An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Adding a Family Member to Orders

  • Before a spouse or child can take advantage of all that the Foreign Service lifestyle has to offer, employees will first need to follow a number of Department of State procedures to add a spouse, or child to orders. For information on benefits available to Eligible Family Members (EFMs on the employee’s travel orders) or Members of Household (MOHs) please see GCLO’s EFM vs. MOH comparison chart for details. Other agencies should contact their Human Resources office for guidance.

Key Resources

  • The Employee Services Center (ESC) is the primary check-in and check-out point for all Foreign Service and Civil Service personnel who are transferring through a Limited Non-Career Appointment (LNA). Employees should update their information with the ESC when adding a spouse to their orders or when transferring to a new assignment. To update locator and emergency next of kin information use the form “DS-3064 – Foreign Service Emergency Locator Information” (available on MyData). For further information on post transfer check-in and check-out procedures, consultations, and other available services email
  • The Global Community Liaison Office (GCLO)  in Washington, DC can help direct employees and new spouses to available programs, including employment advising, education and youth services, and help with personal concerns. GCLO also handles the expeditious naturalization portfolio for Department of State foreign-born spouses, and is the home office for the Community Liaison Office (CLO) Program overseas. Email with questions and to request checklists on “Adding a Spouse to Orders” and “Adding Parents to Orders”.
  • The Transition Center and Overseas Briefing Center located on the campus of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, VA provides security skills training, post-specific bidding materials and information, and retirement planning courses for the U.S. Government Foreign Affairs employees and family members assigned to diplomatic posts abroad.

The Medical Examination

  • Spouses on orders must have a medical clearance. Medical Clearance Form DS-1843 (and DS-1622 for children under 12, if adding children to orders) must be completed and submitted to the Bureau of Medical Services in Washington, DC.

Note: MED will need the updated OF-126 and a copy signed by HR. Email the PDF forms to with the necessary medical clearance documents. For information on the steps to obtain a medical clearance, visit the New Family Member section of MED’s “Step to a Medical Clearance” webpage.


  • Tourist Passports: If the spouse is a U.S. citizen, passport and visa applications can be processed through the nearest Passport Office. Applications for tourist passports may be submitted at the same time as diplomatic passports.
  • Diplomatic Passports: Diplomatic passports are only issued to U.S. citizens. If the spouse is a U.S. citizen, after they are added to official travel orders, the employee will need to send the Request for Passport Services form (DS-1640) to the Department of State Passport Office. The spouse must then complete a passport application. They will also need to present proof of citizenship and photos. Please see the Department of State’s Consular Affairs intranet site, under Passports and Customer Service or email
  • The Department will also work with foreign governments to provide a same-sex spouse, to the extent possible, with diplomatic visas, privileges and immunities, and authorization to work on the local economy. If a foreign government denies a diplomatic visa to a same sex spouse, the Department will authorize the employee to receive Involuntary Separate Maintenance Allowance (ISMA), to help defray the cost of maintaining a separate household during that assignment (Department of State Regulation DSSR 264.2).

Security Clearance

  • The spouse does not need a security clearance to be added to the employee’s orders. However, per 12 FAM 273.5, The Office of Personnel Security and Suitability DS/SI/PSS must determine whether an intended spouse or living arrangement involving a foreign national will affect the covered individual’s eligibility for continued access to national security information, which requires a background investigation.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Travel and Transportation

  • Once the spouse is added to the orders, they can request an airline ticket to travel to post, which will be paid for by the United States Government. For Department of State reservations and ticketing, contact CWSATO Travel  at 866-654-5593.
  • The new spouse is authorized 200 lbs. of Unaccompanied Air Baggage (UAB) and can add personal effects to the employee’s Household Effects (HHE) and storage allowance, if the combined total of the  HHE and storage does not exceed 18,000 lbs. HHE shipped to post must not exceed 7,200 lbs. for a furnished post and 18,000 lbs. for an unfurnished post. Please contact with questions.

Employee Marries an American Spouse or Foreign National Spouse

Note: Department employees who have access to classified information or hold a sensitive position incur security reporting requirements which are published in 12 FAM 270.  Failure of an employee to provide the required notification of marriage to, cohabitation with, or establishment of a domestic partnership, regardless of the other party’s nationality (U.S., dual U.S., or non-U.S. citizen) may affect eligibility for continued access to classified information or the ability to hold a sensitive position and may result in a referral for disciplinary action up to and including separation.  

