You just received orders for an assignment in Wiesbaden, Germany. Knowing any move can be a stressful one, especially when moving to a new country, here are a few things you should know before you arrive.
When you think about what to pack, what to mail and what to bring along, keep in mind that Army Community Service has a lending closet for relocating service members, civilians and their families. Pots, pans, dishes, eating and cooking utensils, coffee pots, irons, car seats, cribs and more can be signed out to personnel waiting for their household goods. The Housing Office has both a furniture and appliance branch from which furniture can be borrowed for 90 days and appliances for the duration of your assignment.
An essential point to remember in bringing electrical items is that the German electrical standard is 230 Volts and 50 Hertz while the U.S. uses 110 Volts and 60 Hertz. Although many government quarters have been renovated with both 110v and 230v outlets, electrical appliances made for use in the U.S. must be used here with a transformer if 110v outlets are not available. Some appliances, such as clocks, do not work properly when plugged into a transformer. Others, such as microwaves, may deteriorate when returned to 110 voltage use. Many appliances are now available in dual voltage; they simply require an adapter which can be purchased here. Don't discard your lamps. If your quarters are wired for 220v, all you need is an adapter and a 220v light bulb to use the lamps here.
Your orders, immunization records and medical/dental history, marriage certificates, divorce decree, passports, social security cards, wills, powers of attorney, school records, car title and shipping papers, car registration and insurance policy, driver's license, household goods shipping inventory, employment records, credit cards and a copy of your last leave and earnings statement are all important documents that you should hand carry with you. The State Department now requires both parents' consent to obtain passports for children under the age of 14. Both parents must sign the passport application forms unless one parent is unavailable because of geographic separation, divorce or other circumstances. In this case, the parent applying for a child's passport needs a signed statement from the absent parent that gives permission to take the child overseas. For more information, see the U.S. State Department's website or contact your local Personnel Service Battalion.
U.S. Customs requires personnel to have a copy of the title to their vehicle when shipping it overseas. The title must include the vehicle identification number or, if the vehicle does not have a VIN, the product identification number. If there's a lien on the vehicle, there must be written approval from the lien holder.
Vehicles are shipped to the Mainz-Kastel Vehicle Processing Center, a ten minute drive from Wiesbaden Army Airfield. It's important that personnel notify the transportation office upon arrival. The Military Traffic Management Command "Shipping Your POV" is available on the MTMC website, click on "transportation services," then on "personal property."
Your car must pass an inspection for safety, condition and reliability. It's recommended that any needed repairs be completed prior to shipping your car to Germany. Labor and parts are very expensive and parts may take time to arrive in Germany. Check vehicles for rust, chips, cracks in the windshield and oil leaks. Inoperative lights, horn, speedometer and other items can prevent your car from passing inspection. See "POV Inbound Shipments" for more information.
Germany has a high cost of living. Prices for auto insurance are especially expensive. Variables include your age, the car's age, engine size, make, model and weight. German liability insurance, which is mandatory, ranges from 400 to 1,000 Euros per year. Shop around when purchasing insurance.
The minimum age for driving in Germany is 17. Soldiers and U.S. civilian employees must have a stateside license or a country license to obtain a U.S. Army Europe certificate of license. Prior to departing the U.S., ensure your stateside driver's license is current and not near expiration. Possession of a valid stateside license expedites licensing in USAREUR. Personnel must hold a USAREUR POV Certificate of License in order to operate a private auto off-post. Individuals are no longer permitted to use a military license in lieu of a valid state or country license to obtain a U.S. Forces POV Certificate of License for any class. Prior to arriving, it is recommended that you study for the driver's license exam. You can find the driver's handbook and manual online at http://www.hqusareur.army.mil/rmv/regulations/AEP190-34.pdf. The laws and street signs are different than in the U.S. and can be confusing. Personnel requiring child care during the driver's orientation and test may utilize hourly slots at the Child Development Center on a space available basis, however, children must be registered through Central Enrollment in order to use hourly care. If you do not have a valid license you will be considered a "novice" and must go through German licensing procedures to obtain a license. The process is very lengthy and expensive. A German driver's license costs approximately 2,000 Euros.
Car seat requirements are different in Germany than in the U.S. All children under 12 years of age who are smaller than 4'11" or weigh less than 50 pounds must use an approved child seat or booster seat. Children up to 36 months or up to 40 pounds must use a car seat. Children ages 3 to 11 or 33 to 80 pounds must use a booster seat. Failure to use these devices may result in a fine and/or loss of your driving privileges.
Gasoline is a rationed item in Germany. Depending on how many drivers and vehicles are registered with your family will determine the amount of gas you can purchase from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Gas is good quality and purchased in liters instead of gallons. Although there are two AAFES gas stations that service the community, gas coupons can be purchased through AAFES and can be used at specific gas stations on the economy. With the gas coupons, you pay average stateside prices. Without, you could pay up to $5 a gallon at a German gas station.
In Germany, there is an import ban on specific dogs that are considered dangerous or "fighting dogs." Due to dog attacks on humans, the German state and federal governments have banned the following breeds from being brought into Germany: Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire-Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Bull Terrier. Dogs of other breeds may also not be imported from another country if they are considered dangerous by the regulations where the dog will primarily live. Although each state in Germany maintains their own regulations on what dogs are banned, the most popular breeds that regularly appear on these lists include the American Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Mastiff and Pitbull Bandog.
Germany does not quarantine animals but requires a health certificate which cannot be more than 10 days old. Rabies vaccinations must be at least 30 days old and not more than one year old. Your local veterinarian can provide information.
Everyone on orders to Europe must complete an Exceptional Family Member Program screening before dependent travel will be authorized. For information regarding the EFMP screening, contact your local medical facility or EFMP Coordinator at your local ACS.
There are two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in the Wiesbaden military community. Your area of residence will determine the elementary school placement.
To register your children for school you will need: passport/birth certificate, current shot record, sponsor's Id card, previous school records and travel orders listing family members. Home schooling is available; however, parents must contact the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Schools Liaison Officer upon arrival for information.