Pre-PCS Military Guide

Ah, the wonderful world of PCSing...

    Changing duty stations is stressful no matter how experienced you are and hopefully, this will be a useful and quick guide on transitioning instead of hours of figuring out just how to pack.

Things You'll Need Before PCSing

Scan Everything!!

I cannot stress this one enough. While your head is spinning with information and you’re trying to keep your family together in a one-bedroom hotel; you might find you’ve misplaced a few things. It’s okay, but if you have scanned copies on a hard drive or on a cloud system this could save you a ton of headache.

Personally, this came in handy when I was applying for jobs using my PPP (Priority Placement Program, click here for more info about milspouse jobs). I didn’t think I would need my marriage certificate in the move. I thought, ‘the army has that filed away somewhere and my DoD ID is proof of it.’ Sure enough, the PPP needed it as well as the jobs I applied for under the PPP. Thankfully, having my all my papers handy landed me a job within the month of my move!



Travel Docs (DD 1351-2, travel Voucher, PCS orders, animal health certs, transcripts, marriage cert.)

Receipts: taxis, airline tickets, immunization fees, passport fees. Reimbursements usually take 2-4 weeks. I would recommend to for simplicity sake to get a receipt app that keeps a history of receipts.

Calendar: Personally, I like to use my Google calendar and share it with my husband that way we both don’t need to call each other 5 times a day to update on appointments and help layout a timeline. For example ‘Post car to craigslist’ and ’EFMP appoint, Bldg #’ because realistically, you are your spouse are going to have different schedules, especially during this process so I recommend finding out what works best for you and your family.

Map out services needed when transitioning like bus routes, rental car agencies, PX, etc. The reason I mention this extra step is that reception on base can often be spotty and if you can’t find the computer lab on base or if it’s way too far, you don’t have to fumble around or feel stranded.

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Tracking your HHGs

Before you start packing, make sure you record or photograph everything you care about! House Hold Goods (HHGs) service is usually good however, I do here chatter in the community that sometimes things get lost in the process. So don’t take your chances and snap a few pictures!

Packing Layout

Some questions you want to ask yourself: Do you know what you’ll probably use immediately at the new duty station? Do you want to layout all your items for the movers by each room? Have you sorted out a plan with your spouse?

If I could go through this process again I would’ve laid out everything by room, not by how long after the move I will need it. Or more, think, I’ll need it. Either way, the most important parts are going to be your basic cookware, any useful tech like your printer and computer, and comfortable clothes.


If you’re PCSing over seas, please be aware of ‘Peak Season’! This means that there is a certain time of year where everyone is coming either on or off orders making shipping chaotic and delayed. If you ask the Transportation Office at the installation you’re headed to they’ll inform you and advise you about how long it will take to get house hold good (HHG) and your vehicle. 

Stay in Touch with the Lastest!

Close Menu