Can government employees accept a gift?

I should entitle this thread "passport woes part III" if you've followed my other threads.

I just got a phone call from the US consulate and DS's passport has arrived!!

Anyways, the consular staff really helped me out - they got us in for an emergency appointment on a day they are normally closed to the public, they allowed me to pick up the passport rather than mailing it (as they usually do). They didn't need to do any of this since this was my error and it wasn't a life-or-death situation.

I was thinking of taking a thank you card and a $20 Starbucks gift certificate with me to the embassy tomorrow when I pick up my passport to show my appreciation. Is that weird? If its well known that they can't accept a gift then I won't do it. Any ideas?

BTW - I am limited in what I can take into the embassy - no food, drinks, nothing wrapped, sealed etc... so a gift card is about it.


I think a heartfelt card would suffice since I'm not sure that gifts would be appropriate.

Not sure about a lay person, but when my company works for the government, they cannot accept gifts but we are allowed to do other things (buy them lunch, for example) a long a its under $20.

I would certainly send a card, or even better, a letter of appreciation with instructions that it should be forwarded to the supervisor of the individual who helped you.

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No. I couldn't even accept anything when I was in the banking industry.
MBFT brings up a good idea.
Thanks for the input! I picked up the passport today and told the officer how appreciative I was for their help. I will follow up with a card at a later time.


I agree with MBFT and Wile, I would send a formal letter of appreciation. When I worked in the insurance industry, I dealt with regulators all of the time and some of them were just wonderful. I always wanted to send a gift basket or lunch but couldn't so I asked the one that I was closest to what I could legally do, he recommended the letters. It actually helps them with raises, promotions, etc.
Here is the offical "rule" dealing with federal employees and the acceptance of gifts.

From personal experience, in your case Mad Scientist, I would say that the person that you wish to thank would have no problems accpeting your gift...just make sure that it's less than $20. I'd also include the letter which they can file and use during thier annual review.
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