General Relocation Guidance

Before you do anything else, please review the relocation allowance section of your appointment letter or addenda for any restrictions or specific allowances regarding relocation.

Because not all travel expenses may be reimbursed, do not make any travel arrangements before discussing your travel plans in advance with ORAU. Should you incur moving costs prior to the date of your formal appointment offer letter, ORAU’s interpretation of the appropriate cost allocation will be applied.

General Information

  • ORAU Travel Guidelines state that allowable travel expenses related to house hunting/temporary quarters and inbound moves combined cannot be reimbursed for more than a 30-day period.
  • If, for reasons within your control, you resign from your appointment within twelve months of the official start date of your appointment, you may be required to refund relocation costs to ORAU.
  • For participants who are employees of ORAU: Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations require that some types of reimbursements for expenses related to inbound moves must be included in your gross income and are subject to income tax and Social Security and Medicare taxes. These include per diem, house hunting costs, and expenses for temporary quarters.

Relocation Options and How to Make Arrangements

Relocation options may include (Be sure to check your appointment letter or addenda for the details about what relocation provisions are offered to you):

House-Hunting

House-hunting is defined as a trip to locate permanent housing where you will live during your appointment period.

    • You are limited to one house-hunting trip for you and/or your spouse (or domestic partner).
    • Mileage is reimbursed at the current government rate for relocation travel.
    • Airfare is purchased at the lowest commercial rate and must be on a US flagship carrier.  Costs for travel on foreign airlines will not be reimbursed.
    • A rental car can be reimbursed if required and pre-approved by ORAU. However, optional insurance coverage, such as Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), Personal Accident Insurance (PAI),  Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), will not be reimbursed (unless it is required by the rental car agency (that is, the coverage is not optional and cannot be declined; in this case, you must provide documentation from the rental agency).
    • Per diem allowances are computed as follows:
      • Per diem is determined by the standard CONUS rate as established by the US General Services Administration (GSA). 
      • As the primary traveler, you are reimbursed for 75% of standard CONUS rate for the first and last day of travel and 100% of the rate for days in between.
      • Your spouse or domestic partner when traveling alone is entitled to 100% of the applicable per diem.  When traveling with you, your spouse or domestic partner will receive 75% of the applicable rate.
      • For dependents 12 year of age or older, 75% of the applicable per diem rate will apply.
      • For dependents younger than 12 years of age, 50% of the applicable per diem rate will apply.

How to Arrange for House-Hunting. To arrange a house-hunting trip, make your own arrangements or contact ORAU Travel Central at sawdtravel@orau.org  

Move of Household Goods

Movement of your household goods can be accomplished by a commercial carrier (which must be arranged by ORAU), by rental truck and/or trailer (arranged by you), or by shipping of goods by air or sea freight (arranged by you; must be on a US flagship carrier).

    • Commercial move (domestic only)

      • Commercial moves can be arranged through ORAU if a participant has a relocation allowance of $2500 or greater available for moving expenses. Participants should contact the SAWD Travel Central Relocation Coordinator at sawdtravel@orau.org  for details. For relocation allowances less than $2,500 a participant may arrange a self-move or utilize a commercial mover of their choice. If a commercial move is arranged by the participant, regardless of the relocation allowance amount, additional quotes are required from two other major commercial movers, such as Atlas, United, or Mayflower, for cost comparison purposes. You will be reimbursed up to the cost of the lowest quote. The cost comparisons must be documented prior to the move. Quotes may be verified during the audit process.
      • ORAU must have at least 15 days advance notice in order to arrange a commercial move.
      • The maximum weight of household goods that may be transported or stored is limited to 18,000 pounds net weight and up to 60 days of temporary storage.
      • The number of pickups is limited to two trips, with the total weight not to exceed the maximum weight allowance.
      • Insurance coverage is provided by the commercial carrier and is included in the carrier’s established moving rates.
      • Additional insurance you may purchase will not be reimbursed.
    • Self-Move
      • If you arrange for a rental vehicle for the purpose of moving, expenses may include the cost of rental trailers and/or trucks, related moving and packing equipment and supplies, mileage charges, and gasoline for the rental vehicles.
      • The average daily travel distance is expected to be 350 miles.
      • Only the most direct route will be reimbursed.
      • The purchase of collision insurance or personal insurance on rental vehicles will not be reimbursed.

        How to Arrange for a Self-Move. Make your own arrangements. When doing so, be cognizant of what is reimbursable, what is not reimbursable, and what is required for reimbursement. Note: Optional insurance coverage such as Safe Move on U-Hauls, will not be reimbursed.
    • Shipping of Goods
      • ORAU will pay for the shipping of personal goods by using a U.S. carrier service such as Federal Express, UPS, DHL, or related transportation services.

        How to Arrange for Shipping. Make your own arrangements. When doing so, be cognizant of what is required for reimbursement.

Inbound Travel of Eligible Household Members

Expenses for you, your family (i.e., spouse or domestic partner and dependents living in the household) to the assigned appointment location, as well as living expenses for you and your immediate family who reside with you while housing arrangements are being finalized.

    • Mileage is reimbursed at the current government rate.
      • Mileage reimbursement for up to two personally owned vehicles (POV) may be approved. Alternate transportation of POVs must have prior approval.
    • Airfare is purchased at the lowest commercial rate and must be on a US flagship carrier. Costs for travel on foreign airlines will not be reimbursed.
    • A rental car can be reimbursed if required and pre-approved by ORAU. However, optional insurance coverage, such as Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), Personal Accident Insurance (PAI),  Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), will not be reimbursed (unless it is required by the rental car agency (that is, the coverage is not optional and cannot be declined; in this case, you must provide documentation from the rental agency).
    • Per diem and lodging allowances during relocation begin when the movers arrive to pack and load the household goods and end when the goods are completely unloaded at the new location.
    • Per diem allowances are computed as follows:
      • Reimbursement is limited to the standard CONUS rate as established by the US General Services Administration (GSA).
      • As the primary traveler, you are reimbursed for 75% of standard CONUS rate for the first and last day of travel and 100% of the rate for days in between.
      • Your spouse or domestic partner when traveling alone is entitled to 100% of the applicable per diem.  When traveling with you, your spouse or domestic partner will receive 75% of the applicable rate.
      • For dependents 12 year of age or older, 75% of the applicable per diem rate will apply.
      • For dependents younger than 12 years of age, 50% of the applicable per diem rate will apply.
    • Travel Expenses, if you precede your family to the assigned appointment location or if you return home to assist your family at the time of the move.

      How to Arrange Inbound Travel of Household Members. To arrange inbound travel for household members, contact Amy Anderson in ORAU Travel Central at sawdtravel@orau.org.

How to Obtain Reimbursement for Relocation Expenses

Once you accept your appointment offer, you will be given instructions on how to claim reimbursement for relocation expenses you pay on your own behalf.

The following apply to relocation reimbursements:

  • In order to receive reimbursement, you must submit proper documentation of reimbursable expenses.  These include receipts for airfare, rental vehicles, packing supplies, lodging, ground transportation, and any other incidental expense over $75. Credit card receipts are not accepted as proof of valid expenses.
  • Relocation expenses will not be reimbursed if they are not submitted with appropriate receipts BEFORE the one-year anniversary of the appointment start date.

Reimbursement of travel expenses will be limited to the ORAU Travel Policy and to any restrictions specified in these addenda. ORISE’s interpretation of the appropriate cost reimbursement will apply.


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Oak Ridge, TN 37831

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