If you’re the planning type, you’ve probably already been checking your schedule and assigning dates to prepare for your next military move. If you’re NOT the planning type, you’ve probably been having nightmares about the process of packing, moving, and changing stations come your next PCS or other military move.
No matter which side of the spectrum you fall on, we’ve got the scoop on military moves. We’re going to answer everything from the basics, like, “Does the military help you move?” to more in-depth issues, like your military move weight allowance.
If you’ve always found yourself woefully unprepared for your military move, you’ll be in the complete opposite boat once you finish this blog. So read on through our tips, tricks, and answers, or jump to exactly what you need using the links below!
- Does the Military Help You Move?
- What Is a Permanent Change of Station?
- What Is a Temporary Duty Move?
- Types of Military Moves
- Processes for Military Moves
- Military Move Checklist
Does the Military Help You Move?
Yes! The military DOES help you move! And thank goodness, too, for how often they make you change stations! There are a ton of ways the military provides assistance during PCS and TDY moves, which you can learn more about below.
The military provides allowances and reimbursements for several aspects related to moving. These are part of your permanent change of station entitlements. There are per diem, in lieu of transportation, dislocation, and temporary lodging allowances. Depending on if you’re moving by yourself or letting the military take care of some of the moving troubles, you’ll qualify for different types of payments and reimbursements, which will help you cover many moving-related costs.
What Is a Permanent Change of Station?
If you’re just entering the military or you’ve just received your first moving orders, you might be a little confused about what exactly a Permanent Change of Station, or PCS, entails. A PCS is an assignment or appointment of military personnel to a new installation for a considerable period of time, usually between two and four years.
A PCS could be CONUS (inside the continental U.S.) or OCONUS (outside the continental U.S.). You may have to move just one or two states away or to the entire other side of the country. Depending on how long your move is, the military will give you more or less monetary assistance.
Late spring into early summer is generally considered peak PCS season, so you can expect to receive your next PCS orders just before then.
Learn more about the PCS process and tips to help you plan: PCS Military Move: An In-Depth Guide & 15 Expert Tips (2022 Edition)
What Is a Temporary Duty Move?
A Temporary Duty Move (TDY), also referred to as a Temporary Duty Assignment (TDA), is when a government employee, or in your case a military member, is requested to travel to another installation for a short period of time. This time can range between a couple days and a couple months, depending on the assignment.
Think of a TDY as more of a business trip rather than a move. Though if you get a TDY request that’s on the other side of the country and lasts for several months, it may feel a lot more like a complete move than a trip. A TDY will still allow you to be reimbursed for travel, lodging, and meal expenses.
Types of Military Moves
We’ve briefly covered the PCS, so now let’s get into more detail about it and the other military move types that you may be considering.
Government PCS Move
The Government PCS is the most basic and common type of move. You’re moving to a new installation where you will usually serve for two or more years.
If you decide to do this total military PCS move instead of a partial or full DITY move, you’ll go to move.mil to register. The experts over at move.mil have customer service agents that can answer your questions regarding specific allowances, claims, and information about your new installation.
With a PCS, you will be moving on dates that the military has set aside and scheduled for you. You will also be assigned a Transportation Service Provider (TSP) to help you with packing your household goods and shipping them. It will only take them a couple days to get everything packed away and ready for the trip.
Your TSP will load everything into a moving truck, and they will hold onto your household goods until you’re ready for them at your new installation. Once you arrive, we hit rewind on the tape, and the movers do everything all over again in the opposite order: unloading, unboxing, and placing things where they belong.
The good thing about using a TSP is that they are usually liable for any damages that occur during loading, moving, and unloading.
For more information about your new installation, visit MyBaseGuide.
DITY Move (a.k.a. PPM Move)
A Do-It-Yourself, or Personally Procured, Move is not for the faint of heart. In a DITY military move, you are not assigned a TSP. You are responsible for packing, loading, shipping, unloading, and unpacking all of your household goods on your own. You must procure a moving truck and keep up with your miles traveled to receive reimbursement.
