Language selection


Foreign Assignment Directive for International Development Assistance Organizations

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: General

Section 1.1: Purpose

The purpose of the Foreign Assignment Directive (the Directive) for International Development Assistance Organizations is to provide guidance on eligible expenses and benefits for Posted Personnel on Foreign Assignment for a minimum of twelve (12) consecutive months on projects funded through Global Affairs Canada (GAC) International Development Assistance (IDA).

Tip: Any wording that is capitalized in the Directive means that these words or terms are defined in Chapter 7 (Definitions) of this document.

Section 1.2: Application and effective date

The Directive is effective as of February 1, 2023, and applies to all new IDA contribution agreements signed by GAC on or after this date.

For all active contribution agreements signed prior to February 1, 2023, a one-year grace period from the effective date, or earlier at the Organization’s discretion, will apply to support the transition to the Directive.

The Directive’s provisions apply as of the date of departure from the country of residence and end thirty (30) days after the return to the originating country of residence. In the case of a Cross Posting, the thirty-day period does not apply. In the case of suspension of the GAC contribution agreement, the Directive’s provisions cease to apply as of the official suspension date provided in the suspension letter. In the case of termination of the GAC contribution agreement or in the case of project closure, the Directive’s provisions cease to apply as of the date of the agreement termination or project closure.

This Directive applies to Individuals Recruited in Canada and Individuals Recruited in a Third Country (a country that is not Canada or the country where the development project is being implemented).

This Directive does not apply to Locally Recruited Personnel, Volunteers, any positions covered by GAC’s overhead policy and individuals posted in countries outside of where the project is being implemented. This Directive also does not apply to employees whose physical presence is not required in the Country of Assignment for less than 80% of their working time on any given project. The Organization is responsible for assessing the need for the Posted Person’s physical presence in the Country of Assignment.

Note: The Level of Effort required regarding a Posted Person’s work on a GAC‑funded project is separate and distinct from the 80% mentioned above. As such, a Posted Person’s Level of Effort, and thus their salary and the Directive’s benefits charged to GAC towards the funded project, can be less than 80%. The 80% mentioned above is in relation to the requirement to perform the duties of the Posted Person’s job in the Country of Assignment.

The Directive should always be read in conjunction with the contribution agreement, and, in the event of a conflict between the two, the provisions of the contribution agreement shall prevail.

Section 1.3: Amendments

GAC may amend the Directive’s provisions at any time as a result of changes in policies and/or procedures.

Section 1.4: General principles

Overlapping of benefits: Benefits or allowances should never be claimed twice in relation to Posted Personnel and their family (in accordance with the stacking provision in the contribution agreement).

For example: In cases where both spouses/common-law partners are Posted Personnel at the same location, where one person is Posted Personnel covered by this Directive and the other person is covered by another funding source, the same benefits cannot be granted twice (no overlapping of benefits).

Accountability: Transparency is required from both the Posted Personnel and the Organization in relation to benefits claimed under this Directive.

Consistency: This Directive should be applied consistently across GAC-funded projects.

Application of ethics: Workplace ethics are the set of values, moral principles and standards that need to be followed by employees in the workplace. Established rules and regulations need to be followed by all staff in the workplace.

Fairness: The Organization should ensure that Posted Personnel maintain a standard of living that is consistent with the standard of living in their country of residence. Neither gain nor loss should be the result of a posting abroad.

Integrity: Claimed expenses should cover expenses that were actually incurred, be reasonable and justified for the posting, be in accordance with the terms and conditions of the GAC contribution agreement, and meet the requirements outlined in this Directive.

Section 1.5: Cost principles

Value for money: Transparent and documented processes and procedures, such as for procurement, should be implemented in a way that achieves savings, efficiency and effectiveness.

Salary increase as a result of the posting: Posted Personnel should not receive a salary increase as a result of the foreign posting as a way to override the benefits under this Directive. However, in cases where an Organization deems a salary increase necessary due to existing salary policies, such as for a person posted to a higher position (increase in responsibility), then the GAC project team leader should be informed of the increase. Organizations should also be guided by GAC’s Policy on salary increases under contribution agreements for the delivery of International Development Assistance.

Tip: Coloured and underlined text in this Directive refers to hyperlinks from relevant websites.

