A career or career-conditional employee of one agency may transfer, without a break in service of a single work day, to a competitive service position in another agency without competing in a civil service examination open to the public. A transfer-eligible may apply under vacancy announcements open to status candidates. An employee may transfer to a position at the same, higher, or lower grade level.

Present federal employees who are serving in the competitive service under a career or career-conditional appointment have eligibility for transfer to a position in the competitive service.


To transfer, you must meet the qualification requirements for the position. Employees must be found suitable for employment in competitive service positions. If your current appointment is subject to a suitability investigation, that condition continues after you transfer.

Generally on transfer, a career employee remains a career employee, and a career-conditional employee remains a career-conditional employee.

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

Applying for a Job in the Competitive Service

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 have 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 transfer.

An employee is not required to serve a new probationary period after transfer. However, the employee continues to serve the remainder of any probationary period being served at the time of transfer.

In most cases, an employee must wait at least three months after the latest non-temporary competitive appointment before being considered for transfer to a position in a different line of work, at a higher grade, or to a different geographical area. The Office of Personnel Management may waive the restriction against movement to a different geographical area when it is satisfied that the waiver is consistent with the principles of open competition.