The good thing about a DITY move is that you are still reimbursed for moving expenses for the same amount as if you were doing a traditional PCS military move. You just need to make sure that your expenses are authorized. You can find an in-depth list of what you will and will not receive reimbursement for here.
The reimbursement you receive will also be based on how much your household goods weigh and how far you need to ship them. Because of this, you’ll have to weigh the moving truck to get the appropriate measurements. You can also visit move.mil to request PPM/DITY reimbursement BEFORE your move.
A partial-DITY is a perfect blend of the two previous types of military moves. With a partial-DITY, you’ll get to determine exactly what goods the TSP will move for you and what you’ll move on your own.
Similarly to a full-DITY, you will still have to weigh any vehicle that you’re transporting goods in by yourself, and you want to make sure to keep certified weigh station tickets in a safe place so that you can receive the full and correct reimbursement amount.
Whatever you’re not packing in your own vehicle will be handled by a TSP.
A partial-DITY is a great option for people who have very important belongings that they don’t want to be separated from during a move but who also want someone else to handle most of the moving process.
Processes for Military Moves
When it comes to your next (or first) military move, you’re going to want to know the terms and processes outlined below. Study these so that you’re not thrown any extra curveballs when you go to fill out forms and paperwork for your military move.
DPS Military Move
DPS stands for Defense Personal Property System. It was introduced in 2012 as a way to make the military moving process a little more straightforward for those embarking on a PCS.
It’s a good idea to go ahead and make an account in the DPS before you even receive orders. This way, you’ll always be ahead of the game. Move.mil is the place for you to sign up. (Don’t worry, they recently moved their domain to MilitaryOneSource, so you’re at the right place!)
The DPS is the place for you to access pretty much everything related to your military move. You can get in contact with real humans (thank goodness!) to ask them questions about the process, access important information and moving-related articles, schedule your military move, and track your shipment(s).
HHG Move (Household Goods)
HHG simply stands for household goods. You can’t move to a new installation without bringing your home with you! You will need to begin filling out form DD 1351-2 before packing and shipping your household goods. You will complete it as you are moving to your new installation or after you get there. You can find the form here.
The DD 1351-2 will allow you to outline your moving dates, track your movement from your old to your new installation, and write down all associated costs so that you can be properly reimbursed.
Unaccompanied Baggage (UB)
Unaccompanied Baggage PCS is for those military members embarking on an OCONUS move. UB, in short, is a small percentage of your household goods that the military allows you to send to your new installation ahead of you via air express travel. You’ll only be able to send up to 2,000 lbs. as UB (but your final number will depend on what your initial military weight allowance is).
POV Shipment & Storage
POV stands for Privately Owned Vehicle. Unless you walk everywhere you go, you probably have one or two vehicles in your driveway that will need to get to your new installation somehow. The U.S. Transportation Command has a ton of great information regarding your POV shipment and storage.
You’re eligible for POV storage if you were ordered to an OCONUS move and:
- Your vehicle isn’t permitted in that country.
- You were assigned TDY for more than 30 days for a contingency operation.
- There was a change in a ship’s home port of more than 30 days between arrival and departure.
- Government-procured storage is not available (the military member will be reimbursed for any incurred storage expenses).
You can also ship vehicles for a CONUS move. The JTR tell us that a CONUS POV shipment may be authorized when:
- A service member is physically unable to drive.
- A service member does not have time to drive and report to the PDS on time.
You will not be authorized to receive POV shipment reimbursement if you have no dependents, have dependents who are not eligible for transportation at government expense, or are moving dependents unrelated to a PCS.
You may also be asking, “How do I track my POV shipment?” It’s easy! Just visit PCSmyPOV and put in your shipping instruction number. You can track it and view its current status and shipping history.
Non-Temporary Storage (NTS)
NTS is long-term storage for your household goods. If you’ve ever wondered, “Do I need NTS?” you can look into your weight limit to check. If your PCS weight allowance is less than the overall weight of your household goods, you may have to put some items in a non-temporary storage facility during your stay at your new installation.