Note: For persons hired from outside the Organization, including Individuals Recruited in a Third Country, the Organization should obtain proof of income, including supporting documents such as tax records and employment contracts, to show that there is no unjustifiable material salary increase as a result of the person being posted. However, market conditions, expertise and experience may be relevant in the circumstances when hiring a new employee.

Actual costs claimed: The claimed costs should be the costs that were incurred and paid (i.e., not an accrual).

Foreign exchange: The GAC contribution agreement requires that, when GAC issues a payment in Canadian dollars and this payment is received or converted into a different currency, the value of the payment is determined by the exchange rate on the date the transfer is received. This same exchange rate should be used to convert the subsequent claimed expenses back into Canadian dollars for reporting purposes (the first in, first out or weighted average exchange rate calculation methods are acceptable). The underlying principle is that foreign exchange gains or losses are not eligible. For recurring costs such as foreign allowances, if the amounts are paid in a currency other than Canadian dollars, GAC expects the Organization to review the amounts paid in the foreign currency in accordance with the frequency of reporting set out in the contribution agreement.

Section 1.6: The Organization’s duty of care

The duty of care refers to the Organization’s implicit moral and financial responsibility towards their Posted Personnel. The Organization is responsible for ensuring the well-being and safety of their employees. Duty of care costs are not claimable to GAC, aside from what is specified below. Please note that the Organization’s duty of care is not limited to the areas that follow.

Pre-deployment requirements

Organizations are responsible for assessing individuals and their family members to determine whether they are physically and mentally fit for a Foreign Assignment. All costs related to medical requirements for assessing fitness for deployment are considered part of the Organization’s duty of care and are not considered eligible costs.

Security clearance

Where required, the appropriate level of security clearance must be obtained prior to the  Posted Personnel’s deployment and must be maintained for the full duration of the Foreign Assignment. Costs associated with obtaining and maintaining security clearance are not considered eligible.  


The cost of passports is not an eligible cost.


The Organization must ensure that Posted Personnel and any Accompanying Dependents obtain and maintain the mandatory insurance coverage indicated below under a personal or group policy for the duration of the project. The Posted Personnel and any Accompanying Dependents may claim reimbursement of fifty percent (50%) of the cost of the mandatory insurance premiums as an eligible project cost. The remaining fifty percent (50%) is the responsibility of the Organization and is not considered an eligible cost, including as part of the Organization’s cost‑sharing requirement.

1.6.1   Mandatory insurance

1.6.2   Other insurance that may be considered (not mandatory)

Any other type of insurance, such as for household effects, motor vehicle insurance (for a vehicle to be used personally by the Posted Person), kidnapping and ransom coverage, or any other insurance that the Organization deems appropriate but is not specified as mandatory in the above section may be acquired but remains payable by the Organization and is not considered an eligible cost.

Section 1.7: Interpretation

For any questions on the Directive’s provisions, the Organization should contact GAC’s Grants and Contributions Financial Policy Division. This Division has the authority to interpret the Directive in areas where the Directive is unclear or where it does not cover a specific circumstance.

In cases of alleged misinterpretation or misapplication arising out of this Directive, the Organization shall be responsible for any costs incurred.

Chapter 2: Relocation benefits

Section 2.1: Costs for shipping, furnishings and long-term storage

In terms of the relocation, Posted Personnel receive a one-time Non-accountable Allowance to cover the shipping of household goods and the purchase of any furnishings, as well as to cover any long‑term storage costs, to be used at the employee’s discretion at the beginning and end of the Foreign Assignment. The table below describes the maximum allowance amount based on the family size and the distance between the country where the Posted Person resides prior to the assignment and the Country of Assignment. Where the duration of the assignment is for less than two (2) years, the Non-accountable Allowance for the return trip will be reduced by 50%.

Non-accountable Allowance for Relocation, Shipping of Household Effects and Long-Term Storage (Limitation Table)*
*These amounts apply to both the deployment and the return trip

Employee Family SituationDistance (In km)
Less than 1,0001,001 to 5,0005,001 to 8,0008,001 to 10,00010,001 to 13,000over 13,001
One Dependent$1,200$3,600$6,000$8,400$9,600$10,800
Two Dependents$1,400$4,200$7,000$9,800$11,200$12,600
Three Dependents$1,600$4,800$8,000$11,200$12,800$14,400
Four Dependents$1,800$5,400$9,000$12,600$14,400$16,200
Five or More Dependents $2,000$6,000$10,000$14,000$16,000$18,000


*All amounts are in Canadian dollars. GAC will periodically review these limitations and revise them as necessary, including to reflect the annual Canadian Consumer Price Index. This table applies for deployment departures and the return to the home country of residence. Distance is calculated based on a straight-line direct distance (as the crow flies) between the originating city and the City of Assignment.  

