Chapter 302—Relocation Allowances
Subchapter C—Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Allowances for Subsistence and Transportation Expenses
Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5738; 20 U.S.C. 905(a); E.O. 11609, as amended, 3 CFR, 1971-1975 Comp., p. 586.
Subpart A—Employee’s Allowance for Househunting Trip Expenses
Note to Subpart A: Use of pronouns “I”, “you” throughout this subpart refers to the employee.
§302-5.1 What is a “househunting trip”?
The term “househunting trip” refers to a trip made by the employee and/or spouse to your new official station locality to find permanent living quarters to rent or purchase. The term “living quarters” in this part includes apartments, condominiums, and cooperatives in addition to townhouses and single family homes.
§302-5.2 What is the purpose of the househunting trip expenses allowance?
The allowance for househunting trip expenses is intended to facilitate and expedite the employee’s move from your old official station to your new official station and to lower the Government’s overall cost for the employee’s relocation by reducing the amount of time an employee must occupy temporary quarters. The allowance for househunting trip expenses provides the employee and/or spouse a period of time to concentrate on finding a suitable permanent residence at the new official station and thereby expedites the employee’s relocation.
§302-5.3 Am I eligible for a househunting trip expenses allowance?
You are eligible for a househunting trip expenses allowance if you are an employee who is authorized to transfer, and in addition:
(a) Both your old and new official stations are located within the United States;
(b) You are not assigned to Government or other prearranged housing at your new official station; and
(c) Your old and new official stations are 75 or more miles apart (as measured by map distance) via a usually traveled surface route.
§302-5.4 Who is not eligible for a househunting trip expenses allowance?
New appointees and employees assigned under the Government Employees Training Act (5 U.S.C. 4109) are not eligible for a househunting trip expenses allowance.
§302-5.5 Must my agency authorize payment of a househunting trip expenses allowance?
No, your agency determines when it is in the Government’s interest to authorize you a househunting trip and the procedures you must follow if it is authorized.
§302-5.6 Under what circumstances will I receive a househunting trip expenses allowance?
You will receive a househunting trip expenses allowance if:
(a) Your agency authorized you to perform a househunting trip in advance of the travel (the agency authorization must specify the mode of transportation and the period of time allowed for the trip);
(b) You have signed a service agreement;
(c) Your agency has established, and informed you of, the date you are to report to your new official station; and
(d) You meet any additional conditions your agency has established.
§302-5.7 Who may travel on a househunting trip at Government expense?
Only you and/or your spouse may travel on a househunting trip at Government expense.
§302-5.8 How many househunting trips may my agency authorize in connection with a particular transfer?
Your agency may authorize only one round trip for you and/or your spouse in connection with a particular transfer.
§302-5.9 May my spouse and I perform separate househunting trips at Government expense?
Yes, however, your reimbursement will be limited to the cost that would have been incurred if you and your spouse had traveled together on one round trip.
§302-5.10 How soon may I and/or my spouse begin a househunting trip?
You may begin your househunting trip as soon as your agency has notified you of your transfer and issued a travel authorization for a househunting trip. To take maximum advantage of your trip, however, it is very important that you become familiar as quickly as you can with your new official station area (e.g., housing market conditions, school locations, etc.). If you are selling your residence at your old official station, you should not begin your househunting trip until you have a current appraisal of the value of the residence so that you can more accurately determine the appropriate price range of residences to consider during your househunting trip.
§302-5.11 Is there a time limit on the duration of a househunting trip?
A househunting trip should be for a reasonable period, not to exceed 10 calendar days, as authorized by your agency under §302-5.101(d).
§302-5.12 When must my househunting trip be completed?
You and/or your spouse must complete your househunting trip as indicated in the following table:
Your househunting trip must be completed by
The day before you report to your new official station.
The earlier of:
(a) The day before your family relocates to your new official station; or
(b) The day before the maximum time for beginning allowable travel expires (see §302-2.100 of this chapter).
§302-5.13 What methods may my agency use to reimburse me for househunting trip expenses?
Your agency will reimburse your househunting trip expenses as indicated in the following table:
You are reimbursed
You and/or your spouse’s transportation expenses.
Your actual transportation costs.
You and/or your spouse’s subsistence expenses.
One of the following two:
(a) A per diem allowance at the standard CONUS rate (see http://www.gsa.gov/perdiem), for you and/or your spouse if you travel separately, or if you both travel together, the standard CONUS rate multiplied by 1.75), for the 10 days or less that your agency authorizes for you; or
(b) Only if offered by your agency and chosen by you, a lump sum, as follows:
(1) If you perform a househunting trip and your spouse does not, or if your spouse performs a househunting trip and you do not, multiply the applicable locality per diem rate by 5.00 (see http://www.gsa.gov/perdiem).
(2) If you and your spouse both perform a househunting trip, together or separately, multiply the applicable locality per diem rate by 6.25 (see http://www.gsa.gov/perdiem).