NTS will be kept in government-owned storage facilities or other facilities that are obtained by the government. The storage facility will also be located close to your original installation, not your new installation.
Here are some non-temporary storage regulations in which you might be eligible to store your HHG:
- You were assigned to a designated isolated CONUS installation.
- You’re moving to or between OCONUS installations.
- You cannot use a specific household good in your government-issued quarters or private housing.
- The storage of an item or items is in the best interest of the government.
If you do need to put anything into NTS, keep your TSP updated with any changes to your phone number, address, or new orders.
If you need NTS storage, you should fill out DD Form 1299, which can be found here (page 32).
Military Move Checklist
Our beginner military move checklist will put you on the right path to moving to your new installation!
1. Talk To Your Family About Your Move
If you have young kids or family members who live nearby, you’ll want to let them know that you’ve received your military move orders before making plans. This gives them a heads up – especially kids who will need time to adjust to the news.
2. Inform Your Local Transportation Office
Make an appointment with your installation’s Transportation Office as soon as you can. They can help you arrange shipments for your household goods and get a moving schedule underway.
3. Do Research About Your New Station
Check the local BAH rates and available housing on-base and off-base. MyBaseGuide is a great resource to check military-trusted businesses in the area, local schools, places to eat, and other activities on and around base.
4. Catalog Your Household Goods
This sounds overwhelming, but it’s very important, especially if you’re not doing a DITY move. Write down all of your household items and take pictures of anything that’s expensive, fragile, or important.
5. Let Your Landlord Know
If you’re renting, you may have orders to break lease due to your PCS. Thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (Protection No. 5), you cannot be retaliated against for breaking a lease due to military orders. You’ll need to contact your landlord as soon as possible with a copy of your orders to let them know you’ll be breaking the lease. Your lease will terminate 30 days after your next rent payment is due.
Learn more about military lease termination law: What To Do When Your Tenant Has Military Orders to Break Lease?
6. Update Your Passport & Visa
If you’re embarking on an OCONUS move, you don’t want to be caught at the airport with an out-of-date passport.
7. Get a Moving Kit Together
Pack important documents, things you want to easily access during the first week at your new station, and a few comfort items to keep with you while you move.
8. Set Up a Budget & Save Up
Even if you’re doing a PCS military move, you’ll want to save up some money before moving day comes. Yes, you’ll get some reimbursement, but it’s better to have a safety net, especially if you’re moving across the country or to a different country entirely.
9. Get Important Records
Contact your healthcare provider for copies of your own and your kids’ health records, including vaccinations, prescriptions, and prior health issues. If you have kids, get in contact with the school. If you have pets, you’ll also want to reach out to your vet to get copies of their health records and any medications they may need.
Moving with a pet? We have a guide that will walk you through the best ways to move them, too! Moving With Pets: A Complete Guide for Furry Friends in a Military Move
10. Complete All Your Out-Processing Paperwork
When you’re leaving an installation, you have to fill out a few forms. These will usually include questions on your new installation, who you’re traveling with, dependents, and if you have a spouse who is moving with you.
If you’ve wondered, “Will the military pay to move my spouse?” the answer is yes! Per diem rates cover spouses as well as military members and their dependents. You can find more information about your spouse’s per diem rates from the Per Diem Travel and Transportation Allowances Committee’s memo.
11. Register Your Vehicle At Your New Installation
Getting your vehicle registered ahead of time will save you time and hassle when you finally arrive at the gate.
12. Reserve a Hotel
If you’re going to need multiple days for travel, you should also book a hotel before your move. Your Transportation Office should let you know the exact timeline for your move, so you will be able to plan accordingly.
There’s a lot that goes into a military move. Whether your next PCS is coming up or you’re not due for another one for a couple years, it’s never too early to plan and prep for a big move. This checklist and information should give you a good basis on which you can successfully plan your next military move, no matter where you’re headed!