Postings, assignments, and employment outside of Canada

The Outside of Canada (OUTCAN) Programme covers postings, assignments, and employment in foreign countries. Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, Department of National Defence (DND) employees, and Staff of Non Public Funds (NPF), Canadian Forces (CF) can work abroad to support defence priorities.

The majority of OUTCAN postings, assignments, or employment positions allow families to accompany the member or employee. Members and employees have the opportunity to develop new skills, learn firsthand from other nations, and experience different cultures and languages.

The OUTCAN Programme

The OUTCAN Programme includes all programs and initiatives that establish OUTCAN positions as well as the posting, assignment, or employment of personnel in these positions.

OUTCAN postings, assignments, or employment can last from one to four years, with the possibility of extension. The duration depends on:

  • operational requirements,
  • military rank or civilian classification,
  • occupation of the member or employee, and the
  • level of hardship and risk at the post.

An OUTCAN posting, assignment, or employment experience can be very different by comparison with an Inside Canada (INCAN) experience. There is a range of benefits and services available to help OUTCAN members, employees, and their families face these differences. These benefits and services are in place to ensure, as much as possible, that personnel are neither better nor worse off than their counterparts in Canada.

Governance and Authorities

CAF members

In June 2006, the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Deputy Minister granted full authority and responsibility for OUTCAN Programme management to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS). In June 2018, the VCDS updated the OUTCAN Governance and Command and Control Instructions[1] to give the Deputy VCDS functional authority and operational management of the OUTCAN Programme. As such, the Deputy VCDS governs the OUTCAN Programme.

OUTCAN postings differ from deployments for CAF operations under the authority of an Operational Command.

The OUTCAN Programme does not include Canadian-named international military operations that the Canadian Joint Operations Command controls.

Civilian Employees

The Director Corporate Labour Relations section under Associate Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Civilian) exercises the functional authority and daily administrative responsibility for DND civilians employed OUTCAN. This includes providing administrative support and preparation for employment OUTCAN.

Staff of the Non Public Funds, Canadian Forces

Staff of the Non-Public Funds are employed as the result of a “sponsorship agreement approved by the Canadian Forces commanding officer to work for Non-Public Funds in an OUTCAN location”. They are “still considered part of the Civilian Component accompanying the Canadian Armed Forces”.Footnote 1  The NPF outside Canada (OUTCAN) Relocation and Foreign Service Benefits Policy governs sponsored staff of the Non Public Funds.

OUTCAN positions

Personnel can be posted, assigned, or employed OUTCAN in various capacities. For example:

  • DND/CAF contribution to NATO;
  • DND/CAF contribution to NORAD;
  • DND/CAF contribution to the United Nations;
  • diplomatic entities, including the Defence Attaché Program (accessible only on the Defence Team Intranet);
  • exchange of military positions with foreign nations;
  • Military Police Security Services to Global Affairs Canada;
  • members attending Staff College abroad and occupying positions dedicated towards training at various institutions outside of Canada;
  • Support Units outside Canada comprised of:
    • Canadian Forces Support Unit Europe,
    • Canadian Forces Support Unit Colorado Springs,
    • Canadian Defence Liaison Staff Washington D.C.,
    • Canadian Defence Liaison Staff London, and
    • Military Foreign Service Section;
  • Defence Scientists;
  • Financial Analysts;
  • Policy Advisors;
  • Administrative Support;
  • Canadian Community Program Coordinators;
  • Personnel Support Programs (PSP); and
  • Military Family Services (MFS) staff.

For more information, contact your OUTCAN Coordination and Support (URS) and review the OUTCAN Coordination and Support Unit SharePoint. These web pages are accessible only on the Defence Team Intranet.


At any given time there are approximately 1,500 CAF members, DND civilian employees and Staff of the NPF, CF, who are employed OUTCAN in more than 70 countries around the world.Footnote 2 

CAF members

Regular and Reserve Force members are governed by the National Defence Act and its regulations. There are approximately 1,400 CAF members OUTCAN, of whom about 30 per cent are posted in and out every year. The majority of the CAF members posted OUTCAN are Regular Force members, while only one per cent are Reserve Force members. Although members posted represent various ranks, Non-Commissioned Members and Senior Officers each represent approximately 40 per cent of members posted OUTCAN.Footnote 3 

Civilian Employees

Civilian employees are public servants who are governed by the Public Service Employment Act. There are approximately 45 DND civilian, spouses or partners and dependents on assignment OUTCAN.Footnote 4  The majority of employees are indeterminate and represent various occupational groups from across the public service, including EX, AS, DS, CO, FI, PG, EC, and CS.Footnote 5  Civilian positions can also include employees hired locally, such as spouses or partners of CAF members who have been posted OUTCAN.

Staff of the Non Public Funds, Canadian Forces

Staff of NPF, CF work in the Defence community, but fall under Schedule V of the Financial Administration Act. There are currently 107 occupied Non-Public Funds positions OUTCAN.Footnote 6  These positions include staff hired locally. NPF, CF staff OUTCAN are usually individuals linked with the military such as former military members, children, and spouses or partners of military members.Footnote 7 

Sponsored Staff of the Non Public Funds occupy some positions in the United States and Europe. They manage on-site and virtual services available to CAF members and their families during the OUTCAN posting. As long-term employees, the sponsored Staff ensure the continuity of day-to-day operations. They are familiar with available services, programs, and facilities such as Fund Grants, CANEX and SISIP Financial services, the Chalet Program in Europe as well as fitness training and related facilities.

For more information, consult Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces, and the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services.

Engaged in the world: a report on the administration of the OUTCAN Programme

In December 2020, the DND/CAF Ombudsman published a report titled Engaged in the World: A systemic investigation into the administration of postings, assignments and employments of Defence Team personnel outside of Canada. The investigation covered various aspects of the OUTCAN Programme, notably its governance and administration, candidate selection and screening, relocation, support services, benefits, health and safety, children’s education, delivery of morale and welfare services, family support and well-being, and communication.

Additional Resources

Visit the following links to learn more about the OUTCAN Programme:


Date modified : 2021-04-09

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