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Army PCS Moving Basics

“We have orders!”

If you’re at a duty station you hate, those may be the sweetest words you’ve ever heard. But if you’re fond of where you live, those words may induce panic.

It’s the famous PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders. These orders are the ones that let you know where your soldier will be serving next. Within the orders, you’ll find information on the relocation assistance that is being afforded to your family. Do not act until you have orders in hand as depending on the location of your next assignment, the benefits that accompany it can vary greatly.

pcs-moving-basics

Weight Allowance

One of the most important things the orders will contain is the weight allowance. This is the total weight that the Army will move without charge to you. This weight allowance is based on rank and whether the soldier has dependents.

If you exceed your weight allowance, you will receive a bill for the overage and it will not be pretty!

What is allowed to be moved and how much can also vary based on location, particularly if it involves an overseas move. It is important to never assume something is covered and contact your transportation office if you have questions.

Traveling

If you are moving CONUS (within the continental United States) and choose to drive your own vehicles to the next duty location, you will likely be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Typically, the Army provides a mileage rate along with an allowance for food and lodging. The transportation office can give details on how this applies in your situation.

Lodging

Temporary lodging is available on most posts and provides a place to stay while you are waiting for on post housing or for other housing to become available. This lodging can vary greatly from one post to the next.

Some are like a standard hotel room while others are similar to suites. Most have a few rooms that are pet friendly for small pets. Regardless, this lodging is almost always less expensive than a comparable commercial hotel off post.

Temporary lodging fills up quickly, particularly in the summer months when many people are moving to a new duty location. It is advisable to make reservations as soon as possible.

In some cases, it is required for you to check with temporary lodging on post for availability before the Army will agree to reimburse you for accommodations at a commercial hotel. Be sure to check before you make reservations off post.

Transportation Office

The transportation office on post is there to answer your questions and assist you in coordinating your move. Be sure to utilize their knowledge! If you are not near an Army post, you can utilize the services of the transportation office at the military post that is most convenient for you.

The transportation office can also help you in deciding whether it’s best to have a moving company move you or to do a DITY (do it yourself) move. I personally always let them do it – less work for me! But I know several who enjoy the DITY move because if it’s planned just right, you can bank some extra cash (though be warned, I know others who have lost money doing one!).

Check out the DoD website for moving.

See our other tips on preparing for the move and what to do after your PCS is complete.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 50 comments… add one }

  • Jennifer June 12, 2010, 1:23 pm

    Hey Stacey,
    I just recently became an Army wife in August, a month before my husband deployed. While he has been away I continued to live at my homestate of California, however this summer I am moving to Fort Lewis, the base my husband deployed out of and will continue to be stationed. We are not technically PCSing, however I am wondering will the military help cover costs of my move? Thanks =)

    Jennifer

    • Stacey June 12, 2010, 8:23 pm

      If you were on his PCS orders and the Army never moved household goods for y’all, it is possible that you could arrange for the Army to move you. However, if you weren’t on his orders, I’m afraid the expense will fall on your shoulders. You can call the transportation office to double check.

      • Kristen November 10, 2010, 7:56 am

        My husband had been station at Lewis for 2 years before I married him, so since I wasn’t on his orders, we had to foot the bill to haul all my stuff and car from Kansas to Washington. :/

    • Sterling Weaver July 17, 2012, 6:29 pm

      I was in that exact situation when I first got married and the answer was a short simple no. The army is not very family friendly. If it isn’t the soldier’s and it doesn’t partain to the military itself they typically wont touch it and they surely won’t spend their money on it.
      After saying that I have to add that because we knew people with leverage some things were able to get done and I was able to get moved. It kind of just depends on the post and who you know and who will be willing to work with you.
      I know it has been a long time since you posted this but just incase someone else was looking up the question.

      • SSG Reed September 3, 2012, 12:25 pm

        The army will pay the bill to move a family member to the current duty station of the soldier. It’s only good for after you get married. Any family members that want to move from there current duty station to some place that’s not on there PCS orders will have to pay out of pocket. The same for if the want to move back. After the first move to the soldier after marriage the family will only be provided compensation for moving cost associated with a pcs move. So many soldiers will not know the proper way to make this move and there is not much help. You must make an appointment with transportation and put in for 10 day permissive TDY with the soldiers current unit commander to go get your family and find a place to live.

  • Kate August 16, 2010, 7:55 pm

    My husband leaves for boot camp at the end of september and will be leaving for AIT right after. I cannot go with him because his training is only 21 weeks and 4 days. When will we know where he is being stationed?

    • Stacey August 19, 2010, 8:37 am

      It differs for every soldier. Some will find out not longer after starting AIT where others may not find out until after graduation. It’s hard to predict.

    • Kristen November 10, 2010, 7:58 am

      When I was in AIT it was common for people to start getting their orders about halfway through. In some cases, though, we had holdovers who were awaiting orders long after graduation!

