Postcode boost for overseas troops
British troops serving abroad will soon be able to shop online using special postcodes.
The online postcodes will be available to forces personnel based overseas and their families.
It will allow them to access goods and services sold over the internet as well as helping them to maintain a UK credit history.
Members of the forces currently use a British Forces Post Office (BFPO) number which is not compatible with many online ordering systems, including those used by financial scoring agencies.
Each BFPO number will now be linked with a unique UK-style, non-geographic postcode solely for use online which should make it easier for members of the forces and their families to access financial products such as credit cards and mortgages.
The joint initiative between the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the British Forces Post Office and the Royal Mail will benefit 100,000 personnel and their families serving in places such as Afghanistan, Germany, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands, with online retailers and credit agencies expected to start making use of the scheme this month.
Andrew Robathan, minister for defence, personnel, welfare and veterans, said: "This is good news for our forces and their families stationed overseas, who should enjoy exactly the same access to goods and services as UK residents. One of the aims of the armed forces covenant introduced by this Government was to minimise the impact of military life so this is another great step forward to make service life as easy as possible."
BFPO head of policy and plans Lieutenant Colonel Ian Stark said: "For our personnel stationed abroad, this will make a big difference. BFPO and Royal Mail have created a database that opens up access to internet services and the ability to carry out internet transactions, whether it is online shopping, registering your car or applying for a mortgage or credit card."
Mike Newnham, Royal Mail's chief customer officer, said: "Royal Mail is intensely proud of its strong and enduring links with the British forces and we are delighted we have played our part in implementing this important initiative. We understand how much service personnel and their families based overseas value being able to shop online and how they will benefit from gaining access to a range of online services too.
"We have been working closely with the BFPO to develop an address and postcode structure consistent with Royal Mail's postcode address file that will provide businesses with the opportunity to make these services available."