How to Plan for an Overseas Military Move?

An overseas military move, often referred to as an OCONUS (Outside Continental United States) move, is a complex endeavor due to its international scope and the involvement of multiple government entities. This process is part of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), which can be challenging due to the constrained time frame for a mandatory relocation. Such relocations, especially when they involve moving to another country, underscore the significant sacrifices military personnel make for their nation. Fortunately, the government offers robust resources to assist and guide individuals through the intricacies of an international PCS.

Consulting Key Individuals

Once you receive your overseas PCS assignment, several key individuals and offices should be consulted. Given the unique nature of your move, it’s essential to ask detailed questions about the relocation process and the specific requirements of the destination country.

Sponsor and Transportation Officer

The military will assign a sponsor and transportation officer to assist you in the relocation process.

Housing Office

Contact the housing office to inquire about housing options and availability at your destination.

Family Support Center

Get in touch with the military’s family support center for additional guidance and information

Essential Documents for an International Move

Gather the following important items for a successful international relocation:

  • 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

Additional Tips for Overseas Military Move

Prompt Preparation

Act quickly upon receiving your assignment, as overseas PCS often comes with short notice.

Research Your Destination

Once you receive your assignment, take some time to research your new duty station. Learn about the local customs, culture, climate, and any special requirements for living in that area.

Medical Considerations

Check the medical requirements for your destination. Some countries may have specific health screening or immunization requirements for entry.

Family Transition

Overseas moving can be particularly challenging for families. Have open discussions with your spouse and children about the upcoming move, addressing their concerns and answering any questions they may have. Research schools and extracurricular activities for your children, helping them visualize their new life.

Passports and Visas

Ensure that all members of your accompanying family have valid passports and any required visas for the destination country. These documents can take time to process, so start early to avoid any last-minute complications.

Financial Planning

Inquire about government coverage for moving expenses, but prepare for potential self-payment.

Packing Strategically and Minimizing Items

Since overseas moves are often temporary, consider leaving behind items that can be easily replaced or aren’t essential. Focus on packing sentimental items, essentials, and items that may be hard to find or more expensive at your new location.

Shipping and Storage

Research shipping methods and understand the regulations of the destination country regarding imports. Some countries have restrictions on certain items. If you’re uncertain about taking certain belongings with you, consider placing them in storage until your return.

Government Resources

Take advantage of the resources provided by the military and government to assist with your move. They often have detailed guides, international moving checklists, and personnel available to answer your questions and guide you through the process.

Overseas Military Move and Shipping of Your Household Goods

During an overseas military move, shipping household goods in two parts. Here is how:

  • Unaccompanied Shipment: This refers to a partial shipment of your belongings that is sent separately from your main household goods shipment. The purpose of this shipment is to ensure that you have essential items upon your arrival at the new base, even before your main shipment arrives. These items might include clothes, personal care items, baby gear, toys, and other immediate necessities.
  • Household Goods Shipment: This is the main shipment containing the rest of your belongings, including furniture and items you won’t need right away. This shipment will arrive later than your unaccompanied shipment but should contain everything you need to set up your new home.

Please note that it is crucial to clearly mark all of your unaccompanied items. This helps the moving company and the military logistics team differentiate between the two types of shipments and ensures that the items you need immediately are easily accessible upon arrival.

Overseas Military Move and Shipping of Your Car

Preparing for an overseas military move involves careful planning and coordination, especially when shipping your personal vehicle. After notifying your chain of command and researching destination-specific regulations, contact your installation’s transportation office for guidance. Provide necessary documentation, such as orders and vehicle registration, and select a shipping method. You can choose between government-provided transportation, if available, or commercial shipping. Ensure your vehicle meets eligibility criteria and is properly prepared for shipping, adhering to cleanliness standards. Clear customs and fulfill importation requirements upon arrival, following guidance from the transportation office or shipping company.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can my family accompany me during the overseas move?

Check the approval deadline for bringing your family, especially children, along. Inquire whether your family can travel with you or separately.

Is there a military exchange, and what’s available locally?

Determine whether a military exchange is present at your destination. Explore the availability of goods and services at local markets.

What’s the housing situation at my destination?

Ask about potential waiting periods for housing arrangements. Understand the size, quality, and furnishings of available housing or temporary quarters.

What recreational activities are available at my destination?

Seek information about recreational opportunities and amenities at your new location.

What documents do I need for the international move?

Ensure you have essential documents such as passports, visas, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, custody information, etc. Carry necessary customs clearance documentation and medical records.

What expenses can the military cover during the move?

Be aware that the military may provide housing and ship one owned car. You’ll receive an APO or FPO address for mail forwarding.

How to Handle International Moving Fears

Budgeting for an International Move

Top Financial Tips for Moving Abroad

Insurance Coverage for Your International Move