SO YOU’VE BEEN POSTED
You’ve got your posting message and there’s so much to do – where do you start? After successfully registering on the BGRS site, you’ve got some big decisions to make. Before you do anything, you should review the Relocation Directive. Although BGRS is there to help you understand your entitlements, it remains the Member’s responsibility to know them. If you review the Table of Contents, you will see that you don’t have to read the Directive from cover to cover – you can choose the chapters that will be relevant to your situation. Knowing your entitlements will help make your relocation go much smoother.
One of the first decisions that you’ll have it make is what you’re going to do with your existing residence. If you’re renting, you’re going to have to let your landlord know that you’re leaving. If you’re charged a “lease-breaking” penalty and/or required to pay rent until the end of the lease, you may be able to be reimbursed for those costs. You will find more information on your entitlements as a renter under Chapter 7 of the Directive.
If you own a house at origin, you have two options – you can sell your house, or you can keep it. Most members will choose to sell their home, but those who don’t may be eligible for the Real Estate Incentive. Since not selling your residence saves the Crown the real estate commission costs, the CFIRP rewards members by paying them up to $12,000 when they don’t sell. If you’re considering this option, you’ll have to get your house appraised, and within 15 (business) days of receipt of the appraisal, sign the Real Estate Incentive Waiver and submit a claim. You will be waiving your rights to sale benefits on the house for this posting only. If at some point in the future the house becomes your primary residence again, you will be able to be reimbursed sale costs at that time. Everything you need to know about the Real Estate Incentive can be found in Article 8.2.14 of the Relocation Directive.
The majority of Members will choose to sell their home. If you’re one of them, there are a number of benefits in the Relocation Directive that you may be entitled to claim. Some cover the “usual” costs related to selling a house – like an appraisal, or realtor commission and some are intended to help if you’re having trouble selling your home quickly, such as the Temporary Dual Residence Assistance, or the Marketing Incentive. And, if you’re one of the unfortunate members who are facing a loss on the sale of your home, you may be able to recover all or some of that loss, through the Home Equity Assistance entitlement. These benefits are explained in Chapter 8, section 2, of the Relocation Directive.
Regardless of whether you choose to keep your home or to sell it, your first step will be to get an appraisal. Almost all home sale benefits require that you have your home appraised. You can find a list of appraisers on the BGRS site – under Move Planner – Suppliers. You are under no obligation to use any of the suppliers from the BGRS site – you can use any one you want, as long as they are not family members, and you can only be reimbursed up to the capped rate (you can see the rates in the Suppliers menu too). The advantages of using a Supplier from the list are (1) they are aware of the rate cap and have agreed not to charge Members more than that and (2) they are able to submit their bill directly to the BGRS Supplier Centre. Not having to pay the Supplier and then submitting a claim to BGRS for reimbursement is a huge bonus.
The appraisal is important because a number of entitlements are only reimbursable if the house is “actively marketed’. While the Relocation Directive does not define “actively marketed”, there is Clarification Bulletin that defines actively marketed as listing price does not exceed the appraised value established. If your house is appraised for $325,000 and you list it for $325,100, it won’t be considered “actively marketed”, and you will not qualify for many of the home sale benefits.
Does this mean you have to sell your house for the appraised value in order to be reimbursed for things like the realtor commission or legal fees? Absolutely not. It just means that you may not be eligible for some benefits that are designed to help you sell your house if you happen to live in a difficult real estate market. So, go ahead and list your house for whatever amount you and your realtor feel is best. Hopefully, it will sell quickly and you can focus on the next step – your HHT.
The timing of your HHT is a decision that is yours to make. Some members want to wait until their house has sold – and that’s not a bad idea. It gives you a better shot at arranging that elusive “door to door” move. There’s a lot of leg work that you can do before actually leaving for your HHT – like checking out places online or researching schools and medical care. To help with this, the BGRS site has a section that is meant to allow you to familiarize yourself with your destination, aptly named Destination. You can find it under the Move Profile.
Once you know when you want to go, you should start planning. If the distance between your origin and destination is greater than 599 km, you’re expected to fly. You will have to enter the trip request in the Trips menu of your BGRS account. They’ll check your request, then forward it to HRG for booking. You must fly from origin to destination only. That means you can’t fly from Montreal to Vancouver if you’re posted from Ottawa to Esquimalt – not even if you need to drop your kids off with your parents in Montreal.
You’ll have to book your own hotels, and while you can choose any hotel you want, you can only be reimbursed up to the capped rate for that location. Costs over the cap are your responsibility. You’re also entitled to a rental vehicle while on HHT, but like hotels, there’s a cap on how much you can be reimbursed. Unlike hotels, you don’t have to book the vehicle yourself – you can request it when you request your flights. You don’t have to go through HRG though, you can make the reservation yourself if you want.
If you’re taking a “standard HHT”, you get five full days at your destination, and a day to travel to and a day to travel from your destination. If you think you’ll need more time, you can add 4 days to a standard HHT – but all the expenses will be reimbursed from your Custom funding envelope, and when your Custom is gone, there’s no way to add more funds to it. To understand the different funding components, please review Chapter 1 of the Relocation Directive, or book a planning session with a BGRS agent.
