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How to Plan for an Overseas Military Move

Posted on October 10, 2014, 12:02 PM, by Mike Sannitti under Preparing for Your Move

International moving is a complicated process that takes a great deal of planning. If you are moving overseas with the military, things get even more complicated. Being assigned a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) can be difficult because you have limited time to make a mandatory move. A required move to another country exemplifies just how much military personal have to sacrifice for their homeland. Luckily, the government provides ample avenues to get help and guidance for an international PCS.

There are a few people to consult after you are assigned an overseas PCS. You are going to need to ask a lot of specific questions about the nature of your relocation and the country specific requirements. The military should provide you with a sponsor and a transportation officer to aid you in your relocation. You also can contact the housing office and the military's family support center to ask additional questions.

Questions to ask

  • Can you bring your family? Ask this early because there is a deadline for the approval of children.
  • If your family can come, can they travel with you or separately?
  • Is there a military exchange? What is available at the local markets in the destination country?
  • What is the housing situation at your destination? Will you have to wait long for a home?
  • What is the size and quality of the housing and/or temporary quarters?
  • What furnishing is included, and what do you have to you bring?
  • Do you need adapters or voltage converters to use the local electrical outlets? Are those available to you?
  • What recreational activities are available at the destination?

Your sponsor should be able to help with most of these questions. Unfortunately there is no hard and fast answers because each country is so different and the reasons for your assignment can also change what options are available to you. Research the country you are moving to for additional information. Contact the consulate if you have specific unanswered questions. Be aware that customs regulations change constantly. Between your own research and you're relocation sponsor's resources, you should get a pretty up to date list of restrictions for your destination.

You should be supplied with a visa by the government, which can make things easier for you since you probably don't have to worry about the application process. You do need to bring the typically extensive list of documents and identification with you for an international move, though.

Things to bring on an international move

  • Passports
  • Visas
  • Birth certificates
  • Driver's licenses
  • Custody information
  • Bill of lading/moving inventory
  • Customs clearance documentation
  • Medical records
  • Power of attorney
  • Wills
  • Marriage license or divorce records

Remember to keep receipts of all of your moving expenses because the government could reimburse you. There are also some other moving tasks and expenses that the military can take care of for you:

  • Some housing
  • Shipping one owned car
  • An APO or FPO address will be given to you so your mail gets forwarded to you

Additional tips

  • When you first hear of your assignment, start preparing right away. A PCS can be given with very short notice.
  • Inform your family as soon as possible and discuss all the possibilities.
  • Inquire about getting your moving expenses covered by the government, but don't expect it to happen. You may very well need to pay for most of the moving and housing costs yourself. Budget for an international move as if the military won't reimburse you for anything.
  • Keep your shipment light. A PCS is an international move that is also temporary. If you can live without it, don't bring it.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. The only way to get the proper help from the government during your relocation is to ask for it.
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