Section 2.2: Transportation costs and routes

All travel expenses related to the relocation to the Country of Assignment or upon return to the usual country of residence prior to the assignment should be in accordance with the financial clauses relating to travel in the GAC contribution agreement.

Section 2.3: Temporary living expenses

At the beginning or end of the assignment, the Posted Person and Accompanying Dependents may face a situation where their permanent accommodation is not available. Reimbursement of temporary living expenses, such as for meals, incidentals and accommodation is allowed and eligible for up to twenty (20) days prior to departure from the usual country of residence, twenty (20) days after arrival to the City of Assignment, and twenty (20) days after returning to the originating country of residence. This also applies to Accompanying Dependents. The only limitation in this section concerns eligible per diems. Only the Posted Person may claim incidental expenses.

Note: To determine eligible costs, please follow the existing language relating to travel in the GAC contribution agreement.

Chapter 3: Vacation travel

The Posted Personnel and Accompanying Dependents, when applicable, are entitled to one lowest-cost economy round‑trip flight using the most direct route every two years, with a limit of three trips per eligible person (i.e., Posted Personnel and any Dependents) for the full term of the assignment to a location of their choice. The timing of the trip may be at the Posted Personnel’s discretion. This benefit, which requires supporting documentation for audit purposes, such as an invoice, applies to personnel posted in countries with a post rating level of 3 or 4. For countries with a post rating level of 5, this benefit allows for one lowest-cost economy round‑trip flight using the most direct route per year of the Posted Personnel’s assignment. The National Joint Council (NJC) publishes the post rating levels monthly in Appendix B – Post rating levels and additional allowances.

Chapter 4: Housing

The housing allowance paid to the Posted Personnel is meant to cover a portion of the actual rental costs of the selected rental property. The Organization is responsible for ensuring that the rental costs are reasonable and represent the local market price. Rent may include charges or taxes for municipal services (such as fire protection, police protection, street cleaning, mail delivery, snow removal) and condominium fees and similar charges. Rent may also include the monthly cost of monitoring a previously installed security system, where this is a condition of the lease and the Organization is satisfied that a security system is a necessity.

The Posted Personnel is responsible for covering a portion of the rent in accordance with the amounts established in the NJC’s Foreign Service Directive (FSD) for employee shelter costs. For example, a Posted Person with a salary of Can$45,000 with two Dependents would need to pay the first Can$1,052 of the rental cost; the remaining cost is an eligible project cost.

Chapter 5: Education

Posted Personnel are entitled to reimbursement for eligible education expenses for each dependent child who attends an elementary or secondary educational institution full time in the Country of Assignment. This includes levels from junior kindergarten up to and including the school year of the dependent child’s 21st birthday. This does not include post-secondary education. The above is conditional on certain restrictions as described below.

Although eligible education expenses are defined in section 5.2 as the least expensive compatible school, GAC has established a limitation based on the estimated cost per child in Canada as published in the NJC’s FSD regarding public education in Canada. For example, the limitation for public education in Canada in May of 2022, in accordance with FSD Reference Paragraph 34.4.1(a), was Can$39,285 per year per dependent child.

This chapter refers to Student Dependents attending school in the City of Assignment. The benefits may be extended to another location, within the Country of Assignment, should circumstances warrant. In this case, there may be additional costs related to travelling from the City of Assignment to the alternate school location within the Country of Assignment. For these exceptional cases, the GAC project team leader must be notified and must approve the additional travel costs for the student to get to and from the City of Assignment and the school location, and also approve any other incidental costs associated with the child being educated in a school that is located in an area other than the City of Assignment (but within the Country of Assignment).

Tip: Strong procurement practices in this area will help ensure that value for money is achieved, which allows for more GAC funding to go towards delivering on program activities. The Organization must be in a position to demonstrate value for money, such as through the use of appropriate procurement practices.

