When it comes to military moves, there are two types of people— the planning type or the spontaneous type. If you like to plan your moves, you’ve probably already been checking your schedule and assigning dates to prepare for your next military move.
No matter which side of the spectrum you fall on, we’ve got the complete scoop on the often-complicated process of military moves. One thing for sure is that military moves are not something you can just “do” without a solid plan in place.
If you’ve always found yourself unprepared for your military move, we’re here to help! Let’s dive into our military move checklist.
- Does the Military Help You Move?
- What Is a Permanent Change of Station Military Move?
- What Is a Temporary Duty Military Move?
- Types of Military Move Strategies
- The Military Moving Processes
- Military Move Checklist
Does the Military Help You Move?
Yes! Thankfully, the military will help you and your family with your move. Especially with how often some military members have to change stations, this is a significant benefit. There are a ton of ways the military provides assistance during a permanent change of station (PCS) and Temporary Duty (TDY) moves, which we will learn more about below.
In fact, the military provides allowances and reimbursements for several aspects related to moving. These benefits are often referred to as “entitlements,” as service members are entitled to receive compensation for the sacrifices they must make when moving for the military.
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 to help you cover various moving-related costs. These entitlements also include per diem, in lieu of transportation, dislocation and temporary lodging allowances.
What is a PCS Military Move?
Whether you have just entered the military or you are receiving your first moving orders, you might be a little confused about what a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) entails. A PCS is an assignment or appointment of military personnel to a new installation for a considerable period of time, usually between one to four years.
A PCS could be CONUS (inside the continental U.S.) or OCONUS (outside the continental U.S.), meaning you could be called to move just a few states away or to the other side of the world! As you can imagine, this opens up many doors of adventure and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for military members.
The level of monetary assistance you receive for your move will depend on how long you will be gone and how far away you are moving. Late spring into early summer is generally considered peak PCS season, so you can expect to receive your next PCS orders just before that time!
What is a TDY Military Move?
A Temporary Duty Move (TDY), also referred to as a Temporary Duty Assignment (TDA), is when a government employee or military member is requested to travel to another installation for a short period of time. This time can greatly range from just a couple of days to a few months at a time, depending on the assignment and what you’re needed for.
Think of a TDY as more of a business trip rather than a full-on move. Though if you get a TDY request that’s on the other side of the country and lasts for several months, it can certainly feel more like a complete move than a short trip. Conveniently for a TDY, you will still be reimbursed for travel, lodging and meal expenses.
Types of Military Move Strategies
The government gives military personnel choices when it comes to how you can choose to move your household from one installation to the next. From having the military take care of everything for you to choosing to save some money and doing it yourself, you’ve got options!
Government PCS Move
When PCSing, you can choose how much you want the government to help you with your move. By selecting the full government PCS route, you are electing for the military to plan, pack, transport and unpack your household. The best part is that they pay for the process as well!
If you decide to do a government 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 expertly-trained customer service agents to 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 pack up your household and ship your items. Since they are the professionals, it should only take them a couple of days to get everything packed up and ready to go.
Your military-assigned TSP will load everything into a moving truck, and they will hold onto your household goods until you’re ready for them at the new place. Once you arrive at your new home, you can expect the movers to do everything from unloading your items to unpacking them and placing them where they belong.
The good thing about using a TSP is that they are usually liable for any damages that occur during the loading, moving and unloading process!
Want more information about your next installation? Visit MyBaseGuide.
DITY Move (or PPM Move)
A Do-It-Yourself (DITY) or Personally Procured Move (PPM) is not for everyone. In a DITY military move, you are not assigned a TSP, as you are agreeing to pack, load, move and unload your items yourself. With this type of move, you can still receive some reimbursement for the move.
The good thing about a DITY move is that you are still reimbursed for moving expenses for the same amount as if you were making a traditional PCS military move. Keep receipts for the expenses, such as the moving truck and miles traveled, for a chance of getting some of that money back. 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 before and after you pack it up 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 aforementioned types of military moves. With a partial DITY, you will get to determine exactly what goods the TSP will move for you and what you will 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. This way, you can receive the full and correct reimbursement amount.
