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Allowance for Work Abroad

What Is It

Federal civilian employees and their families who are permanently assigned to a post of duty in a foreign area may be eligible to receive any of some 16 types of allowances and benefits set forth in the U.S. Department of State Standardized Regulations (Government Civilians, Foreign Areas). Employees who are temporarily assigned abroad are not eligible for most foreign service allowances; however, under appropriate circumstances, they may be paid the following:

Foreign Travel Per Diem

In lieu of post differential, employees temporarily assigned abroad are eligible for foreign travel per diem. The latter is payable under authority of the Federal Travel Regulations but at rates that are issued by the State Department in the Maximum Per Diem Travel Allowance Letter, Section 925 of the Standardized Regulations. Bureau Travel Offices and most bureau finance offices receive State Department telexes of foreign per diem rates. Organizations having a regular need may also obtain rates from the State Department through the Internet.

Post Differential

Under 5 U.S.C. 5925, a United States citizen employee may be granted a post differential on the basis of conditions of environment that differ substantially from conditions in the United States and warrant additional pay as a recruitment and retention incentive.
An operating unit head or other delegated authority may pay a post differential of up to 25 percent of basic pay to employees assigned to locations where unusual hardships exist.
Post differential may be paid to employees on temporary detail to one or more hardship posts after the 42nd calendar day of the detail with the day of arrival counting as day 1. The differential ceases if the employee is reassigned away from the post. Eligibility must be reestablished if the employee returns to the post.

Danger Pay

If the Secretary of State declares a situation eligible under U.S.C. 5928, an operating unit head or other delegated authority may authorize employees serving in foreign areas a danger pay allowance on the basis of civil insurrection, civil war, terrorism, or war time conditions which threaten physical harm or imminent danger to employees' health or well being.

A danger pay allowance may not exceed 35 percent of basic pay. It may be paid to part-time, full-time, or temporary employees.

Danger pay begins on the day of arrival in an area designated by the Secretary of State for the allowance or on the day the area is designated eligible. Danger pay is payable to employees who are detailed to the area for as little as 4 hours and is not payable for any days away from the area. Danger pay is payable until the Secretary of State declares the situation no longer eligible which may be some time after an end to hostilities has been declared publicly.


5 U.S.C. 5928 and 5 U.S.C. 5929
U.S. Department of State Standardized Regulations (Government Civilians, Foreign Areas)
5 CFR 591