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Preparing for Your PCS Move

There are several steps in the moving process that occur before packing even begins. Understanding what each step includes can help ensure a smooth transition. Your local transportation office can answer questions and provide assistance with all aspects of your move, from understanding entitlements and allowances to scheduling your shipments.

Step 1: Receiving assignment notification

While each service does this slightly differently, you are typically notified that you will be moving through an assignment notification process. This could be done through an email, a phone call or a notification from a supervisor. It’s important to understand that an assignment notification does not mean that you have “orders” yet. At this stage, it’s recommended that you start some of the preparation work, which may include looking at places to live at your new destination and getting yourself organized for the pending move. The one constant within the Department of Defense is change, so we caution you not to make any permanent decisions (i.e. home purchase) until you have orders in hand.

Here are a few things you can do while you wait for your official orders:

Step 2: Receiving your orders

In general, your moving process will start with the job/travel orders you receive from your service or agency. In your orders, information describing your rank, the duration of your job/training, and your assigned location will determine whether your entire dependent family can come, what you are allowed to bring, and how those items will arrive to your new location.

Your orders are an important document, so make sure everything is accurate. Verify the administrative details (your name, Social Security number, etc.) and make sure it has the correct duty station, dependent information and reporting dates. If you see anything that does not look right, let your administration know right away that there is an error so it can be corrected as soon as possible. If you have any questions, your local transportation office is the place to go for help deciphering your orders as they pertain to moving.

Understanding different types of assignments and destinations

PCS, or permanent change of station, is when you are assigned to a location for 20 weeks, regardless of whether your assignment pertains to training or a new job. In these circumstances, you should be allowed a full household goods move should you choose to take it.

TDY, or temporary duty, is when you are temporarily assigned to a new location for an extended period of time (over 31 days) but generally less than 20 weeks. For TDY, it is common that only a small subset of your household belongings will be able to travel with you to your new location.

CONUS moves start and end within the 48 contiguous states of the U.S. and District of Columbia

OCONUS moves are to or from Alaska and Hawaii, and international locations.

Note: First time movers, separating service members and retirees must contact their local transportation office before scheduling a move in DPS.

Step 3: Scheduling your move

Now that you have orders in hand, you get to choose how to ship your goods and schedule your move dates. You should contact your local transportation office to schedule an info/counseling session and learn what options there are for transporting your goods.

Using the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS

DPS is the online system you use to upload your orders and create shipment(s) (e.g. household goods, unaccompanied baggage, non-temporary storage, personally procured move, etc.). You can log in using a common access card, or CAC, or by obtaining a user ID and password before accessing DPS. Follow the instructions in the “New User Registration” tutorial in DPS when setting up your account. After that, follow the instructions in the “Create a Shipment” or “Create a PPM Shipment” tutorial.

When creating your shipment, you will select the packing and pickup dates. This will be a seven-day spread window starting with actual pickup date requested during your self-counseling or counseling session with your local personal property office. Learn more about the 7 Day Spread Window Policy.

Once your shipment application (DD Form 1299) has been created and submitted, the personal property processing office, or PPPO, will review and submit for routing and awarding to a transportation service provider, or TSP.

Note: First time movers, separating service members and retirees must contact their local transportation office before scheduling a move in DPS.

When you sign in to DPS you can expect to be asked a series of questions about your move. Make sure you are prepared to provide the following:

  • Your contact information
  • Estimated weight (use the weight estimator tool to help)
  • Pickup and delivery locations
  • Pickup and delivery dates
  • Special entitlement items (boat, guns, large electronics, etc.)
  • Estimated weight of professional books, papers and equipment, or PBP&E

Related Forms:

Choosing how to ship your goods and understanding move types

When scheduling your move, you will have some choices to make regarding how your belongings are shipped to your new destination. Remember, you can split up your total allowable weight into multiple shipments. For example, most service members doing a PCS CONUS move will have both a personally procured move, also known as a PPM or “do it yourself,” and a household goods, or HHG, shipment using a government-furnished moving company for the bulk of their belongings. If you have any questions, your local transportation office is the place to go for help figuring out how to break up your weight into various shipments.

HHG, or a household goods move, is a move completed by a government-furnished moving company, also called a transportation service provider, or TSP. During a HHG move, your TSP is responsible for packing all of your belongings and transporting them to your new location.

