Army PCS Moving Basics

“We have orders!”

Those may be the sweetest words you’ve ever heard if you’re at a duty station you hate. 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; depending on the location of your next assignment, the benefits accompanying it can vary greatly.

Weight Allowance

The weight allowance is one of the most important things the orders will contain. 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, which 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 never to assume something is covered and to contact your transportation office if you have questions.

And because you are charged by weight, be sure to clean out and declutter before packing. Don’t risk paying to move things you are going to throw away or donate.

There are few restrictions on what you can take CONUS; but OCONUS moves may be a different story depending on the country.

Think carefully about what items you want to be out of your possession versus what you want to take with you. If it can’t be easily replaced, take it with you instead of allowing it to be packed.


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

The Army typically provides a mileage rate and an allowance for food and lodging. The transportation office can give details on how this applies to your situation.

You will need to move your pets on your own. Be sure to check with your new duty station about any quarantine or immunization requirements.


Temporary lodging is available on most posts and provides a place to stay while waiting for on-post housing or 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 when many people move 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 decide whether it’s best to have a moving company move you or 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.

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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  1. Hello,
    Thanks for the website, it’s very helpful.
    I am need of some guidance. My husband is stationed in Korea, I could not go because I am currently in the middle of a nursing program. He returns March 2015 and He was suppose to return back to his home base which was fort Bragg. But his ERB stated he is going to Hunter Army Airfield. I cannot go because I’m in nursing school, we also have 4 kids, and a mortgage. While stationed in Hunter Airfield, will he be allowed to stay in the barracks? We cannot afford to pay for two households. Also, My husband just returned from a 9 month tour in Afghanistan February 2013. He received orders for Korea April 2013 and left March 2014. I don’t know who to talk to about my issue. There is not a FRG here for me because my husband is in Korea. My husband tried to get a change of duty station through command. Who can I talk to about my situation. I know everyone is telling me to just stop going to school. I put in too much money to give up now.

    1. You can ask you husband to talk to the platoon sergeant and find out if he can live in the barracks in the meanwhile. And he will still receive bah at the rate where his dependents are at. And I agree with Stacey. Finish school first. I know it’s hard to be away from your husband, but finishing school will pay off in the future. So your family can have a better life.

  2. my grandson has his first 8wks at ft benning ga ,has gotten pcs orders to ft irwin,will he stay at ft irwin 2 1/2 yrs or 21days of rotation then some where else out of the usa

  3. stacy sorry i forgot website about pcs for my grandson from ft benning after 8 wks to ft irwin thank you stacy

  4. Thank you soooo much for this helpful post. PCS moving can be stressful but this information really cleared up a lot of my questions about it. =)

  5. What’s up with soldiers getting diversion orders one month before they are to be relocated. When you have five children and a household to prepare for the move(let alone selling a house and finding one in a new location)it is an emotional roller coaster. Report date for new location is in two weeks and still no orders? Is this how we make a positive impact on our military and their families?

  6. i am a soldier member currently staitoned here in korea and i left my family in hawaii and some how i extended my stay here in korea for another year. the question is can the army move my family to my home of record including my houseold goods?

  7. I have a question, me & my husband got married about a week ago while he was on vacation for Christmas , he left back to fort benning where he’s completing his basic training graduating the 14th of Jan , supposedly he told me that they’re sending him to fort Irwin in California right after , my question is how soon can we move in together after his basic training graduation & being sent to fort Irwin.., & what do you need to do to make it happen,., please help! Thank you 🙂

  8. Hi! My husband swore in yesterday here in Shreveport, LA. I have been trying to do as much sifting through forums and posts like this as possible to try and be as prepared as I can. I know it’s early but I am going crazy not knowing where we will end up. Being that my husband is going to BCT & AIT and will be fresh out of training never being stationed before, is it likely we will go overseas? Or is there really no way to tell – which is what I keep reading…..you go wherever the army needs you…makes sense just a bummer lol. Idk if I can 18 weeks or to find out!!

  9. Hello, my husband is currently deployed. We will be doing our first pcs late October. When should we be finding out where we are going. We have not heard anything and are at the 3 month point and I was hoping to have heard something.! Thanks!

  10. We PCS to San Antonio and we HATE it here. We are stuck here and my kids are miserable. We have been here a little over a year and it is the worst. We tried keeping an open mind and be adventurous but the children are still trying to adjust and me too. I work and it was the hardest thing to find a decent job which was amazing seeing that this is a large city. We want to leave, BADLY, but we have 2.5 more years. What do I do? How can we change this before it ruins our marriage? We would like to go back to the East Coast, how can we get orders sooner?

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