I’m going to back up a little bit on our Germany adventure and continue with preparing to move overseas. This was our first PCS, so I am certainly a newbie. However, hopefully you can pick up some good hints if this is your first OCONUS PCS. See part 1 here.
Moving Your Household Goods
Once you have your no-fee passport and are on your spouse’s orders, you are officially command sponsored. Make sure to read the orders carefully to see if dependents are granted concurrent or deferred travel. Make an appointment with the transportation office to set up your household goods shipments as soon as you can. Some military installations require the solider to complete this step online.
Also, the orders will say if you are granted shipment or storage of your privately owned vehicle (POV). Information is provided here and includes information both shipment and storage of POVs.
If you are required to set up moving appointments at the transportation office, some information to have for your meeting:
- Jot down a few notes about any big household items you have. They’ll want to know the size of your TV and if it’s a plasma or LCD, and if you have a piano, large paintings, exercise equipment, lawnmower, motorcycle, etc.
- Have an approximate weight of professional gear (pro-gear or PBP&E) for both you and your spouse. Any items that are required for your jobs can be subtracted from the total weight of your household goods (HHG). There’s a list of professional gear as well as some guidelines in your spouse’s orders. In my case, I had the box of pro-gear already packed when the movers arrived, and they didn’t verify these items.
- Have an estimate of how much your household goods will weigh. Figure 1,000 pounds for every room, not counting very heavy objects like pianos. If you are unsure about the weight of your HHG, the military provides a weight estimator on their move.mil website. Between my husband and I, we had about 4,000 pounds in our one bedroom, one bathroom apartment.
- Know if you’d like to put items in storage. You do have the option of putting items in non-temporary storage while you are overseas. My suggestion is to bring all your electronics and kitchen items. However, leave your washer and dryer if you own them. The combined weight of the stored and shipped HHGs cannot weigh more than the weight allowance.
- Ask if the OCONUS location permits shipment of POVs. I know Japan does not permit U.S. specification vehicles. In this case, storage of your POV is permitted.
Technically, you can have two separate shipments of household goods, but there can be unofficially up to four.
1. If you have a sponsor that can set up an APO box for you, or if they’re willing to receive mail, you can send things ahead through the mail. I don’t know anyone who’s done this, but it might be a good idea if you have irreplaceable items you want to have with you. We decided to leave those things with my parents, such as collectables, awards and memorabilia.
2. There’s the luggage you bring with you. Check your spouse’s orders for the requirements. My husband’s orders said up to two checked bags, one carry-on, and there would be no penalties for overweight baggage. I suggest bringing your small electronics with you such as iPod, laptop, etc. Also, I took any jewelry that was of value with me in my luggage.
3. Expedited baggage, also known as unaccompanied baggage /luggage (UB). The solider gets up to 500 pounds, the spouse up to 300 pounds. This shipment is used for things you’d like right away- sheets, blankets, towels, etc. Be warned, however, that sometimes this shipment can arrive around the same time as the regular household goods shipment. We opted out of this and fit some sheets in our luggage. Also, you’ll need to schedule a separate day for the movers to come to pick this up. There will be a lending closet available at the new duty station for kitchen utensils, so don’t worry about them in your UB.
4. Household goods. This is the big one. Please review the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR) on the weight requirements. For example, the maximum weight for junior enlisted with dependents is 8,000 pounds. Any extra you will have to pay for shipping. Weight allowances do not include professional books, papers, or equipment (pro-gear). Also verify this weight, as some OCONUS locations have restrictions.
For further information, please read the “It’s Your Move” pamphlet provided by the United States Transportation Command.
Booking Plane Tickets
Once you have your moving appointments set up, you can book your PCS travel. Depending on your post, this can be done with the transportation office or the travel office. They will assist you with making sure you go to the right office. Have your no-fee passport, ID, and orders with you. You won’t have to pay anything out of pocket, but do keep track of all travel itineraries, as these will be needed when submitting your travel voucher, which will be completed after you’ve arrived to the new duty station.
In the next article, I will give tips on preparing your home for the move. The links provided in the article were up to date as of December 2010. I try to use military websites for the most accurate information. The military frequently updates and moves links, but I’ll try my best to keep them up to date.