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Foreign Gifts

Air Force Protocol
from 'Til Wheels are Up'

FOREIGN GIFTS

  • The United States Constitution prohibits persons holding a U.S. "office of profit or trust" from accepting gifts from foreign "personages or governments" without consent of Congress
    • Congress has consented to retaining and accepting gifts under certain conditions/procedures (5 U.S.C. 7342; AFI 51-901)
    • 5 U.S.C. 7342 applies to military members, civilian employees, consultants, and their spouses or other dependents. Includes retired and reserve component members, regardless of duty status, Air National Guard members when federally recognized, and the spouses and dependents of all the above
  • May accept gifts of "minimal value", which is defined as not exceeding $245.00 in retail value
    • The amount is periodically adjusted by the General Services Administration
    • The value of the gift is determined by U.S. retail
      • Take reasonable steps in determining U.S. retail value. May use the price of the same or a substantially similar item in a legitimate U.S. retail market, such as a department or specialty store or a base exchange or store catalogs.
      • Must aggregate the value if more than one gift is given
  • Must refuse offers of gifts of more than minimal value if practical to do so. Advise donor that United States law prohibits persons in service of the United States or their dependents from accepting the gift
    • Exceptions to the refusal rule:
      • May accept a gift of greater value if refusal is likely to offend or embarrass the donor or adversely affect foreign relations. The gift becomes United States property and must be reported and turned in to the Air Force in accordance with procedures prescribed in AFI 51-901.
        • A gift recipient may purchase a gift if he or she desires
      • For minimal value gifts that you accept, make a written record describing the circumstance of the gift, including the date and place of presentation, identity and position of the donor, description and value of gift, and means by which the value is determined


HYPOTHETICAL: You are attending a banquet during an official visit to South Korea when, unbeknownst to you, you are presented a special award and an accompanying statue, which you believe is worth at least $500.00. You may accept the gift because to refuse it under these circumstances would likely cause offense or embarrassment to the South Korean government. Either before you leave Korea or upon returning to the U.S., you must attempt to determine the U.S. retail value of the statue. If the statue is worth more than $245.00 U.S. retail, you must contact HQ AFPC either for approval to retain the gift for official use or to turn it in for disposition.



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