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Military Moving Guide

Planning a Military Move: What to Know About PCSing

The majority of military moves involve Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders, which are official travel orders that authorize the transportation of a service member, their spouse and children, and their household goods and personal effects. PCS orders are given when your new base is more than 50 miles away from your current one, and are issued for members who are moving to their first assignment site, being transferred to another station or traveling home because of retirement or discharge.

What to do After Receiving Military Orders

The process for each branch is fairly similar, but a few details may vary. In general, you’ll fill out an application, get approval, learn about your allowances, plan the move and turn in paperwork for reimbursement. Learn about the individual moving process for each branch of the military:

And make sure you don’t miss any critical steps with this downloadable PCS Checklist. It will help you keep track of tasks like updating DEERs, renewing your military ID and creating a PCS moving file.

download a military move checklist

If you’re moving to Hawaii or Alaska or preparing for deployment, those military moves have a few special considerations:

Compare Military Moving Options

Because it’s required to accept orders, the government pays most expenses associated with the move. But as a service member, you do have options on how to get to your new duty station. Your base’s Transportation Office can talk to you about your options, which will likely include a government move, a PPM or a combination of the two.

Government move

The government pays military movers to take care of the entire move from start to finish. Your household goods (HHG) shipment will be arranged by your installation’s TO, transferred by the military’s carrier of choice, and then paid for directly by the Department of Defense (DoD).

Personally procured move

A PPM or do-it-yourself (DITY) move means you take care of the entire process. You can choose from self-moving services, like U-Pack®, or a rental truck or another moving company. The government will pay you 95% of what they would have paid a military mover to move you. And while it does require a little extra work, if your expenses are less than the moving allowance, you get to pocket the remaining cash. If this option interests you, fill out an application with your TO. After approval, you can plan your PPM. Talk to your TO about the paperwork required for reimbursement. You’ll likely need weight tickets and other receipts.

Figure out the potential costs for your PPM with this DITY move calculator.

Partial move

This option lets you ship a certain amount of your HHG with the government and the rest as a PPM. The weight allowance is split between the two and requires you to stay within the allotted budget. After you apply and receive approval, plan your portion and make sure to keep all receipts and paperwork for reimbursement.

Which Military Moving Option is Best?

Besides getting to keep the remaining cash from your moving entitlements, a PPM has several advantages that make it worth the extra work. However, outcomes can vary depending on the moving company you choose. Many military members decide to do their PPM with U-Pack because it’s easy and affordable.

U-Pack is a self-moving service, so you pack and load your items into the moving equipment, and then we’ll transport the shipment to your new location, allowing you to travel however you want. Take a look at U-Pack compared to truck rental and government movers.

compare U-Pack to truck rental and government military movers

Low Prices

U-Pack prices are based on the space you use, which helps keep costs low. U-Pack rates include the equipment, transportation, fuel and liability coverage, and you’ll know up front how much extra space costs (if you need it). We help you stick to your military moving budget. Contact a military moving specialist at 877-453-7274 to get a quote.

Looking for the cheapest rates? Find out how to get military moving discounts.

No Driving

One of the most significant differences between U-Pack and other DITY move options is that you don’t have to drive. You’re free to travel to your new duty station with your family in the comfort of your personal vehicle. Use the time for a mini road trip vacation, if you want! We’ll make sure everything arrives safely.

You’re in Control

With U-Pack, you control every aspect of your move, from choosing the move date to planning how items are packed — a perk you won’t find with traditional military movers. We provide a military moving specialist to help along the way, however you need.

Fast Transit Times

U-Pack shipments arrive in an average of just 2-5 business days, so you get your belongings fast. No borrowing from the loan closet on base because your items arrive when you need them.

Storage Options

U-Pack can provide secure storage at origin or destination, for just a month or long-term. Store right in the equipment where you loaded — no transferring in and out of storage units.

Peace of Mind

Many full-service movers put multiple shipments together in the same equipment. But with U-Pack, yours is the only household goods shipment in the trailer or ReloCube container. You won’t have to worry about ending up with someone else’s furniture or your boxes being dropped off at another house.

Getting reimbursed for your move

If approved by your TO, you can receive some advanced payment to help cover expenses that directly relate to your move. After the move, you will file for reimbursement for the rest of the costs. The exact documentation will vary by branch, but these documents are common DITY move requirements:

  • DD Form 2278 (Application for move and counseling checklist)
  • DD Form 1351-2 (Travel voucher)
  • Copy of PCS travel orders
  • Certified weight tickets
  • Copy of paid rental agreement
  • Copy of vehicle registration when utilizing POV and/or boat/trailer

When you arrive at your new duty station, check with the new TO about filing this documentation.  If you received an advanced operating allowance, you have 45 days from the start of the move to file your final settlement claim.

Remember that lodging and meals are not part of the household goods budget, but they may be covered by the Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) or Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA, for OCONUS moves) and per diem.

Weight Tickets

To be reimbursed for your PPM, you’ll need certified weight tickets. If you’re moving with a rental truck, you’ll be responsible for visiting certified scales and getting the correct empty and full tickets. If you’re using U-Pack, we will get weight tickets for you (as long as you request them before the move). Before we bring any moving equipment to you, we’ll weigh it empty on certified scales. Once it’s loaded, we’ll weigh it again full. We assign a military moving specialist to each military move, and they work to ensure your equipment is weighed correctly and that you get the right tickets to be properly reimbursed.

Learn more about military weight tickets.

Pro-Gear

On May 1, 2014, the allowance for professional books, papers and equipment (known as PBP&E or Pro-Gear) changed.  Now, there are limits to the amount and type of pro gear that can be reimbursed during a move. Read more about the new guidelines on military pro-gear.

PCS Tips for Military Families

If you’re moving with a spouse and children, there are a few extra considerations you’ll need to take. Use these tips to make sure everyone is ready for life in the new state.

  • Get on the childcare list as quickly as possible if you’ll need on-base care
  • Make sure anyone who will need a job after the move updates their resumes
  • Find activities and groups for children before you leave to make the transition easier
  • Get contact information for any friends at the current base so everyone can stay in touch

Start Planning Your Military Move

Let a U-Pack moving specialist help you decide which moving options are right for you. We can help you find the cheapest rates to stick to your budget, pick the best move date and arrange all the details.

Call 877-453-7274 or get a moving quote online. Just be sure to tell us beforehand if you need weight tickets or select the “Certified Weight Ticket” option when reserving online. Let us know if you have any questions; we’re happy to help. Thank you for your service!