Reinstatement of Federal Employment

If you have prior career or career-conditional service with the federal government, you may be eligible for reinstatement. Reinstatement allows you to reenter the Federal competitive service workforce without competing with the public in a civil service examination. You may apply for any open civil service examination, but reinstatement eligibility also enables you to apply for Federal jobs open only to status candidates.

Eligibility Requirements

You must have held a career or career-conditional appointment at some time in the past. If so, there is no time limit on reinstatement eligibility for those who have veterans preference, or acquired career tenure by completing 3 years of substantially continuous creditable service.

If you do not have veterans preference or did not acquire career tenure, you may be reinstated within 3 years after the date of your separation. Reinstatement eligibility may be extended by certain activities that occur during the 3-year period after separation from your last career or career- conditional appointment. Examples of these activities are:

  • Federal employment under temporary, term, or similar appointments.
  • Federal employment in excepted, non-appropriated fund, or Senior Executive Service positions.
  • Federal employment in the legislative and judicial branches.
  • Active military duty terminated under honorable conditions.
  • Service with the District of Columbia Government prior to January 1, 1980 (and other service for certain employees converted to the Districts independent merit system).
  • Certain government employment or full-time training that provided valuable training and experience for the job to be filled.
  • Periods of overseas residence of a dependent who followed a Federal military or civilian employee to an overseas post of duty.

Applying for Reinstatement

You must conduct your own job search. Reinstatement eligibility does not guarantee you a job offer. Hiring agencies have the discretion to determine the sources of applicants they will consider.

Individuals usually apply to agencies in response to vacancies announced under the merit promotion program. Some agencies accept applications only when they have an appropriate open merit promotion announcement, while others accept applications at any time. If you are seeking a higher grade or a position with more promotion potential than you previously held, generally you must apply under a merit promotion announcement and rank among the best- qualified applicants to be selected. Status applicants include individuals who are eligible for reinstatement.

To establish your reinstatement eligibility, you must provide a copy of your most recent SF 50, Notification of Personnel Action, showing tenure group 1 or 2, along with your application. You may obtain a copy of your personnel records from your former agency if you recently separated. Otherwise, send your request to the Federal Records Center.

The Federal Records Center has been established as a depository for official personnel folders of persons no longer in the Federal service. Federal agencies, generally, transfer employment records to the Federal Records Center thirty days after the employee has been separated from Federal service. Requests for this information should be directed to:

Federal Records Center

National Archives and Records Administration

111 Winnebago Street

St. Louis, Missouri 63118

Phone: (314) 801-9250


Such inquiries should include your full name under which you were formerly employed, social security number, date of birth, and to the extent known, former Federal employing agencies, addresses and dates of such employment. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) and OPM require a signed and dated written request for information from Federal records. No requests for information from personnel or any other type of records will be accepted by telephone or e-mail.


You must be a citizen of the United States.


You must meet the qualification requirements for the position. Written tests are not common, but if one is required, arrangements will be made for you to take it.


You must meet the suitability standards for Federal employment. If you were removed for cause from your previous Federal employment, it will not necessarily bar you from further Federal service. The facts in each case as developed by inquiry or investigation will determine the person’s fitness for re-entry into the competitive service.


There are no maximum age limits for appointment to most positions in the competitive service. Some jobs, such as law enforcement officers and firefighters, do have limits.

Positions Restricted to Veterans

Positions in the competitive service such as guard, messenger, elevator operator, and custodian have been restricted by law to veterans entitled to preference. Generally, a non-veteran may not be reinstated to such positions if qualified veterans are available.

Probationary Period

A former employee who did not complete a required probationary period during previous service under the appointment upon which his or her eligibility for reinstatement is based is required, in most cases, to serve a complete one-year probationary period after reinstatement.


Learn more about being a federal employee in the 2013 Federal Personnel Handbook.

Add Comment