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In-processing soldiers fill out their travel vouchers during a finance brief at Fort Carson, Colo., Aug. 21, 2020.

In-processing soldiers fill out their travel vouchers during a finance brief at Fort Carson, Colo., Aug. 21, 2020. (James Geelen/U.S. Army)

U.S. soldiers moving to Japan are submitting their travel documents to the Army electronically upon arrival, just as their peers will do in Germany, Italy and Belgium, according to a spokesman for U.S. Army Japan.

Soldiers assigned a permanent change of station, or PCS, to Japan started the new system in January, U.S. Army Japan spokesman Manuel Torres-Cortes told Stars and Stripes by email Friday. They are expected to complete their travel voucher themselves through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s online system, SmartVoucher.

Troops assigned to South Korea will continue to complete travel vouchers through their finance departments after their arrival, 8th Army public affairs officer Neil Penttila told Stars and Stripes by phone Friday.

Moving to the online system is part of a push by the Army to have more paperwork tasks completed virtually when possible.

Soldiers moving to Germany, Italy and Belgium will be required to use the new online system starting June 1 upon arrival or risk not getting reimbursed for some of their moving expenses.

“It’s kind of like a TurboTax system, where it asks questions and then the responses to those questions are what build the PCS voucher,” Kimberly Jordan, a director at the 266th Finance Support Center in Kaiserslautern, Germany, told Stars and Stripes on Thursday.

Once completed, the voucher is sent to the soldier’s finance office for final review before submission to DFAS, Jordan said.

Soldiers are being advised to complete the voucher the day they arrive in Japan to help ensure that they get paid correctly and that their salary isn’t frozen.

Soldiers with a myPay account automatically have access to SmartVoucher, so no registration is needed. Even after filing the claim online, soldiers still need to contact their unit finance office on arrival.

Only soldiers are required to submit the claim to SmartVoucher under the new policy; other military branches have their own rules.

Stars and Stripes reporter David Choi contributed to this report.

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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.
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