After an Evacuation

Returning to Post
When Family Members Do Not Return to Post
Employee is Converted to PCS Orders


Returning to Post
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By law, Subsistence Expense Allowance (SEA), including any extensions or grace period, may never exceed a total of 180 days. When an evacuation is lifted, evacuated employees must return to post in an expeditious manner. Except for those individuals who are converted to PCS orders, there is a grace period of three days (beginning the date of the RETURN OF EVACUEES TO POST cable, including Saturday and Sunday) for the continuation of SEA to allow evacuees to make transportation and travel arrangements for return to post.

An additional seven days may be available for justifiable reasons and in certain circumstances (usually related to availability of flights and pack out of UAB). The total grace period cannot extend beyond 10 days from the date of the RETURN OF EVACUEES TO POST cable nor exceed the 180th day of the evacuation. The additional seven days are NOT automatic; they must be justified, and the justification must be submitted with the final travel voucher. Contact CFSC, (843)746-0722 or email if you have questions or need assistance.

Transitional Separate Maintenance Allowance (TSMA) may be granted to an employee whose family members temporarily occupy commercial quarters following termination of an evacuation. When an evacuation goes to the 180th day, there is no grace period and SEA terminates on that day. If it is getting close to the end of the evacuation, it is advised that evacuees apply for Transitional Separate Maintenance Allowance (TSMA). The bureau will hold the TSMA applications to be processed when the evacuation is lifted. Contact for more information on SMA or assistance with the process. (see DSSR 260 and Allowances FAQs on SMA.)

Checklist for Items to Complete before Returning to Post

  • Contact the official travel office for assistance with routing, reservations and tickets.
    • Department of State and USAID employees and family members are required to use Carlson Wagonlit. Carlson Wagonlit will do one of the following:
      • Send the tickets by overnight mail;
      • Have the tickets delivered to the airport – this requires AT LEAST 72 hours of advance notice; or
      • Allow employees to pick up tickets at the Carlson Wagonlit office at Main State (HST), Room 1243.
    • DEA families should make travel arrangements through Omega Travel by faxing them a request along with an approved DOJ-501 at (703) 359-3912.
  • DOS and USAID evacuees must supply Carlson Wagonlit with their travel orders containing their fiscal data. NOTE: To avoid penalty in "city pair" or contract fare routes, it is imperative to use the official travel office.
    • DOS employees and family members call: Reservations (866) 654-5593, after hours and emergencies (866) 654-5612.
    • USAID employees and family members call (866) 343-5009.
  • Arrange for pick-up and shipment of UAB (airfreight). Evacuation Travel Authorizations are used for return travel and shipments.
    • DOS families contact the DOS Transportation Office at (202) 647-4140 or toll-free (800) 424-2947.
    • USAID families contact the USAID Transportation Office at (202) 712-4848.
    • DEA families contact the DEA Family Liaison Specialists at (202) 307-8222 or (202) 307-4241.
  • Terminate lease and ask for reimbursement of unused portion if pre-paid. Reimbursement for lease expenses is available, not to exceed the daily SEA lodging rate, for up to 30 days from the effective date of the RETURN OF EVACUEES TO POST cable, provided the following criteria are met:
    • SEA payment does not exceed 180 days;
    • Evacuee is returning to post;
    • Lease was signed prior to the date of termination of evacuation; and
    • Evacuee provides documentation demonstrating an effort to break the lease.
    • File change of address with local post office.
  • Department of State employees complete check-out with the Employee Service Center, (202) 647-3432, fax (202) 647-1429, email:
  • Inform bank, credit cards, etc. of change of address.
  • Check validity of Diplomatic Passport and visa.
  • Employees, check the expiration date of the I.D. card and/or building pass for your agency and request renewal if necessary.
  • Notify post and Regional Bureau at the Department of State of arrival plans. Note: DEA employees turn in headquarters building or parking passes to Security Programs. USAID families contact your Desk Officer.

Items to Complete after Return to Post

  • Upon return to post, employee needs to file a travel voucher with post’s Budget and Finance office (B&F) to be forwarded to the agency’s budget office to reconcile the account.
  • If SEA was filed using the DS-4095 form, employees should close out their account with Comptroller and Global Financial Services (CGFS). The CGFS will need final paperwork to both close out the account and to take care of any Subsistence Expense Allowance benefits due. Send the ORIGINAL return airline tickets, final lodging receipts and other applicable documents (e.g. the paperwork from DOS’s Transportation Office showing when UAB shipment was collected to be sent back to post); include details and dates for everything (if they are not clear on the enclosed documents).

When Family Members Do Not Return to Post
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When the status of the post is changed and some or all family members cannot return to post, they are eligible to apply for Involuntary Separate Maintenance Allowance (ISMA).

Family members who do not wish to return to post immediately may opt for Voluntary Separate Maintenance Allowance (VSMA). This use of SMA does not count as the one-time SMA option per tour. Families in commercial lodging who choose to remain behind to finish the final semester of the school year may apply for the Transitional Separate Maintenance Allowance (see DSSR 264.3). Family members who anticipate that they may want or need SMA at the end of the evacuation need to apply for it before the evacuation is terminated and SEA payments stop. The bureau will hold the SMA applications to be processed when the evacuation is lifted. Contact for more information on SMA or assistance with the process. (see DSSR 260 and Allowances FAQs on SMA.)

Employee is Converted to PCS Orders
Return to top (After an Evacuation)

PCS orders take precedence over evacuation orders. Once travel on PCS orders begins, SEA will stop and the employee and EFMs will use the PCS orders at that point to determine allowances and benefits provided for in those orders. If the employee and EFMs have not been able to return to post to pack out, the GSO or another designated U.S. direct hire employee will oversee the pack out. Contact the GSO at post to coordinate.


Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office