This article was completely rewritten and updated in July 2019.
When your soldier receives OCONUS (overseas) orders, being able to go with him is quite the process. It’s even more involved if that duty station happens to be in Korea.
There are multiple hoops to jump through, and you will need a lot of patience to get through this process.
Do You Want To Move to Korea?
First and foremost, do you want to go with him? I would always choose to go with my husband if I could. But I also know many spouses who have chosen to stay behind.
Living overseas can be quite an adventure. Some are up for it; some aren’t. And there’s no shame in saying you aren’t.
To accompany your soldier overseas, you must be on his orders. If you’re on his orders, you need something referred to as command sponsorship.
This means his command is “sponsoring” his family to be with him.
It should be noted that everyone who applies for command sponsorship is not granted the privilege.
This is in no way based on stats, but more just my knowledge of people who have been in the situation – command sponsorship for Korea is one of the harder ones to obtain.
Even if his orders say unaccompanied, he can still apply for command sponsorship and get the order amended to include dependents.
Start the Process Early
The minute he has orders (or RFO) in his hand for Korea, he should apply for command sponsorship.
You want to allow yourself plenty of time to get all the appropriate paperwork in place and the screenings completed.
He needs to talk to his command about the paperwork necessary for the application. Part of the paperwork is also signing off that each adult has been through anti-terrorism training that the military will provide.
The process cannot begin until he has actual orders. So no jumping ahead when you’ve heard or been told he may be going to Korea next. You need those orders in hand to begin.
Once he has his orders, the command sponsorship process can begin as much as 180 days before when he will be reporting.
In many cases, you won’t necessarily have 180 days’ notice before he is due to report….so once again, act fast.
Review the paperwork before it’s submitted to be sure every field has been completed correctly and each signature block has been signed. The last thing you need is a delayed application because you forgot to sign a form.
One of the most important steps of the process is the EFMP screening (may also be known as a Family Member Travel Screening or FMTS). EFMP stands for Exceptional Family Member Program.
It is a medical screening designed to identify any issues you or your children may have that require special care.
The screening can also identify any special education requirements for children.
As you can imagine, when you’re in a foreign country, access to certain specialists may be harder to come by than when you’re in the United States.
The military doesn’t want to spend untold money flying you back and forth for necessary medical care. Hence the screening to identify any issues before you’re provided authorization.
This screening is required for all adults and children under 21.
Remember that even if you are already enrolled in EFMP, you will still require screening to move overseas under command sponsorship.
It’s also important to remember that each individual’s situation is considered independently. Because you have XYZ medical diagnosis does not mean that you may not be able to get command sponsorship.
They will look specifically at your case to determine the type of care you need and if that care is available in that country or in the host country itself.
Once the paperwork is complete, you can still wait 30 days for a decision. This is what the Army says it may take to approve or deny sponsorship.
But remember the “hurry up and wait” rule that is always there. So you may wait longer to hear back.
There are two types of passports for military families. One is a no-fee passport which will enable you to travel on official Army business, such as when you PCS. You can apply for this passport on post at your current post once you receive command sponsorship approval.
The typical tourist passport that most people have is what you will need if you plan to travel for personal reasons.
Within 90 days of arriving, you will need a SOFA stamp. This registers each family member as having protections under the SOFA agreements.
There are additional visa requirements once you arrive in Korea and even more paperwork and approvals are required if you plan to work off-post.
Remember, even though you’re there with the military, you are still in a foreign country and must abide by their laws and rules.
Some vaccines are required, and some are “recommended.” As this is being published, the two recommended vaccines for Korea are Hepatitis A and Japanese Encephalitis.
If you’re interested in getting the vaccines, plan. It may take time to get appointments on the post. Keep in mind some vaccines require multiple doses.
Also, a recommended vaccine for you as a dependent may be required for your soldier.
There are no guarantees with command sponsorship. And there are many reasons you could be denied from accompanying your soldier.
Perhaps the host country doesn’t have the appropriate resources to handle the medical or educational requirements of you and your children.