Approved for:
Permanent change of station, or PCS

Permanent change of station, or PCS

Note: If your HHG shipment includes storage-in-transit you may have the option to request the use of a container. Shipments in containers are dependent on what the moving and storage industry is able to provide at the time of your move. To learn more about shipments in containers, visit the Crating section of Frequently Asked Questions for PCS and Military Moves.

PPM, or a personally procured move, is a do-it-yourself move within the military. You will be responsible for either packing/unpacking and transporting your belongings to your new location yourself or hiring your own commercial moving company. You can use portable moving and storage containers, rental trucks, or any other method of your choosing to conduct a PPM.

PPMs are especially recommended for any irreplaceable valuables you own, such as family heirlooms, photos and important documents or for necessities you will need immediately at your new location while waiting for your transporter to arrive. To learn more about PPMs check out the PPM Factsheet.

As an incentive to move yourself, the government will pay you 100% of the government’s constructed “best value” cost to hire a moving company on your behalf or perform your own move. If you can move your belongings yourself for less money, you get to keep the difference. Remember, this money is considered an incentive and is based on the household goods weight you actually transport, not to exceed your authorized weight allowance. If necessary, for most branches of military service you can receive an advance payment of up to 60 percent of the incentive value.

If the government cannot arrange an HHG move within the timeframe you request, you may be authorized to do a PPM and in some cases receive reimbursement of the actual coast associated with hiring a commercial moving company if approved in advance by your military service or agency. Contact your local transportation office for more details.

Approved for:
Temporary Duty, or TDY
Permanent Change of Station, or PCS

Temporary Duty, or TDY

Note: There’s no incentive PPM for DOD civilians. Civilians are only authorized actual cost reimbursement for expenses incurred or the commuted rate based on the General Services Administration schedule.

Related Forms:

UB, or unaccompanied baggage, is an option for shipments where a small subset of your total weight allowance is expedited to your new location, typically while you wait for the rest of your belongings to arrive at a later date. UB shipments are approved for CONUS TDY and OCONUS TDY and PCS.

POV, or privately owned vehicle, shipment and storage is available for some moves. In general, if you are traveling overseas or outside of the contiguous United States the government may pay to ship one POV to your new duty station or store one POV during your OCONUS tour. You will need to make an appointment with the global POV contractor, International Auto Logistics, or IAL, and take it to a vehicle processing center, or VPC, for transportation to your new duty station or to a contracted storage facility. You can find global VPC locations, schedule your turn-in or drop-off appointment, and view POV shipping and storage documentation requirements on IAL’s website, PCSmyPOV.

Note: Some OCONUS countries do not allow POV transportation into the host country. Check with your local transportation office for country-specific restrictions. In these situations, you can store your POV at government or personal expense for the length of your OCONUS tour. Contact your local transportation office for storage authorizations and reimbursement options.

If you are a service member travelling within the 48 contiguous states, or CONUS, you can drive your vehicle to your new location or pay to ship one or more POVs at your own expense. The government will pay you a monetary allowance in lieu of transportation, or MALT, for mileage, fuel, tolls, and certain other expenses you encounter along the way. Be sure to save your receipts and tickets. In some cases, a service member may be allowed to ship a POV between CONUS duty stations if he or she is physically unable to drive or has insufficient time to drive and report to the new duty station as ordered.

If you’re a civilian employee changing duty stations within CONUS, you may be allowed to ship up to two POVs to your new duty location if the new CONUS destination is further than 600 miles away. There are other exceptions, so check with your servicing civilian personnel office or local transportation office if you have questions.

NTS, or non-temporary storage, is long-term storage of your belongings generally used instead of shipping your items to your new duty station. Expect the storage location to be located near the origin or pickup location where items may remain for the duration of your tour. When you return and have established a new address, you can request retrieval and shipment of your stored belongings. There may be restrictions on CONUS NTS, so be sure to contact your local transportation office if you have any questions. NTS is approved for CONUS PCS (exceptions may apply) and OCONUS PCS.

Note: For retirement: NTS may be authorized for 1 year beginning with retirement date, and may be extended for up to five years.

Note: For separation: NTS may be authorized for 180 days, and may be extend one time for an additional 180 days.

Related Forms:

For information about shipping special items such as boats, motorcycles, firearms, pro gear and more, review the entitlements moving guide or contact your local transportation office.

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