Moving truck in front of house

PCS: The Basics About Permanent Change of Station

A permanent change of station is part of the military life. Experiencing different parts of the country and the world is a unique benefit of military service. In fact, travel and visiting new cultures may have been among the reasons you joined the military.

More than 400,000 service members PCS annually, so you can expect PCS orders to be part of your military career. Here are tips and information to help you during your move.

Received PCS orders? Register at Move.mil now

All service members planning to use military resources during their PCS move must register with the Defense Personal Property System as soon as possible.

What your PCS orders include

Unlike temporary travel assignments, permanent change-of-station orders are a longer-term assignment, generally two to four years. Broadly speaking, your orders will tell you where you’ll be moving to – either “CONUS” or “OCONUS.”

  • CONUS: Moves inside the continental United States
  • OCONUS: Moves outside the continental U.S. These are typically overseas moves, but OCONUS moves also include Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories.

Your orders will also include:

  • An issue date
  • The issuer’s name
  • An order number
  • Authorized locations

You’ll need to reference each of these items when setting up your move. Refer to the “It’s Your Move” guide for detailed information on moving your household goods, or follow the steps below for general moving guidance.

Visit your local transportation office for help coordinating your PCS move

First, you’ll need to arrange for moving services. You can do this on your own through Move.mil if you’re using military moving services, or through civilian companies. If you have any questions, you can make an appointment with your local transportation office.

This transportation office can answer many of your questions. You can look up your installation transportation office online at MilitaryINSTALLATIONS or contact Military OneSource directly for help setting up an appointment and getting information on available resources.

How to use military moving resources for your PCS move

The military can assist you in moving your household goods by coordinating your move with teams of packers and movers. The U.S. Transportation Command facilitates the Department of Defense’s relationship with moving companies and storage providers for household goods.

If you want to coordinate your move using official Department of Defense infrastructure and support through USTRANSCOM, visit Move.mil and submit a move request in the Defense Personal Property System as soon as possible. There, you’ll also find a household goods weight estimator, do-it-yourself move estimator and service-specific guidance to help your planning.

After you submit your move request through Move.mil, stay in touch with your local transportation office for help throughout your move. They can:

  • Answer questions about entitlements,
  • Fix scheduling problems with your transportation service provider, and
  • Address any issues that pop up on your moving day.

Remember, while your leadership will do their best to give you ample time to coordinate your move, it is always best to act quickly once you receive your orders.

If you prefer to manage your move on your own, there is an option for you to do it yourself.

Personally procured moves for do-it-yourself movers

If you prefer, you may be able to choose a personally procured move. During this type of PCS move, you would coordinate the move of your household goods yourself without using any military moving services.

Organizing a PPM means that you’d be responsible for a lot of planning and communications that a military-coordinated move usually takes on, which could mean added stress and possible problems.

You are eligible for a PPM when you:

  • Have PCS orders,
  • A temporary duty assignment, or
  • Face separation or retirement or assignment to, from or between government quarters.

Military moves aren’t one or the other, though. You can use some military moving services and manage other parts of the move yourself.

OCONUS military moves outside the continental U.S.

Moving outside the continental U.S. can be the adventure of a lifetime, though these moves do involve more coordination and attention to detail. Remember:

  • If you’re taking your family, make sure their names are on your military orders. You’ll need a command sponsorship for an “accompanied” tour.
  • How much you can take depends on your rank and whether you have dependents.
  • The military won’t pay for you to move your pet, and there are other things you’ll need to take into account to bring your best fur friend along.
  • You can use the free Plan My Move online tool to create custom checklists and keep track your move’s logistics.

For more information, visit the OCONUS Moves section. And, you can reach out to Military OneSource directly for one-on-one moving help, wherever and whenever you need it.

What to do after your PCS move: Surveys, file a claim and sponsorship

After your move, make sure you fill out your customer satisfaction survey which gives department leaders the information they need to hold transportation service providers accountable and improve the movement process for all members of the military community.

If you need to file a claim after your move, use the DPS to begin the process. Move.mil provides a step-by-step tutorial to walk you through filing a claim.

Your new unit may assign you a sponsor who should contact you weeks in advance of your reporting date. Sponsors can help before, during and after your move to smooth the transition to your new home.

Let Military OneSource professionals or your installation Military and Family Support Center help you with relocation assistance referrals, housing, transportation and information on education and employment in your new location so you can focus on your exciting new adventure. Learn more about the moving benefits and resources available to you, talk to your friends for advice and reach out for assistance. You can also use the free Plan My Move online tool for customized moving checklists.