So what kind of home purchase expenses can you claim? Article 8.3 of the Relocation Directive has a list of eligible expenses. A couple of the most common ones are legal fees and disbursements (Article 8.3.07) building/structural inspection (Article 8.3.08) and mortgage default insurance (Article 8.3.10), but there are others. If the interest rate on your new mortgage is higher than the interest rate on your existing mortgage, you may be eligible to claim the difference (Mortgage Interest Differential – Article 8.3.09). If you require a bridge loan to allow you pay for your home at the destination while waiting on the proceeds from the sale of your home at origin, you can claim the interest (Bridge Financing – Article 8.3.12). And, if you’re purchasing a brand new home, you can claim the same things as you would have been able to claim on the purchase of a resale home (Article 8.3.05).
Once you get the sale of your home at origin and the purchase of your home at the destination out of the way, you’re ready to move to the next stage. You will have to contact your Base Traffic office to start the process of getting your household goods and effects (HG&E) packed and shipped to your destination. You’re entitled to one day of ILM&M (interim lodging, meals and miscellaneous) for your pack day, your load day, and your clean day. (A total of 3 days).
Depending on your new location and your choice of transportation, you’re entitled to a specific number of travel days. You are not expected to drive more than 500 km/day, except on the last day of your travel. If driving up to 599 km on the final day will allow you to reach your destination, you’re expected to do so. While on your TNL (travel to a new location), you can claim meals, miscellaneous costs, lodging, and if you are diving your PMV (personal motor vehicle), you can claim the kilometric allowance. You’ll need to factor in the TNL days to ensure that you and your HG&E reach your destination at roughly the same time. And you’ll also need to factor in your TNL days when choosing the day you take possession of your new residence at the destination. Once again, your goal is to make a “door to door move”.
A perfect door to door move would look something like this:
Day 1 – pack
Day 2 – load
Day 3 – clean
Day 4 – TNL
… any additional TNL days if the move is more than 599 km
Day 5 – unload
Day 6 – unpack
Of course, a relocation has so many moving parts that it is very difficult to arrange the perfect move. The CAF knows this and has provided up to 10 more ILM&M days to help. Those days can be used at origin, at the destination, or split between them both. While on ILM&M, you are entitled to claim the usual expenses – lodging, meals and miscellaneous allowances. The city rate limits still apply to hotels while on ILM&M, but unless you have shipped your PMV, there is no entitlement to a rental vehicle while on ILM&M. If your HG&E arrives at your destination before you take possession of your new residence, it can remain in storage for these 10 days too.
If you need more than 10 days while you are waiting to get the keys to your new home, you will need to provide BComd/BAdmO confirmation that the additional days were caused by circumstances that were beyond your control – and unfortunately, days that are required as the result of misaligned closing dates or because your new build home is behind schedule, are not considered beyond your control.
Regardless of the number of ILM&M days needed, you are still entitled to a day for unloading and a day for unpacking your HG&E. In addition to lodging, meals and miscellaneous allowances, you are entitled to claim dependent care costs for your pack/load/clean/unload/unpack days.
Once you have unpacked and are settling into your new home, you’re almost done.
If you haven’t been submitting claims all along, now’s the time to start. Claim submission via the BGRS system is not the most intuitive process. You’ll have to upload your receipts (you can just take a picture of them with your smartphone, or you can use a scanner). Then you’ll have to create an expense line to go with the receipt, and then attach the receipts to a claim. It’s a confusing process – but there’s a good ReloFact sheet that might help you understand. It’s called Finances Guide, and you can find it under the Knowledge Centre on the BGRS site.
You should keep an eye on your finances – if something is declined, BGRS will leave a note in the claim. The majority of declined expenses are simply missing detailed receipts and can be resubmitted once you obtain an itemized receipt.
Also, you should regularly review your Payment History – it shows the balance on your account. Every advance needs to be repaid with a claim, and any claim can pay back any advance. For example – if you request an advance for $5,000 for your HHT and then submit a claim for $3000 for ILM&M, no funds will be sent to your bank account. Instead, the full $3000 will be used to pay back the HHT advance. But if you submit a TNL claim for $6,000 instead, $5000 will go towards the HHT claim first, and the remaining $1000 will be sent to your bank account. When the total of your advances is greater than the sum of your claims, the Payment History screen will reflect the amount. If all your claims have been processed and there is still an outstanding amount, you will have to return the difference to BGRS.
As always – if there is anything you don’t understand or you need clarification of something, you should call BGRS (1-844-447-5520), or book a 30-minute planning session with a BGRS agent. There is no limit to the number of planning sessions you can have, and you can pick the time and date that is most convenient for you.
- You can find the City Rate Limits at http://rehelv-acrd.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/acrds/preface2018-eng.aspx#canadian
- You can find the rental vehicle caps here: http://rehelv-acrd.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/acrds/rechercher-search-4-eng.aspx
- Mortgage default insurance is also known as “CMHC fees”
- Article 5.01 states: if the occupancy date for the new residence agreed to by a member that requires more than 10 days of interim lodgings, is not considered to be a circumstance beyond the member’s control and will not entitle the member to additional ILM&M benefits