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PCS: The Basics About Permanent Change of Station

Each year more than 400,000 service members make a permanent change of station. As a service or family member, you probably expect a permanent change of station to be part of your military life. In this article we break down what you need to know about PCS.

Received PCS orders?

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What your PCS orders include

Unlike temporary duty assignments, permanent change of station orders are a longer-term assignment, generally two to four years. Broadly speaking, your orders will tell you where you’ll be moving to – either CONUS or OCONUS.

  • CONUS: Inside the continental United States
  • OCONUS: Outside the continental U.S. Includes Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories.

Your orders include important information related to your authorizations and entitlements. You will need a copy of your orders to coordinate your military move.

Organizing your move

Moving can be a challenge, and in times of global uncertainty it is more important than ever to know the best ways to organize the logistics of your move and act fast once you get your orders. The Defense Department provides a variety of resources to help make your PCS as easy and safe as possible:

  • The Military OneSource Moving Your Personal Property page offers all of your personal property resources and information in one convenient location. This includes resources from the former Move.mil website such as:
  • Plan My Move is an online tool that helps you create, organize and manage your PCS through customized checklists, so you can stay on top of important to-dos as you go through the moving process. Answer a couple of questions and you’re on your way to building your custom checklist.
  • Military OneSource is available 24/7 anywhere in the world with expert moving consultants and online tools and resources to help you get organized and settled. Call anytime to speak with a consultant, or set up an online chat. Learn more about arranging a personal property shipment and find out how our experts can help you master your PCS.

Relocation assistance and resources

There are a variety of resources both online and through your installation to help you transition before, during and after your move:

  • Your installation’s Relocation Assistance Program is a great source of information and support for moving and getting settled at your new duty station. Relocation experts offer pre-departure briefings, newcomer orientations, and information about job opportunities, child care, school liaisons and more. Connect early in your PCS planning to make the most of the resources provided by your local relocation assistance program.
  • The MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website provides comprehensive information about military installations worldwide. Search for programs and services, access information on temporary housing, check-in procedures, schools, surrounding community, contact information and more. Learn how to explore your base and beyond with MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
  • Your military sponsor is someone from your unit who is assigned to assist you throughout your PCS. Typically, your unit will assign a service member of similar rank and family make-up to help you learn the ropes at your new duty station. Learn more about the benefits of sponsorship in the short Sponsorship and You course available on MilLife Learning.
  • The Blog Brigade website offers insider moving tips and military life insights from other service members and spouses.

Personally procured moves for do-it-yourself movers

If you prefer to organize your move yourself, you may be able to choose a personally procured move, or PPM. You are eligible for a PPM when you have PCS orders, a temporary duty assignment, or face separation, retirement or assignment to, from or between government quarters.

During a PPM, you coordinate the move of your household goods yourself without using any military moving services. This means that you are responsible for all the planning and communications that a military-coordinated move usually handles. Doing it all yourself can mean added stress and possible problems.

But military moves don’t have to be exclusively one or the other. You can use some military moving services and manage other parts of the move yourself. For more information, contact your local transportation office or ask a Military OneSource moving expert.

Whether this is your first PCS or you’re a seasoned professional, let Military OneSource help you master your move so you can get on with your mission.

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