Perhaps there isn’t enough housing available, so there’s no room. However, keep in mind it is possible to live off post if government housing is full. There are more hoops to jump through with that, though.
Perhaps several people applied simultaneously with soldiers of higher rank or different jobs with priority.
I know it’s tough to get denied, but there’s not much you can do about the situation if it happens. Your biggest decision now is where to live while he’s gone.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can we take a vehicle with us?
Yes, the Army allows you to ship one privately owned vehicle (POV). This is at the expense of the Army. If you want to ship another, you will require approval and need to foot the bill.
Can we take pets with us?
Maybe. There are additional regulations for taking your pets with you. And the Army also won’t pay for you to transport your pets, so that will be at your own expense.
It’s also important to realize that any time you take pets to an overseas duty location, you run the risk of the pet being placed in quarantine. This doesn’t have to do with the military – it is based on the host country’s rules.
If you can take your pet, be sure they are updated on all shots, medicines, etc., and you have proof of this with their records. You will likely be required to show proof dated within the last 30 days.
Schedule their health screenings as close to your move date as possible to ensure everything is up-to-date.
How do I get my furniture or household goods (HHG) to Korea?
The Army will pay for the shipment of your household goods. However, you are only authorized 50% of the typical weight allowance that you would be allowed for a normal PCS move.
Housing in Korea is generally smaller than what we are used to in the U.S., so keep that in mind.
You can also expect to wait anywhere from 6-12 weeks (or more!) for your shipment to arrive. That’s a long time to wait for your things.
So be sure you are thinking about that when you pack what you will take.
You are authorized what is called unaccompanied baggage. So you won’t be limited to just a normal suitcase to survive for 6-12 weeks.
Like most posts, there are lending closets where you can borrow items until your things arrive.
I was denied command sponsorship. Can I still go?
Technically, yes. But you won’t be allowed to live on post or even use most services available, including (potentially) any medical services.
You will essentially live there as if you just decided to move to Korea outside of the military. You will require special visas and permissions to live in a foreign country.
Your household goods and travel will also not be covered by the military, and there won’t be any overseas cost of living adjustments since the military didn’t authorize him to bring dependents.
There are many things to consider before you move without command sponsorship.
What other questions do you have? Can anyone who has moved to Korea under command sponsorship share tips and tricks?
20 thoughts on “Command Sponsorship for Korea”
Actually Command Sponsorship is insanely easy to get for Korea! There is a great push to make this a family friendly tour.
Personally I would do the paperwork BEFORE he leaves. It may hold him up but you will have the benefit of being with him the entire process. There are times when the paperworks is wrong or filled out incorrectly.
Since you are not married. I would do so BEFORE he leaves. Do not let him leave for Korea without it. Do not come over here non-cs and unmarried. You will be really unhappy.
Command Sponsorship can take as short as two weeks and as long as 9 months over here. It is 100% up to the command on how fast it goes through.
Thank you!!! My other question is, will they give him leave time between AIT graduation and going to Korea?? And does it make it MORE difficult to get sponsorship if we get married and file paperwork after he’s left? Thank you!!
omgosh. When I read this I had to make sure I didn’t right this! You are going through the same thing I did! I was in your shoes about 4 months ago. And what we did after my boyfriend got out of AIT we got married and he had a whole month home. Then he went to South Korea. He left Jan. 19 we got married Dec. 19. Well, the plan was that I would be in Korea in Feb. Well, i’m still home. We are still going through command sponsorship! Something happened to my paperwork and now we still have 3 more weeks to find out if they will take me. And the chances of them saying yes is VERY slim. So after we get denied my husband is going to ask to live off base and me just fly over there and be with him. My husband says to get the paperwork done asap! Don’t wait! Well keep in touch! Maybe we can meet in Korea! If I ever go! my e-mail is email@example.com Please write I’m very bored and I would love to hear about ur expericence because I am going through the same thing. Thanks!
Whoever got the Command Sponsorship easy then they are blessed. It’s totally up to each one’s luck I think. We took 3 months and some people said we are pretty lucky to get so soon. Now I’ve heard that they are going to freeze for a while cause no available slots.
