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Moving programs and services FAQs

The following are Frequently Asked Questions about Moving programs and services.

When a servicemember receives permanent change of station (PCS) orders, what needs to happen next in terms of planning a move?

The first step after receiving PCS orders is to make an appointment with the Relocation personnel at your installation's Family Center. The Relocation personnel will assist you in learning all you can about your new location by utilizing the available resources such as the Plan My Move calendar, Installation Overviews and their Center's resource library.  The Relocation personnel will ask you about your family situation from children to pets to special needs family members and connect you to resources at the new destination.  Assistance and advice are available on clearing the old location, temporary quarters and what to do when traveling to your new location.  Working with the Relocation personnel will ensure that you create a sensible moving schedule that facilitates outprocessing and settling into your new location quickly and efficiently with minimal stress for all family members. 

The Relocation personnel will direct you to the offices and personnel you need to visit to facilitate your move.  For example, they will send you to the Transportation and Housing offices with instructions on what questions to ask and helpful tips on finding new housing, booking your shipments, and departing your current assignment.  They will inform you of the processes that these offices use and they will stay in touch with you to assist you if you encounter any information you do not understand. 

There are trained Relocation professionals on every installation whose job it is to assist you and your family with all aspects of your move. An initial visit to them will save you money, reduce the stress of the unknown, and promote productivity.

What is Plan My Move and how can it help a servicemember or family member during the moving process?

Plan My Move, available on MilitaryHOMEFRONT, is an on-line moving tool that helps a service and family member organize their move. By providing your current duty station, future duty station, and the moving date, Plan My Move generates a three month calendar with general and installation specific information necessary when moving for the military.  The calendar can be customized to meet your family situation.  Tasks can be added, removed or modified. The  length of the calendar can be changed from three months to one month or two years.  In addition to the helpful tips and articles, there are checklists, phone lists, additional resources for each subject  and key contact information for offices on both the old and new installation.  Topics addressed for each installation include: child care and youth services, shipping household goods, housing - permanent and temporary, education and employment, special needs, heath care, sponsorship and many other areas of interest. Plan My Move outlines the moving process, breaking it down into clear  manageable steps.  This resource is especially useful to family or servicemembers who are completing their first PCS move, and is very helpful to any military member who needs help remembering all the details associated with a move.  Plan My Move is an organizational tool designed to guide the user through the moving process.

What is MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and how can it help a servicemember or family member during the moving process?

MilitaryINSTALLATIONS is a searchable directory of worldwide installation and state-related military information, programs, and services. It provides easy access to fast facts, articles, website resource directories, photos, contact information, major units, weather, and maps. With this resource, servicemembers and family members can quickly find relevant information about their new installation. They can also print a booklet of all the installation information in hard copy from the Installation Overview pages of MilitaryHOMEFRONT.
For those looking for more information on the surrounding community, Military OneSource can provide detailed information about the programs and services available in the civilian communities near the new installation.

How can the Relocation Assistance Program assist with a military move?

The Relocation Assistance Program located in the Family Centers on an installation is designed to assist service and family members with managing their permanent change of station moves.  Specifically, the program offers all the resources and tools necessary to successfully manage a move.  The office has worldwide libraries of information on installations; is responsible for the information in Plan My Move and MilitaryINSTALLATIONS; provides workshops on moving related issues such as renting and buying homes, cultural adaptation, citizenship and immigration, and moving with children, to name a few.  The program generally has a lending closet providing basic household equipment for service and family members to use until their own furnishings arrive.  The Relocation Assistance Program is a great resource for assisting with spousal employment and child care concerns and answering financial questions related to moving.  servicemembers and their families can access emergency financial assistance such as food closets and emergency loans, if needed, through the Relocation Assistance Program. 

Another important role of the Program is to train sponsors and connect servicemembers with sponsors to facilitate swift assimilation into the new unit.  On many installations, the Relocation Assistance Program also runs a youth sponsorship program.

The Relocation program can be accessed through Army Community Services (ACS), Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS), Navy Fleet and Family Support Services (FFSP), and the Airman and Family Readiness Centers (A&FRC).

How does a servicemember decide whether to live on or off the installation? Is there a choice?

