Military Per Diem Rates Remain Unchanged in 2021

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(U.S. Air Force/Kedesha Pennant)
(U.S. Air Force/Kedesha Pennant)

The Defense Department has announced that per diem rates for military travel will remain unchanged for fiscal 2021, which runs from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.

The standard per diem rate will remain at $151 daily.

Per diem is a daily payment to reimburse you for the out-of-pocket costs for food, lodging and incidental expenses you incur during a permanent change of station (PCS) move or while on temporary duty.

Per diem rates limit how much you can be reimbursed for meals and lodging. The per diem rate is also used to determine the Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) rate.

Per diem is broken down into three categories:

  1. Meals
  2. Lodging
  3. Incidental Expenses

When you travel, you get reimbursed the meal and incidentals portion of per diem automatically. To be reimbursed for your lodging, you must submit receipts showing the lodging's actual cost, or you can use your government charge card to have your receipts automatically entered to your travel account in some cases.

For travel to most locations in the continental United States, you are reimbursed based on the standard per diem rates. If your lodging costs less than the maximum amount of $96, you will be reimbursed only the actual cost; if it costs more, you have to pay the difference out-of-pocket.

The meals portion of standard per diem remains at $50; the incidental expense portion also stays at $5.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule: It's nearly impossible to find a hotel in any major city for $96, so there are several "high-cost" areas that have higher limits for lodging. These areas may have higher reimbursement for meals as well.

Also, some areas have higher per diem rates during tourist season, when prices go up. However, for most of the U.S., standard per diem rates apply.

If you are traveling outside of the continental U.S., your per diem rates could change on a monthly basis due to fluctuations in exchange rates, as well as other factors.

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