How Military Spouses Can Get Reimbursed for Professional License Fees

A military spouse and vet tech examines a dog.
Kelley Legnaioli, veterinary technician and military spouse. (U.S. Air Force/Chustine Minoda)

Military permanent change of station (PCS) moves can create a major challenge for any military spouse's career. But for those who hold state-issued professional licenses that allow them to work in their chosen field, the challenges are even greater. Those workers may not only need to seek new employment, but likely also need to at least research license requirements at their new location.

While some states have laws, policies or agreements with other states that allow military spouses to transfer their professional licenses, they are not standardized nationwide. Gaining a professional license can cost thousands of dollars in classes, test and application fees.

To mitigate that problem, Congress in 2017 ordered the Defense Department to reimburse up to $1,000 in professional license fees for military spouses after a PCS so long as the license or certification is from their current career field. For example, a spouse cannot use the reimbursement to take the bar exam for the first time -- they must be taking it after working as an attorney in the past.

So how do military spouses apply for that money? Each military service has a slightly different process and timeline, requiring different paperwork or applications. Here are their requirements:

Army Spouse Professional License Reimbursement

The Army will reimburse any fees or costs, including exam and registration fees, that are brought from applying for or gaining a professional license in a new state after a PCS, according to the official Army message. Army spouses are not required to have held the license in the state or location they just left. Instead, they need to have held it at any prior duty station. The reimbursement policy is retroactive, which means spouses can request up to $1,000 for any fee incurred since Dec. 12, 2017, when the law allowing it was passed.

To be reimbursed, the soldier must file with their unit:

  • Standard form 1034, signed by the soldier
  • Copy of PCS orders
  • Proof of previous state license or certificate
  • Copy of new license or certificate
  • Proof of fee payment

Air Force and Space Force Spouse Professional License Fee Reimbursement

Air Force and Space Force spouses can receive up to $1,000 in reimbursements for exam costs or registration fees required for their professional license or certificate at a new duty station. To qualify, the spouse must have held the license at any previous duty station, according to the Air Force policy issued in 2020. Those who are arriving at their first duty station with their airman and held the license before becoming a military family member also qualify, according to an Air Force fact sheet. The Air Force policy only applies to fees incurred since Dec. 20, 2019, when their policy was released.

To be reimbursed, airmen must turn in the following to the local finance office:

  • Copy of PCS orders
  • Copy of spouse's previous state occupational license or certificate
  • Receipt for new state's fees

Marine Corps Spouse Professional License Fee Reimbursement

Marine Corps spouses can be reimbursed for exam or registration costs and fees from applying for or getting a professional license or certification after a PCS. The license or certificate can be from any previous duty station, according to the Marine Corps. The service will reimburse $500 for any fees incurred between Dec. 12, 2017, when the law allowing the policy was passed, and Dec. 19, 2019. Up to $1,000 in fees are reimbursed for those incurred after Dec. 20, 2019, thanks to a Marine Corps policy change.

To get reimbursed Marines, should bring the following to their on-base Personnel Administration Office:

  • Copy of PCS orders
  • Copy of previous license or certification valid at a previous duty station
  • Copy of new state license or certificate
  • Receipts from fees paid in the new state

Navy Spouse Professional License Fee Reimbursement

Navy spouses can be reimbursed for fees associated with getting a new license or certification, according to Navy Fleet and Family Readiness.To qualify, reimbursement requests must be submitted within 24 months of the date the PCS orders were issued.

Sailors were reimbursed up to $500 until Dec. 12, 2019, and can be reimbursed up to $1,000 for fees incurred after that date.

To receive reimbursement, sailors should submit to the MyNavy Career Center the following:

  • A spouse reimbursement request formatted according to Navy policy (linked at the bottom of this page).
  • Claim for Reimbursement for Expenditures (OF 1164 available here)
  • Copy of PCS orders
  • Copy of new license or certification
  • Copy of previous state license or certification
  • Copy of receipt for fees

Coast Guard Spouse Professional License Fee Reimbursement

Coast Guard spouses can receive reimbursement for exam or application fees for a professional license or certificate in their new state. The license or certificate must be for a professional license held at a previous duty station.

  • Claim for Expenditures on Official Business (Optional Form 1164)
  • Copy of current PCS orders
  • Copy of new license or certification
  • Copy of receipt for new licenses or recertification.


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