My husband left for Korea today and we did Command Sponsorship I was told that it didnt take long. I leave to be with him Jan. 20th,2012 I just wanna know a little about Korea
Monquita, My husband is pcsing to Korea in July he is at jrtc right now. When he gets back we are going to start the process for command sponsorship. It is just he and I no children. I was wondering how easy or difficult it was for the application process and what I should expect, i.e. physical (how extent), etc. We do not want him to go there without me. For the past 3 years we have only been together the past 9 months and I dont plan on loosing him for another year. Thank you for you time and info. Darlene
Does anyone know if you can bring pets over to Korea? If so, what all is involved?
Yes you can bring pets, but you have to pay out of pocket for the expenses.
My husband just left for Korea Tuesday May 8. Since his orders were given before we were married they said we had to get everything taken care of when he got to Korea. I am a newlywed since March of this year and am already so confused lol. We want me over there with him and we will do anything to achieve that. My question is how is command sponsorship going as in will i be able to get it i guess you could say. I want to be with my husband and am trying to do all i can before hand but am so lost. Am i able to go get my physical done now? Because i have heard you need forms for you doctor to fill out or that you need to go to certain doctors. I would love to get all i can get done to make this process faster that i can. But again have no idea where to start. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.
My husband reports the middle of September to Korea. We have submitted our command sponsorship form does anyone know generally how long it takes to get it? We put on the papers that we don’t mind living off post could this make the process faster because we won’t have to wait for housing? We have a son but he’s only two so we will not need to find him a place in the school system. Any help would be great! Thank you!
Did you get an answer on your command sponsership? My husband has orders for Nov. and we’ve applied for sponsorship. I keep getting mixed information as to how likely it is we get approval. Thanks for any information.
My husband and I applied for Command Sponsorship, he is already stationed in Yongsan. I am just curious as to how long it normally has taken others to get a decision for CS. Thank you for any comments.
I agree, Command Sponsorship was insanely easy to get. A lot of hoops to jump through and paperwork but we were approved for CS with Deffered Travel in about 2 months. My husband took 2 weeks of leave and had two weeks of hometown recruiter after AIT. He then left Oct. 15 2011 got in country, got an apartment signed the lease and submitted to change orders to concurrent travel. I was in country a week after that on Nov. 11 2011.
I would definitely encourage everyone to apply for it because they are trying to make Korea a normalized tour so they are accepting a lot of families. They have also completely revamped the system and how it worked as of March 2011 making it easier to get CS in a timely manner.
To the poster asking about the Dr. you do have to have special forms filled out, unfortunately I don’t remember which ones. Your husband will need to speak to his command and they will set him on the right track.
I am going through the CS paperwork right now and I am very confused, when I get the EFMP clearance from Fort Drum do I send it to my husband’s commanding officers in South Korea or do I send it to the base where he did his AIT? I should receive the paperwork any day now and I am so confused on where to send it! And is that all the paperwork I need to have?– other than the no-fee passport which I have completed already. Thank you in advance!!
I’m wondering if someone here has an answer when CSP get denied. In Sept. my family had a meeting with the EFMP & everything went fine, I was told that were good to go and there should be no problem because we take care our paper work ahead of time all we need to do is wait the paper work from Korea; My questions right now my husband was told from the company that his order will get deleted due to deployment the company can cancel the pcs order. Mid Sept. the whole company has 30 days field exercise. while in the field he receive a call that we pass the EFMP and he need to come in to do more paper works for the command sponshorship but there is no way for him to leave because the incharge in the company didn’t allow him. Since he was told that his order will be cancel my husband rely on them. After a month of training, my husband waited and ask his 1Sgt about his order but they kept saying about cancel don’t put your hopes high My husband check his requisition and its still showing up that his in bound to Korea, then finally he ask on how the company can cancel his order then he was told that the company incharge need to fill up a form in order to get it done, which the incharge of the company faild to do so. They decided to let go my husband until the last minute, my husband file the CSP receive a response DENIED we sumitted the proper paper work late. So in this case since the company in charge didn’t do his job and we started doing the process