Cutting the Cord & Contracts Abroad

Cutting the Cord & Contracts Abroad

March 3rd, 2021

Forgot to cancel a cell, internet, or TV contract before moving overseas? Thankfully, it’s not too late to cancel, keep your cellphone number, and avoid termination fees using the benefits of the SCRA.

The SCRA allows OCONUS Service Members to terminate TV, internet, and cell contracts “at any time after the date the Service Member receives military orders,” so long as orders are for 90 days or more overseas and the new location doesn’t support the contract.

What does “not support the contract” mean? Let’s say you’re moving to Italy and your mobile carrier can’t provide the same level of coverage or speed of data in your new location. This would almost certainly make your contract not supportable and make you eligible for SCRA protections.

To avail yourself of these benefits, provide your carrier with written notice of your intent to terminate, the date you would like to terminate, and a copy of your military orders.

Although you won’t be able to use your cell number while your contract is inactive, the SCRA requires mobile carriers to offer to save your number. So if you’d like to keep your number, let your servicer know in writing at the time of termination. Provided that you reinitiate your cell service within 90 days of relocating and that your overseas orders are for three years or less, the mobile carrier must set aside your number until you return CONUS.

But what about dependents? Dependents are protected under the SCRA only if they are listed on the same family plan as the Service Member and accompany the Service Member overseas. While this provision will cover many dependents, this provision will not protect a dependent who has a separate contract from the active duty member.

So if you’re, say, a dependent spouse with a separate TV, phone, or internet contract, it is in your interest to enter into a family plan before receiving orders. SCRA protections only work if your TV, internet, or mobile contract predates the Service Member’s orders. So unfortunately, if you and your dependent spouse already find yourselves OCONUS with separate contractual obligations, your dependent will not be eligible for SCRA cancellation.

Last, but not least, the SCRA protects military members from paying early termination and reinstatement fees. Double check those bills to make sure you haven’t been illegally charged upon arriving or departing OCONUS!