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Image: Overseas Briefing Center of the Foreign Service Institute

Who We Are


Providing Training, Information, and Referral to U.S. Government Employees and Family Members assigned to Diplomatic Posts Abroad

The Overseas Briefing Center welcomes you to its website. If you are a U.S. Government employee or family member preparing for an assignment overseas, we encourage you to explore the information in our website and contact us directly if you need additional help. If you are a private citizen, we hope exploring this website will give you an idea of the kind of training and information available to government families as they prepare for an overseas move and eventual return to the United States.

Who We Are

The Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) was established in 1977 to provide training, information, and referral services to U.S. Government employees and their families assigned to or returning from U.S. embassies and consulates overseas. Through a continuum of training designed to meet the broad range of personal and family issues, and through the services of an Information Center facility, individuals are better prepared to meet the challenges of a career in the Foreign Service. More than 12,000 people visit the Information Center annually, seeking current information on living conditions at overseas posts. Another 1,500 participate in specialized training workshops on subjects ranging from regulations and finances to employment options for spouses. Over 2,000 employees and family members attend the Security Overseas Seminar each year. The Overseas Briefing Center (OBC), one of five schools and centers within the National Foreign Affairs Training Center (NFATC), is located in Arlington, Virginia. From Rosslyn, it is approximately 10 minutes west on Route 50, Arlington Boulevard. A Department of State or picture ID is required to enter the campus.

Training Courses

OBC offers a wide range of popular programs and special events designed to meet the diverse needs of individuals preparing for an overseas assignment or returning to the U.S. The OBC's continuum of training begins with courses targeting those new to the Foreign Service, such as Realities of Foreign Service Life; Communicating Across Cultures; Explaining America; Regulations, Allowances and Finances; and Protocol and U.S. Representation Abroad. At the other end of the spectrum, Re-entry courses help those returning from overseas tours. Employment Planning for the Foreign Service Spouse, English Teaching and Making Presentations: From Design to Delivery provide participants with career skills they can use both at home and overseas. Underlying the training is an awareness of the importance of cross-cultural effectiveness in an overseas environment. Selected courses are offered on Saturdays and Wednesday evenings. Prior registration to attend courses is required. See current course listings and schedules. Call (703)302-7268 for additional information.

Security Overseas Seminar

The Security Overseas Seminar offers a variety of seminars targeted to meet the security awareness needs of U.S. Government personnel and families going overseas. All foreign affairs agency personnel are required to attend the seminar every five years. The two-day Security Overseas Seminar (SOS) allows first-time participants to query experts, review policy, and receive advice on security-related topics. The one-day Advanced Security Overseas Seminar (ASOS) provides updates for persons who have taken the two-day program. SOS for Temporary Duty Personnel is a one-day course which provides United States Government business travelers with vital information about personal security, counterintelligence, surveillance, and other security concerns. Children who have completed at least grade one are offered age-appropriate one-day workshops during the summer months.

These courses are strongly recommended for all United States Government agency and TDY personnel, and any accompanying family members preparing for an assignment at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Prior registration to attend the seminar is required. See course dates or call (703) 302-7269.

The Information Center

The Information Center, a vital resource and referral facility, invites all U.S. Government personnel and their families en route to, or considering an overseas assignment, to browse through the wealth of materials contained in country briefing boxes and post newsletters, to view slide and video presentations, and to obtain handouts and brochures from an extensive collection. A returnee file of local contacts provides an opportunity to obtain personal, first-hand knowledge of life at post. Pre-departure resources include checklists as well as information on allowances, insurance, automobiles and consumables. A collection of publications on subjects ranging from children's education to the care of elderly parents addresses other topics of interest to foreign service families. A "Welcome to Washington" section includes resources on services available in the D.C. metropolitan area. The Information Center staff is available to assist with relocation information, informal counseling, and referrals. The Information Center operates as a drop-in facility. It is open Monday through Friday as well as on selected Saturdays and Wednesday evenings. Call (703) 302-7277 or e-mail the staff of the Information Center.


All U.S. Government employees and family members embarking on an overseas assignment are welcome to visit the OBC's Information Center

4000 Arlington Boulevard, Room E2126
Arlington, Virginia 22204
(703) 302-7277

Open Monday-Friday, 8:15 AM - 5:00 PM
And special evening and Saturday hours in 2001

Until 8:30 pm

January 10
March 7
May 2
July 5
September 12

9:00 am to 4:00 pm

January 13
February 10
March 10
March 17
April 21
May 5
May 19
June 9
July 7
September 15
October 13
November 17



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