for Airmen and their families to obtain information about the housing options and support services available to them at Air Forces world-wide.
Driving in the United Kingdom
It is mandatory that the sponsor and any dependents intending to drive attend the RAF Croughton Local Conditions Briefing within 30 days from your arrival in the U.K. The briefing is held every first and third Thursday of the month as part of the newcomer briefings. Arrangements can be made with the safety office to attend one of these briefings on the alternate Thursdays, please contact them on DSN: 314-236-8580 COM: 011-44-1280-708580. Members must complete the briefing and pass a computer based knowledge test to obtain their UK driving permit within 60 days of arrival. To help prepare for the test review the UK Highway Code on the UK Ministry of Transport website.
The Highway Code: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/index.htm
Car insurance is very high in Great Britain, especially if you are under age 25. If you do not have any vehicle violations or accidents on your license while in the United States, have your insurance company in the US write a letter stating such and you will be eligible for a considerable (up to 60%) discount on your insurance. All Civilians, Active Duty, and their dependents must acquire U.K. insurance to operate a motor vehicle in the U.K. There is a local Geico office located on RAF Lakenheath and also a local USAA insurance branch located in London. The contact number for the USAA International Auto Insurance is (Toll Free) 1-800-531-8722/0800 289 192 (local). Geico overseas insurance can be reached at (Toll Free) 1-800-248-4998/01638 533400.
If you are shipping a vehicle that is still covered by a manufacturer’s warranty or other third-party warranty, ensure you contact the manufacturer or third-party provider to verify whether the vehicle's warranty is voided if shipping the vehicle overseas. Many vehicle warranties are not valid in overseas locations and in the case of mechanical issues; vehicle parts can be unavailable or very expensive in overseas locations.
Any motorized vehicle being imported into the United Kingdom, including motorcycles shipped in household goods, are considered to be Custom Concession (tax free) vehicles. Customs Concession vehicles are any vehicles imported or purchased free of VAT (value added tax, car tax, and duty/excise tax), which include vehicles purchased from AAFES car sales or any military tax free dealerships. Only active duty military members and DOD civilian components are authorized to own a concession vehicle and there's a limit on how many concession vehicles a person may own. Single, unaccompanied personnel without dependent spouse are authorized to own and operate one concession vehicle. Personnel who are married and accompanied by their dependent spouse, irrespective of command sponsorship may own and operate two concession vehicles. (The government will only pay to ship one vehicle.) Dependants are not entitled to concession vehicles and are therefore not authorized to be issued or sign for 941 customs forms to pick up your vehicle from the port. Any member shipping more than their given amount of Concessions Vehicles should contact the Pass & Registration Office as soon as possible. You must complete 3 pink copies of Customs and Excise Form 941 at Pass and Registration before your vehicle will be cleared into the United Kingdom by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise. Once the Vehicle Processing Center (VPC) (shipping unit) receives the customs forms, they will hold your vehicle for 24 hrs prior to being released.
Vehicles imported into the country must be registered with the British authorities through the Pass and Registration office within 72 hours of being driven into the U.K or after being picked up from the port. A minimum of one Stateside license plate must be attached to the vehicle when picking it up at the port. (Don't forget to hand carry your front and rear license plates with you) all cars in Britain have front and rear plates. Upon arrival of your POV your plates will be put back on your car until your vehicle is fully registered in the U.K System and the British license plates can be made. Personnel without any plates on their vehicles are not authorized to drive the vehicle in the U.K. until the U.K. registration has been completed. U.K. light conversions are mandatory for every vehicle imported into the U.K. There is no exception to this regulation. Members are only permitted two legal drives, the first from the Vehicle Processing Center to your home and the second to a pre-booked MOT and light conversion. If a member picks a vehicle up without US plates they have 1 drive to a Pre Booked MOT then they must park it and wait till they have their UK plates. There are no exceptions to this policy.
Vehicles three years or older must have a Ministry of Transport (MOT) certificate completed. A new requirement for vehicles less than three years old is the Single Vehicle Approval (SVA). The MOT and SVA are similar safety inspections. However, the MOT is an annual requirement for all vehicles over three years old being operated in the United Kingdom; and the SVA is a one-time requirement on concession vehicles imported into the United Kingdom less than three years old. Once the vehicle is greater than three years old a standard MOT will be required annually.
