Being in the military, you move around/PCS (permanent change of station) a lot. Most times, more than the average person. I’ve only had to PCS 6 times out of my 19 years in the military, however, my fiance has moved more than 8 times.
However, PCS’ing from base to base can be rather exciting. Getting a chance to move and start fresh in a new state or country can be thrilling. Figuring out the things to do before you PCS can be a little challenging and stressful.
There are so many things to do to prepare you and your military family for the big move…AGRHH…But don’t fret because I’m here to help you with 10 things to do before a PCS move overseas.
This post contains affiliate links to the products that I use and recommend. If you click on any of the links and make a purchase, then I may earn a small commission. For more info click my full disclosure.
1. Get yourself and family medically cleared for travel (to receive orders)
When PCS’ing overseas, getting a medical clearance could take a long time. Months, really. For yourself and your family, you have to get cleared through Family Health, Public Health, Mental Health, Dental, and Immunizations clinics. Once you get seen by all of these agencies, the command you are with right now will send your records to the new (gaining) command you are trying to PCS to.
For instance PCS’ing from ACC command to USAFE command. If whatever is in your records passes through both commands, then you and your family will be officially medically cleared. For your children, they will have to also get their school medical records signed off. Most of this is to state if your child may have any learning disabilities, special needs, and etc.
2. Apply for a No-Fee passport for you and your dependents ASAP
A No-Fee passport is a government-issued official passport that you may need to pcs move overseas. Sometimes yes, you could just travel on PCS orders, however, some reporting instructions and countries require this. It usually would take about 6-8 weeks to receive your passport. When you fill out the application, the passport is paid for by the government.
However, your children and spouse will definitely need to apply for a no-fee passport to accompany you overseas. You can apply for your passport through your Military Personnel Flight at your current base. They will not be able to leave the states without it.
3. Ship off your car ASAP (2-4 months before move)
Now it depends on where you going on if you can ship your car or not. Most short tour locations, won’t allow you to ship your car. But if you can import your car, you will start the process through your personal property office. Your car will be getting shipped on a boat so that means it’ll take about 2-4 months to get there. You have to factor in where you are PSC’ing too as well. For instance, it may take your car longer to get to Japan vs the United Kingdom.
Anywho, check out what VPC that is closest to you and continue the process about how you need to prepare your car for drop off. Trust me, you will want to have your car at your new base shortly after you arrive because you don’t want to pay too much out-of-pocket expense by having to rent a car for too long. Here are the sites that are very helpful: Move.mil for more and PCSmyPOV.
4. Start researching the country or state you are moving to
I like to research the country to know what to expect. Research what currency that country is using, research what language they speak. Researching the customs and courtesies is a very important thing to do as well. Because certain customs that we have in America might be offensive to other people’s culture overseas.
5. Apply for a Credit card with no foreign transaction fees
When you pcs overseas, some banks will charge you a conversion fee every time you swipe your debit card. I suggest that you apply for a credit card to combat those pesky foreign transaction fees while traveling and exploring the new country. When you’re on base you can use your regular debit card without getting charged, but off base not so much.
6. Notify your child’s school of relocation
Give your children’s school a heads up that you’re moving overseas. I would do this at least 3 months ahead of time. Then notify them again 30 days ahead of time, so they can start getting their records together to transfer them to the new school.
7. Contact the School Liaison Office for where you child will be going
Again contact this office so that you will know about what you need to do to register your child. In some cases, you may want to put your child in a local school, or with the DoDEA. It’s really up to you. I would say the only thing about putting your child in a local school overseas, is that they do not have the same school program/lessons as the states. Whereas, the on-base DoD schools typically do offer the state-side curriculum.
8. Reserve temporary lodging/billeting for both bases
If you are PCS’ing during the summer, this is a high PCS season. Try to reserve billeting at least 3-4 months before you PCS for both the leaving base and the gaining base. You want to do this early enough to ensure you and your family will have a place to stay once you move out of your housing and once you are at your new base.
9. Find Facebook groups of incoming base
Joining Facebook groups for the base you are about to move to can be a lifesaver. There is so much information you can find in these groups that will help you prepare for your PCS into the new overseas location.
Most people in the group are Americans in the service that are living overseas. There is a plethora of information in these groups that people have gone through or know about the country. You can also ask questions there as well.
10. Apply for on base housing
If you would like to live on base while overseas, then apply for on-base housing ASAP. On-base housing tends to go pretty fast. The webpage to go to is the Housing Early Assistance Tool (HEAT) website. There are 2 different websites you can go to in order to apply which are the AF Housing https://www.housing.af.mil and HOMES.mil https://www.homes.mil.
You can use both of these websites to look for on-base (government) and privatized housing and to look for off-base housing. Once you are on the website just go to the base you are moving to and apply from there.
That’s it, everyone. I will be posting more tips in the coming weeks on PCS moves overseas and stateside. So stay tuned!
Pin for Later!