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Department of State Standardized Regulations - (Last updated 07/04/2024)

040  DEFINITIONS (Last updated 07/04/2024) 

The following definitions apply to all chapters of these regulations, unless waived or modified in specific instances.  Supplementary definitions which apply to specific chapters or sections only will be found in the General Provisions of those chapters and subchapters. 

a. "United States" when used in a geographical sense, means the several States of the United States of America, including Alaska and Hawaii, and the District of Columbia.  (See also Sections 241.1c and 251.1c.) 

b. "Continental United States" means the several States of the United States of America, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, but including the District of Columbia. 

c. "Government" means the Government of the United States of America. 

d. "Government agency" means:  (1) each executive department of the Government, (2) each independent establishment or agency in the executive branch of the Government, including each corporation wholly owned (either directly or through one or more corporations) by the Government, (3) the General Accounting Office, and (4) the Library of Congress. 

e. "Head of agency" means either the head of a government agency or anyone designated by them to make determinations in their behalf. 

f. "Foreign area" means any area situated outside the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the possessions of the United States.  With respect to teachers defined in subsection n, hereof, "foreign area" also includes the Midway Islands. 

g. "Country of assignment" means the country in which the employee's post is located as listed in the electronic Table of Allowances (Section 920). (eff. 5/1/05 TL:SR 650) 

h. "Post" means the place designated as the official station of the employee, regardless of whether they are detailed elsewhere or resides at another place with the authorization or approval of the head of their agency.  (See also Section 061.) 

i. "Employee" means an individual employed in the civilian service of a government agency (including ambassadors, ministers, and members of the Foreign Service of the United States under the Department of State) who is: 

(1) a citizen of the United States (except under Section 312); 

(2) officially stationed in a foreign area, except as otherwise specifically provided in these regulations; 

(3) receiving basic compensation (Section 040k); and 

(4) eligible for allowances or differential under subchapter 030, including the provisions pertaining to local hires (Section 031.12) and temporary employees (Section 031.4), as determined by relevant agency authority. (Eff 10/02/05 TL:SR 656) 

No sex discrimination is implied or intended through use of pronouns which may appear in these regulations. 

j. "Non-citizen employee" means a civilian who is: 

(1) not a citizen of the United States; but is

(2) employed by a government agency; and is

(3) officially stationed in a foreign area. 

For purposes of Section 852 of these regulations, a United States citizen appointed under Section 303 and employed under Section 311 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, is considered a non-citizen employee. 

k. "Basic compensation" means the rate of compensation fixed: 

(1) by statute for the position held by an employee; or 

(2) by administrative action pursuant to law; or 

(3) administratively in conformity with rates paid by the Government for work of a comparable level of difficulty and responsibility in the continental United States, before any deduction is made and without taking into consideration any additional compensation such as overtime pay, night pay differential, hazard differential, extra pay for work on holidays, post differential, and allowances; except that for teachers defined in subsection n, hereof, basic compensation means the rate of compensation fixed by the military departments of the Department of Defense for the position held by an individual (including any appropriate increments for having completed a higher level of academic preparation) before any deduction is made and exclusive of all allowances, differentials, or other additional compensation. 

l. "Salary" means the basic compensation of an employee plus, with respect to an employee serving as chief of mission, officer temporarily in charge of the operations of an agency at a post, or in some other similar capacity, any additional compensation that they may be authorized to receive while serving in such capacity, but exclusive of all allowances, differentials or other additional compensation. 

m. "Family” or “family member" means one or more of the following individuals residing in the same quarters as the employee at their post, or who would normally reside at the post except for the existence of circumstances cited in Section 262 warranting the grant of a separate maintenance allowance, but who does not receive from the Government an allowance similar to that granted to the employee and who is not deemed to be a dependent or a member of the family of another employee for the purpose of determining the amount of a similar allowance: (interim eff. 7/5/2009 TL:SR 711; final eff. 8/30/2009 TL:SR 715) 

