Per Diem Rates
Allowance Rates
Standardized Regulations (DSSR)
General Information
Quarterly Report Indexes
   
Office of Allowances
 

Office of Allowances

Frequently Asked Questions 
Foreign Transfer Allowance

 

QUESTIONS:

1. Q: In section 241.2a it states that required removal or installation by host country law of auto parts (such as tinted windows) was now an allowable expense under the Miscellaneous Expense portion of the Foreign Transfer Allowance. At post, this happens all the time. If someone were to have to remove their tinted windowing would that be an allowable expense? If the cost of removing the window tinting is more than the FTA, will the cost be reimbursed if you itemize your expenses?

2. Q: Can family members leave 10 days earlier than the employee from Washington to the foreign post, and claim 10 days of pre-departure. Then when the employee follows them, can s/he also be reimbursed 10 days of pre-departure?

3. Q: Can the ten days that we are authorized be broken up, or do they need to be consecutive? We may want to stay in another family member's area for a couple of days.

4. Q: Do the ten days of pre-departure have to be exactly the last ten days I am in the United States?

5. Q: In the Foreign Transfer Allowance, subsistence expense portion what is the difference between the "Partial Flat Rate Method" and the "Total Actual Subsistence Method"?

QUESTIONS: 

1. Q: In section 241.2a it states that required removal or installation by host country law of auto parts (such as tinted windows) was now an allowable expense under the Miscellaneous Expense portion of the Foreign Transfer Allowance. At post, this happens all the time. If someone were to have to remove their tinted windowing would that be an allowable expense? If the cost of removing the window tinting is more than the FTA, will the cost be reimbursed if you itemize your expenses? 

A: If the removal of tinted windows is required by the host country's law then, yes, it is an allowable expense under the miscellaneous expense portion of the foreign transfer allowance. If the amount,  including other allowable expenses, is above the flat amounts (no itemization, no receipts required) then you will itemize for all expenses claimed and must be able to show receipts or other acceptable evidence of payment. The maximum reimbursed will be according to DSSR 242.1b for actual expenses above the flat amounts.  The flat amount is the lesser of the following:  for an employee transferring without family, $650 or one week's salary; for an employee transferring with family, $1,300 or two weeks' salary. If the employee chooses to itemize, the maximum reimbursed is the lesser of the following: for an employee transferring without family, one week of the employee's salary or one week of the GS-13 step 10 salary ($1,792 for calendar year 2011); for an employee transferring with family, two weeks of the employee's salary or two weeks of the GS-13 step 10 salary ($3,584 for calendar year 2011).
2. Q: Can family members leave 10 days earlier than the employee from Washington to the foreign post, and claim 10 days of pre-departure. Then when the employee follows them, can s/he also be reimbursed 10 days of pre-departure? 
A: Only ten days are allowed for the entire family. That is if the family uses all ten then there is zero left for the employee. However, the days may be split for example, family can use five; employee uses five; or family uses three and employee uses seven. In most instances the number of days cannot exceed ten  See DSSR 242.3c for exceptions to the ten day maximum. 
3. Q: Can the ten days that we are authorized be broken up, or do they need to be consecutive? We may want to stay in another family member's area for a couple of days. 

A: They do not need to be consecutive days. The ten days may be anywhere in the U.S , however, your final departure must be from your U.S. post of assignment.  Note:  Agency-implementing regulations may be more restrictive than the Government-wide Standardized Regulations and require the ten days be within proximity of the U.S post of assignment.  Reimbursement for predeparture subsistence expenses is always based on a percentage of the employee's U.S. post of assignment per diem rate (not on a percentage of the per diem of where you stay).  See DSSR 242.3a, DSSR 242.3b, and DSSR 960 FTA Worksheet for calculations and detailed explanations.  

4. Q: Do the ten days of pre-departure have to be exactly the last ten days I am in the United States ? 

A: The ten days of pre-departure from a U.S. post of assignment do not need to be the last ten days, however, you must commence your pre-departure no more than 30 days after vacating permanent quarters.

5. Q: In the Foreign Transfer Allowance subsistence expense portion, what is the difference between the "Partial Flat Rate Method" and the "Total Actual Subsistence Method"?
 

A: The agency implementing regulations should state which method is being used to reimburse the employee.  State Department as an agency has chosen (starting in 2014) to offer its employees only the Partial Flat Rate Method of reimbursement.  Under the Foreign Transfer Allowance, the calculation of reimbursement for either method is always based on the employee's U.S. post of assignment per diem rate. 

Partial Flat Rate Method: Agencies may allow employees to be reimbursed an actual lodging amount (excluding lodging tax) up to the lodging portion of the employee's U.S. post of assignment per diem rate and a flat amount based on the meal and incidental expense portion of the employee's U.S. post of assignment per diem rate. In addition to these amounts, agencies may allow for employees to be reimbursed separately for taxes imposed on actual lodging expenses. Receipts are required for only lodging if this method is used.

Total Actual Subsistence Method: Agencies may also allow only reimbursement for documented costs up to a maximum based on the employee's U.S. post of assignment per diem rate (no breakdown between lodging and meal and incidental expense portions for this calculation). Receipts are required for lodging and a certified statement (without receipts) is required for daily meals, laundry and dry cleaning. Lodging tax may be reimbursed separately. 

See DSSR 242.3a, DSSR 242.3b and DSSR 960 FTA Worksheet for detailed explanations and calculations.