Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
Benefit Fact Sheet
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a United States (U.S.) based allowance that provides uniformed Service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local housing markets when government quarters are not provided. A Service member stationed outside of the U.S., including U.S. territories and possessions, who does not have government housing available is eligible for Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).
There are several types of BAH to satisfy various housing situations that occur among military members. In general, the amount of BAH you receive depends on your location, pay grade, and whether you have dependents. Under most circumstances, you receive BAH for the location where you are assigned, not where you live. Additionally, you may be entitled to some BAH amounts if you are residing separately from your dependents. This occurs in situations involving unaccompanied overseas tours or having a dependent Child that resides with a former Spouse. The rules regarding these situations can become quite complex. Consult your Finance Office if you are in one of these situations.
The BAH rates have increased an average of 5.1% effective January 1, 2022.
Air National Guard Service members on active duty under Title 10 USC are eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing or Basic Allowance for Housing Reserve Component/Transit (BAH RC/T) if they are on active duty for 30 or fewer days.
Basic Allowance for Housing rates are based on local area rental market data and vary by geographic duty station, pay grade and dependency status. The cost of utilities is also considered. BAH is based only on rental properties, not homeownership costs like mortgage payments and property taxes.
BAH also includes rate protection. This means, if a Service member’s current BAH rate is less than the previous year, the member receives at least the same amount of BAH as the previous year, provided that the member’s duty location, rank and dependency status remain the same. If BAH rates go up, the member will receive the higher BAH rate as long as their eligibility is uninterrupted. This ensures that members who have made long-term commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if the area’s housing costs decrease.
For a complete listing of BAH rates, see BAH Rates for All Locations. Service members can calculate their individual BAH rates using the BAH Calculator: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm
BAH enables Service members to live off-base at a comparable rate as their civilian counterparts. It is not designed to cover all housing costs for all members. Some members may have out-of-pocket expenses because the rates are based on the median cost of rent. A Service member’s actual expense may be higher or lower depending on the Service member’s choice of housing and where they live.
Service members are free to make housing choices that best suit their needs, therefore they may choose to use all their housing allowance to rent expensive housing close to their duty station or they may choose to have a longer commute by renting a larger home in a less expensive area/outlying area that is further from their duty station.
The Secretarial Housing Waiver (BAH/OHA) PSD Guide clarifies secretarial waiver guidance for Airmen to be considered to receive BAH, OHA, AND COLA at other than the Permanent Duty Station (PDS) location under certain circumstances. The purpose of this guidance is to stabilize the Airmen’s dependents for a relatively short period of time when circumstances require dependents to reside separately. To be eligible for consideration of a waiver, the Airmen's dependents must reside with them prior to PCS unless the Service member is serving an unaccompanied tour. The dependents must continue to reside at the previous duty station or government-approved designated place. The previous duty station is defined as the location of the last duty station in which shipment of household goods at government expense was authorized. Designated place is defined as the location to which the government authorized movement of dependents.
Housing Allowance Waiver Program
What is it? The BAH/ OHA waivers provide Temporary assistance to Airman and their dependents to ease the transition of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move to the new Permanent Duty Station (PDS) in limited situations when the Airmen and dependents will reside separately. A waiver under this authority does not provide for "dual" housing allowances; rather, the member's old PDS or dependents' location could be eligible for a higher BAH rate than the member's new PDS assignment.
What does it do? The housing allowance waiver program provides temporary assistance to Airmen and their Families to ease the transition of a permanent change of station (PCS) move to the new permanent duty station in the United States or overseas. An approved waiver allows the Airmen to receive a housing allowance based on the old duty station or government approved designated location instead of the new permanent duty station.
Who qualifies? The program applies to Airmen with dependents whose dependents reside with them at the previous duty station prior to departing on a PCS or at a government approved designated location (for Airmen serving an unaccompanied/dependent restricted tour).
The dependent must reside with the Airmen prior to the PCS unless the member is serving an unaccompanied/dependent restricted tour
The dependent must continue to reside at the previous duty station or government-approved designated place during the waiver period
Airmen without a dependent can only apply for a waiver under a Low/No Cost (LCNC) PCS.
What situations qualify? Airmen may apply for consideration of a housing allowance waiver under the following circumstances:
Low/No cost PCS - Airmen who are not authorized to move household goods or dependents and must commute from the same residence occupied at the last duty station to the new duty station. Active duty PCS orders must reflect a code of “V” or “M”. Airmen must have made their housing decision based on the prior assignment, must provide a written statement to the assignment OPR certifying they will not relocate their household as a result of PCS and must continue to commute from the same residence to the new permanent duty station. Assignment OPR must confirm locations are within commuting distance.