Whatever you don’t pack and move on your own vehicle will be conveniently handled by a military-assigned TSP. As you can imagine, 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 part of the moving process.
The Military Moving Processes
When it comes to your next military move, you’re going to want to know what you will face along the way. By familiarizing yourself with these processes, you will be able to dodge any potential curveballs when you go to fill out forms and paperwork for your PCS or TDY military move.
DPS Military Move
The Defense Personal Property System (DPS) was introduced in 2012 as a way to make the military moving process a little more straightforward for those embarking on a PCS adventure. This is where you can access almost everything related to your military move.
It’s a good idea to go ahead and make an account on the DPS site before you even receive orders. This way, you’ll always be ahead of the game! Here, you can get in contact with real humans, thank goodness, to ask them questions about the process, access vital information and moving-related articles, schedule your military move and track your shipment(s).
You can’t move to your next installation without all of your items! Household Goods (HHG) move simply refers to your items being packed up and transported to your new installation. To begin the HHG process, you will need to begin by filling out the DD Form 1299, also known as the Application for Shipment and/or Storage of Personal Property.
This form will help you launch the move and coordinate with your military-assigned TSP for packing, loading, transporting and unloading your HHG at your next home.
An Unaccompanied Baggage (UB) PCS is for those military members embarking on a long-distance OCONUS move. UB is a small percentage of your household goods that the military allows you to send to your new installation ahead of your arrival via air express travel.
You’ll only be able to send up to 2,000 lbs. as UB; however, your final number will depend on what your initial military weight allowance is. So, choose wisely regarding what you want to be there already once you arrive at your OCONUS installation.
POV Shipment and Storage
Unless you walk everywhere you go, you probably have one or two vehicles in your driveway that will also need to be transported or driven to your next home. The U.S. Transportation Command has a ton of great information regarding your Privately Owned Vehicle (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
It’s important to note that, in cases where government-procured storage is not available, the military will reimburse you for any incurred storage expenses.
For those that have received PCS orders and have to move inside of the continental United States, there’s good news! In some instances, you don’t have to drive your vehicle across the country if you don’t want to. You can have your vehicle shipped across the United States if you are a service member who cannot physically drive or if you do not have time to drive and report to the PDS on time.
Whether your HHG outweighs your assigned weight allowance or you need to temporarily downsize as you head overseas, there are many reasons you may choose military Non-Temporary Storage (NTS). Military NTS is a long-term solution for those who need to store their household goods as they PCS to another location, whether that be CONUS or OCONUS.
You can expect your NTS to be located close to your original installation since the point of storing your items is not to have to move them to the new installation.
Depending on your circumstances, the government will decide whether to pay for your NTS or if you should be responsible for that bill. Here are some non-temporary storage regulations in which you might be eligible to have your NTS paid for:
Military NTS Criteria
- 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 newly appointed living space
- The storage of an item or items is in the best interest of the government
If you do need to put anything into NTS, make sure to keep your TSP updated with your current phone number, address, or new orders. You’ll need to complete the Department of Defense’s (DOD) DD Form 1299 to apply for NTS!
Military Move Checklist
Sometimes we just need someone to tell us where to start! To help you take the right first steps in your military move, we’ve compiled a comprehensive military move checklist. By following these straightforward steps, you’ll be on the right path to moving to your new installation!
1. Talk To Your Family About Your Move
Before you make any decisions, speak about your military move with your family. Especially if you have a spouse or children, they’ll want to know what is in store for their future and be involved in the decision-making process.
Children may need time to mentally adjust to the news. After all, this means they will be uprooted from their friends and comfort zone with the expectation of adjusting to a new area. Your spouse may also need your help wrapping their brain around what this new life will look like for them regarding their career.
Depending on your family’s dynamic, breaking the news can be devastating or exciting. So, knowing how to approach each member of your family and what you can do to nurture them through the adjustment is essential to launching a stress-free PCS move.