  • Lorraine November 3, 2010, 4:20 am

    1st question: My husband got his orders, and has orders to report to his DS in January, I am confused because they said he had to report to his duty station 10 days after his AIT graduation? Can you help me out with that one?

    2nd: We aren’t well off by any means, and we want to make sure we have an idea of how much money we will have available for us, especially while we are moving clear across the country. After my husband completes his AIT, does he still get paid on the 1st and 15th before reporting to his DS?

    Anyone who can help us out, please let us know! Thanks in advance!

    • Stacey November 5, 2010, 1:18 pm

      Yes, he will continue to get paid. Many times, he has to report to his first duty station before being granted the 10 days to move.

  • Stevie March 14, 2011, 4:59 pm

    Will the Army only pay to move the household goods from my husbands duty station? He is currently deployed to Afghanistan and we just got orders to Hawaii. I moved to Texas after he deployed and brought ALL of our stuff with me (we were planning on him reclassing and coming to Ft. Sam Houston). So, do we have to pay out of pocket AGAIN to move everything back to Colorado (his current duty station is Ft. Carson) or will the army move our household goods no matter where they are?! Thanks for any input or help!!

    • Marc July 27, 2011, 1:07 pm

      The Army will only move you from his current duty station ty Hawaii. The only way they would move you from Texas is if they authorized him to move you there. You will have to find your way to Colorado and they will move you to Hawaii. Good luck, I am also on my way to Hawaii later this summer.

      • Keith February 23, 2013, 6:16 pm

        Go talk to your nearest Household Goods Transportation Office. They can do a cost comparrisson and if it is cheaper to move you from TX to HI then you might can work something out or you might can pay the difference of the cost…. Go talk to Households Transportation Office. The Transportation has authority to sign different waivers. Keep in mind they will only cover the cost of moving from FT Carson to HI so if it cost more to go from TX then you could receive a bill.

  • kylie December 13, 2011, 5:57 pm

    Hi! My husband just got his orders for fort carson, he leaves december 26th and he will be going alone? How long will it take for my son and I to be flown down there if we live in washington state?
    Any info would help us! Thank you and god bless!

  • Araminda April 18, 2012, 1:44 am

    Hello :) My husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan but he just got PCS orders to Hawaii. They say his report date is Jan 2013 but I was wondering if they are likely to change before he gets back into the states? This would be our first PCS move so I’m a little curious if they orders could change at any time? thanks for the help :)

  • crystal May 10, 2012, 11:04 am

    I recently got married and my husbands duty station is overseas, he is going to a new duty station by the end of this month. Will the army pay for my move to go over there?

    • Stacey May 10, 2012, 8:25 pm

      It depends on if you are on his orders. If so, yes.

      • crystal May 10, 2012, 9:47 pm

        Does he need the marriage certificate for me to be put on his orders?

  • Celesty May 21, 2012, 12:30 pm

    my husband recently got orders to CA and there is no base housing at his new post everyone reguardless of rank lives off base. my question is that since this is our first move from his home of record to his first DS and he is in GA right now will they still move all of our items since my husband has been in GA for AIT and BC since last OCT he left his home of record and this will be our first move…i am so nervous although your site has been so very helpful with so many things.

  • Nina Askew June 2, 2012, 4:21 am

    Hi Here is my situation. First off me and the kids have been in DH orders since day one we were married for 6 years before joining the army, so my question is we moved up to Ft. Lewis via DITY move to on post housing last year, well he made rank that bumped us to a different nieghborhood, will the army move us between homes, since they have never moved us before. I guess I could always call JPPSO but wanted to see if I could get an answer over the weekend. Thank you.

  • Brooke July 7, 2012, 11:03 am

    I got married last October and my husband was already stationed overseas. We have been trying ever since last October to be together and now it is July and we are still not together. He gets to come back to the states in late October of this year because he’s getting changed to a new duty station but I was wondering if there was anyway I could go overseas and be with him until he comes back to the states since it’s a shorter time before he’s back over here. Would the army do temporary housing just for a few months so I could actually be there for my husband instead of waiting every 3 to 4 months to see him? I know it’s a shorter time now but I would really like to just be with my husband, so do you think there is anything we could do to be together? Please someone give me some advice. Thank you

  • Amanda July 8, 2012, 1:20 pm

    What if you are moving out of the continent? We have orders for Germany right now, and I am shooting in the dark with all of the moving stuff!

  • Talia September 7, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Hello,
    My boyfriend is currently in AIT and has gotten his orders to go to germany. He seems to think that we can get married in march which now it is September and the army will pay to move me and my son. I keep reading that the army will not help pay and just need some clarification. He has told me the lady who helped them with their finance class told him the army would pay for us to move. Please help Thank you.

    • Brian September 17, 2012, 5:47 am

      It all boils down to being on his orders. Both you and your son would have to be listed on his orders for the army to move you there. This would mean they would have to list you both as Dependants as well. If the Army does not move you over, you can of course move yourself (bring just what you need for the time he will be stationed there, and get the rest when you come back stateside).

      For you to be on his orders you would likely need to be married prior to his initial orders being cut. I could be wrong, but I have not personally heard of anyone having a spouse shipped overseas if the Solder was there already prior to the marriage. I say go for it and find out when it happens (If you really want to be married, well, worst case is you stay here away from your husband for a while.) This is my opinion, and I could be mistaken, apologies if that is the case.

      Good Luck

      • Sarah November 3, 2012, 3:26 pm

        Your husband has to be there f0r 1-2 more years if the Army moves you/gives you command sponsorship. I was added to my husbands orders for Germany after he had been stationed there for 6 months.

  • Padre October 4, 2012, 4:40 pm

    Talia,

    Below is a quote of a reply to the first question asked above. SSG Reed seems to think that you can do it but you just have to find out from the TMO how to go about doing it. Good luck!

    -=-=-=-=-Quote-=-=-=-=-
    Originally posted by: SSG Reed September 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    The army will pay the bill to move a family member to the current duty station of the soldier. It’s only good for after you get married. Any family members that want to move from there current duty station to some place that’s not on there PCS orders will have to pay out of pocket. The same for if the want to move back. After the first move to the soldier after marriage the family will only be provided compensation for moving cost associated with a pcs move. So many soldiers will not know the proper way to make this move and there is not much help. You must make an appointment with transportation and put in for 10 day permissive TDY with the soldiers current unit commander to go get your family and find a place to live.

  • Meg Wright October 5, 2012, 10:39 am

    My husband just found out his predicted next duty station, it says we’re to report in January, he is in AIT and has been put on Poly hold, meaning he has been out of class for 3 weeks and still hasn’t been assigned a date for his poly test. Is there a high chance of our station being changed because he has been out of class so long? Or will they just push back his report date to match his poly hold? He has been assigned to a unit in Germany.

  • Morgan October 9, 2012, 5:12 pm

    My husband just got orders for Fort Drum NY. As soon as he gets there he is going to deploy. I’m currently a teacher at an elementary school. I was wondering if the army will pay for my son and I to move there after this current year if school.

  • Linda Hanback October 10, 2012, 12:23 pm

    My daughter’s being re-assigned to a new duty station in June of 2013 to Germany. I have been taking care of her son (my grandson) since she’s been in the military. Since he isnt with her will the military pay to have him flown out to her new duty station? He’ll be 11yrs old when this happens. I need to know if they will let her fly out to get him or allow and pay for someone to fly with him to Germany. I’m very concerned about this because he has ADHD & Aspergers Syndrome. A response would be much appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Linda Hanback
    rozella6@yahoo.com

  • Ashley Pattison October 29, 2012, 8:48 pm

    Hi, I have a questions regarding PCSing…My husband graduated from basic training in Feb, reported to Ft Lewis after graduation (with our son and I on his orders), and deployed a month later. Because he deployed so quickly, we decided to stay in our home town until my husband returned from overseas. Will our move still be covered by the military? We have had no household good transported but would like to be in Washington before my husband returns.

    Thank you! :)
    Ashley

  • Ruben Dela Cerna November 3, 2012, 2:37 am

    HELP! I’m a prior service Army Reserve member that’s about to get back into Active duty. My first duty station will be in Korea. I won’t have any official PCS orders till I go back to MEPS on 04DEC12. My Army Liason told me I have to report back to MEPS on 04DEC12, Swear in, Receive orders, and fly out to Korea on the same day. I’m a single Soldier who owns a house, two dogs, and lots of house hold goods. UGH… I’m pretty frustrated because I can’t do anything without official orders (transportation, housing, ect..) So my question to you is… WILL I GET REIMBURSE IF I PACK AND STORE ALL MY HOUSE HOLD GOODS BY MYSELF prior to getting official PCS orders. I’m afraid that If I wait till December 4… That would be the last I see my belongings. I need your advice!!!!

    Respectfully,

    Ruben
    ruben.delacerna@us.army.mil

  • Jillian Radcliffe December 19, 2012, 11:50 am

    Hi Stacey! I am having one hell of a time understanding the army since my soldier and I are getting married the 26th of December and he is being stationed in Germany February 11th! I am moving with him and I am currently going through bankruptcy ! My hearing is set for the end of January and it takes up to 6 months to complete the process. I am filing alone. I don’t need to be here in the states for anything other than my court date- I am just wondering if you know or if you know anyone that could tell me if this will affect my background check and keep me from living with my solider. I am keeping my last name for now to keep it less complicated. Please! Any advice will help!

