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Tips for a Smooth PCS Move

labeling household goods for PCS

We've all experienced a permanent change of station (PCS) move. The way that you plan and execute your move matters. Success, for the most part depends on a member's active participation at origin, and destination before pick-up, during the move and destination delivery. 

Communication with the transportation service provider (TSP), local agents and Personal Property Shipping Office (PPSO) counselors is essential.

May 15 through July 31 presents unique challenges for the moving industry, service members and their families, especially moves made during the peak of the peak (June 16 through July 4). During the busiest moving season, government moving service providers are stretched to capacity and often times are required to perform services with limited packing crews, trucks in short supply, and full storage facilities. However, each person can manage unforeseen changes in their moving plans by being informed, planning ahead, and remaining flexible. 

Before You Move:

Moving is stressful enough, but knowing what to expect during the move can calm anxieties. Before you make your move application plans or contact the local PPSO, go to www.move.mil, for updated information, customer information videos and articles, regarding shipping entitlements, claims, privately owned vehicles and much more. 

Counseling is the most critical part of a successful move. Customers must ensure they have all the information needed for a successful move. Having valid and updated contact information (telephone numbers, email, etc.) in Defense Personal Property System (DPS) is the key to a service member's successful move. 

Customers should book early, remain flexible in arranging their pack out or pick up dates, and try to schedule before or after the peak of the peak season, whenever possible. Initial pack out or pick up dates are your "desired" pack or pick up and is not confirmed until official orders are turned into the PPSO, and the moving company contacts the service member to conduct the pre-move survey, finalize the pack and pick up dates and establish the required delivery date (RDD).

The PPSO will inform the member of the desired delivery date (DDD) on the shipment application, during counseling. Remember, the DDD is only an estimate and the "actual" RDD is printed on the government bill of lading for the shipment. The moving company will provide the member with a copy of the bill of lading, either electronically or hardcopy, no later than the pickup date. 

If serving an accompanied tour, encourage your spouse to participate in the (self) counseling and pre-move survey process. After all, in most instances the spouse at home will be the one coordinating when the moving company shows up. Together, a sponsor and spouse are more likely to communicate all their moving needs. If a spouse or sponsor is unavailable to supervise the move, then the one available will be prepared to supervise the move in the event of an absence of either one. 

Members and their spouses should know about all moving documents they must receive, review, sign, and why these documents are important for a successful move. Both spouse and sponsor should know what actions to take in case of difficulty during a move and know their personal responsibilities in releasing and accepting shipments to the moving company.

Moving weight allowances are determined by the member's grade in accordance with applicable Joint Travel Regulation (JTR). Ultimately, members are responsible for keeping personal property items within their weight allowances. To avoid possible excess costs, take the time early in advance of the move date to estimate your shipment weight. You will then have sufficient time to dispose of personal things you no longer use to reduce your potential excess costs. Should you decide to keep all your household goods and possibly ship above your weight allowance, you need to budget to pay the excess cost, which can be quite substantive in most cases. 

To estimate the weight of household goods, start with the net weights of all shipments of your last move. Normally your shipment documents from your previous move will indicate the total weight shipped to your current duty station. Be sure to include all shipments at government expense still in storage, if applicable, as well as weights for any personally procured moves. Add weights for all household items you acquired since you last moved, such as furniture, hobby equipment, tools, books, collectables and electronics. 

Many service members are familiar with the "1,000-pounds-per-room" estimate. Unfortunately, families often forget to include rooms such as storage sheds, large closets, yards, garages, carports, basements, and other hidden areas. This is why it's best to start your move estimates with all weights from your last move, and then adjust for what you recently acquired. 

Remember, an estimate is simply that, a "best guess" estimate, of what you intend on shipping. It's not an official weight, until the movers provide an official shipment weight to the PPSO and a government bill of lading is created. If weights are close to maximum after packing, request an official reweigh through your DPS account or the servicing PPSO.

Another way to control your shipment weight is to estimate weight for the member's and spouse's professional books, papers and equipment (PBP&E) or professional gear (PRO-gear), if any. Service members and employees PRO-gear allowance is limited to 2,000 pounds (no waivers) maximum. An employee's PRO-gear is part of weight allowances for shipment purposes. Civilian spouses are not entitled a spousal pro-gear (S-PRO) shipment entitlement in accordance with the JTR. PRO-Gear are articles of household goods in a member's possession needed for the performance of official duties at the next or later destination. 

Some examples of PBP&E are: reference materials; equipment peculiar to technicians; mechanics; specialized clothing such as diving suits, astronaut' suits, flying suits and helmets, band uniforms, chaplains' vestments, and other specialized apparel not normal or usual uniform or clothing in the member's possession needed for the performance of official duties. 

The weight of military professional gear (M-PRO) is not counted against member's weight allowance but to be validated, sponsor must: a) Declare PRO-gear during counseling; b) Separate PRO-gear during packing by the movers, and c) Ensure movers weigh PRO-gear separately and clearly mark boxes as PRO-gear on the shipment inventory, before signing shipping documents. 

S-PRO is limited to a maximum of 500 pounds. S-PRO gear are those items for the spouse's professional employment, such as ombudsman, lawyer, doctor, nurse, teacher, chef or community support activities at the next destination. S-PRO does not include commercial products for sale/resale used in conducting business; sports equipment or offices; household or shop furniture and fixtures such as desks, cabinets, and racks etc.

Privately Owned Vehicle (POV):

By now, service members have heard through social media stories about POV delays. However, current trends indicate, contractor performance is better overall since inception. Be sure to get the proper counseling on POV shipment before going to the Vehicle Processing Center. Some destinations have restrictions on POVs or certain POV features. Consult your "It's Your Move" shipping responsibilities brochure for more information or visit the POV shipping contractor, International Auto Logistics (IAL) website at www.pcsmypov.com

If your POV is not delivered on the required delivery date, talk to a personal property shipping office counselor or visit IAL's website for POV tracking, claims information and claims processing on missed required delivery date of POV shipments.

Creating Your Move Application:

Contact your local personal property staff or "self-counsel" within DPS. If you plan to move soon and have your official permanent change of station orders, don't wait, get started now. DPS online is available 24/7 for you to initiate your moving application. Just go to the DPS website at www.move.mil/index.cfm. A user identification and password is required for self-counseling access. 

DPS has been extremely innovative in that it allows member to manage their move from origin pickup to destination delivery. Additional features of DPS are online claims functionality, frequently asked questions, and the customer satisfaction surveys (CSS).

Of course traditional appointments can still be coordinated with your local Personal Property Shipping Office. Make your move a stress free move this summer. 

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