Ministry of Transport (MOT) Inspection
The Ministry of Transport requires all imported vehicles that are less than three years old to be inspected before registration and vehicles over three years of age must be inspected yearly, this is called a Ministry of Transport (MOT) Certificate. The MOT is a bumper to bumper safety test. It is very involved and complex and is not an easy test to pass. The MOT test itself takes about 45 minutes and the cost is currently £40-£50 or its dollar equivalent at the going rate. The MOT applies to all vehicles more than 3 years old. The MOT certificate is good for 12 months and then must be retested. You must have a valid MOT test certificate in order to drive on British roads. You may incur additional costs if the vehicle does not meet or pass MOT requirements and requires maintenance.
What should the guidelines be when deciding whether or not to bring an older vehicle to the UK?
The general rule is if you don't think your car will pass this test, it might be a good idea to consider the cost and length of time it would take to get the parts to repair it (generally from the States). A good rule of thumb is any car 10 years or older, unless a classic, would be best left in the States.
UK Law Concerning Vehicles with Tinted Windows
Under UK law, the windshields and front side windows of vehicles first used before to 1 Apr 1985 must allow at least 70% of light to pass through the glass. Vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1985 must have windshields that allow 75% of light to pass through the glass and front side windows that allow 70% of light to pass through the glass. There are no rules for tinting the rear windscreen or rear passenger windows.
Requirements for the MOT testing include:
· All vehicles built after 1 April 1981 must have a fog light, mounted at the rear of the vehicle, centered to the right hand side of the vehicle. Also, the light control switch must light up when the fog light is on and must be seen from the driver's seat.
· Parking lights must be white, not amber.
· The headlights in the UK are angled differently than in the States because of driving on the other side of the road. It is suggested that the re-aiming of your lights be done when you arrive in the UK.
· All vehicles built after 1 April 1986 must have a side repeater. A side repeater is a separate turn signal in the fender that can be seen from the driver side door. In most cases this means drilling holes in the fender of approximately 3/4 inch. Wraparound lights may substitute for the side repeater in some models.
· All rear turn signals must flash amber, and must not adversely affect any other light (brake light, parking light).
· Very few American vehicles meet the standards for light requirements in the UK. The price for a light conversion can be very high depending on the vehicle.
POV Inbound Shipments
You must show the U.S. port or vehicle processing center your Title (if you own your car) or a letter from the Lien Holder (Bank Credit Union, etc) authorizing you to ship the POV Overseas. If you don't have one of those documents, the port or vehicle processing center will not accept your car for shipment overseas.
Please take the following documents when picking up your POV: (Customs Forms should be delivered to the Port no less than 24hrs prior to pick-up.)
1. Valid ID card
2. Vehicle Inspection Form
3. PCS orders
4. Dependents can only pick up POV for the sponsor if they are noted on the Original Inspection form or have SPOA.
**Note, dependents are not authorized to sign for the required 941 Customs forms needed to pick up your vehicle. Please contact Pass & Registration for questions**
Please note any damages to your POV while still at the port, on form DD788 during inspection and take to the legal office-claims section. All inquiries on inbound POV's should be routed through TMO Inbound Section (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Hands Free Devices
Driving while using a hand-held phone or similar device is illegal in the UK; fines are £100 with three points added to your driving license. You can use hands-free phones, sat navs and 2-way radios when you’re driving or riding. But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalized.
If you are a motorcyclist or think you might be interested in motorcycling while stationed in the UK, there are a few things you should know before making any riding plans or financial obligations. You must meet all AFI 91-207 training requirements to receive a motorcycle endorsement on your 3AF driver's license before you can legally ride a motorcycle in the UK. The frequency and availability of student slots for MSF courses are limited and only offered at RAF Feltwell (2.5 hours away). You are highly encouraged to attend one of the MSF safety courses offered at your stateside location prior to PCSing to the UK to avoid any unnecessary delays in licensing. See your local base safety office for details. Members are also required to have a motorcycle endorsement on their current U.S. driver's license. If you do not have this endorsement you will not be allowed to operate a motorcycle in the UK. A British Driver’s License may be obtained on your own, however please know this is a very lengthy and very costly process and is not recommended. Some U.S. states will allow adding the endorsement via mail, however you will have to contact your applicable DMV for specific requirements. All military personnel who operate a motorcycle on or off base are required to adhere to AFI 91-207 PPE requirements and the local Installation Traffic Code: Contact the RAF Croughton Installation Safety Office or Security Forces Squadron for more information on these requirements.
