PCS Military Moving Guide
Military PCS moves
According to Business Insider, more than one million soldiers actively serve our country at 158 installations worldwide. For military personnel and their families, it’s no secret that being in the United States Armed Forces requires frequent moves from one base to another. And whether you’re a longtime service member, or recently new, you may have a lot of questions about your upcoming PCS. This guide will help answer those questions, and provide some tips that will hopefully make this transition less stressful, and an experience you and your family can look forward to.
What is a PCS move?
A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is an authorized relocation of a service member, along with their spouse and children. PCS orders are issued for members who are:
- New and being transferred to his/her first assignment site
- Active duty and being transferred from one station to another
- Active duty and being transferred from their final duty station to home due to retirement or discharge
Military PCS orders are given when your new base is more than 50 miles away from your current one. And because it’s required to accept orders, the government pays most expenses associated with the move.
Although you don't have a say in where you’re placed, you do have a few options as to how you’ll get there. Talk with your base’s Transportation Management Office (TMO) about these different PCS moves:
Government move. This is a full-service option meaning the government takes care of your entire move from start to finish. Your household goods (HHG) shipment will be arranged by your installation’s TMO, transferred by the military’s carrier of choice, and then paid for directly by the Department of Defense (DoD).
PPM move. A Personally Procured Move (PPM) or “DITY” (Do-It-Yourself) move means you take care of the entire process. If this option interests you, start by filling out an application (ask your TMO for more information). Once it’s approved, execute a PPM by using a rental truck, your own vehicle (or a borrowed one), or a hybrid solution where you do the packing/loading and a moving company does the driving — like U-Pack®. And while it does require a little extra work, if your overall expenses are less than 95 percent of your moving allowance, you get to pocket the remaining cash.
Partial move. Also referred to as a combination move, this option lets you ship a certain amount of your household goods via the government and the rest as a PPM. In this scenario, the weight allowance is split between the government move and PPM. To be refunded for the DITY side, keep all receipts and government paperwork and don’t exceed the allotted budget.
What to do when you receive military orders
The first thing to do after obtaining permanent change of station orders is to meet with your base’s TMO. Depending on your branch, this office will have a different name:
- In the Department of Defense — the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office
- In the Air Force — the Traffic Management Office
- In the Army — the Installation Transportation Office
- In the Navy and Marines — the Personal Property Shipping Office
- In the Coast Guard — the Household Goods Shipping Office
During counseling, you can discuss how much your allowance will be based on rank and dependent status, as well as which moving option (government, PPM or partial) is best for your situation. Once you’ve decided which route to take, start planning your move with this PCS military checklist.
How a PPM with U-Pack works
If you decide on a PPM, consider using U-Pack.
As a self-moving service, you pack and load your items into the moving equipment, and then we’ll transport it to your new location anywhere within the continental U.S. (including Hawaii and Alaska), plus Puerto Rico or Canada. This way you can enjoy the convenience of traveling to your new home however you want.
What makes U-Pack great for a PPM? We charge according to how much space is used in our moving trailer (down to a 5 ft. minimum) or the number of ReloCubes® filled. That means if you use less space, you get to keep the money! With prices comparable to rental trucks and the perk of not having to drive, U-Pack is truly the ideal way to do a PPM.
Certified Weight Tickets
You’ll need certified weight tickets in order to be reimbursed for your PPM move. Though we don’t charge by weight, we know how crucial it is for military members to receive accurate weight tickets. So, before we bring any moving equipment to you, we’ll weigh it empty on certified scales. Once it’s loaded, we’ll weigh it again full. To make sure this gets done efficiently, we assign a military specialist to each military move requiring weight tickets. They work to ensure your equipment is weighed and that you get the right amount of weight tickets (whether it be two or three) to be properly reimbursed.
Advantages of a U-Pack PPM
Besides getting to keep the remaining cash from your moving allowance and not having to drive a bulky rental truck, there are some other advantages to a PPM with U-Pack:
Complete control. Packing and loading your belongings safe and secure and choosing a moving date that conveniently fits your schedule puts you in control of your move. And don’t forget that we’ll assign a military specialist to send you all the necessary forms to fill out and keep track of weight tickets.
Fast transit times. Military orders sometimes require you to report to duty ASAP. So that you won’t have to do without bedding, clothing and cookware for long, U-Pack transit times are quick. We average:
- 2-5 business days to locations within the contiguous states
- 7-15 business days to Alaska
- 7-13 business days to Hawaii, plus 1-3 additional days to the other islands
- 5-7 business days to Canada
- 9-15 business days to Puerto Rico
In some cases, you may need guaranteed transit. This service does cost a little more, but it allows you to choose the exact day your belongings will arrive. Call a U-Pack consultant at 800-413-4799 for more information.
Available storage. If you have to make a quick move and haven’t found housing yet, U-Pack can provide long-term storage. Just pack everything directly into the moving equipment, and it will stay there until you call us for delivery.
No co-mingling. Many times, government carriers will co-mingle (or mix together) belongings from multiple households. With U-Pack, yours is the only household shipment loaded into the moving equipment.
Military discounts. We also offer PCS moving discounts to help you save even more money! Just ask about them when booking your move.
Tips for your permanent change of station move
- Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your move — start early and get organized. Create a folder to keep important documents and receipts from moving expenses safe. And then begin packing! Start with items rarely used, like movies, books and décor.
- Gather moving supplies. To ensure your most precious belongings are transported safely, you’ll want to pack them in sturdy, reliable boxes. Check out our U-Pack box store for a variety of moving supplies to choose from, and receive FREE shipping on all orders.
- Purge items. Sell, trash or donate any items you no longer want or need. Not only will this keep you from packing unnecessary stuff, but it can also save you money if you’re doing a PPM. Be sure to look at our U-Pack Do-Not-Ship list to see which items you’ll need to get rid of before your move.
- Label boxes. Unloading the moving truck is much easier with labeled boxes. Not having to open each box to figure out which room it goes to is a definite time saver.
Completing a successful PCS move
When meeting with your TMO, it's a good idea to explore all your options. If a PPM sounds like the best way to go, try U-Pack! Get a free online moving quote or call a helpful representative at 800-413-4799 to see how much your PCS move will cost.
Do you have additional questions about your specific permanent change of station? Leave a comment below, and we’ll answer right away — it’s a privilege to help serve our men and women in uniform!