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Details & Transfers


Between Federal Agencies

A career or career-conditional employee of one agency may transfer, without a break in service of a single workday, to a competitive service position in another agency without competing in a civil service examination open to the public. A transfer eligible may apply under vacancy announcements open to status candidates. An employee may transfer to a position at the same, higher, or lower grade level.

Who is eligible to transfer?

Present Federal employees who are serving in the competitive service under a career or career-conditional appointment have eligibility for transfer to a position in the competitive service.

To transfer, you must meet the qualification requirements for the position. Written tests are not common but if one is required, arrangements will be made for you to take it.

Employees must be found suitable for employment in competitive service positions. If your current appointment is subject to a suitability investigation, that condition continues after you transfer.

Generally with a transfer, a career employee remains a career employee, and a career-conditional employee remains a career-conditional employee.

How do I apply for transfer?

To apply for a transfer you must first conduct your own job search. Individuals usually apply to agencies in response to vacancies announced under the merit promotion program. Some agencies accept applications only when they have an appropriate open merit promotion announcement, while others accept applications at any time. If you are seeking a higher grade or a position with more promotion potential than you have previously held, generally you must apply under a merit promotion announcement and rank among the best-qualified applicants to be selected. Status applicants include individuals who are eligible for transfer.

Also, transfer eligibility does not guarantee you a job offer. Hiring agencies have the discretion to determine the sources of applicants they will consider.

How can I find out about agency merit promotion announcements?

The merit promotion announcements are posted on USAJOBS when jobs are announced outside of an agency's own workforce.

USAJOBS®, the government's official job web site provides access to more than 30,000 job listings daily as well as applications, forms, and employment fact sheets. Job postings are updated daily and are available to job seekers in a variety of formats to ensure accessibility for those with differing physical and technological capabilities. You can search for jobs by location, job category, and agency and you can complete and submit your application directly to the agency online.

The TDD line 978-461-8404 is available for our customers that are hearing impaired. Local telephone companies may charge for long distance service.

Applicants may also contact the agencies in which they are interested in working for specific application instructions.

The USAJOBS web site also has an Online Resume Builder feature. Using the resume builder, job seekers can create online resumes specifically designed for applying for Federal jobs. Resumes created on the USAJOBS resume builder can be printed from the system for faxing or mailing to employers; and saved and edited for future use. For many of the vacancies listed on the site, job seekers can submit resumes created through USAJOBS directly to hiring agencies through an electronic submission process. The official world-wide web site for jobs and employment information may be accessed at http://www.USAJOBS.Gov.

Probationary Period

A new probationary period is not required after transfer. However, you would continue to serve the remainder of any probationary period which you were serving at the time of transfer. In most cases, you must wait at least three months after your latest non-temporary competitive appointment before you may be considered for transfer to a position in a different line of work, at a higher grade, or to a different geographical area. OPM may waive the restriction against movement to a different geographical area when it is satisfied that the waiver is consistent with the principles of open competition.

Positions Restricted to Veterans

Some positions in the competitive service such as guard, messenger, elevator operator, and custodian have been restricted by law to persons entitled to preference under the veterans' preference laws. Generally, a non-veteran employee cannot be transferred to such positions if there are veterans available for appointment to them. This restriction does not apply to the filling of such positions by the transfer of a non-veteran already serving in a Federal agency in a position covered by the same generic title. For example, a non-veteran who is serving in the position of guard may be considered for transfer to the position of patrolman, guard, fireman, guard-laborer, etc.

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To International Locations

An agency may detail or transfer an employee to any organization that the Department of State has designated as an international organization. A detail or transfer may not exceed 5 years but may be extended 3 additional years upon the approval of the head of the agency. Employees who transfer are entitled to be reemployed (as provided in 5 CFR 352 Subpart C) in his or her former position or; one of like status within 30 days of his or her application for reemployment.

Questions and Answers

The questions and answers below are not a substitute for reading the regulations. This information is intended to be helpful to agencies with questions regarding: temporary and term appointments, pay setting, performance management, promotions, reimbursements, and position changes.


Information on whether or not an organization qualifies as an international organization should be addressed to the Department of State, Bureau of International Affairs.

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