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Travel Restrictions Ease, but May Vary by Location

Current as of April 21, 2021

The Department of Defense is reviewing local conditions by place to determine personnel movement and travel as the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic continues. This replaces previous broad restrictions until further notice. This is part of the department’s measures to preserve force readiness, limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect lives during the global outbreak.

Four main factors determine when unrestricted travel can resume:

  • Removal of local travel restrictions
  • Availability of essential services (schools, childcare, moving services)
  • Quality control/assurance capability for household goods packing and moving
  • Favorable health protection conditions

Things could change in some areas and not in others, depending on conditions. DOD installations, facilities and locations with more than 1,000 permanent personnel will provide weekly status updates on travel restrictions which will be posted to

For areas where previous restrictions remain in place, here are the answers to some questions you might have.

Exceptions to the travel restrictions

Check with your supervisor before traveling. Currently, travel is allowed for:

  • Travel associated with uniformed personnel recruiting and accessions activities including accessions, basic training, advanced military individual training and follow-on travel to the first duty station
  • All Global Force Management scheduled deployments and redeployments
  • Service members whose temporary duty ends while travel restrictions are in effect and are returning home
  • Authorized travelers who departed their permanent duty station, are awaiting transportation and have already initiated travel (including intermediate stops)
  • Service members and their families who must travel for medical treatment
  • Medical providers who must travel to treat military personnel or their families
  • Scheduled deployments/redeployments of U.S. Navy vessels and embarked units that are in transit for 14 days and meet restriction-of-movement requirements for current force health-protection guidance
  • Service members who are retiring or separating from duty while travel restrictions are in place
  • Travel by those under the authority of a chief of mission and authorized by that chief of mission
  • Travel from locations where the Department of State has issued an ordered departure
  • Return travel from safe havens when the Department of State has terminated an ordered or authorized departure
  • Travel to and from professional military education programs
  • Travel associated with formal, entry-level civilian accession programs, such as government-funded internships and fellowships
  • Travel by civilian employees complying with overseas tour rotation agreement requirements
  • Leave travel for DOD service members.

Exemptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis for travel that is:

  • Essential to the mission
  • Necessary for humanitarian reasons
  • Warranted due to extreme hardship

The appropriate leader, supervisor and medical personnel will complete a risk assessment before travel is authorized. The risk assessment will:

  • Ensure the traveler hasn’t been exposed to or exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.
  • Ensure the traveler is not at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Establish that the service member knows what to do if they develop symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19.

Here’s what the restrictions may mean for you and what steps you can take if you are currently preparing for, or are currently in the process of, a permanent change of station:

  • You are just about to PCS: Contact your chain of command.
  • Your belongings are packed and you have moved out of your residence but your travel is on hold: Contact your chain of command right away to receive information about entitlements, such as lodging, that may apply to you and your situation. The services also have relief societies that may be able to provide some emergency support.
  • The moving company has already picked up your shipment: Contact your shipping office to check the status of your shipment. It may be in storage in your local area, on its way to your destination or in storage there. To find contact information for your Household Goods/Transportation Office, visit the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website, an online information directory for military installations worldwide. You can search for information by installation, program or service, or by state.
  • You have confirmed that the travel restrictions impact your PCS, but already submitted your movement request to your personal property office:
    • If your shipment does not have a moving company award, it will be put in a hold status pending further guidance — such as the end of the travel restrictions or approval from your chain of command to continue.
    • If your shipment does have a moving company award and pack-out or pick-up dates have been scheduled, your moving company will contact you about postponing those dates.
  • Your lease is expiring or you have already sold your home: Contact your chain of command and personal property office. The travel restrictions provide flexibility to allow pack-outs and pick-ups to continue and household goods to put into storage locally.
  • You have an appointment coming up at the Vehicle Processing Center: If you don’t know whether the travel restrictions apply to you, contact your chain of command. If the travel restrictions do not apply to your PCS or your chain of command has approved an exception, keep your Vehicle Processing Center appointment.
  • You have already dropped off your vehicle, but your PCS now has a delay: If you would like to pick up your vehicle, contact the Vehicle Processing Center. Staff can help you make an appointment, retrieve your vehicle and answer questions. For more information on your personal vehicle, visit
  • You have other questions about your personal property shipment:

Travel Restrictions & PCS

If you entered into a rental or purchase agreement at your new duty station but are unable to PCS due to travel restrictions, you still have options.


Travel restrictions may affect Basic Allowance for Housing entitlements

Travel restrictions may impact your PCS and your eligibility for BAH in one of the following ways:

  • If you’ve moved, but your dependents had to stay behind, you may be eligible for BAH with-dependents at the old location and Family Separation Housing allowance at the new location.
  • If your dependents have moved but you had to stay behind, you are entitled to BAH at the old or new duty station, whichever is more equitable, but not both.
  • If you have not yet started your PCS, you will be eligible for BAH at only the old location.

If the travel restrictions are affecting you and your family in one of the ways listed above, you may do the following:

  • Contact your personnel or housing office and the gaining command to see if there are any options for temporary lodging.
  • Check with your housing provider to see if your lease or purchase agreement can be delayed.
  • Check to see if you may be exempt from the travel restrictions or if you could receive a hardship exception to proceed with the PCS.
  • Ask your legal office if you have options under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the rental/purchase contract’s military clause, which may permit you to cancel the contract.

You may also keep up with ongoing changes to travel and housing policy due to COVID-19 at the Defense Travel and Housing Policy website.

Travel restrictions may affect your pays

Special or incentive pay(s): If you receive special or incentive pay(s) that require performance of specific duties, such as Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay, Aviation Incentive Pay, etc., and are unable to perform those duties due to COVID-19 restrictions, you should know that the assistant secretary of defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs recently announced that the service secretary can waive those performance requirements. This means that you can continue to receive these special and incentive pays during this emergency period.

You can speak to your chain of command to find out if you qualify.

Hardship Duty Pay-Restriction of Movement: The Department of Defense has newly authorized HDP-ROM in response to the COVID-19 emergency. If you are ordered to self-monitor somewhere other than your home and are not on official travel orders, you could be eligible for this pay. Contact your chain of command to find out if you qualify for this pay.

If you are eligible for this pay, you can receive up to $100 per day and $1,500 a month to compensate you for the hardship of having to pay out of pocket for lodging while in isolation. You must be paying to stay somewhere other than your own residence, a government lodging facility or a hotel that is paid for by the government. This pay is intended to defray the hardship incurred when service members have to pay out of their own pocket, without reimbursement, for lodging due to orders from their command to self-isolate.

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to change, so continue to check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or Military and Family Support Center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide.

For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community:

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