An added benefit of a USAFE assignment is the ability to travel in Europe and see sights that many people spend a lifetime just dreaming about. Your Military Personnel Facility (MPF) will ensure that your family has a No FEE Passport to enter the UK while traveling on orders. If you wish to travel while assigned in Europe it is recommended (not mandatory) that you and your family acquire tourist passports (at your expense) before coming to Europe. Your tourist passport will ensure you can travel freely to all European countries. A no-fee passport will not allow entry into some European countries.
Passports and Visas
· Active Duty Members and their dependents (except children aged over 21) are exempt from the Visa and biometrics requirements to enter and live in the UK. Dependents should declare at the UK port of entry that they are accompanying their military sponsor for duty in the UK. The UK border agents have been advised by the UK Home Office to permit entry for military dependents without visas. Dependents who are nationals of the countries listed here, http://www.materials.ox.ac.uk/uploads/file/V-6VisaandNon-VisaNationals(Jan-14).pdf require a VISA and are to provide biometrics prior to entering the UK. US Government Civilians will require a no-fee passport and to apply for a Visa prior to entry to the UK. The Visa will cost approximately $1000.00 (prices subject to change) and is a reimbursable expense. Please review the Foreign Clearance Guide for further guidance.
· In order for pets to come into the United Kingdom with little or no quarantine, a certain procedure must be followed. Details on this procedure can be obtained here. Please read the Animal Welfare Act to ensure you understand how to care for your pets while in the UK.
Ensure member and/or dependents have the required passports and/or visa prior to final out-processing. Member and/or dependents are not allowed to final out-process without the required passports/visas in hand for themselves (if applicable) and/or dependents. Members electing the accompanied tour will not be permitted to out-process without having the required passports/visas in hand for themselves (if applicable) and/or dependents.
These actions are necessary to prevent unforeseen hardships to the military members and their families. Therefore, as a last reiteration, it is essential, members do not out-process without having the appropriate passports/visas for themselves (if applicable) and/or dependents.
Your gaining unit will appoint a sponsor for you when you receive orders. They must appoint a sponsor for you at least 90 days before your Report No Later Than Date (RNLTD). (NOTE: They go by your RNLTD and not your actual departure date.) If you have not heard from your sponsor and you are within 90 days of your RNLTD, contact the Military Personnel Office at DSN 314-236-8574 or 011-44-1280-70-8574.
Lodging is available on base at the Shepherd's Rest Inn.
Be sure to arrange for you lodging prior to your arrival. For reservations, contact the Lodging Office at DSN 314-236-8394 or 011-44-1280-8394. You can make reservations up to a year in advance; a credit card is all that is required to secure this booking. If you are not able to stay on base, the Lodging Office will make arrangements for you at an off base approved lodging facility. If the Lodging Office is still not able to get you a room, then be sure to obtain a non-availability slip from Lodging to make your own arrangements. This will ensure that Finance will reimburse you. Make certain that your off-base Temporary Lodging Facility is within your per diem rate by visiting the Defense Travel Management Office website.
Check-in time for on base lodging is 1400 (2:00 p.m.). If arriving on an early flight, it may be helpful to have your sponsor book you in for the night before you arrive, so you will be able to get into a room immediately. Lodging only has two pet rooms so early booking if traveling with a pet is advised! If it is not available, stop by the Airman and Family Readiness for a list of local boarding kennels for your animal.
Critical Installation Information
· All members PCSing to the United Kingdom are required to travel in civilian attire.
· Ensure that you do not bring American cordless devices to the UK as there is a good chance the frequency will interfere with the local emergency response system. Fines of 5,000 pounds can be issued to all offenders. The import of cordless telephones operating below 853 MHz which do not conform to the UK requirements are prohibited.
· In-processing requirements: Active Duty members must report to the Unit Commander's Support Staff (CSS), Building 201 on the first duty day after arrival to officially in-process. You will receive in-processing checklists and ration cards. Members must report to the RAF Croughton Housing Office within two duty days of arrival (Bldg 62).
· The currency used in the UK is pounds sterling. The pound is divided into 100 pence. Paper money comes in 5, 10, 20, or 50 pounds notes. Pence coins come in several denominations - 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50. There are also the 1 and 2 pound coins. Money can be exchanged from dollars to pounds (or vice versa) at our Community Bank, DSN 314-236-8397 or 011-44-1280-70-8397. For current currency conversion information, see the OANDA website.
Be aware that, upon arrival at the airport, it can take an hour or more to get your luggage and clear customs. If desired, your sponsor can arrange transportation from the airport to RAF Croughton – please discuss all the details with your sponsor if you are interested in this option. If any emergencies arise, please contact the Military Police on RAF Croughton at 01280-708-607 or DSN 314-236-8607.
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