(1) spouse or domestic partner (the latter as defined by agency regulations, when the head of agency determines this is in the interest of the Government), but not both; 

(2) children who are unmarried and under 21 years of age or, regardless of age, are incapable of self-support.  The term shall include, in addition to natural offspring, step and adopted children and those under legal guardianship of the employee, of the spouse, or of the domestic partner when such children are expected to be under such legal guardianship at least until they reach 21 years of age and when dependent upon and normally residing with the guardian. Any child or children of a domestic partner of an employee shall be deemed a stepchild of the employee. The term shall also include U.S. citizen children placed for adoption if a U.S. court grants temporary guardianship of the child to the employee and specifically authorizes the employee to reside with the child in the country of assignment before the adoption is finalized. (For exceptions to the upper age limit, see Sections 270 and 280 on education allowances and educational travel.)(eff. 6/14/2015 TL:SR-866); 

(3) parents (including step- and legally adoptive parents) of the employee, of the spouse, or of the domestic partner, when such parents are at least 51 percent dependent on the employee for support; 

(4) sisters and brothers (including step or adoptive sisters, or step or adoptive brothers) of the employee, of the spouse, or of the domestic partner, when such sisters and brothers are at least 51 percent dependent on the employee for support, unmarried and under 21 years of age or, regardless of age, are incapable of self-support.  (See also Sections 270 and 280 on education.); 

(5) when determined by the head of agency to be in the interest of the Government, a father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter, regardless of age or dependency, who acts as the official hostess or equivalent for an employee who has no spouse or domestic partner residing with them at the post. 

n. "Teacher" means an employee who is a teacher as defined Section 2(2) of the Defense Department Overseas Teachers Pay and Personnel Practices Act (73 Stat. 213) and regulations issued thereunder by the Department of Defense.  Substitute teachers are not considered to be teachers for the purpose of these regulations. 

o. "Grant", used as a verb, means to authorize or approve payment of; "Grant", used as a noun, means authorization or approval for payment. 

p. "Detail" means the temporary assignment or temporary duty (including temporary duty for consultation) of an employee away from their post (Section 040h).  (See also Section 511c with respect to post hardship differential, Section 651c concerning danger pay, and Section 811c concerning compensatory time off.) (eff. 5/1/05 TL:SR 650) 

q. "Transfer" means a change in an employee's post (Section 040h) within the same government agency. 

r. "Separation" means termination of an employee's services with a government agency (including termination by resignation, retirement or death). 

s.   “Domestic Employee Teleworking Overseas” (DETO) means an individual employed in the civilian service of a Government agency (including ambassadors, ministers, and members of the Foreign Service of the United States) who is assigned to a position in the United States but performs their duties from a foreign location by agreement with their employing agency. A DETO’s duty station as listed on the SF-50 [for locality pay purposes] may reflect the foreign location, but a DETO is neither assigned, nor detailed, to the foreign work location. (eff. 11/15/15 TL:SR 877) 

t. "Combat Zones" means geographic areas designated by an Executive Order from the President as areas in which the U.S. Armed Forces are engaging or have engaged in combat; an area designated by Public Law to be treated as if it were a combat zone; or locations the Department of Defense has certified for combat zone tax benefits due to their direct support of military operations. Please see for a complete list of combat zones. (eff. 4/3/2016 TL:SR-887) 


*u. “SF-1190” means Standard Form 1190 entitled "FOREIGN ALLOWANCES APPLICATION, GRANT AND REPORT (SF-1190)" available for use by all U.S. government agencies to determine employee eligibility for and appropriate amounts of allowances under the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR).   In lieu of this form, U.S. government agencies may require their employees to use an equivalent agency-approved form which shall have the same meaning as SF-1190 for purposes of the DSSR.  A completed SF-1190, or equivalent, may be submitted by an employee in digital or paper format. (eff. 07/16/2024 TL:SR-1103)