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Your OCONUS Move: Planning, Resources and Tips

An overseas PCS requires lots of preparation. Fortunately, Military OneSource and the military Relocation Assistance Program have all the resources you and your family need to master your OCONUS move.

From finding housing to scheduling shipments, packing tips, financial readiness, the Exceptional Family Member Program, school liaisons, sponsorship and more — we have the overseas relocation support you need.

Planning an OCONUS move?

Learn how the Relocation Assistance Program can help you master your PCS.

Planning for your overseas PCS

Planning and preparation are key to any military mission. An OCONUS PCS move is no different. Planning is very important. Keep in mind that although you can start planning early, you will need orders to take certain actions. Here are some things to consider:

  • Command sponsorship — If you intend to take your family with you overseas, you’ll need to obtain command sponsorship. This designation, which will appear on your orders, ensures that your family will receive travel compensation, housing support and legal protection in your host country.
  • Moving resources and information — Moving resources can be accessed in one convenient location — on the Military OneSource PCS & Military Moves page. From moving guides and entitlement brochures to FAQs about shipping your personal property, you can find the answers to all of your moving questions. Start with this checklist for seven simple steps to make your move a smart move.
  • Moving logistics  Your local transportation office can help you set up the logistics for your move as soon as you receive PCS orders. The office can provide help with understanding entitlements and moving allowances, scheduling household goods shipments and any problems you may encounter with your moving company during packing, moving and delivery. For specific contact information, each service branch has its own customer service contacts for your military PCS.
  • Housing — Contact your new installation housing office to find out what housing will be available to you. They can also provide information about an Overseas Housing Allowance if installation housing is not available. Looking for a place to stay while you’re in transition? Find temporary lodging, at home and abroad, through Department of Defense Lodging. Also, HOMES.mil is a service that connects service members and their families with housing rentals located near military bases worldwide.
  • Finances  Even with the military picking up the tab for your travel and household goods, moving can be expensive. Contact the experts at your installation personal financial management services office for help with budget planning and determining relocation benefits eligibility. Make sure you prepare for any last minute surprises and keep detailed records of reimbursable expenses. Learn more about what to expect when living overseas on military pay, and take advantage of Military OneSource financial support services to help you stay fiscally fit.
  • Packing — Make sure you understand your moving entitlements and weight allowance, so you know what and how much you are allowed to bring. Make an inventory of all your belongings before the movers arrive and decide what you’ll really need. Don’t overpack. If you don’t need something, don’t bring it. Learn more about how to get your personal goods overseas, and remember, it can take a while for your household goods shipment to arrive. Check out these additional packing tips before you begin.
  • Benefits and resources for OCONUS moves — Review these OCONUS/overseas moves resources and  OCONUS/overseas moves benefits to ensure you are making the most of your relocation support. If you have questions or need more information, contact Military OneSource or your installation Relocation Assistance Program office.

Resources to ease your move overseas

Even if this isn’t your first OCONUS move, remember there are resources available to assist you. Take advantage of these resources to help you with your move:

  • Contact your installation Military and Family Support Center to talk to a relocation assistance service provider. They can offer comprehensive moving support, including one-on-one consultation as well as information and referrals to workshops, classes and other resources to meet your needs. Ask about newcomer programs — such as cultural offerings — to learn more about the language, customs and local community.
  • Request a military sponsor. The military sponsorship program is different from command sponsorship. A military sponsor helps you and your family settle into your new duty station, and can be especially helpful if you are moving to a new country. Your unit will assign you a sponsor, typically a service member of similar rank and family status, to help you learn the ropes at your new location. For more information, check out the Sponsorship and You: Sponsorship Awareness course, which is now available on MilLife Learning in Word format for those in slow internet areas.
  • Use Military OneSource, your 24/7 resource to help you with your overseas PCS move. With the online tools, courses and self-help resources to help you get organized, you’ll find everything you need to set yourself up for success. Individual assistance is also available. Call 800-342-9647 or schedule an online chat with one of our expert moving consultants.
  • Get organized. Use Plan My Move, Military OneSource’s online moving tool, to help you make smoother work of an overseas PCS. Answer a few simple questions, such as your current and new installation, and a few other questions about your situation and you’ll have customizable checklists of tasks to keep you organized and stay on target.
  • Check out MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online directory of information about U.S. military installations worldwide, where you’ll find detailed information about your new installation, contact information for programs and services and more. Learn how to explore your base and beyond with MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
  • Contact TRICARE to notify them of your move and discuss your options for health care at your new location.

