If you have traveled on official government duty, you have probably received per diem. Per diem is the daily allotted pay the DoD gives members while they are traveling on official duty assignments. The funds are to be used to cover your lodging, food, and incidental expenses, such as laundry and basic needs. When most people refer to per diem, they break it out to the two primary expenses, their Lodging, and their Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE).
The latest updates cover COVID-19-related per diem policies for those who return from TDY and are forced into mandatory quarantine. Details can be found in the Joint Federal Travel Regulations, which is linked at the bottom of this article.
How are Per Diem Rates Determined?
Per Diem rates are given for specific locations. The rates range from $151 per day in the CONtinental US (CONUS) to over $800 per day in OCONUS (Outside CONUS) locations. Again, the total rate is split between your lodging and your Meals and Incidental Expenses.
Rates for these locations are determined by three organizations: The General Services Administration (GSA), The Department of State (DoS), and The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO).
Proportional Meal Rates
You may find that you are eligible to eat government-provided meals on some of your trips. This will result in a Proportional Meal Rate. The proportional meal rate for your location is based on the locality meal rate and the GOVAT meal rate (GMR).
The Proportional Meal Rate is determined by:
- adding your locality meal rate with the GMR of $14.05, dividing by 2, then rounding up to the nearest dollar. Then you add the Incidental Expense rate.
- Example: The CONUS Meal & Incidental Rate is $46 ($41 for meals, and $5 incidental rate). Add $41 to $11.85, gives us $52.85. Divide by 2, that gives us $26.43. Round that down to $27. Then add the $5 incidental expense, for a total of $32.
The Proportional Meal Rate is given when:
- Lodging in government facilities and the government provides at least one meal (but not all 3 meals).
- Lodging in government facilities with government meals on your orders, but the mess wasn’t available for all meals.
- You receive one or two meals that are paid for by the Government (for example, as part of a conference registration fee).
- You aren’t entitled to per diem but must purchase a meal (your actual expenses are compared to the Proportional Meal Rate and you will be reimbursed the lesser of the two).
Per diem is granted in addition to Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) for those who are eligible for BAS.
Current Per Diem Rates
Looking for per diem rates by location? The Defense Travel Management Office has a list of all the current Per Diem rates. Here are the relevant links:
- List of current Per Diem rates for CONUS and OCONUS locations.
- Per Diem Calculator (use this to determine how much Per Diem you might receive for TDY)
- CONUS COLA Calculator (use this to determine if there is a Cost of Living Adjustment in your Permanent Duty Assignment).
- Government Meal Rates
- OCONUS Per Diem Rates – Published through the U.S. Department of State
Updates to Per Diem Policy
The Department of Defense recently updated the per diem rates for military members on Temporary Duty Assignments (TDY).
Here are some updates you need to be aware of:
If lodging can not be obtained at the set per diem rate travelers can submit a request for approving a higher rate. Your approving official (AO) can submit an actual expense allowance (AEA) request.
Flat Rate Per Diem Terminated
This rate was previously offered for long-term travel. Details can be found at DTMO’s FAQ page
ATM fees, baggage expenses, transportation tips, & laundry/dry cleaning no longer reimbursable. These items were previously allowed expenses on your travel voucher and would be reimbursed. These are now included under incidental expenses and cannot be reimbursed on your travel voucher.
However, items like hotel and in-flight Wi-Fi are reimbursable if deemed necessary to the work being performed.
Other items of note:
- When staying in government lodging, travelers will be reimbursed for the actual lodging costs.
- Travelers may choose to stay in furnished apartments or similar lodging for long-term stays if the rates are comparable or less than commercial hotel rates.
Here is the updated Joint Travel Regulation (updated 20200401 ).
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Greg Mueller says
“Per diem is granted in addition to Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) for those who are eligible for BAS.”
Can you provide the source?
Sir, I am an E-8 in the reserve components of the Air force. I am going TDY to Croughton RAF for 179 days. What will my pay benefits be? I was told I will be on per diem. Will is still get OHA? BAS? I assume no on the cola. I will be unaccompanied but do have 3 dependents. Thanks for your time.
I am receiving per diem and eat at the chow hall on base for lunch every day. How will that affect my per diem? I am single so my all I have to do is scan my CAC.
Ryan Guina says
Hello Joe, I would contact your base finance office for more information. They will be able to assist you better than I can. You can also call anonymously if you like. Just be sure to explain the full situation, including that you are on orders, the type of orders, and the duration of the orders. They should be able to help you from there. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.
Concerned Soldier says
Hi. Me and my team are in a special situation. We have been joint attached to the state department to run PSD missions. The base we are staying on has provided 2 meals for 3 days of the week and 3 meals for the rest. Recently they have began serving all 3 throughout the week. However, our schedule is very hectic. We often go without eating because the chow hall is not open before our mission begins and is closed when we return. MREs were not provided because of a lack of supply on base (We are 1 of only 3 teams that leave the base for mission). Several high ranking military members, those within our chain, and some not, have informed us that we qualify for per diem. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to understand how per diem works and cannot provide us with a solid answer about the type of per diem we will receive. Through research, we have found that we may qualify for proportional meals but the DOD website is unclear about where we would fall. We don’t know if we would be “reimbursed” for the local meals we have bought (Which is very few. The local food is not that great and they don’t give receipts to customers) or paid ~50$ per day in proportional meals. We have mission logs sent through the chain of command before every mission as proof the missions we ran and the meals we missed. We are afraid that we will not be allotted the proper amount and will have no clue we were owed anything else. We are located in Syria. We typically have missions 6 times a week and miss a total of ~16 meals during this time.
What if you are a contractor and told by your company you would be receiving per diem living oconus.
You are also married to an active duty spouse that has a key role and is required to live on base.
How do you get paid your full per diem of lodging and m&i without having a lease? Do I go out and rent an apt? The amount of small salary and large expected oconus per diem at the time of the the job offer was very substantial and now to have arrived overseas to be told no lodging per diem now if no lease? Why should I be penalized? Seems unfair.
Ryan Guina says
Hello Sally, this sounds like a situation you will need to take up with your company. This does not appear to have anything to do with DoD policy. Best wishes.
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