New PCS Orders, New Contacts

The PCS orders just arrived and it's time to get your military family packed and ready to go, which is never easy. Whether it's your first move or your 101st, it's a bit trying to move your family across the country. However, Military.com created a new PCS Guide to help your military family navigate through the relocation process.

We'll start with your branch of service. Depending on your service, the name of the government office which will handle your relocation varies:

Make a list of what you want to do, then you will know what you need.

Has instant email access become your drug of choice or can you go a few days on vacation without forwarding those cute little chain emails? Do you like to play games with a bit more memory requirement than solitaire? Are you uploading every picture and video you've ever taken into an online album?

We'll start with your branch of service. Depending on your service, the name of the government office which will handle your relocation varies:

  • The Department of Defense: Joint Personal Property Shipping Office
  • Air Force: Traffic Management Office
  • Army: Installation Transportation Office
  • Navy and Marine Corps: Personal Property Shipping Office
  • Coast Guard: Household Goods Shipping Office

These offices will put you in touch with personal property entitlement counselors who can advise you about the best way to go about your PCS.

Peak season for relocation is usually May through August. Most military families prefer to move during the summer months, as well as civilian families. This creates a shortage of drivers, movers, trucks, van lines and warehouse space. This added competition for service makes PCS-ing stressful for all.

As a result, it's best to plan and book shipments of household goods as far ahead of time as possible. In fact, many offices require 30 days from the scheduled appointment to set up a shipment. During non-peak time many shipments can often be scheduled within 10 days of counseling.

To ensure a successful move, be sure to provide the following information to your personal property entitlements counselor:

  • Alternative pack/pickup dates (just in case the dates you want are not available).
  • Accurate contact phone numbers.
  • In-route point of contact phone number/address.
  • Six legible copies of your orders (per shipment).
  • Proof of dependents, from your service record.
  • Dependent Entry Approval.
  • A Power of Attorney or Letter of Authorization notarized or countersigned by a commissioned officer, if someone other than you will sign documents on your behalf.
  • Information on prior shipments if household goods will need to be moved from a location other than your current residence.
  • The registration for any motorized vehicle, motorcycle, boat or trailer that is being shipped.
  • The make, caliber, and serial number of any firearm being shipped.
  • For a home of record move, in addition to the above, you will need to bring two copies of your enlistment contract or officer home of record papers, and two copies of every set of orders received up to the current duty station (this additional paperwork is required to correctly calculate the entitlement).

Generally, your moving needs will fall into one of the following categories (all topics are grouped in alphabetical order):

Battlefield Control Disconnection (BCD)/Other
If you separate from the service with other than an Honorable Discharge you must obtain a letter from your convening authority, which will get permission to move your dependents.

Continental United States (CONUS)
CONUS moves make up the majority of most relocations, and is usually done by the contract carrier assigned by the government by the member as a Do-It-Yourself (DITY) move, in some areas by Servicemember Arranged Move (SAM), or a combination of the above.

Deployment Storage
If deployed with a ship or squadron for 90 days or more, you (especially single and geographic bachelors) may be eligible to store household goods at government expense.

Do-It-Yourself Move (DITY)
If you volunteer to move yourself and meet all requirements, you're entitled to 95 percent of what it would cost the government to pay a government-contracted carrier. Most members can receive up to 60 percent of this amount in advance, to help cover the expenses of their move. Some restrictions apply.

Entitlements
Your moving entitlements depend in large measure on your orders and what is written in them.

Home of Record or Combination of Orders Move
This move involves shipment of household goods from a location other than within your current local area, or another area in the continental United States (CONUS) or overseas. It's the most complex move because of the paperwork involved.

Local Move
A door-to-door move within the local area, with no storage involved. The most common are in and out of government quarters.

Overseas Duty Orders

  • Shipment of household goods upon receipt of PCS orders. Must have 12 months or more remaining after the scheduled arrival of household goods.
  • An unaccompanied baggage shipment.
  • Long-term storage (non-temporary) for the length of the tour.
  • Shipment of household goods and/or unaccompanied baggage to a specified or designated location in the continental United States.
  • Shipment of a privately owned vehicle (POV), if permitted. Some overseas areas restrict shipment of POVs. If moving overseas, the personal property counselor will review these restrictions with you, depending on your destination.
  • Dependent entry approval is required for some overseas locations. Contact your local PPSO for more information.

Overseas Move
A move from a CONUS location to an overseas base, including Alaska and Hawaii, is considered an overseas move. Family member entry approval is required for some locations.

Permanent Change of Station Orders (PCS)

  • Shipment of household goods from the current duty station to the new duty station.
  • An unaccompanied baggage shipment.
  • Transfer of goods from long-term storage (non-temporary) to the new duty station.

Retiring from Service
If you're a retiring servicmember, you have one year to complete your final move. If you haven't made your home of selection, you're entitled to storage for one year at "origin" from date of retirement. If you have less than 18 years of service as of Nov. 1, 1981, your goods may be shipped anywhere within the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii. If you have retirement orders you may request extensions beyond the one-year limit for medical, training, educational or other deserving reasons.

When requesting an extension of shipment rights, you should contact the nearest moving company in person or by mail. You will need your retirement orders (with accounting data), your DD-214, documentation from school verifying commencement and a letter from your doctor showing your hospitalization or treatment. Note: You could be liable for all transportation costs arising from making more than one shipment.

Sea Duty Orders

  • Shipment of household goods to the new homeport.
  • An unaccompanied baggage shipment.
  • Placement of goods in long-term storage (non-temporary) for the length of the tour, or continuation of non-temporary storage.
  • Transfer of goods from long-term storage (non-temporary) to the new duty station.
  • Separating from Service.
  • Members separating from the service on a Voluntary Separation with Incentive (VSI) or a Special Separation Bonus.
  • (SSB) have the same entitlements as retirees. Members separating on the transition management program (TAMP) or separating involuntarily have the same entitlements as retirees.

Separation Orders
You have 180 days from the effective date of discharge to move personal property at government expense. If you're unsure of where they want to move, you can request up to 180 days of local storage.

If you live in government quarters and separate or retire, you may move locally out of the quarters (Local Move) and still have your shipping rights within the authorized time limit.

Unusual or Arduous Sea Duty Orders
Same as sea-duty orders, but make shipment of household goods and /or unaccompanied baggage to a specified or designated location within CONUS locations.

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