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One of the benefits of military life can be the opportunity to live in different parts of the world and experience different cultures, food and places. Moving outside the continental U.S., or OCONUS, is an adventure that others only dream about, but it does require some planning and organization. Tap into all the resources available through Military OneSource to help you master your OCONUS move.
If you want your family to make the journey with you, obtaining command sponsorship — also known as “accompanied orders” — can make the transition much easier.
Planning an OCONUS move?
Learn how the Relocation Assistance Program can help you master your PCS.
Requesting command sponsorship
Command sponsorship is the permission needed to have family members accompany you with full military benefits during your assignment overseas.
- If command sponsorship is not included in your original orders, you must make a request through your chain of command.
- Once you’ve made the request, you will receive very specific instructions that must be followed.
- If approved, your military orders will specifically state that dependents are authorized.
- If you get married before you move, you must inform your commander and follow the procedures exactly as you receive them. The military will not pay for your spouse’s travel and housing if you do not follow proper procedures.
- Know that command sponsorship is not guaranteed. You will need to have a backup plan if you are denied.
Once command sponsorship is granted
Once command sponsorship is granted, you will be reimbursed for your family’s travel expenses, given a larger housing allowance and permitted more weight for your household goods shipment. Your family will receive other benefits such as medical services, legal protection and the right to remain in your host country, for the duration of your overseas assignment.
To ensure you are fully reimbursed, keep good records and document any costs associated with travel, housing and other authorized expenses.
As you make overseas housing decisions, be sure to research current housing allowances at your future installation. Allowances vary by duty station and may change annually. Current housing allowance tables, per diem rates and tools are available on the Defense Travel Management Office website.
If command sponsorship is denied
Command sponsorship is not guaranteed. It may be denied because of the location of the duty station, the length of your tour, insufficient family support resources at the duty station or other reasons.
If command sponsorship is denied, you will receive “unaccompanied orders.” Your family members may still be able to move to your PCS host country, but be aware that you will be responsible for all transportation, moving and living expenses associated with their move. In addition, your family members’ installation medical services will be limited, and cost of living adjustments will not be available for them.
Perhaps most importantly, your family members will not automatically receive permission to live in your PCS host country. You will need to research visa and residency requirements and explore the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, associated with the country where you will be living to ensure your family members can legally remain with you.
Don’t wait to plan this next chapter in your military life. Learn more about relocation assistance for the whole family as well as online tools and personalized support that will help you master your move.