Transitioning resources for your family

Your installation and Military OneSource have numerous support services for military spouses and children as well.

  • MilSpouse transition, education and employment support: MilSpouses can begin planning for the transition as soon as their service member receives orders. MilSpouses can search for job opportunities both on the installation and in the local community through the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities network. Personalized online career and education coaching is available for military spouses.
  • Military OneSource offers relocation support for OCONUS moves and transition through specialty consultations. Consultants can help you create an individualized action plan, provide planning and packing tips, provide financial counseling and connect you to resources and information on housing, child care, education, employment and more. Our consultants are available 24/7/365 to answer your questions and connect you to resources. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS calling options or schedule a live chat today.
  • Confidential, non-medical counseling: Military OneSource offers free, confidential non-medical counseling to discuss adjustment difficulties or ways to manage relocation stress. You can connect with a counselor 24/7 to schedule an appointment over the phone, in person, via secure online live chat or secure video sessions.
  • Peer-to-peer support: Moving to a foreign country can be both exciting and overwhelming. Military OneSource peer-to-peer support is available so that you — and your family members — can talk to someone who understands your experience.
  • Family members with special needs: If you have a family member with special needs, consultants with the EFMP – Exceptional Family Member Program  can help you make sure your family member’s needs are met during and after your move, especially if your exceptional family member will transfer to a new school. You can also check out the EFMP & Me online tool for information and support anytime, anywhere.
  • Resources for children: Children are resilient — and military children are more resilient than most. Still, it’s important to prepare them for the huge change of an overseas move. Read about ways you can help your children cope with moving, and reach out to your current and new installations to access children, youth and teens resources to help make your move a smooth transition for all.
  • For young children, Sesame Street for Military Families offers a variety of videos, worksheets and tips to help them manage the challenges of military life. Check out their relocation resources. For older children, the Military Kids Connect website offers a variety of moving resources including virtual tours. You can also connect your children with a youth sponsor by contacting your local school liaison or the youth center at your new installation.
  • School Liaison Program: If you’re looking for help with education questions, your local school liaison can connect you with the support you need. School liaisons are located at each installation and can help with transition support before and after a PCS. School liaisons can provide information on school districts and boundaries, assist with transfer of credits and class registration, help locate after-school and extracurricular programs, and set up tutoring and youth sponsorship referrals. They can also connect you to the Exceptional Family Member Program and your school’s special education department, as well as help you navigate your new school district’s special education program.

Learn more about what schools are available to children on military installations and visit the Department of Defense Education Activity website for more information about DODEA schools.

Tips to prepare for your new home and community

Living overseas gives military families a wonderful opportunity to experience the world as very few others can. Even the most seasoned travelers may experience surprises when moving to a new country. It may take some work, but with the right preparation you can have the adventure of a lifetime.

  • Prepare for a new culture: A new language, new food and different customs can take some getting used to. The Mango Languages application available from the DOD MWR Libraries offers online courses in more than 70 different languages and tips for adjusting to a new culture. Contact your installation Military and Family Support Center upon arrival to take advantage of newcomer programs. They will connect you to cultural awareness and opportunities to explore your local community.
  • Use translation services: Learn about translation and interpretation services available to you. Military OneSource offers 24-hour simultaneous language interpretations by phone in more than 150 languages. Find out more about document translation and interpretation services.
  • Settle in to your new installation: Need to contact a certain office but don’t know how? Check out MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, the DOD directory for more than 300 military installations worldwide. You will find information on the installation sand key offices with contact information, as well as photos and maps to help you get connected to your new installation and community.
  • Get to know your new community: Explore ways to lean on your military community to settle into your new home. Visit your Military and Family Support center or ask your sponsor.

Connect with Military OneSource for relocation support for your OCONUS move. Our consultants are available 24/7/365 to help answer your questions and connect you with the resources you need to master your move. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS calling options or schedule a live chat today.

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