Spring is in the air, and that means peak Permanent Change of Station (PCS) season is fast approaching. If you are anticipating PCS orders coming in soon, it’s time to get ahead of the moving process. Part of that is understanding what your current PCS weight allowance is and how that coincides with moving your household across states or to an entirely different country.
Just like when you finally arrive at your new station, we’ve got a lot to unpack here. So let’s dive into the details of your current 2023 PCS weight allowance.
Learn More: Become knowledgeable about your PCS entitlements by reading 4 PCS Entitlements You Need To Know (2022 Edition)
What Is Your PCS Weight Allowance?
Your PCS weight allowance is how many pounds of household goods (HHG) you can receive reimbursement for and move across the country while also avoiding overweight fees. Your PCS orders will include your current rank, which also determines how much you can move to your new location on the U.S. government’s dime.
As your rank increases over time, your moving allowance also increases. Furthermore, if you have dependents, you will conveniently be listed under a slightly higher PCS weight allowance. As the government only pays for an allotted amount of pounds based on your rank, it’s recommended that you stay within your allowance to avoid additional charges after delivery.
Expert Tip: Did you know you can split your PCS weight allowance across multiple shipments? This can help you strategize your shipments to work more in your favor. Your local transportation office can answer any questions you may have and also help you divide your belongings into separate PCS shipments.
Contact your transportation office for help with:
- Special Circumstances
- Entitlements Questions
- Transporter or Moving-Day Issues
OCONUS PCS Weight Allowance
For an OCONUS PCS, you may have unaccompanied baggage (UB) as a part of your weight allowance. Conveniently, your UB is rushed to your new location to arrive just before you do, while the rest of your household belongings are sent with a normal wait time.
According to the Department of Defense (DoD), military members qualify for 2,000 lbs. of unaccompanied baggage per household. Depending on your circumstances, your UB weight may be calculated separately or included with your regular PCS weight allowance.
Suggested Read: If you are PCSing soon to another country, you’ll find the OCONUS PCS Move: An In-Depth Guide & 15 Expert Tips article helpful!
2023 PCS Allowance
Joint Federal Travel Regulations
PCS and NTS Weight Allowance (Pounds)
*Note 1 / Note 3
|Permanent Change of Station
(PCS) Without Dependents
|Permanent Change of Station
(PCS) With Dependents
|O-1/W-1/Service Academy Graduates||10,000||12,000|
|E-9||13,000 *Note 4||15,000 *Note 4|
|E-3 and Below||5,000||8,000|
|Service Academy Cadets/Midshipmen||350 *TDY Weight Allowance|
NOTE 1: This table includes Uniformed Service regulars, Reserve Component members and officers holding a temporary commission in the US Army/Air Force.
NOTE 2: For this table, a member “with dependents” is a member who has a dependent eligible to travel at Government expense incident to the member’s PCS. It’s important to note that if the military member’s dependent(s) have passed away or fewer dependents are traveling due to a divorce, those dependents will not be considered when calculating PCS weight allowance.
NOTE 3: A member appointed from an:
- Enlisted/warrant officer grade to a commissioned officer grade, or
- Enlisted grade to a warrant officer grade or rating is authorized the grade’s weight allowance:
- Held on the member’s PCS authorization/order effective date used for HHG transportation, or
- From which an appointment was accepted, whichever is greater.
- Upon reversion, the member is authorized the military weight allowance of the grade held:
- On the member’s PCS authorization/order effective date then being used for HHG transportation or
- Before reversion, whichever allowance is greater.
NOTE 4: A member selected as Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sergeant Major of the Army, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps or Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard is authorized a weight allowance of:
- 17,000 pounds with dependents or
- 14,000 pounds without dependents for a PCS authorization/order issued on or after receiving notice of receiving the position. This goes for the remainder of their military career.
As these standards can change at any time and vary due to position and rank, it is important to consult the appropriate military personnel for current and accurate figures.
Military Move Overweight Charges
If you go over your PCS weight allowance, it could take some time for the charges to catch up to you. Avoid getting a nasty surprise after you arrive at your new location by being diligent in ensuring your household goods shipment is not overweight. Remember, all overages will eventually be charged to you if you don’t stay under your weight allowance.
Expert Tip: When estimating the weight of your home, calculate 1,500 lbs. per room in addition to the weight of large appliances. You won’t want to get caught with pricey overages for your upcoming PCS move. As of August 2013, the minimum excess cost for going over your PCS weight allowance ranges anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars!
Use the Defense Travel Management Office’s tools to help you decide what type of move is best for your family, and calculate your PCS weight allowance for both CONUS and OCONUS moves. Some types of Personally Procured Moves (PPM) may mean you end up with extra cash in your pocket. By planning carefully, you can ensure your efforts to walk away with some extra cash are successful.
Related Read: Check out these Top 15 Apps For Your PCS Move!
PCS Move Tips
1. Donate Old Household Goods
One of the top tips that organization pros give is to get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year or two. This is especially true for military families! Don’t move unopened boxes from one PCS to the next.
Think about it. If you didn’t open a box at all after your last PCS, do you really need what is in there? You can donate or trash the contents to save room and funds. The Salvation Army or Vietnam Vets of America are great organizations to donate your extra goods to. If you didn’t need it in your previous home, you will be okay without it.
2. Don’t Pack Damaged Items
This includes items that are incomplete or waiting for repair. Yes, we’re looking at you—single socks, discolored sheets, broken bookshelf and threadbare towels! There are probably single-use kitchen gadgets that you can leave behind, too.
3. Take Photos of Your Household Belongings
There are a couple of reasons why you may want to take images of what you own. If shipped items arrive damaged or don’t arrive at all, you’ll have a record of their previous condition and existence. Furthermore, having a record of what you own can help you update your home inventory and hit the ground running come packing day.
4. Plan for a Mid-Month Move
Choosing to move in the middle of the month will give you the best chance to get the dates you choose. Times like late June and early July will be a real challenge, as they’re the busiest time of PCS season. Therefore, choosing a move date in the middle of the month can make the process more efficient for your household.
5. Separate Trash From Household Goods
Who wants to pay overweight fees for relocating a full trash can, old toilet brushes and molding shower curtains? Make sure there is no room for confusion between what’s going to the trash or the donation bin and what needs to be packed for the move. The movers will be focused on efficiency and may not necessarily differentiate between the two.
6. Don’t Assume All PCS Moves Are Equal
Not all PCS moves look the same, and they can vary greatly depending on if you are separating from active duty or moving to an overseas country.
Related Read: Learn about effective ways to Reduce the Stress of Moving Through Preparation.
Think of staying within your PCS weight allowance as the battle of the bulge for your household. Depending on where you are moving, it may make sense to sell large items if you are facing a long-distance move. You also want to be sure you understand the typical home size for your new neighborhood. Furniture and appliances that fit at your last station may not have a place in your new home. Be sure you know what will work in your new home before you ship anything.