  • Notification to DS Personnel Security: Per 12 FAM 273.5 employees, regardless of assignment, must notify the Diplomatic Security (DS) Office of Personnel Security and Suitability’s (DS/SI/PSS) 30 days in advance of intended cohabitation or marriage (regardless of citizenship) and/or taking up residence with a foreign national roommate via the Personnel Reporting Tool, accessible on the DS/SI/PSS intranet page.  DS/SI/PSS will review the report and may or may not follow up with the employee for further action.  Please direct questions regarding these reporting policies to  This reporting requirement is part of the Department’s implementation of Security Executive Agent Directive 3 
  • Additional Overseas Requirement: Foreign Service employees serving abroad must notify the Ambassador or Principal Officer at their post of assignment in writing of their intent to marry, cohabitate with, or establish a domestic partnership with a foreign national. Ordinarily, this is done through the Management or Human Resources office. The DCM or Administrative Officer should counsel the employee and prepare a counseling memorandum of conversation in accordance with 12 FAM 273.5. Overseas, the DS/SI/PSS determination occurs separate from COM approval.   
  • Amending Orders: To add a spouse to orders, the employee must send an updated Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (OF-126), an original copy of the marriage certificate, and a completed medical clearance to their GTM PCS Analyst. As soon as the GTM PCS Analyst receives all the necessary documents, they can amend the orders. In addition, please note procedures outlined in 3 FAM 4190, “Marriage Requirements of an Employee to a Foreign National or to a U.S. Citizen” and 12 FAM 275 or contact GTM/CDA. 
  • Health Insurance: Employees with “self only” enrollment must complete a new Health Benefits Election Form (SF-2809) within 60 days after the marriage to add the new spouse. If the employee is not enrolled, they must wait until the annual open season to elect new enrollment. Contact

Employee Marries another American Foreign Service Employee (Tandem Employees)

  • Tandem Status: When a Department of State Foreign Service employee marries another Department of State Foreign Service employee, the couple is considered a “tandem.” Each employee is independent of the other, i.e., each member of a tandem couple maintains their own separate orders and entitlements (except housing). Married tandems are entitled to only one residence while serving overseas. In this scenario, each employee fills out their own Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (OF-126) and indicates that they are part of a tandem couple, listing their “tandem” spouse. This information is then entered into each employee’s Employee Profile.
  • Leave Without Pay: In the eventuality that one member of the tandem opts for Leave Without Pay (LWOP), the employee on LWOP is added to their spouse’s orders for that time period.
  • Health Insurance: If both spouses are federal employees, one may enroll for “self and family” or each may enroll for “self only”. Check with Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) for additional information. Contact

Adding Parents to Orders

Foreign Service employees may request that their elderly relative(s) (including stepparents and legally adopted parents) be approved as a Certified Eligible Family Member and added to their Post Assignment Travel Orders for an overseas assignment. Employees of other agencies should contact their Human Resources representative with questions about agency-specific procedures and forms.

To add a parent to orders, the employee must complete an OF-126, the Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report. Each new OF-126 replaces the old OF-126; therefore, all blocks must be filled out each time a new OF-126 is done. The new OF-126 must be forwarded to the employee’s GTM PCS Analyst. Travel orders cannot be authorized for newly acquired eligible family members until the GTM PCS Analyst receives the OF-126 form.

Along with a completed OF-126 form, the employee must prove that the relative:

  • Resided with the employee for at least six of the last 12 months, with some exceptions noted in 14 FAM 511.3;
  • Is at least 51 percent dependent for support (subject to review and approval per 14 FAM 510; USAID Officers must open a request in ServiceNow or reach out to the HCTM Contact Center at for assistance).  The employee must quantify that they have provided more than 51 percent of support by submitting an affidavit or notarized statement. This is termed passing the “financial support test.” For a template of a worksheet to show financial support and contributions, email

The employee must also provide:

  • An explanation regarding the parent’s residency is also required, with an explanation as to why the application is being made to add the parent to the travel orders.
  • Other documentary evidence may be required by the employee’s agency.

These documents are attached to the completed OF-126 form and sent to the employee’s agency as specified on the forms. Requests are reviewed for approval by a Personnel OF-126 Committee.

Note that a parent’s gross income cannot exceed a threshold amount as determined by the Director General on an annual basis per 3 FAM 511.3. Please inquire with a PCS Analyst to find out what the threshold amount is at the time of application.

*Note that the parent may only be on orders as an EFM for one tour. The employee must reapply for each overseas posting.

Employees of the Department of State can obtain advice on how to put their parents on orders through the Career Development and Assignments (CDA) division. Ask for an Assignments Support (CDA/AS) Officer. Employees of other agencies should contact their HR representative.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future