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How to Get Your Household Goods Overseas

Fork lift carries wooden moving box

If your orders are taking you overseas, you may be focused on the new job, new culture and new opportunities that await you. As you plan your move, remember – the military has rules about the amount and type of items you are allowed to bring. Learn more about PCS entitlements and weight allowances to make sure you understand what and how much you are allowed to move.

Your local transportation office will talk you through your specific entitlements during your individual counseling session, but you can use the following tips to help get you started.

10 tips for moving your personal property 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 not to exceed 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. Don’t over pack. If you go over your allotted weight limit, you are responsible for paying the extra expenses incurred.
  5. Make sure to hand carry important documents like your orders, birth certificates, housing information, financial information, medication, phone charger, school or employment records, vehicle documentation or anything else that you or your family will need immediately. Do not pack these items with the rest of your belongings because they could get lost.
  6. Make sure to include as “unaccompanied baggage” things that you will need right away such as seasonal clothes, kitchen items and baby equipment.
  7. On packing day, make sure to set aside any important items you need to keep with you, such as car keys, important documents, etc. Put those items somewhere the movers do not have access to, such as your car, or a closet clearly marked as “Do Not Pack.”
  8. Household goods shipments can take weeks to months to be delivered, so be prepared to wait for your stuff. If you arrive at your destination before your belongings do, you can usually borrow basic items like pots and pans, utensils, coffee makers, etc. from your installation loan closet. Services vary by installation, so contact your Military and Family Support Center to see what loan closet services they offer.
  9. Learn more about shipping your car overseas. 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.
  10. It may be possible to ship your motorcycle or dirt bike to your final destination as a privately owned vehicle as part of your household goods shipment. Learn more about shipping motorcycles and dirt bikes overseas.

It’s never too early to start planning your move. For more tips, check out this short article on arranging a personal property shipment, or contact Military OneSource for relocation assistance. Consultants are available 24/7/365 to 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.

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