Section 5.1: Criteria for assessing education and educational facilities

Compatible education: This refers to an education system that provides an educational curriculum and services that are compatible with those normally provided without charge in schools where the Posted Person normally resides.

Compatible educational facility: The Organization may use the following factors when assessing a compatible educational facility:

Conditions and other requirements

Section 5.2: Eligible education expenses

Eligible education expenses refer to Actual and Reasonable Expenses that are necessary for the education of a dependent child and that represent the education expenses the parents would normally not have to pay to send a child to public school in their normal place of residence. The education expenses below are eligible.

Charges for courses, instruction, services or programs that are normally provided without charge as part of the educational program, such as the following:

Chapter 6: Foreign allowances

In addition to their salary, Posted Personnel may receive the following foreign allowances: the Hardship and Recognition of Foreign Service Allowance (section 6.1) and the Post Living Allowance (section 6.2).

Section 6.1: Hardship and Recognition of Foreign Service Allowance (HRFSA)

The HRFSA compensates  the individual for the hardship conditions in the City of Assignment (compared to Canada or the originating country of residence for Third Country recruitment). It also acts as an incentive to serve outside the person’s originating country of residence. The maximum annual amount considered eligible by GAC is detailed in the tables below.

1 - Unaccompanied Person
Country of ResidenceCountry of Foreign Assignment
Post RatingLevel 1Level 2Level 3Level 4Level 5
Level 1$ -$16,000$18,000$22,000$25,000
Level 2$ -$ -$12,000$16,000$20,000
Level 3$ -$ -$ -$14,000$18,000
Level 4$ -$ -$ -$ -$14,000
Level 5$ -$ -$ -$ -$ -
2 - Person with One Dependent
Country of ResidenceCountry of Foreign Assignment
Post RatingLevel 1Level 2Level 3Level 4Level 5
Level 1$ -$21,000$24,000$29,000$34,000
Level 2$ -$ -$16,000$21,000$27,000
Level 3$ -$ -$ -$19,000$24,000
Level 4$ -$ -$ -$ -$19,000
Level 5$ -$ -$ -$ -$ -
3 - Person with Two Dependents
Country of ResidenceCountry of Foreign Assignment
Post RatingLevel 1Level 2Level 3Level 4Level 5
Level 1$ -$25,000$28,000$34,000$40,000
Level 2$ -$ -$20,000$25,000$31,000
Level 3$ -$ -$ -$23,000$28,000
Level 4$ -$ -$ -$ -$23,000
Level 5$ -$ -$ -$ -$ -
4 - Person with Three or More Dependents
Country of ResidenceCountry of Foreign Assignment
Post RatingLevel 1Level 2Level 3Level 4Level 5
Level 1$ -$27,000$30,000$36,000$42,000
Level 2$ -$ -$21,000$27,000$33,000
Level 3$ -$ -$ -$24,000$30,000
Level 4$ -$ -$ -$ -$24,000
Level 5$ -$ -$ -$ -$ -


Tip: The allowances, as detailed above, represent limitations (maximums) regarding allowable costs for the HRFSA that are deemed to be prudent and required to attract the best qualified persons. As such, Organizations may choose to adopt lower amounts, if appropriate.

Section 6.2: Post Living Allowance (PLA)

To assist Posted Personnel in a Country of Assignment where the cost of living is higher than in their current country of residence, the employer may provide a Non-accountable Allowance to compensate for the higher costs of purchasing goods and services. The Foreign Post Index (FPI) is based on comparative data analyzed and reported by Statistics Canada. The index is calculated in relation to prices in Ottawa for goods and services, with the Ottawa index set at 100. Some countries have indexes below 100 and these are rounded up to 100 to avoid a negative allowance. There is no PLA when the Foreign Post Index is 100 or less. If this benefit is applied in a case where the Posted Person is recruited from a Third Country, the Organization must document and retain an analysis to support any PLA benefit granted to the individual.

Note: In order to justify the use of a PLA for a Posted Person recruited from a Third Country, the FPI may be used to indicate the difference between the two relevant countries to determine the benefit. For example, if the person comes from a country with an FPI of 108 and is posted to a country with an FPI of 122, the difference of 14 can guide the level of benefit provided. It would be similar to a person from Ottawa being posted to a country with an FPI of 114.

