Moving truck in front of house

PCS: The Basics About Permanent Change of Station

A permanent change of station is part of 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.

Received PCS orders?

Military OneSource moving experts can help you with moving tips, information about your new duty station and everything you need to master your PCS.

Overseas? OCONUS dialing options.

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:

  • Issue date
  • Issuer’s name
  • Order number
  • Authorized locations

If you are going to coordinate your move through the military, you will need to have this information handy.

Organizing your move

Moving is rarely simple, and in times of global uncertainty it is more important than ever to know the best ways to organize the logistics of your move and act fast once you get your orders. The Department of Defense provides a variety of resources to help make your PCS as easy and safe as possible:

  • Military OneSource is available 24/7 anywhere in the world with expert moving consultants and online tools and resources to help you get organized and settled. Call anytime to speak with a consultant, or set up an online chat. Learn more about how our experts can help you master your move with this information about moving in the military.
  • Move.mil is the official Department of Defense customer moving portal. It provides comprehensive information about all aspects of moving, including entitlements, household goods, privately-owned vehicles, weight estimators, scheduling your move and much more. If you want to coordinate your move through the DOD, register with Move.mil as soon as you receive your PCS orders. After you have registered your move, contact your local Household Goods/Transportation Office for further information. They can help you with questions about entitlements, scheduling and more.
  • Plan My Move is an online tool that helps you create custom checklists, access information about entitlements, benefits, points of contact at your new installation and more. Answer a couple of questions and you’re on your way to organizing your move.

Relocation assistance and resources

There are a variety of resources both online and through your installation to help you transition before, during and after your move:

  • Your installation’s Relocation Assistance Program is a great source of information and support for moving and getting settled at your new duty station. Relocation experts offer pre-departure briefings, newcomer orientations, and a wealth of information about job opportunities, child care and more. Find out how to put the military’s relocation assistance program to work for you.
  • The MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website provides comprehensive information about each military installation and the surrounding community. Search for programs and services, access information on temporary housing, check-in procedures, schools and more.
  • The military sponsorship program helps service members and families settle in after a PCS. This program is available to all service members and families no matter where you are moving to. Your unit will assign a service member of similar rank and family make-up to help you learn the ropes at your new duty station. Learn more about how sponsorship can help you settle into your new home.
  • And check out the Blog Brigade website to see what other service members have to say about moving.

Personally procured moves for do-it-yourself movers

If you prefer to organize your move yourself, you may be able to choose a personally procured move. You are eligible for a PPM when you have PCS orders, a temporary duty assignment, or face separation, retirement or assignment to, from or between government quarters.

During a PPM move, you coordinate the move of your household goods yourself without using any military moving services. This means that you are responsible for all the planning and communications that a military-coordinated move usually handles. Doing it all yourself can mean added stress and possible problems.

But military moves don’t have to be exclusively one or the other. You can use some military moving services and manage other parts of the move yourself. For more information, contact your installation Household Goods/Transportation Office or ask a Military OneSource moving expert.

Whether this is your first PCS or you’re a seasoned professional, let Military OneSource help you master your move so you can get on with your mission.

Installation Program Directory

Find programs and services at your local installation.