AF supports home-based businesses, but follow rules

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kristina Penta
  • Kadena Law Center
Many military spouses have found self-employment in a home-based business to be a good solution to the challenge of frequent moves. A home-based business could be just what you are looking for. Working from your home is well-suited to military life styles since it can provide flexibility, independence and transferability when you PCS. 

The Air Force fosters and encourages some private commercial activities in military housing as home based businesses. Examples include word processing/typing, toy sales, home supplies and equipment, bookkeeping, childcare (must be properly licensed), sewing, and crafts.

Regulations now greatly reduce the obstacles to running your home-based business while living in military housing. In order to get approval for your home based business, you must start the process at the Military Housing Office. You will have to fill out an AF Form 3902, all applicable portions, being as detailed as possible. If your home business is based on something you are licensed to do in the United States -- cosmetology, manicurist, aesthetician, etc -- then you will be required to provide your state license number, and may be required to have adequate insurance. Commercial activity may not be authorized or continued at the expense of community tranquility, safety or the installation mission. Local government licensing requirements, agreements, host nation business practices and advertising practices are taken into account as each request is considered. 

Your home business cannot compete with the Army and Air Force Exchange Services or 18th Services Squadron, and you may not resell AAFES or commissary items. Additionally, if your home business deals with food preparation, you must get additional approval by Public Health at the 18th Medical Group.  Your customers must be other SOFA status individuals. Finally, you cannot solicit door to door, you cannot operate in a federal workplace, and you cannot operate or sell products in a common area on base. 

It is important to know your host country since U.S. forces personnel may not engage in any activity that could be characterized as lewd or otherwise calculated to appeal to the basal instincts of the audience, or any activity that might be offensive to the Japanese public. This prohibits the sale of so called "sex toys" or other similar products by SOFA status personnel in Okinawa not only in their on base housing, but it also prohibits the sale of these items in their off base housing as well. 

Use of the military postal service for home businesses is limited by Department of Defense and Air Force Instructions. You cannot use your Postal Service Center Box for mass delivery of commercial items. However, each of your customers may have products directly delivered to their own PSC Box. If you want to receive mass deliveries of items, you must use the Japanese Postal Service, and may be subject to Japanese taxes. 

Your installation's legal assistance office is a good source of general information. However, legal assistance officers are not authorized to provide specific detailed assistance for private commercial enterprises. If you would like to speak with an attorney for general information please come in during walk-in legal assistance hours, which are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9 to 10 a.m. and Tuesdays from 1 to 2 p.m.