The PLA is paid monthly using the formula below, in accordance with the adjustment factors in the Annual Post Living Allowance table (Appendix A - Annual Post Living Allowance – nominal salary). The Organization may change the payments to coincide with their usual payroll cycles to allow for a smoother process.

Formula for Calculating the PLA

Annual PLA is equal to:
Nominal fee x percentage of adjustment x (the Foreign Post Index - 100) /100
This amount is divided by 12 for the monthly PLA.

Example (using the June 1, 2021, adjustment factor, in accordance with the Annual PLA – Nominal salary table in the website link provided above):
Annual PLA = (Current nominal fee x associated percentage adjustment x (Foreign Post Index-100)) / 100.

Assuming a base salary of $70,000 and a Foreign Post Index equal to 130, the PLA is calculated as follows:

Note: Please use the current version of the Annual PLA – Nominal salary table, in accordance with the Appendix A of the Foreign Service Directive for the Post Living Allowance, as the adjustment factors change periodically.

Chapter 7: Definitions

Accompanying Dependent: In a Foreign Assignment, this refers to a Dependent who resides with the Posted Person in the City of Assignment for at least eight (8) months of any twelve (12) month period.

Actual and Reasonable Expenses: Specific itemized expenses incurred and based on receipts, up to the amount deemed by GAC to be justifiable in the circumstances.

City of Assignment: The city, community, or other geographic locality where the office to which the Posted Person is assigned to is located.

Consumer Price Index: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is an indicator of the rate of inflation in an economy because it measures the changes in the cost of maintaining a particular standard of living. The CPI is a calculation made and issued by an official statistics bureau.

Contract Address: The permanent place of residence occupied by the Posted Person, immediately prior to undertaking the Foreign Assignment.

Country of Assignment: The country in which the City of Assignment is located.

Cross Posting: The assignment of a Posted Person from one City of Assignment to another City of Assignment on one or more GAC-funded projects.

Dependent: The spouse or common-law partner of the Posted Person; or a child of the posted person, including a child adopted legally or in fact by the Posted Person, or a child of the Posted Person’s spouse or common-law partner, who ordinarily resides with the Posted Person and the Posted Person’s spouse or common-law partner and who is:

Developing Country: Developing country means a country that is eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Individuals Recruited in Canada: Canadian residents recruited by the Organization for an assignment outside of Canada.

Individuals Recruited in a Third Country: Residents of a Third Country recruited by the Organization for an assignment outside of their country of residence.

Level of Effort: The amount of work needed to support a project’s primary activities. For example, if the normal workday is 7.5 hours and the Posted Person works 6 hours on the project, then the Level of Effort is 80%.

Locally Recruited Personnel: Means all individuals hired in the ODA country by the Organization or through local partners who are citizens or permanent residents of the ODA country, or any individual of another country with an existing work permit in the ODA country and who is subject to all applicable local laws and policies.

Non-accountable Allowance: An allowance is considered non-accountable if the individual does not have to provide details or submit receipts to justify the amounts paid.

Organization: A Canadian private firm, non-governmental organization (NGO), educational institution, provincial or federal government department or any other organization selected by GAC to implement a project or project components in a Developing Country or country in transition.

Foreign Assignment: A full‑time assignment in a Developing Country or country in transition on a GAC-funded project for a minimum duration of twelve (12) consecutive months.

Posted Personnel or Posted Person: A person with a Contract Address in Canada, or in a Third Country when under contract or employed by an Organization funded by GAC through a contribution agreement, who is to provide full‑time services in a Developing Country or a country in transition.

Resident: A person who lives somewhere permanently or on a long-term basis. The Canada Revenue Agency states that you are a factual resident of Canada for income tax purposes if you maintain significant residential ties to Canada while living or travelling outside the country.

Student Dependent: A dependent child who attends an elementary or secondary educational institution full time in the Country of Assignment. This includes levels from junior kindergarten up to and including the school year of the dependent child’s 21st birthday and for whom education expenses are paid for this child. At the kindergarten level, “full time” may mean half days.

Third Country: A country that is not Canada or the country where the GAC-funded development project is being implemented.

Volunteers: An individual freely giving their time and labour to help achieve the project’s results who would otherwise be hired/under contract and paid.

Return to top of page

Report a problem on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, please contact us.

Date Modified: