The Complete Military Moving Guide

Most military families are relocated every two to three years.So if you’re in the military, it’s essential that you understand the ins and outs of military moving.

That being said, in addition to all of the steps involved in a civilian move, there’s a notorious amount of bureaucracy in a PCS move.

It’s not all bad though! With understanding everything there is to know about a military move, you could actually end up not only saving money… but making money back!

Read on for information, tips, and resources that will surely help you make this your best military move yet.

For your convenience, use the following index to jump to the section you need:

What to Know Before You Move

Will your move be a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or Temporary Duty (TDY)?

  • Permanent Change of Station means 20+ weeks at your new duty station, which makes you eligible for a complete household move.
  • A Temporary Duty Move means you will be at your new location for more than 31 days but less than 20 weeks, and you are eligible for only a partial household move.

Will you move within the US or internationally?

  • A CONUS (48 Contiguous States) move is the most common and requires the necessary vehicles for an interstate move.
  • An OCONUS (International + Alaska and Hawaii) move requires sea transportation needs for your household.

When you get the information about the nature of your move and where you are headed, you can begin scheduling your move with your local on-base Personal Property Office.

You have options when you make you move. Let the government handle it or handle it yourself.

Know What Kind of Military Move You Want

  • A Household Goods Move (HHG) handles your relocation needs for you, which eliminates much of the stress and worry.
  • A Do It Yourself Move (DITY) also known as a PPM ( personally procured move) gives you the responsibility of coordinating the move yourself.
  • A Partial PPM means you move some of your belongings yourself and let the government handle the rest.

When to Choose an HHG Move?

If you need to move immediately, consider an HHG move. Why?

If you are needed at your new duty station, you won’t have the time or availability to procure your move. This way, you just have to figure out your temporary allocation.

Fortunately, there are corresponding monetary entitlements to assist you for your temporary lodging.

In short… If you have to be at your duty station before your items arrive, no worries. You are entitled to temporary lodging.

If you can’t be there for your move, choose an HHG move.

Why Choose a PPM?

Many service members choose a PPM move because they can actually make money by moving on their own.

You receive 95% of the cost of an HHG move plus standard travel allowances for you and your family. If you budget your PPM well, you can pocket that extra money!

If you manage the move efficiently you may also end up with extra time at the end of the move. This may not be the case with a HHG.

Scheduling of a government move is on government time and can cause a whole set of other time-related stresses.

A government move is typically a group move with other service members relocating to the same base. That means there is always the risk of items getting lost. A PPM avoids that risk.

A lot of service members also decide on a PPM because they prefer the peace of mind of handling the move themselves. It is your personal belongings after all.

There is no better way to protect your belongings and to have the best experience moving than hiring a reputable interstate moving company.

Choosing a Partial PPM

Leaving some of the heavy lifting to the government, while toting your more important belongings is other option. With a Partial PPM you are reimbursed for the items you move yourself. Just know there are restrictions.

A Checklist for a Smooth PPM Military Move

If you decide to go with a PPM, here are some tips.

    1. Schedule the move with your base Personal Property Transportation Office. They can answer a lot of your questions. Once you are approved by the PPTO you can start planning your move.
    2. Are you moving yourself or are you hiring a moving company? Start scheduling and budgeting for rental trucks, packing materials or begin getting quotes from professional moving services.

Tip. If you go with a moving company, find one that has done military moves in the past. This experience makes a difference.

  1. If you are driving the moving truck yourself make sure your car insurance is up to date. You want to be protected in the event of an accident.
  2. Pick up your operating allowance from your local payroll office
  3. Be sure to get your shipping weight slips. This is essential if you want to get paid at the end of your move.
  4. Get the truck weighed loaded and unloaded. This will determine your PPM payment. If you are hiring a moving company, make sure they get the weigh tickets. ( a moving company with military moves comes in handy here).

Your PPM Weigh Formula

Use the following formula to accurately determine your truck weights.

Loaded Weight = Your vehicle with a full tank of gas + all of your property loaded + no drivers or passengers inside

Empty Weight = Your vehicle with a full tank of gas + no drivers or passengers inside.

Loaded Weight – Empty Weight = Net Weight of Property

*Important Note About Weight Tickets*

Weight tickets have to be accurate. Make sure they have all the following information to avoid mishaps.

Each weight ticket should contain the following details:

  • Your name, grade, Social Security number
  • Name/location of scales
  • Vehicle/trailer identification
  • Date of weighing
  • Weigh Master’s signature
  • Legible of weights

Keep all receipts associated with the move. If you choose a PPM you must be organized. Establish a move folder where every proof of expense can be filed.

