News story

Tackling Commercial Disadvantage for Service Families Overseas

Armed Forces families posted overseas will be able to suspend their mobile phone contracts, the Defence Secretary has announced.

Ministry of Defence

Thousands of members of armed forces families who are posted overseas will be able to suspend their UK mobile phone contracts, under new plans unveiled by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

The announcement follows Ministry of Defence agreements with mobile phone companies:

  • Vodafone has committed to enable armed forces families to suspend mobile contracts for two years, with separate arrangements in place for those deploying for more than 2 years.
  • Three has committed to suspend contracts of spouses joining their partners abroad for 12 months. If deployed for more than 12 months, a discount will be applied to any termination charges.


  • EE has committed to enable armed forces families to suspend contracts for 12 months.

  • O2 has committed to develop proposals that build on what they already do to help to ensure that serving personnel and their families living abroad are not penalised.

The move, which extends existing commitments to service personnel to their spouses and children, is part of a package of measures being developed by the government to ensure that military families posted abroad are not commercially disadvantaged.

This tackles one of the issues raised most often by forces and their families. It is part of work to ensure they can access financial services, shop online, apply for mortgages and let out their home without being penalised unfairly.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

To help those posted overseas, the major mobile phone companies have agreed to allow family members to put their contracts on hold while they are away. We are working to ensure it’s easier to access financial services and get a credit rating.

Our work on commercial disadvantage is a key element of the armed forces covenant, which sets out the relationship between the nation, the government and the armed forces.

It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the armed forces and their families, and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.

Published 4 October 2015