Moving truck in front of house

PCS: The Basics About Permanent Change of Station

One of the benefits of military life is the unique opportunity to experience life in different parts of the country and the world. A permanent change of station, or PCS, is a fact of life in the military. Receiving PCS orders to move transfer to a new duty station will happen at some point during your military career.

A PCS is an invitation to a new adventure — where you have the chance to experience diverse cultures and environments. With the help of your installation’s Military and Family Support Center relocation assistance specialists, you can seize the opportunity and master your move with these basics.

Understanding your PCS

Unlike temporary travel assignments, permanent change of station is a longer-term assignment, generally two to four years. Moves inside the continental United States are known as CONUS moves and moves outside the continental U.S. are known as OCONUS. These are typically overseas moves, but OCONUS also includes Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories.

The military can assist you in managing your household goods move through teams of packers and movers. Your household goods typically are moved via a government carrier. Learn more about the benefits available to military families on the move.

Planning a PCS? We can help.

Planning for a permanent change of station can be stressful – create a task list that is tailored to your unique situation.

Do-it-yourself or DITY moves

If you prefer, you may be able to choose a personally procured move, or PPM – also known as do-it-yourself, or DITY move.

  • The DITY process can be complicated but can save you money. You can move your household goods yourself and collect an incentive payment of up to 95 percent of the government's estimate to move them.
  • You can do a personally procured move when you have PCS orders; a temporary duty assignment; face separation or retirement or assignment to, from or between government quarters.
  • You can choose a "partial DITY." This reimburses you for moving some of your own items while allowing military-hired movers to do the rest.

Refer to the “It’s Your Move” guide for detailed information on personally procured moves.

For moves outside the continental U.S.

Moving outside the continental U.S. can be the adventure of a lifetime. These moves do tend to involve more logistics. 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 little buddy along.

For more information, visit the OCONUS Moves section of Military OneSource.

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.