§302-5.14 What transportation expenses will my agency pay?
(a) Your agency will authorize you to travel by any transportation mode(s) (e.g., common carrier or POV) that it determines to be advantageous to the Government. Your agency will pay for your transportation expenses by the authorized mode(s). If you travel by one or more mode(s) other than the one(s) authorized by your agency, your agency will pay your transportation expenses up to the constructive cost of transportation by the authorized mode(s). For trips of less than 250 miles, your agency will authorize travel by POV, unless there are reasons for not using a POV that are acceptable to the agency (e.g., traveler is physically impaired, does not own or lease a POV, has only one POV that is used for family transportation, or the POV is not roadworthy for such a trip). POV mileage reimbursement will be in accordance with §302-4.300 of this chapter.
(b) Unless the agency performs a written cost comparison that demonstrates cost savings, only common carrier may be authorized for trips with a distance of 250 miles or more.
§302-5.15 Must I document my househunting trip expenses to receive reimbursement?
To receive reimbursement for househunting trip transportation expenses you must itemize your transportation expenses and provide receipts as required by §§301-11.25, 301-11.306 and 301-52.4(b) of Chapter 301. For lump sum househunting trip subsistence reimbursement, you do not need to document your subsistence expenses. For per diem househunting trip subsistence expense reimbursement, you must itemize your lodging expenses and you must provide receipts as required by §§301-11.25, 301-11.306 and 301-52.4(b) of Chapter 301.
§302-5.16 May I receive an advance of funds for househunting trip expenses?
Your agency may authorize an advance of funds, in accordance with §§302-2.23, §302-2.24, and §302-2.25 of this chapter, for your househunting trip expenses. Your agency may not advance you funds in excess of the sum of your anticipated transportation costs and either the maximum per diem allowable under Part 302-4 of this chapter for the location and duration of your househunting trip or your lump sum househunting trip subsistence expenses payment, whichever applies.
§302-5.17 Am I in a duty status when I perform a househunting trip?
Yes, you are in a duty status when you perform a househunting trip.
§302-5.18 May I retain any balance left over from my househunting reimbursement if my lump sum is more than adequate to cover my househunting trip?
Yes, if your lump sum househunting amount is more than adequate to cover your househunting expenses any balance belongs to you.
Subpart B—Agency Responsibilities
Note to Subpart B: Use of pronouns “we”, “you”, and their variants throughout this subpart refers to the agency.
§302-5.100 How should we administer the househunting trip expenses allowance?
You should administer the househunting trip expenses allowance to minimize or avoid its use when other satisfactory and more economical arrangements are available.
§302-5.101 What governing policies must we establish for the househunting trip expenses allowance?
You must establish policies and procedures governing:
(a) When you will authorize a househunting trip for an employee;
(b) Who will determine if a househunting trip is appropriate in each situation;
(c) If and when you will authorize the lump sum option for househunting trip subsistence expenses reimbursement;
(d) Who will determine the appropriate duration of a househunting trip for an employee who selects a per diem allowance under Part 302-4 of this chapter to reimburse househunting trip subsistence expenses; and
(e) Who will determine the mode(s) of transportation to be used.
§302-5.102 Under what circumstances may we authorize a househunting trip?
You may authorize a househunting trip on an individual-case basis when the employee has accepted the transfer and his/her circumstances indicate that a househunting trip actually is needed. You may not authorize a househunting trip when the purpose of the trip is to assist the employee in deciding whether he or she will accept the transfer.
§302-5.103 What modes of transportation may we authorize for a househunting trip?
(a) When the new official station is less than 250 miles from the old official station, the required mode of transportation is POV, unless there are reasons for not using a POV that are acceptable to the you (e.g., traveler is physically impaired, does not own or lease a POV, has only one POV which is used for family transportation, or the POV is not roadworthy for such a trip). Reimbursement for POV mileage is at the rate prescribed in §302-4.300 of this subchapter.
(b) When the new official station is 250 miles or more from the old official station, the preferred mode of transportation is common carrier. However, you may authorize the use of POV for a househunting trip longer than 250 miles, provided you complete a written cost comparison in accordance with §302-5.14(b).
§302-5.104 What factors must we consider in determining whether to offer an employee the lump sum househunting trip subsistence expense reimbursement option?
You must consider the following factors:
(a) Ease of administration. Payment of a per diem allowance under Part 302-4 of this chapter requires you to review claims for the validity, accuracy, and reasonableness of each expense amount, except for meals and incidental expenses. Lump sum househunting trip subsistence expenses reimbursement is easier to administer because you do not have to review expense amounts.
(b) Cost considerations. You must weigh the cost of each reimbursement option on a case-by-case basis.
(c) Treatment of employees. The employee is allowed to choose between a per diem allowance under Part 302-4 of this chapter and lump sum househunting trip subsistence expenses reimbursement when you offer the lump sum reimbursement method. You therefore should weigh employee morale and productivity considerations against actual cost considerations in determining which method to offer.