Defense Base Act


If you are a civilian, harbor worker, or longshoremen who has been injured while working overseas for a U.S. Military you should know your rights regarding workers' compensation insurance. The Defense Base Act provides workers' compensation protection to civilian employees working outside the United States on US military bases or under a contract with the U.S. government for public works or for national defense. Federal law requires all U.S. government contractors and subcontractors to secure workers' compensation insurance for their employees working overseas.


The Defense Base Act covers the following employment activities:

  • Working for private employers on U.S. military bases or on any lands used by the U.S. for military purposes outside of the United States, including those in U.S. Territories and possessions;
  • Working on public work contracts with any U.S. government agency, including construction and service contracts in connection with national defense or with war activities outside the United States;
  • Working on contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act, generally providing for cash sale of military equipment, materials, and services to its allies, if the contract is performed outside of the United States;
  • Working for American employers providing welfare or similar services outside of the United States for the benefit of the Armed Forces, e.g. the USO. 

If any one of the above criteria is met, all employees engaged in such employment, regardless of nationality, are covered under the Act.