If you have a child or children in the UK in full-time education (i.e. at a boarding school, university etc.) then they will be entitled to visit you in your overseas area at public expense as long as they meet certain qualifying criteria (detailed below). Such visits are normally referred to as School Children’s Visits (SCV). The duration of the visit should be for at least 7 days (including travel days) and must be to the overseas area that you are employed in.
Please note – A CEA child who comes out to the US accompanied by their parents on the initial assignment publicly funded flight does not have to use one of the 6 SCV single flights for the school academic year for this journey. The first SCV flight application will therefore be the return leg, eg. summer back to school for the start of the new Christmas school term. During the year 4 more of the SCV flights will be used for 2 return flights, eg. Christmas and Easter. This however leaves a balance of one entitlement to a single SCV for possible use on a half term holiday period. The mechanism would involve booking and paying for privately the UK to USA single flight for the child and then on JPA book the return leg using the remaining SCV flight.
The qualifying criteria
Both you and your child must meet the following criteria to be eligible for a SCV:
You, as the parent, must be
- serving overseas on a tour of duty of at least 12 months;
- entitled to be accompanied by your family at public expense;
- accompanied by your spouse/civil partner/partner;
- the natural parent or legal custodian of your child
- in receipt of COLA
Your child must be
- either under 25 years of age and an unmarried dependant; or
- under 19 years of age if they do not normally reside with you (e.g. you are separated or divorced and your child lives with your partner/ex-spouse);
- medically fit to travel overseas; and
- in full-time education
The SCV entitlement
Under 19 years of age
If your child normally resides with you they are entitled to 3 return trips during the academic year. These can be taken during any school holidays as long as the visit lasts for at least 7 days (including travel days).
If your child does not normally reside with you the entitlement is one return visit during any 12 month period.
19 years of age and under 25 years
If your child normally resides with you they are entitled to 1 return visit during any 12 month period. This is subject to the following:
- The entitlement cannot be carried over from one 12 month period to another.
- The 12 month period commences from either your posting date or the date your child returned to the UK to college/university.
- Your child will qualify for a further visit if any residual period remaining at the end of a tour following a completed period of 12 months is of at least nine months duration.
- If your child is at school outside the UK, the cost of their SCV will be limited to the cost of an official return journey from the UK to your overseas area.
- Your child is undertaking a recognised further education course up to first degree level.
Booking a SCV
- At least 6 weeks prior to planned SCV, parent fills in BDS form 704 including their contact details, details of child(ren), preferred flights (optional), dates and times of travel, Unaccompanied minor details (escorts etc.) if applicable, alert boxes and signature, and then emails (with printed signature(s) and valid work email address), faxes or sends hard copy to the DBS Travel Centre.
- The DBS Travel Centre checks entitlement and completeness of the form, then confirms receipt of form by email, and queues with other forms in date order.
- The DBS Travel Centre books preferred flight if applied for, available and best value for money. If the flight is not available the nearest matching flight will be identified, confirmed with parent and booked. Otherwise, the best value flight matching the dates and times identified on the form will be booked.
- DBS Travel Centre sends e-tickets to email address on form within 2 weeks of receiving the BDS Form 704.
Terminal costs to and from the point of arrival/departure within the UK only for actual coach, taxi, airfare, school owned or provided transport, private car journeys (at Motor Mileage Allowance (MMA) at the Converted Leave Rate (CLR) for Service staff and Private Travel Rate (PTRMMA) for civilian staff) and any congestion charges are refundable within the cost of the rebated rail fare for the same journey. Civilians can also claim Overseas Motor Mileage Allowance (OMMA) on such journeys to and from their closest US airport.
An excess baggage allowance of up to 8 kg to accommodate school books may be claimed if necessary. Claims should be made using the Online claims system or on a BDS Form 100. Beyond this allowance excess baggage will be payable by the parents and not by the MOD on either ATF or commercial flights. There is no entitlement to unaccompanied baggage for SCVs.
Children will be subject to the normal customs examination at airports and ports.
The DBS Travel Centre should be contacted if there are any problems with bookings but once an SCV flight is underway, the responsibility lies entirely with the airlines involved and missed connections and transit arrangements must be managed by them (see the following airlines’ web pages for further details – Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, United Airlines and Delta).
Parents are advised to ensure that their children have some contingency funds and contact numbers in the event of delays and missed connections. In an emergency the DBS Travel Centre can be contacted during office hours, the Duty Officeror 6087) out of office hours and if there are problems at Dulles (especially with Trooper flights), the RAFLO team at Dulles can be contacted 24/7 on 703-661-6626.
Parents should fully acquaint themselves with JSP 800 (Part 2, Chapters 9, 10), and JSP 752 (Chapter 4, Section 12) which contain very comprehensive guidance on School Childrens Visits and remain the authority.