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Purchase of foreign school service credit

General questions

What is foreign school service credit? 

Credit for service performed as an employee of certain public educational institutions located outside of the United States and its territories. To qualify, the service must have been performed for a public educational institution that receives a portion of its funding from any foreign or domestic public source and provides a level of education comparable to kindergarten through 12th grade.

How do I start the process to buy foreign school service credit? 

To purchase foreign school service credit, submit a completed form for each former foreign retirement system or foreign school employer.

What needs to be verified so I can purchase my foreign school credit? 

You must certify you agree to forfeit all rights to the benefits under your former retirement system before you can purchase the service credit with CalSTRS. Service credit cannot be purchased if you are receiving, or are eligible to receive a benefit for this service in another public retirement system. The completed forms must include the proper certification from your former retirement systems, former employers, or both, where applicable.

Is there a maximum amount of foreign school service credit that I can purchase? 

No. You may purchase all or a portion of your available service credit at any time prior to retirement.

I am retiring next month. Can I request to buy this service credit prior to my retirement date and then obtain the verification after my retirement date? 

Yes. You must request to purchase service credit prior to your retirement date by notifying CalSTRS in writing by sending a completed Out-of-State or Foreign School Service Credit Certification form.

We recommend you remain in contact with CalSTRS if you have difficulty obtaining verification. This will ensure your eligibility to complete the purchase after you have retired.

What happens after I return my complete out-of-state or foreign school service credit Certification? 

CalSTRS will:

  1. Review your certification.
  2. Verify your eligibility.
  3. Determine how much service you may purchase.
  4. Calculate your cost.
  5. Send you a billing statement.

The billing statement includes information regarding how you may pay for your purchase.

Can I pay for my foreign school service credit through rollover? 

Yes. CalSTRS can accept rollovers from most qualified U.S. retirement plans.

However, CalSTRS cannot accept rollovers from:

  • SEP
  • Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
  • Directly transferred, post-tax funds

Information and instructions for rollovers will be on the back of your billing statement.

You cannot have monies from foreign plans directly transferred to CalSTRS (per Internal Revenue Code sections 402(c)(8)(A) and 401(a); Treasury Regulation section 1.401-1(a)(3)(i)).

CalSTRS can only accept funds directly from domestic plans organized in the United States. If the funds can be transferred to you, you can send your post-tax payment to CalSTRS. We recommend you speak to a tax advisor before withdrawing funds from a foreign plan for the potential foreign and U.S. tax consequences.

Suggested Resources:


U.S. Department of State Service

Is the service I performed while working in schools administered by the Office of Overseas Schools under the U.S. Department of State now eligible to be purchased? 

Yes, if you are a CalSTRS Defined Benefit member and can provide proper verification of the service you performed.

How do I verify my service performed in a school which was run by the Department of State? 

Submit a written request on your Out-of-State or Foreign School Service Credit Certification form directly to the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) at the following address:

DoDEA Human Resources Center Records Mgmt Unit – 6th Floor
4040 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203-1634

You may also call DoDEA at (703) 588-3987 for any questions regarding submitting your request.

Allow 10 – 14 days for processing.

If it has been more than a year since you performed your foreign school service, please send your request to:

National Archives and Records Administration
National Personnel Records Center - Civilian Personnel Records
111 Winnebago Street
St. Louis, MO 63118


Peace Corps Service

I served in the Peace Corps. Can I purchase this time? 

Peace Corps service is not considered foreign school service credit. However, Peace Corps service is considered permissive service credit and can be purchased as provided under Section 22803 of the Education Code.



What if my verification is in a language other than English? 

By using the appropriate CalSTRS Out-of-State or Foreign School Service Credit Certification form, translation should not be a concern.

If you are unable to have the proper forms completed, any documents in a foreign language must be accompanied with a certified (notarized) English translation. If a copy of a document is used, it must include the statement that it is a true and accurate copy.

Will CalSTRS obtain my verification for me? 

No. It is your responsibility to provide verification of your foreign service. Requests received without complete and clear verification will be returned to you.

What if I am unable to obtain verification from the foreign school I worked for? 

Send all pertinent documents (contracts, etc.) to CalSTRS. If we cannot determine your eligibility from those documents, you will not be able to purchase foreign school service credit.


Benefit enhancements

Will the foreign school service credit I purchase qualify for the benefit enhancements, such as the longevity bonus, highest one-year final compensation and/or career factor? 

Yes, foreign school service credit will qualify for all of CalSTRS benefit enhancements you are eligible to receive.

Can I purchase foreign school service credit to vest? 

Yes. However, to be eligible to apply for a CalSTRS service retirement benefit, you must have 36 months of annual compensation earnable performed in California.

Service performed outside California cannot be used to meet this requirement.

Can this service be used toward meeting eligibility requirements for CalSTRS disability benefits? 

No. To be eligible for disability benefits, you must have earned five years of service credit in CalSTRS-covered employment.