2. Inform Your Local Transportation Office
Make an appointment with your installation’s Transportation Office as soon as you can. This professional will be a pivotal resource for you as they can 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. This will help you begin to gauge how much it’ll cost you to actually live at your new installation. MyBaseGuide is a great resource for checking out military-trusted businesses, schools, places to eat, and other activities on and around the base.
4. Catalog Your HHG
Taking note of every household good sounds overwhelming, but it’s imperative. Especially if you’re not doing a DITY move, you’ll want to document what movers are packing, loading, transporting and unloading for you.
Write down all of your household items and take pictures of anything that’s expensive, fragile or important. This will protect you in case items show up damaged or if they don’t show up at all! While it’s unlikely anything will go wrong, you will want to be prepared if an issue arises on the off-chance.
5. Let Your Landlord Know
If you are currently renting, you may have orders to break a lease due to your PCS. Thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (Protection No. 5), landlords cannot retaliate against military members for breaking a lease due to military orders.
Just because you’re protected in this manner doesn’t mean landlords do not deserve a heads-up, though. 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 to give the property owner plenty of notice.
More Like This: What To Do When Your Tenant Has Military Orders to Break Lease?
6. Update Your Passport & Visa
You don’t want to be caught at the airport with an out-of-date passport! It’s crucial to ensure these documents are updated and ready to go if you have to report to your new installation by a specific date and time. The military will pay for your transportation, but they are unlikely to fund a second flight if you miss your first one due to expired documents.
7. Compile a Moving Kit
Anything you will want with you and handy throughout your military moving process should go in your moving kit. This should include important documents, licenses, medications, payment methods and keys; really, it’s anything you will want to access within your first week at your new station. Having these essentials together and accounted for will prevent them from getting lost in the shuffle or accidentally packed away with items that will be arriving much later.
8. Set Up a Budget & Save Up
Even if you’re making 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, having extra funds will be a relief if any unexpected expenses arise.
9. Gather Important Records
Contact your healthcare provider for copies of your medical records and those of your spouse and children, including vaccinations, prescriptions, and prior health issues. If you have kids, get in contact with the school to ensure you have any education-related documentation needed before you move.
For any pets, you’ll also want to reach out to your vet to get copies of their health records and any medications they may need.
10. Don’t Forget Your Pet’s Information
For those moving overseas, check in with the pet travel requirements of the country or state you will be entering. For example, Hawaii is renowned for having strenuous expectations when it comes to incoming animals.
These islands do not have rabies, among other animal-related illnesses, they require all pets to be vaccinated and quarantined for at least two weeks ahead of time to ensure they aren’t bringing in unwanted diseases.
So, ensuring your pet has all of the necessary vaccinations, medications, and credentials needed is essential to ensure they are allowed to come with you.
Are you moving with a pet? We have a Moving With Pets Guide that will walk you through the best ways to move them, too!
11. Complete All Out-Processing Paperwork
When you’re leaving an installation, you have to fill out a few forms to ensure the military is updated on the specifics of your move. These forms will usually include questions about your next installation, who you’re traveling with, dependents and if you have a spouse who is moving with you.
12. Register Your Vehicle
Getting your vehicle registered ahead of time will save you time and hassle when you finally arrive at the gate of your new installation. While you’re at it, you’ll want to provide your new station with details about your children and spouse, so they are also allowed on base once you arrive.
Sure, you can do all of this once you arrive. However, having it all taken care of ahead of time will make entering the installation for you and your family a stress-free and seamless process.
13. Reserve a Hotel
Will it take you more than just a few hours to arrive at your new location? If so, you may want to consider booking a hotel or Airbnb at the midpoint of your travels. Your Transportation Office should let you know the exact timeline for your move, so you will be able to plan accordingly and have your stay covered by the military!
The Key is Preparation
If you didn’t notice while reading, the key to a stress-free and smooth PCS military move is to come to the table prepared. It’s no secret that 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 few years, it’s never too early to plan for a big move.
As you begin the planning process, check our AHRN to research military housing near your next installation. It is our mission to connect military members with efficient and high-quality housing options, so you can’t go wrong with our tailored options!