During deployment, communication is more important than ever, especially when wi-fi is either sporadic or in some locations, non-existent. Here we share your options for keeping in touch with your Service person when they are deployed.
British Forces Post Office
The British Forces Post Office® (BFPO) offers a way to send mail to individuals serving in the HM Forces abroad and entitled civilian personnel with Royal Mail services.
To be able to use the BFPO service you need to obtain the postal address from your serving person. It should include:
The BFPO has a services guide which helps advise you on how to use the BFPO, claim compensation and use the Enduring families free mail service (EFFMS). The guide also highlights restricted and prohibited items, such as alcohol, certain batteries, biological substances, financial document, fragile items, perishables, plants to name a few.
BFPO Customer Guide here (gov.uk) >
Letters and packets up to 2 Kg in weight can be sent at the Forces special rate. Other letters and parcels sent to BFPO addresses may attract a postal charge depending on size – check with your local post office or in the BFPO services guide (gov.uk).
Use sturdy containers and be careful about sending perishable goods – mail can take longer than expected. Safeguard your privacy – packages are often opened in front of others and note that all packages are x-rayed as a safeguard. Remember to ensure the package does not exceed 2Kg, which is the maximum weight permitted.
Top Tips from the British Forces Post Office
Top tips to help you get your mail to loved ones at key times of the year (Easter, Christmas, Mothers day etc).
- Post early!
- Check your item isn’t oversize or overweight for the BFPO you’re sending to
- Check which items are prohibited (gov.uk)
- Package carefully to prevent damage
- Never send mail to a Service person you don’t know
Other means of communication
Your serving partner will normally get a welfare phone allowance of 30 mins per week during the operation. Additional top up cards can be brought in theatre or topped up by you by ringing the Paradigm contact centre Tel: 01438 282121 (You will need a credit/debit card and your serving family member’s Paradigm and Service number).
Please remember that it is unlikely that you will be able to phone directly whilst they are away on operations. It is recommended you write down the key points you want to discuss and organise, wherever possible, a time for calls to be received by you, ensuring that the children are not outside playing, making the most of the time available.
Also known as ‘Blueys’, these are a way of sending letters and messages FREE to serving personnel and are available from HIVE as well as Post Offices. Ask in your local Post Office or unit for a supply of blueys for you and any children to use. Blueys can be obtained free from post offices and can be posted free of charge.
E-mail facilities may be available for serving personnel in theatre.
It may be better not to rely on mobiles for keeping in touch because their use can be restricted because of security in certain areas. In addition, it may be difficult to get a signal and connections can not be guaranteed. Any calls and texts are likely to be expensive.
If you do use a mobile, remember they are not secure so be careful what you discuss. If you experience any unusual, anonymous or nuisance phone calls always call the Unit or the police. Remember this may be the work of a foreign intelligence agency.