How a Contracted PCS Relocation Works

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At some point in your military career, you’re going to relocate. There are no two ways about it. The enlisted person who stays in one location throughout his or her career is rare indeed. While the military distinguishes different kinds of moves, permanent change of station (PCS) orders can induce headaches. PCS is triggered when a relocation is more than 50 miles from your current station. Longer moves can equal bigger headaches.

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Permanent Change of Station

As its name denotes, a PCS is just that: permanent—relatively speaking, of course. It entails not only moving you or your loved one, but it also means moving everything you own. Furniture, electronics, appliances, clothes—everything in your possession goes with you. Since you’re active duty, you probably don’t have time to do or oversee everything yourself. This is where contractors come into play.

The military retains or pays contractors to move the possessions of everyone on active duty who receives a PCS order. These companies are moving companies; the same kind civilians can pay to transport items. In addition to transportation, some contractors might even prepare all of your items—boxing them, and so on.

Know Your Limitations

While the military covers the cost of your move, the money they’re willing to invest in your relocation isn’t limitless. Many commercial moving companies base their fees on overall weight. Since the military contracts these companies, they allot a certain weight for your move. Several factors are considered when calculating the overall weight they’re willing to cover, including your rank.

As an example, and this is purely hypothetical for illustrative purposes, let’s say you’re authorized to relocate 500 pounds. However, when you add the weight of all your possessions, you discover they exceed a half a ton. This is twice the weight the military will cover.

Another option could be a do-it-yourself (DITY). This is almost identical to a move if you were a civilian. You take care of everything yourself, including hiring commercial movers, etc. In some cases, the military might reimburse your expenses, but they’ll only reimburse you up to the overall weight limit they would have otherwise authorized.

What to Expect

You must give the office proof of your orders. After that, a moving company will contact you. It could take as many as ten days for a contractor to get in touch, so don’t expect speed when it comes to your PCS.

At some point, a representative from the contractor will visit you and inspect your belongings. From there, they’ll schedule an official date and time to pick everything up. On an agreed upon date, professionals will show up and pack everything for you. Let them do it. If you do the packing yourself, you most likely won’t receive any claims on damaged, broken, or misplaced items.

You’ll also have to schedule a time for delivery at your new location. It’s important to consider this carefully. You’ll want to be certain that you’re at the new base and not working when your belongings show up. Crossing paths at your new location might offer yet another chance for a headache. Who knows when you’ll find to time to meet up with the contractors?

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