The Housing Office at the future duty station can help a servicemember weigh his or her options when deciding whether to live on or off of the installation. The answer depends on a number of complex factors, such as the member's family situation, personal preferences, economic resources and availability of housing options on the installation and in the civilian community.  For those living on an installation, typically all expenses are covered, including rent, maintenance, and utilities. For those who are living off of the military installation, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Overseas Housing Allowances are provided among other allowances and benefits.  Housing allowances are based on geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status. Find our more by visiting the Per Diem Committee's website for up-to-date official information on all allowances and entitlements. 

Sometimes a servicemember may wish to live on the installation, but waiting lists may force him or her to seek out housing in the surrounding civilian community until installation housing becomes available. The Housing Office can help the servicemember  carefully consider all relevant factors before making a final decision.  Your new duty station's Installation Overview has articles on government housing options from floor plans to videos.

In training environments, the servicemember is usually required to live on the installation, unless the member has a family and the training is over six months.  Single military members (who are E-4 and below) coming out of the training environment are usually required to live on the installation unless there is a housing shortage. 
Servicemembers may also have to remain in installation housing because of job requirements, or because they are living overseas and are either single or on an unaccompanied tour of duty.

If a servicemember is going to live off of the installation, how can he or she find information on housing options in the community?

In Plan My Move, topic Housing-Overview, the local community housing situation is discussed for installations worldwide.  Further, Military OneSource can help with this type of research for the servicemember.  servicemembers can contact Military OneSource consultants by phone or email and request information on real estate services or apartment rentals in the new community. 

What is command sponsorship? How does a family apply for command sponsorship?

When a military member is stationed overseas, the member must request permission from their command for family members to accompany him or her overseas. If approved, the military member will be reimbursed for travel expenses and be given housing allowances and other benefits for the overseas assignment. Command sponsorship might not be approved for a number of reasons, such as the location of the duty station, the lack of general family support resources at the duty station, or the lack of resources available to support a family member with special needs. If command sponsorship is denied, but a family member still decides to move to the duty station country, he or she will be responsible for all of the transportation and living expenses associated with this move. A servicemember requests command sponsorship through his or her chain of command. If approved, military orders will specifically state that dependents are authorized.

For information on moving overseas with special needs family members visit the Overseas Assignments and Families with Special Needs Frequently Asked Questions.

How can a servicemember find out what documentation and other requirements are necessary for an overseas PCS relocation?

In terms of documentation, a servicemember can generally travel with his or her PCS orders and military identification. If the family is also approved for the PCS move, other documentation will be needed, such as passports and visas.  Plan My Move has an article on obtaining passports and visas as well as the links to the Department of State. Military OneSource can also research relevant documentation requirements and regulations for the new duty station.

For overseas moves, a sponsor at the new duty station can be very helpful. Since sponsors have already gone through the process of moving overseas, they can be a great resource.  You can request a sponsor from your gaining unit or the Relocation office can assist in obtaining a sponsor.

When a servicemember moves to a new installation with children, how can the member find out more about local schools and other community resources?

Through Installation Overviews in Plan My Move, Education topics in Plan My Move and MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, service and family members can access articles and contact information for schools located on the installation and some local community school information.  The servicemember or spouse should contact these schools directly for more detailed information on available programs and the registration process. Military OneSource can provide a general list of public and private schools in the local community and school reports.  They can also provide information on community resources for children, such as sports activities and library programs.

What should I know about shipping and storage of my household goods?

Before you visit the transportation office you should know some basic information.  Plan My Move and Installation Overviews have very good articles on shipping Household Goods, POVs and shipping pets.  You may be entitled to a hold baggage shipment, one or more personal property shipments, long term storage and possibly a POV shipment.  Weight limits are by rank and there are some further weight restricted areas of the world.  If you are moving overseas or within the US, you should use the opportunity to give away or dispose of excess household goods.  For overseas moves think carefully about what items you put in long term storage as washers and dryers do not store well, for example.  Make sure you have a good estimate of your personal property before you visit the transportation office to arrange your move.  Plan My Move has a weight estimator available for your use.

What to do if you get married enroute.
If you get married before you PCS, you must inform your commander and follow the procedures exactly as you are given them.  The military will not pay for travel and housing of your spouse, if you do not follow proper procedures.

--Military Homefront

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