The Do's and Don'ts of Military PCS

Some Simple Tips for Your Next Relocation

Let’s face it – moving is stressful. And active-duty military families relocate about three times more often than their civilian counterparts. A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) may seem overwhelming when you first get your orders, but the best way to start is by arming yourself with information.

That’s why we put together this list of do’s and don’ts for your next PCS move. Don’t forget to check out the video at the top!


One of the first steps you’ll need to take when you get your PCS orders is to decide which type of move makes the most sense for you and your family. Here’s a quick rundown of your options:

  • Standard PCS move: Your local Travel Management Office (TMO) hires a commercial moving company to come to your home and take care of everything. That includes packing all your stuff, loading it onto their truck, transporting it to your new home, unloading, and unpacking.
  • DITY move: Also known as a Personally Procured Move (PPM), DITY stands for do it yourself – and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The government pays you back 95% of what it would have cost had you done a standard PCS move. You may be eligible for a partial advance, depending on your branch.
  • Partial DITY: Also called a combination move, the partial DITY allows for a little more flexibility. You can use the standard PCS process to move any portion of it, and then do the rest yourself. You'll be reimbursed for whatever you move on your own – as long as the total between both methods is within your allotted weight limit.


Once you’ve made a decision, it’s time for a little recon to gather information. Start with these do’s and don’ts:

  • Do know your entitlements. Check out our guide, Perfecting Your PCS, for a list of entitlement programs you may be eligible for. Your moving allowances are based on your rank, whether you have dependents, and where you’re moving to. You can get an estimated weight allowance and learn more about what special items are allowed at
  • Don’t spend any move-related money until you know your entitlements.
  • Do confirm your weight allowance with the TMO. You’ll need to submit your PCS papers to them to get the ball rolling.
  • Don’t exceed your weight limit. If you go over, you’ll have to cover the difference out of your own pocket. And don’t expect the movers to tell you if you’re over – it’s your responsibility to keep track of weight.
  • Do plan ahead for your pets. There are a few steps you’ll need to take in the weeks leading up to moving day, like ensuring your pet is allowed in your new city (especially for OCONUS moves), that you’re up to date on all vaccinations, and have proof. Don’t allow the movers to transport your pets – they’re only allowed to travel with you, at your own expense.


Moving day is finally here! The following tips could help it go a little more smoothly:

  • Do supervise the packers, and give them clear instructions. They’ll take their cues from you, so the more instruction you can give, the better the outcome will be.
  • Don’t forget to empty trash cans, wash dirty dishes, and clean all the linens – they’ll pack up anything and everything in sight.
  • Do make sure you pack and transport keepsakes, paperwork, and irreplaceable valuables yourself. Mistakes do happen, and you don’t want your most important stuff to get lost or broken.
  • Don’t forget to pack a bag of travel essentials for each family member.


Once your travels have come to an end and you’ve finally arrived at your destination, it’s time to finish the job.

  • Do supervise the move-in process and unpacking.
  • Don’t expect movers to know where you want things. It’s your responsibility to direct them. Otherwise you’re going to be moving everything around yourself after they leave.
  • Do inspect items as they’re unpacked and document any damage. Be sure to take photos!
  • Don’t let the movers leave and don’t sign any paperwork until you’ve made sure everything is off the truck and unpacked to your satisfaction.

Military relocation can be hectic and stressful at times – especially if it’s your first time. But if you follow these tips, you’re sure to make your next PCS move a success.


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