Professional Military Education (PME) or training course- Airmen who will attend a military school or training course specify the course length (start and end date), location and title. JTR indicates approval for courses scheduled for a duration of one year or less are routinely approved.
Dependent education - Airmen in receipt of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders with a dependent who; is scheduled to complete the senior year in high school (Note: waivers granted for senior year exemption will not cover more than one academic year); or Airmen who receive PCS orders AFTER the starting date of the dependent's school year; or Airmen who receive PCS orders less than 60 calendar days prior to the start of the school year. The waiver approval period shall not exceed 7 calendar days after the last official school year end date.
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) or medical considerations- The Department of the Air Force has implemented an automated travel screening process to simplify required medical screening before a PCS. Members selected for an assignment will automatically receive and email with a link to MyVector to begin the screening process. Medical clearance is required for all Exceptionally Family Member Program families preparing to PCS, and for those members selected for an overseas assignment. The initial travel screen questionnaire is electronic and automated and provides immediate feedback for clearance or additional necessary actions. EFMP member and those traveling overseas with dependents will be directed to Q-base, the DAF Special Needs Screening website and instructed to provide information as well as upload the required documentation for medical and educational clearance.
Advance travel of dependent- A dependent that travels ahead of the Airmen to the new duty station and establishes a residence with a lease or mortgage agreement.
Delayed travel of dependent- May occur in cases of: TDY enroute to new PDS, Member in receipt of Retirement order, Member in receipt of Deployment Order, or a delay associated with circumstances beyond the members control.
Assignment to CONUS-isolated location designation based upon criteria in Department of the Air Force Instruction 36-2110. The member's eligibility is based on member's receipt of a PCS order for an unaccompanied assignment for the applicable minimum tour length (currently 15 month minimum tour length).
How do Airmen apply? Airmen are required to submit the following documents for consideration:
Waiver Request Submission Requirements: Airmen will submit the Secretarial Housing Waiver request via myPers (Secretarial Housing Waiver Process). The request will flow to AFPC/DP1T who will ensure all the required documentation is provided and forward to the AFPC O6 approval authority. Once approved/disapproved, AFPC/DP1T will close the case out after including the decision memorandum in the Airman’s myPers account. The Airman will be responsible for taking the approval memorandum to their servicing finance office to continue/initiate the housing waiver.
PCS order to the old duty station
PCS order to the new duty station
Required document based on situation Airman is applying for (PME, deployment, education).
Different Types of BAH
BAH With Dependents and BAH Without Dependents
A Service member with a permanent duty within the 50 United States, who is not furnished government housing, is eligible BAH, based on the Service member's dependency status at the permanent duty ZIP Code. A Service member stationed overseas, including U.S. protectorates, who is not furnished government housing, is eligible for Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) based on the Service member's dependency status. If a Service member is serving an UNACCOMPANIED overseas tour, the Service member is eligible for BAH at the "with dependents" rate, based on the dependent's U.S. residence ZIP Code, plus OHA at the "without dependents" rate, if the Service member is not furnished government housing overseas.
A Service member without dependents who is living in government quarters is entitled to a Partial BAH.
BAH Reserve Component/Transit (BAH RC/T)
BAH RC/T is a non-locality housing allowance for Service members in particular circumstances, for example, Reservists on active duty for 30 or fewer days. It also applies when a Service member is in transit from selected areas where no prior BAH rate exists (such as overseas). It does not vary by geographic location. BAH RC/T was set based on the old Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ), which was based on the national average for housing. BAH RC/T is published annually and is determined by increasing the previous year's rates by the national average percentage growth of housing costs.
BAH-Diff is the housing allowance amount for a Service member who is assigned to single-type quarters and who is authorized a basic allowance for housing solely by reason of the Service member's payment of Child support. A Service member is not entitled to BAH-Diff if the monthly rate of that Child support is less than the BAH-Diff. BAH-Diff is determined by the U.S. Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and was equal to the difference between BAQ with dependents and BAQ without dependents in 1997 for the Service member's grade. BAH-Diff is published annually and is determined by increasing the previous year's rates by the percentage growth of military basic pay. For more information contact your Finance Office.
Note: Beginning with the 2012 BAH rates, the Department is publishing the average percentage breakdown between rent and utilities for each Military Housing Area. This additional information will assist Service members with making informed housing choices when relocating to a new area. https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/pdcFiles.cfm?dir=/Allowances/BAH/Component_Breakdown/
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH):
Different Types of BAH:
BAH Component Breakdown for all Locations:
BAH Service Representatives:
Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation (FMR), Volume 7A, Chapter 26 "Housing Allowances":