Civilian Personnel Section
DSN: (314) 535-5137
COMM: (001-351) 295-57-5137
The Lajes Field CPO provides assistance for current and prospective civilian employees in a wide variety of areas. Services include, but are not limited to: Staffing, Classification, Employee Management Relations, Overseas Allowances and Training.
COMING TO LAJES
Coming to Lajes is no small decision. Here are a few things to consider before you make your choice. Like any installation, there are pros and cons, so let's go over a few of these. If you enjoy big city life, lots of shopping opportunities, drive through fast food and carry out coffee (someone say Starbucks) and 24/7 convenience, this may not be the location for you. Life here is a bit simpler; you are going back in time to a place where small towns are the norm. Stores close for the evening and typically will close for a couple of days a week, usually on Sundays and perhaps even on Mondays. Even the on base commissary is closed on Sundays and Mondays so you have to plan ahead.
During the winter months prepare for periods of heavy rain and wind. Temperatures still hover around the 60 degree mark, but it may feel cooler with the humidity and wind. If there are some indoor activities you like to enjoy, you will be fine. If you are coming from say, North Dakota, you will already be used to the wind, it just won't be -30 degrees when it's happening! The base does an excellent job of providing activities for all family members to keep you busy during those overcast days. It is a great idea to purchase a raincoat and rain boots before arriving to the island to prepare for these winter months. The summertime weather is fantastic and there are plenty of things to keep you occupied. Interested in travel? You are authorized Environmental Morale Leave (EML) but you must have six months on station to earn your EML. There are a lot of aircraft that go through here but you may still experience difficulties getting a space available travel. Flights, especially commercial flights, slow down during the winter months and can be very expensive. However, summer travel is a little easier with direct flights to and from the states with SATA airlines (Azores Express).
We're not trying to discourage anyone from joining us at one of the best kept secrets in USAFE; we just want you to come with a good understanding of what you can expect once you arrive. On the plus side, you can find some of the freshest seafood, cheeses and wines that are all prepared locally. The economy is agricultural and the freshness of the products are second to none. Additionally, you will have plenty of time to advance your education, spend time with your family and save some money. If you choose to come to Lajes, you will be warmly received by base personnel and the local Portuguese.
Employees are responsible for ensuring that their passport and those of their dependents are current and valid throughout the length of their tour. An individual with an expired passport will not be allowed entrance into Portugal. Once you have arrived at Lajes AB, both you and your dependents must have a permanent Visa stamped on your passport. This process can be started at the Military Personnel Section. You have 90 days to obtain a Visa after arrival. There are two types of passports:
No-Fee Passports are issued to DoD personnel and their family members carrying out official duties. The no-fee passport carries an endorsement that identifies the bearer is an agent of the US Government proceeding abroad on official travel. Passports are provided by the government at government expense. Dependents listed on your travel orders will need a No-Fee passport.
Tourist passports are issued for a fee to citizens or nationals of the US who are traveling abroad for private business or personal reasons or individually-sponsored family members not authorized to use government transportation.
While outside the US, no-fee passports may be used for incidental personal travel between foreign destinations providing the foreign government concerned accepts no-fee passports for personal travel. If the foreign government does not accept no-fee passports for personal travel, travelers must obtain regular fee passports (tourist) at their own expense. As a rule, if you plan to travel on vacation to destinations outside of the US and Portugal during your time at Lajes, you will need a tourist passport.
Many selectees have stated that in the past that visa/passport applications are big "time eaters" and that many of your stateside installations providing courtesy processing of passports, etc are not doing so until the applicant/employee has PCS orders. Below you will find a link to the DoD Directive for passports and visas. These state passports/visas are not to be held up waiting for PCS documents or orders. This applies to all incoming US Civilians, not just those from AF. If you have problems getting your paperwork started, provide the passport agent the below reference and information.
PASSPORT REGULATION, under Section: C188.8.131.52.1., states:
C184.108.40.206.1. DoD personnel requiring no-fee passports should apply immediately, but not later than 14 days after reassignment notification. Personnel should not wait for orders to be published before submitting passport applications. A memorandum of intent, instruction, or message may be submitted to avoid delays. Applications for diplomatic passports, however, may not be issued until orders or written assignment instructions are submitted.
It is not necessary for U.S. DoD Civilians to have a NATO stamp on their orders. Active duty military members and their dependents assigned to Lajes AB are required to have a NATO stamp on their orders.
Contact the Civilian Personnel Office, DSN: 314-535-5137, commercial: (001-351) 295-57-5137, to make an appointment for in processing. It is mandatory to contact MPS within the first duty day of arrival to receive your Common Access Card (CAC). Your CAC must be displayed while on Lajes AB and will be needed to leave and enter the base. There is a 2 day mandatory class (Right Start) to assist personnel arriving at Lajes AB. Your sponsor should sign you and your dependents up for the class and tour the first or second week after your arrival.
Submit your travel voucher (DD Form 1351-2) to the local Accounting and Finance Office (Bldg T-100) within five (5) working days of your arrival.
