Marine Corps spouses can now apply for reimbursement of up to $500 in costs paid for licensing and certification in order to continue working in their field after they relocate with their service member.

This applies to spouses of active duty and active reserve Marines.

They join their fellow spouses in the Army and Air Force in getting this benefit. Those services issued their policies in mid-May. The Navy is expected to issue its policy soon; so far, all the services’ policies have been retroactive, so that spouses can be reimbursed for fees incurred with PCS moves since Dec. 12, 2017, when a law was signed allowing the services to reimburse spouses for these costs.

These reimbursements are part of a pilot program authorized through Dec. 31, 2022, by the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

These fees are a financial burden to many military families. Spouses in certain fields often can’t get a job in their field until they meet the requirements of the new state for a license to practice in their profession.

Local and state-level licensing or certifications are required in a long list of professions, ranging from dental hygienists and accountants, to doctors, hairdressers, nurses, teachers, attorneys, to name a few. The requirements and costs vary widely from state to state, and from one profession to another.

Qualifying relicensing costs include exam and registration fees where the new duty station is located – fees required in order to engage in the same profession that the spouse was in while with the service member at the last duty station.

As with the Army and Air Force, the program applies to these costs during each PCS move for Marines -- it’s not limited to one move.

Here’s how the Marine Corps program works:

Marines should request reimbursement through their local Personnel Administration Office/Center. You’ll need these documents: a copy of the PCS orders; a copy of the old certification/license; a copy of the new recertification/relicensure; and a receipt showing recertification/relicensing fees paid.

For more information on the reimbursement and other spouse employment resources, contact your local Family Member Employment Assistance Program office,

For nationwide information on license and certification, visit the Department of Labor’s portal at It provides information about states’ laws and guidance including information on temporary licensing/certification, expedited licensing/certification and licensure/certifications by endorsement.

Officials in the DoD state liaison office have been working for years at the state level to bring attention to state lawmakers about the issues for military spouses who need to transfer occupational licenses from previous states. A number of states have adopted at least partial measures to provide some license portability.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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