    • Stacey February 12, 2013, 7:35 pm

      If you’re not in the military, there shouldn’t be a background check. Since the bankruptcy is only you, it shouldn’t effect his security clearance.

  • Shaun January 22, 2013, 10:34 pm

    We aren’t married let alone together right now and at the moment he is deployed, I guess what I would want to know is, Now that i found out we are expecting a child; is it possible we can get a housing even if we aren’t married or do we have to be? He was stationed at Fort Stewart before he deployed?

    • Stacey February 12, 2013, 7:18 pm

      You have to be married to live on post.

  • Hahn09 February 6, 2013, 3:43 pm

    My husband received an e-mail notice that his 2 year assignment was coming to an end (it will be March 10 2013). My questions is how soon should we start finding out about orders, either are we staying here or are we PCSing??? Does any one know. his ERB and ASK both have no progressive or future orders on them as of now. And ASK will not allow him to update his duty stations of choice. PLEASE HELP!

  • karyn March 20, 2013, 1:53 am

    My husband has been on holdover for going on a month after graduating ait..we are sipposed to be moving to scholfield barracks after two weeks of at home recruiting. the reason he has been told is because he is awaiting a hard copy of his orders, he was told the other day that a sponsor must sign off on them and there are 13 other people ahead of him waiting for the same reason. He is the only person currently on holdover not going airborne he feels like he is being given the run around and as much as I would like to make him feel better I can’t find any example of someone being a holdover for this reason. We are obviously newbies to the army life so any insite will be helpful.

  • Jennifer June 18, 2013, 6:24 pm

    I have a question my husband has been on recruiting and we are done with it July 19th he has orders to Fort Campbell but will be going to Ranger school enroute. I was looking at houses down there and wanted to buy one so we have somewhere to live while he is gone. How likely is it that his orders can change Im kind of worried.

  • Valerie July 16, 2013, 4:01 pm

    My husband which at the time we were not married (so not on his orders) PCS’d from Germany to Tx after a month being in TX we got married, will the army pay to send my things to tX?
    Or if and when he gets his next duty station (in a year or two) will they send my thing that are back home to the new duty station? (on orders)

    • Stacey July 17, 2013, 1:01 pm

      As long as you are on his orders, they will move your belongings from wherever they are.

  • Ashley September 17, 2013, 7:53 pm

    Hi Stacey! I just became a Army Wife last week actually and my husband is being stationed in Hawaii. He is working on getting me over there right now, but we have a lot of things to figure out before the big move. I’ve never done anything like this, and I need some help. Where do I start? How do I set it up so I can bring my cat? Where do I turn to to set up actually moving stuff to our new house? what all do I have to bring to the airport? how much can I bring to the airport? I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! and I have no idea where to start. Have any idea how to help? please! i’m begging you!

    • Stacey September 17, 2013, 8:05 pm

      You caught me while I was logged in! ;) Let me ask on Facebook so you get more feedback about it. We never had an OCONUS move.

  • Nicole Wiseman November 18, 2013, 2:46 pm

    My husband is currently at Fort Sam Houston… he has orders for us to move there and we have found a place to live. What do we need to do to get the ball rolling on this? And which move is the best to let the army move you or a DITY??? Thanks

    • Stacey Abler December 9, 2013, 9:20 am

      Go to the transportation office and they can get you all set up for the move. They can also give you estimates for the DITY so you can decide which way you want to go.

  • Kristen March 19, 2014, 3:04 pm

    Hi everyone! my and army boyfriend just got engaged a few days ago and will be getting married this summer when he comes home on leave. He is in his first duty station now but will be relocating to his second once all of his reenlistment forms are all done. I have a few questions about the process of this though. Since He is in a alaska and I am in texas right now when we finally figure out his new location will the army pay for me and him to move him stuff and my stuff to the duty station? And I was wondering what I could expect for the next 5 or months. Is there anything I can do before hand once we know his new location or will I have to wait till we are at his new army base? I am very excited bu t at the same time I have no idea what to expect and little insight would be helpful! thanks!

  • heidi June 25, 2014, 10:34 pm

    Hi Stacy,
    My husband recently went to Korea and we decided it was best for our children and I to stay here in the states. I am now seriously regretting this decision! It’s it to late to do a move and the army pay for it?? I would appreciate any advice! Thanks

  • Natalie August 28, 2014, 6:13 pm

    Hi Stacey..mmy husband and I along with our now 1 year-old moved to his FDS fort bliss memorial weekend. Thing is we are both unhappy in TX and I’m currently not working. Things have been emotionally and mentally difficult. Is it possible for him to transfer to a duty station in NY if I move back there?

    • Stacey Abler September 1, 2014, 9:18 pm

      There are posts in NY, but he has to go where they want him based on the needs of the Army. He can always attempt to get reassigned to a post in NY but I wouldn’t count on it unless there are medical issues that would require you to be there instead.

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