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How to Get Your Household Goods Overseas

If you’re moving overseas, you may be focused on the new job, new culture and new opportunities that await you abroad. As you pack up, remember – the military has strict weight limits on the amount of household goods you can ship overseas. So, you’ll want to carefully choose which items to pack and which to leave behind. If something is important to you, consider putting it in a long-term storage unit where it’s less likely to get damaged, broken or lost.

The weight limit for a military move spans from 350 to 18,000 pounds – an amount that varies based on your rank and dependent status. A moving allowance is provided to all enlisted personnel and officers. A privately owned vehicle is not part of the household goods weight allowance, but a service member on permanent change of station orders to a permanent duty station where a POV transportation is permitted may ship a POV overseas if authorized by the authorizing official or service regulations. If your orders do not specify that you can ship a POV, then you must leave it behind. POV storage may be authorized when POV transportation is not allowed.

10 tips for moving your personal goods overseas

  1. Items that you need to do your job, such as your professional books, papers, and equipment, do not count against the weight limit for your household goods shipment. Make sure you separate those items from the rest of your belongings, and clearly mark the boxes in which they are contained.
  2. The service member may request that professional books, papers and equipment belonging to his or her spouse be shipped at government expense on a PCS move. If approved, the weight limit is 500 pounds for your spouse’s belongings.
  3. Begin weighing your items to determine if the belongings you plan to move fall within the weight limit long before you are expected to move. Each room potentially has enough items to roughly equal 1,000 pounds.
  4. Pack conservatively. If you go over your allotted weight limit, you are liable for the extra expense incurred.
  5. Do not pack important documents like your birth certificate, housing information, financial information, medication, orders, phone charger, school or employment records, vehicle documentation or anything else that you or your family will need immediately. Carry these items with you so that they don’t get lost.
  6. There are things that you will want right away such as seasonal clothes, kitchen items and baby equipment. Include these in “unaccompanied” baggage.
  7. Do not leave important items you need to keep with you in the house on moving day. The movers will not know they are important and will likely pack them in a box. Instead, put those items in your car or someplace where the movers do not have access to them.
  8. The wait time for your belongings to arrive can be weeks to months. If you find yourself in another country and in need of basic items like a frying pan and utensils, then you can borrow those items from your military installation’s loan closet (if the location has a lending closet – varies by location).
  9. It may be possible to ship your motorcycle or dirt bike to your final destination as a POV shipment or as part of your household goods shipment; providing that it is a reasonable size and can fit into a moving van. The military determines whether it is in the government’s best interest for you to have a vehicle while you are overseas.
  10. Different host countries have different requirements for foreign vehicles, so check ahead to see if your vehicle meets those requirements or if the country has a restriction against foreign vehicles. If so, then your vehicle could get tied up in that country’s lengthy “unauthorized shipment” process.

Don’t wait to plan this next chapter. Call Military OneSource today for relocation assistance as well as online tools and personalized support that will help you master your move.

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