ADVANCE IN PAY
Employees on PCS to or within a foreign area can request an advance of up to three months net base pay. This advance may be made three weeks prior to the estimated departure date and up to two months after arrival, through the losing or gaining Civilian Personnel Office. Employees must agree to repay the advance by payroll deductions over a maximum of 26 pay periods beginning the first pay period after receipt of the advance. Partial or lump-sum repayments in addition to payroll deductions are acceptable. Your servicing personnel office should assist you in completing a SF 1190 for this purpose. Although this request can be processed through the losing or gaining CPO office, it will be easier for you to request Advance Pay through the gaining base by contacting the Overseas Allowance POC.
FOREIGN TRANSFER ALLOWANCE (FTA)
If you are required to occupy temporary quarters prior to your departure from your old duty station in the U.S., you may be eligible for the subsistence expense portion of the FTA. These expenses include lodging, meals, laundry and dry cleaning costs incurred while in temporary quarters.
This allowance is for a period of up to 10 days prior to your departure from the U.S. You will have to complete a "Claim for Foreign Transfer Allowance," provide all lodging and laundry/dry cleaning receipts, and submit them with your travel voucher. This request is processed by the allowance technician upon your arrival at the base, after you have turned in all your receipts.
SEPARATE MAINTENANCE ALLOWANCE (SMA)
Separate Maintenance Allowance (SMA) may be granted to an employee whenever the head of agency (in this case Civilian Personnel Officer) determines that the employee is compelled to maintain any or all members of the family elsewhere than that at the post of assignment. For Lajes Field, voluntary SMA can be requested under the following circumstances:
Voluntary SMA: When an employee requests SMA for special needs or hardship prior to or after arrival at post for reasons including, but not limited to, career, health, educational or consideration for special needs of family members.
At the time of assignment an employee must elect (1) to have an eligible family member included on the employee's travel orders or (2) not placed on the travel orders and instead be placed on SMA (voluntary). After this initial election, the employee may request that SMA (voluntary) either commence/ terminate, depending on the initial election, only once for each family member during a tour. However this change cannot occur during the employee's first or last 90 days at post.
Before making any decisions on SMA, be sure to contact the allowance specialist for more information. Requests for SMA must be submitted to the gaining Civilian Personnel Office, and are subject to approval/disapproval based on the merit of the justification.
ANNUAL LEAVE ACCUMLATION
Employees recruited in the U.S. for overseas employment may accumulate a maximum of 45 days (360 hours) annual leave.
Home leave is leave accrued during service abroad. You are eligible to receive home leave if you are entitled to earn 45 days of maximum annual leave. Your maximum annual leave accumulation determination was made at the time of your appointment.
• Accrual begins on the date of your arrival at your post of duty outside of the United States.
• It is accrued at a rate of 5 days per year. You must complete 24 months of continuous service in the overseas area before becoming eligible to use your accumulated home leave. This is a onetime requirement. Once you complete that service, you are eligible to use home leave
immediately upon reporting for any subsequent overseas tours. This does not apply to "banked" home leave as outlined below.
• Home leave is for use in the United States, The commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a territory or possession of the United States.
• The minimum charge for home leave is one day.
• You must return to service after the period of home leave, or you will be indebted for the home leave used.
Previously accrued (Banked) home leave
• If you serve on a subsequent overseas tour and did not use all of your accrued home leave from a previous tour, you will have accrued "banked" home leave available.
• This "banked" home leave may be granted only when you have completed a further substantial service abroad may not be less than the tour of the duty prescribed for your post of assignment
Unaccompanied employees will draw a living quarters allowance to live in off-base housing. There are typically plenty of houses for rent in the local area or within a short commuting distance from the base. There is a new DoD website called AHRN which may help you find local off base housing.
TEMPORARY QUARTERS SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE (TQSA)
TQSA reimburses the employee for the reasonable cost of lodging, meals, laundry expenses, and items bought at the Commissary, which are considered at home meals. The amount of TQSA is based on the local per diem rate according to the following formulas:
1ST 30 DAYS
2ND 30 DAYS
3RD 30 DAYS
Each other occupant age 12 or older
Each other occupant age 12 or older
Each other occupant age 12 or older
Occupant under 12 yrs
Occupant under 12 yrs
Occupant under 12 yrs
ALL RECEIPTS MUST be provided for payment of expenses. Employees will keep all receipts to include meals, groceries, lodging, etc. and present them to the Civilian Personnel Office for reimbursement. TQSA is only FICA taxed. TQSA can be granted for a period not to exceed 90 days after first arrival at a new foreign post.
LIVING QUARTERS ALLOWANCE (LQA)
Employees receive LQA when government-owned or leased quarters are not provided without charge or employee chooses to live on the economy.
LQA is to cover the average cost of rent, heat, electricity, and water. It will cover most of your expenses but not necessarily all. The State Department establishes the LQA rates for foreign posts by employee's grade level and family size. LQA is effective the date employee moves into his/her off base quarters. The following are current maximum LQA rates for Lajes Field. The State Department site can be found here for more current information.
