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How to Plan for a Happy Moving Day

After weeks or even months of waiting, it’s finally time to pack and move your stuff. Military OneSource is committed to making your PCS move as smooth as possible. Below is an overview of what you can expect during the actual moving days for a household goods shipment. The Personal Property Quick Reference Guide is also a great resource to give you a snapshot of the key responsibilities for both you and your transportation service provider, or TSP, during each step of the process.

Staying on top of COVID-19 updates during your move

Making a military move during a pandemic presents additional challenges. Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense COVID-19 updates for the military community, view the following sites:

Before the packers arrive

It’s important to make sure that you and your residence are ready for a flurry of activity. If you haven’t checked out some of these moving tips, now would be a great time. Being proactive about your move is the best way to make it as stress-free as possible.

A representative from the moving company or TSP will call or come by your residence to complete a Pre-Move Survey. During the survey, they will complete a weight estimation and annotate any special items that you identified when you arranged your move. If you are within a week of your scheduled move date and a survey has not been completed on your home, it’s highly recommended that you reach out to the TSP or your local transportation office for assistance.

Note: Anytime packers, movers, or other representatives assisting with your move are scheduled to be at your home, please ensure pets are secured in an area out of the way. This will allow for a more fluent process that does not create a distraction and provides for the safety of your pets.

Pro tip: Make your own inventory. Before the packers come, it’s recommended that you document any high-value and electronic items yourself. Make sure you document the make and serial number of each item, along with a photo or video of the item showing its condition. (If it’s a TV, appliance, or other electronic, a simple video showing it working can save you a headache later.) In addition to keeping your own record, make sure these details are also listed on the TSP’s inventory sheet for these items BEFORE the truck leaves your house. For more information, check out How to Inventory Your Belongings.

When shipping goods, it’s extremely important to try and prevent the spread of mold. Mold can cause health risks and can spread to other shipments that come in contact with it. Prior to your move, you must ensure your personal property is free of any visual signs of mold. Work with your TSP during packing and loading days to reduce any exposure that could result in mold. Then at delivery, your TSP is responsible for conducting remediation work for any mold that is discovered. Contact your local transportation office for more details.

Packing day(s)

Packing days are different from loading/moving days. During the packing phase, the TSP will send packers to your home to put all your items in boxes. You or your designated agent must be available between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on these days. The loading/moving phase includes the dates that movers put your household goods on the truck, with your final loading date usually being moving day.

The packers will contact you ahead of time to inform you they will be coming on the scheduled pack dates and within a specified time period. It’s critical that you’re available during this time. If for some reason the TSP fails to show, quickly notify your local transportation office and the TSP.

The packers will load just about anything and everything that they can fit into boxes during this portion, which can both be a blessing and a challenge. Make sure to separate anything that needs to travel with you before pack day, or you run the risk of those crucial items being packed and lost in the mix of the boxes.

Pro-Tip: Physically separate anything you plan to take/keep with you from the rest of your belongings. Put these items into a closet or your vehicle before the packers arrive. Clearly mark the area with a “Do Not Pack” sign.

If at any point something doesn’t feel right during the packing process, call your local transportation office and ask for assistance from an inspector or quality assurance personnel.

Loading and Moving day(s)

The truck has arrived, and it’s time for all of your household goods to be loaded. Remember, you or your designated agent must be available between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During loading/moving, the driver of the truck is usually in charge of the show. The driver is responsible for ensuring there is a crew and that everything is properly loaded onto the truck before departing. If you run into any issues during this phase, talk with the driver first and if they are unable to resolve the issue, don’t hesitate to call your local transportation office for help.

When they first arrive, the loading crew is required to put down some type of material (plastic, fabric, etc.) to protect your flooring, doorways and any tight corners. If damage is done to your residence, you have the option to file a Real Property Damage claim.

During packing and loading, the TSP will be creating an inventory of all your household items and will put colored numbered stickers on all the boxes and larger items such as couches and household appliances. On the inventory sheets, they will also be indicating whether or not there was any pre-existing damage to your household goods.

After everything is loaded on the truck, do a walkthrough with the driver to make sure everything is out of your residence and loaded up. This will ensure that nothing gets left behind. Ask the driver to provide his/her phone number so you can reach them if needed.

The last thing will be signing the inventory sheet. If you don’t agree with something on that form, make sure you annotate it in the remarks section BEFORE signing. Also, remember to keep your copy of the inventory sheets with you as you will need them during the delivery of your goods.

On the road

As you are traveling to your next destination, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and be available for the TSP driver and your moving coordinator. If your driver or your moving coordinator has any updates, they may try to contact you as they make their way to your next destination and it’s important you be available to answer any questions.

If you are doing a direct delivery move, you MUST arrive at the delivery destination before the driver. If the driver arrives at your new residence before you do they may have to put your items in storage, depending on their schedule. If you had planned for your items to go directly into storage, you have more flexibility with your arrival timing.

The TSP must provide a 24-hour notice before delivery. They will attempt to contact you twice, at least six hours apart. If they do not hear back from you within that 24-hour time frame, they may try to call the local transportation office and have your belongings placed in storage. Once your goods are in storage, it can sometimes take up to a few weeks to get them delivered again.

Pro-Tip: It’s a good idea to provide your TSP with an emergency contact in case the driver cannot get in touch with you during transit.

Delivery day

You or your designated agent must be available between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Before the truck is unloaded, you can expect to do a walk-through with the driver and the delivery crew to identify any pre-existing damage to the residence and to let them see the layout of the home to determine the best way to unload your household goods. As with your loading day, the delivery crew is required to put down some type of material to protect your flooring and any tight corners that may be in the residence as well.

Prior to the delivery crew offloading your household goods, they will give you the inventory sheets so you can check off the “numbers” to ensure everything is delivered. The use of bingo cards/check-off sheets is another way the crew can check off the numbers. These are only internal moving company documents. Do not let the delivery crew check off the numbers on the inventory sheet… this would not be in your best interest. As the boxes come off the truck, you should expect to direct them to a room in the residence on where that item should be placed. If you’ve got friends or family that can help during this phase, that’s always a bonus.

Once the truck is empty, you should verify on the inventory sheet that everything has been delivered. If not, annotate any missing items on the inventory sheet before you sign it. Also annotate any damage that may have occurred to the residence. Additionally, any items not received or that arrive damaged should be written on the Notification of Loss or Damage at Delivery form provided by the driver. Remember to keep your inventory sheets until your claims process is complete.

Unloading at destination includes the one-time laying of rugs and the one-time placement of furniture and like items in a room or dwelling designated by you or your representative. You also have a couple of options about how you want the delivery crew to unpack. Your mover can do a full unpack, where they empty all the items of the boxes in the specified rooms, or they can do a partial unpack and only open boxes in select areas. You can also have them reassemble any furniture that they took apart at the origin (beds, couches, etc.).

Clean up

Your moving company is not required to return and pick up any empty boxes after they’ve delivered everything to your new home. The movers are only responsible for hauling away empty boxes and packing materials when they’re finished delivering your belongings. If you ask them to come back to take your empty boxes and they agree to do it, that’s great. If possible, have everything piled up in one location to get this done quickly.

If you have questions or concerns at any time during the moving process, contact your local transportation office. For information about filing a loss or damage claim, review the article Filing a Claim After Your Military Shipment is Delivered.

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