That includes:

  • Costs for rental vehicles/trailers
  • Moving company costs
  • Packing materials ( boxes, pads, packing foam and peanuts)
  • Moving equipment (including hand trucks and dollies)
  • Fuel expenses
  • Highway tolls, weight tickets and any other transportation expense directly related to the PPM move

Once you complete your actual move, you have 45 days to submit a claim for full payment of your PPM allowance. You are responsible for all the paperwork so keep it handy and organized:

  • Empty and loaded weight tickets (two copies of each)
  • PPM Move certification (attach all receipts for moving expenses)
  • PPM Move expense sheet
  • Change of Station Orders
  • Advance operating allowance paperwork (if you are renting a truck or trailer)
  • Vehicle/trailer rental contract (if you are renting a truck or trailer)
  • Moving company invoices
  • Any service-specific forms you PTO requires

Key Resources for Your Military Move

Key Agencies

Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)

You contact the DLA to request your PCS Orders. You need the orders to process your move and carry out many other aspects of your PCS. Therefore, you have to get in touch as soon as you receive word about your move and keep checking until you have your orders.

Housing Office

Contact the Housing Office at your new base as soon as you learn about your impending move. If you plan to live on-base, they’ll place you on the housing waiting list. If you intend to live off-base, the Housing Office is still important as they can recommend good affordable neighborhoods, real estate agents and landlords.

Military and Family Support Center

Immediately you are notified of your PCS, contact your Military and Family Support Center to schedule a meeting with a relocation assistance specialist.

The specialist will provide tips on budgeting for your move, the types of moves available to you, childcare when moving and a list of the resources you could tap into to find work at or near your next duty station.

Note that the Military and Family Support Center goes by different names in different branches of service.

Travel Management Office (TMO)

The TMO deals with everything pertaining to your relocation as well as facilitating housing allowances. The TMO won’t touch your PCS before you have your official paperwork in order so it’s essential that you expedite your documentation so your move is scheduled as soon as possible.

That’s especially important during the summer when the unusually high number of PCS moves can mean waiting longer to secure the moving services you require.

The TMO will invite you for a meeting, enter your PCS details in their system and advise you on when to expect a phone call from a contracted carrier. This will often be within 5-7 days of the meeting so get in touch with the TMO in the event you don’t receive a call from the carrier within that time frame.

Defense Military Pay Office (DMPO)

The DMPO arranges travel reimbursements. They will assist you with completing all requisite forms and process your reimbursements. You should receive your reimbursements within 4 weeks though it sometimes happens much faster than you expect it.

You can fill out the reimbursement claim form (known as a Travel Voucher) online or you could download it and submit it.

Monetary Entitlements You Should Know About

Advanced Travel Payment

You can apply for the advanced travel payment before your PPM to offset upfront expenses. Some service members will opt for this payment when the move date is too close to expect a government-contracted mover to complete the move effectively.

Dislocation Allowance (DLA)

Apply for DLA before your move to cover the costs of relocation. It covers transfer of utilities, forwarding of packages and mail, and other expenses precipitated by the move but that aren’t covered by other allowances or reimbursements.

The DLA you receive depends on your rank and number of dependents.

Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT)

The MALT is a mileage reimbursement that you can claim for one or two cars (i.e. Privately Owned Conveyances or POC) if you are traveling with dependents. If you are driving your own car to the new station, you’ll be reimbursed at a fixed rate per mile for the wear and tear your car experiences in addition to the gas and tools.

Transportation of POC

If you are moving overseas, you can ship one car to your new station and back with you, on the government’s tab.

This entitlement must be explicitly included in your orders. You must deliver the car to an approved shipping location and pick up at your destination at an approved receiving location. This can be inconvenient because the shipping and receiving sites could be a substantial distance from your current and future work station.

Per Diem

You’ll receive per diem for food and miscellaneous daily costs while traveling to your new station.


If the journey to your new station is more than 500 miles and you’ll have to make a multi-day trip, you’re entitled to reimbursement of lodging expenses. The amount the government pays depends on where you stopped and is usually enough for a night at a mid-range hotel.

Some hotels offer a government rate or military discount so always ask so you don’t have to spend more of your own money than you need to.

Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE)

When you get to your new station, your on- or off-bases housing may not be ready. TLE cates for up to 10 days of temporary lodging for accommodation and food. TLE and per diem are mutually exclusive i.e. you can’t claim TLE on the same days you claim per diem.

At the start of the TLE window, notify the moving company that you are not yet prepared to accept your belongings. The mover will store your items for a month or more if need be.

Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA)

This is similar to TLE except that it applies to service members transferred overseas. Given the complexities of overseas moves, you are entitled to as much as 60 days of TLA on your arrival at your new station as you wait for your housing to be ready. You can use 10 days of TLA at your current station as you wait to leave for the new base.

Basic Housing Allowance (BHA)

If you will be living off-base, you may qualify for a BHA which are non-taxable monies to cover your rent and utilities.

Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)

You are eligible for the monthly non-taxable OHA to cover rent and utilities if you won’t be living in government quarters when you are transferred overseas.

Move-In Housing Allowance (MIHA)

If you must live on rented or privately-owned housing overseas, the MIHA covers one-off miscellaneous costs that accompany your move. You must be receiving OHA to qualify for MIHA.

MIHA can cater for non-refundable deposits, purchase of essential appliances, installation of security and improvements necessary for comfortable safe living.

Resources worth checking out for your Military Move

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