Annual Living Quarters Allowance in U.S. Dollars (DSSR 130)
Without Family (WOF)
Portugal: Lajes Field
Rates Effective: 01/30/2011 (Subj. to change by the State Department)
Employees assigned to a foreign area where the cost of living is substantially higher than Washington DC, are paid a post allowance.
The amount is a flat rate based on salary and size of family in the overseas area. The State Department administers this allowance. It is subject to change without prior notice. Post allowance is not subject to Federal income tax. You can get more information on Post Allowance at: (link will take you away from this page in a new window) Post Allowance
EMERGENCY TRAVEL (EVT)
EVT allows an eligible employee or a family member accompanying the employee from a foreign post to travel at the government's expense to CONUS or another location in certain family emergency situations. Travel is from the foreign post to the CONUS location of the seriously ill, injured or deceased immediate family member or incapacitated parent. EVT is authorized only after the emergency has been verified through American Red Cross. Civilian employees and their spouses are encouraged to advise families in the U.S. to contact the nearest American Red Cross Chapter in the event of an emergency.
ENVIROMENTAL AND MORALE LEAVE (EML)
Employees recruited from the U.S. are eligible for four EML trips during their 24 month tour-- two trips to designated overseas locations and two to U.S ports of entry. Travel is on a space-available basis on military aircraft. The Civilian Personnel Office administers this program. Please contact the Civilian Personnel Office for more information and specific requirements regarding EML.
RENEWAL AGREEMENT TRAVEL (RAT)
Normally, employees may be eligible for renewal agreement travel after completing the initial 24 months tour of duty. Employees may travel to and from their home of record (place of actual residence at time of hire) or to an alternate destination within the United States or their territories as long as the distance/cost does not exceed that to their original home of record. Employee must have an approved extension request from Headquarters Azores Air Zone (HAAZ) for an additional 12 months before travel can be performed. The window for taking RAT is extremely small therefore you will need to check with our office for specific conditions governing RAT travel.
HOUSEHOLD GOODS (HHG)/WEIGHT
All Air Force members' and employees' HHG shipments to or from Lajes Field, Azores picked up on or after 15 May 10 are authorized full JFT/JTR weight entitlement. There is no grandfather clause for this increase in HHG weight allowance.
This does not mean you should ship your full weight allowance. Housing in the Azores is smaller than homes in CONUS and commercial storage in the Azores is not available. Be aware that Housing will not fund items to be sent back to CONUS for storage, so be very careful what you select to bring. Review what items will be provided to you (below), and the size of the available houses. This will help you decide what items to place in non-temporary storage for the duration of your tour in the Azores.
You may elect to ship personal items using the Postal Service to Lajes. For reimbursement, TMO will need a copy of all receipts and weights for postal shipments. TMO does not reimburse for insurance. NOTE: Reimbursement is only authorized as long as weight entitlement has not been exceeded.
Consistent with Air Force policy, all unaccompanied AF members are authorized either an unaccompanied baggage shipment or elect 10% of full JFTR weight allowance via surface. However, AFSUP/JFTR, Table A2.2 rule 2/4 and the overseas furnishings and housing availability report may authorize additional weight contingent upon the members/employees rank/grade and unaccompanied housing availability. All additional authorized weight must be identified on members/employees PCS orders. If you have questions, please call our housing office from off Base (011)351 295-57-5168 or on base 535-5168.
NON-TEMPORARY STORAGE OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS
If you made arrangements to place your household goods in non-temporary storage at government expense in the U.S., please provide CPO with the name and address of the military Transportation Office (TMO) that arranged for the storage. We require this information to renew your storage contract each fiscal year.
SHIPMENT OF PRIVATELY OWNED VEHICLE (POV)
Civilians serving a two year tour agreement and all military personnel are authorized to ship a privately owned vehicle to Lajes Field; Azores provided they have at least 12 months on their tour when the vehicle arrives, permission from the base commander is not required. Consult your transportation office for details regarding requests for shipment.
All POVs are shipped to the Azores via Portsmouth, Virginia. Dedicated shipping service to the Azores is approximately every 25 days. To inquire about your POV, you can contact the vehicle processing center, Monday through Friday between the hours of 0800, and 1630 hours (local) daily at DSN 535-6175 or 535-4153.
POV SHIPMENT: Shipment of a small or medium, well maintained rust free car is recommended, but not required. Many roads are extremely narrow and very difficult to negotiate with a large vehicle. Repairs can be made locally, but parts are often difficult to locate and may have to be ordered from the states. All vehicles will be subject to a stringent vehicle inspection by Portuguese inspection officials, comparable to vehicle inspections conducted in the states. Ensure your brakes are in good shape, since bad brakes are the cause of most failures. Portuguese law requires that all POVs shipped to the Azores must be equipped with rear mud flaps, front and rear license plate holders, and emergency road kits.
All trucks and non passenger vehicles are required to have side view mirrors on both the driver and passenger sides, and a reflective strip mounted on the entire length of the rear bumper.
POV PICK UP: To pick up your POV from the vehicle processing center at Lajes Field, Azores, you must bring the following items:
1. Military ID Card.
2. Azores Drivers License.
3. Proof of valid Insurance for the Azores.