Moves Get Pricey: Know Your Benefits

Pile of credit cards and cash.

One of your biggest relocation challenges is managing the cost of your move. Remember, it's your responsibility to get the full value from your entitlements.

The first step in this process is to learn the basics about the 10 core relocation reimbursement programs. Then make a pre-move visit to the relocation manager in your family center for help estimating what each program will provide you.

After the meeting, enter the estimated amounts for each program on your relocation budget planner in Column B, the middle column box.

Dislocation Allowance (DLA)

What is it?

DLA is intended to help with miscellaneous moving costs. In general, it is paid once per PCS move. You can find more details about DLA on our Dislocation Allowance in a PCS Move page.

Available: OCONUS and CONUS

How is it figured? Dislocation allowances change every year, the current rate information can be found on the DoD Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee website.

Special note:

DLA is not available under the following four conditions:

  1. When home to your first duty station
  2. When assigned to government quarters without family members at a new duty station.
  3. When transferred to a new duty station, unless a local move of household goods has been pre-authorized.
  4. When separating or retiring from the military.

Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT)

What is it? The MALT is the amount paid when a member and/or the member's family drive to their new duty station, based on the Official Military Table of Distances.

Available: CONUS and OCONUS

How is it figured? MALT is paid at the rate of $0.16 a mile based on the official distance between duty stations. It does not matter how many travelers are in a vehicle. If you are authorized to use more than one vehicle for the PCS travel, the $0.18/mile is authorized for each vehicle.

Special note:

Approval is needed before MALT can be paid for more than 2 vehicles.

Move-In Housing Allowance (MIHA)

What is it? This allowance is designed to reimburse you for overseas costs associated with living in privately-owned or privately-leased quarters. It addresses three specific needs: one-time rent-related expenses, modification of homes for security protection and the initial cost of making a home habitable.

Available: OCONUS only.

How is it figured? Rates change with currency rates and location. See your base relocation manager.

Special note:

The State Department rules whether a location is a "high threat" area.

Per Diem Allowance

What is it? The Per Diem Allowance is designed to reimburse you and your family for the costs associated with meals and lodging when you travel to your new duty station.

Available: CONUS and OCONUS.

How is it figured? The military computes your per diem payment based on three factors - the number of travel days, the current CONUS standard per diem rate, and the ages of the travelers. The number of travel days is based on a standard 350 miles per day if you are traveling by Personally Owned Vehicle (POV). To determine the number of days per diem, take the Official Government Mileage between duty stations and divide by 350. An additional day of travel is allowed if the remainder is 51 miles or more.

The per diem rate is based on the current CONUS Standard Per Diem rate and varies by age. The current Standard Per Diem Rate can be found here.

Family members are entitled to a different percentage of the standard per diem rate based on their age as follows:

Service member

100% of the rate


75% of the rate

Children 12 and over

75% of the rate

Children under 12

50% of the rate

The total per diem reimbursement on your move is the sum of the allowable per diem for each family member.

The following sample family includes the servicemember, spouse, a thirteen year-old child and a six-year-old child. Note: The standard per diem rate for the following example is assumed to be $100.



Spouse (@75%)


Child over 12 (@ 75%)


Child under 12 (@ 50%)


Total per diem

= $300.00

Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA)

What is it? The TLA is designed to partly offset the cost of temporary housing and meals incurred while waiting for permanent lodging.

Available: OCONUS only.

How is it figured? TLA is figured according to a formula that factors in the member's pay grade, number of family members, actual quarters cost, the availability of cooking facilities and the local per diem rate.

Special Notes:

Start of TLA: The same date as the member's overseas housing allowance.

Duration of TLA: Usually a maximum of 60 days (when arriving) and 10 days (when departing). While you are drawing TLA you must actively be seeking permanent housing and verify that fact with your command every 15 days to continue drawing TLA.

For TLA, a single service member is entitled to up to 65 percent of either the cost of meals and incidental expenses or the local per diem rate. A service member and one family member are entitled to up to 100 percent of the local per diem rate. Add another 25 percent for each additional family member under 12 and 35 percent for each one 12 and over.Ask your family center relocation manager for help figuring the TLA for larger families.

See: PCS Spotlight--Temporary Lodging Allowances

Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE)

What is it? The TLE is designed to partly reimburse relocating members and families for the cost of meals and lodging incurred when temporary housing is needed

Available: CONUS only.

How is it figured? The TLE is figured according to a formula that factors in the member's pay grade, number of family members, actual quarters cost, availability of cooking facilities and the local per diem rate.

  • Maximum TLE rate: $290.00 per day.
  • Maximum time you can claim TLE: Up to 10 days for CONUS to CONUS moves. Up to 5 days for CONUS to OCONUS moves.

Special Note:

Ask your family center relocation manager for help figuring your TLE.

See: PCS Spotlight -Temporary Lodging Allowances

Advance Basic Pay

What is it? This is basically an interest-free loan you can get when you make a permanent change of station move. The collateral is your military salary. You normally repay advance basic pay in 12 equal installments.

Available: CONUS and OCONUS

How is it figured? You may draw up to three months' basic pay in advance, interest free.

How is it paid back? Normally, basic pay advances are paid back over a period of 12 months, starting a month after the allowance is drawn. However, regulations permit a 24-month pay-back period under certain conditions. Your base pay and finance office can provide details

Special Notes:

Advances are loans, and you have to pay them back. They are not "free money" and should not be spent on luxury, "nice to have" products, such as CD players.

Details on Advance pay.

Advance BAH:

Depending on your branch's service policy, you may be eligible for an advance on BAH to help defray the costs of moving into off-base housing. This advance must be approved by the Commanding Officer or other designated Officer, on a case-by-case basis and is limited to cost of renting or leasing housing. This advance cannot be used to defray the cost of purchasing a home.

Advance Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)

What is it? Advance OHA is an advance against any projected OHA to cover the difference between the cost of nonbase rental housing and the BAH. Except in unusual cases, advances are limited to 12 months' OHA,

Available: Outside the United States.

How is it figured? The OHA advance is based on your expenses, but normally shouldn't exceed one year's allowances.

Keep Up-to-Date for Your Next PCS

Get the inside information from those who know. Get PCS help and all the news and benefits information you need delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to now.

Story Continues