PCS Checklists

checklist with pen and coffee cup

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In this article: 


As your PCS move approaches, you know you will have a mountain of tasks to tackle. We’re here to help you break it down! 

In MilitaryByOwner’s series of PCS guides, you’ll find expanded versions of the following checklists for the months, weeks, and days leading up to moving day, along with more expert military relocation tips. For now, here's a quick overview to get you started.

Three Months Before Your Move

  • Assess finances and create a budget
  • If you’re renting, notify your landlord of your upcoming move (but not until orders are firm in case of change).  
  • If you’re selling your home, begin preparing. List your home for sale or rent on MilitaryByOwner.
  • Research the new location. Check the installation’s website and social media for information on schools, housing, jobs, and more, and if you’re moving overseas, consult your overseas sponsor
  • Start thinking about how your vehicle will get to your new destination. Will you ship it or store it?  
  • Go through your belongings and decide what’s worth moving. Donate the rest, or mark your calendar for a yard sale.
  • Create a PCS binder with a Power of Attorney, copies of orders, and other moving documents. 
  • Schedule necessary medical or dental appointments, allowing time for overseas medical clearance or EFMP family members. 
  • Schedule veterinarian appointments for your pets and check vaccination due dates. They will also need medical clearance if moving overseas. Research the quarantine requirements for your new country.

couple with moving boxes

Photo from Canva

Planning for a DITY ("Do It Yourself") or PPM (Personally Procured Move)

  • If you plan to make the bulk of the move on your own, make an appointment with your installation’s transportation office to get the latest and most accurate information. Military OneSource's Moving Your Personal Property provides more details.  
  • Decide which rental equipment and packing materials you’ll need. Professional companies often offer partial moving assistance. Determine if temporary storage is required at either end of the trip.
  • Update your insurance policies. PPMs require up-to-date insurance policies for vehicles, trailers, and accident coverage.
  • Get accurate vehicle weights, fully loaded and unloaded. This is crucial for reimbursement. 
  • Assemble all necessary receipts to submit for reimbursement. Costs that are paid include:
    • Payment for rental vehicles and packing materials
    • Moving equipment such as hand trucks
    • Gas and oil expenses
    • Weight tickets and highway tolls

For more info about a DITY move, see: 

One Month Before Your Move

  • Double-check scheduled pack and moving dates.
  • Re-confirm lodging reservations. Confirm that pets are allowed, if applicable. 
  • Finish assembling your PCS binder, which you’ll hand carry. This should include official orders (multiple copies), passports, birth certificates, custody paperwork, marriage certificates, pet paperwork, household good inventory, school records, and other hard-to-replace documents. 
  • Contact current and new schools for required documents.
  • Schedule shut-off and turn-on dates for old and new utilities.
  • Use the United States Post Office online services to forward mail.
  • Prepare for your meeting with the moving company representative for a household assessment. Consider addressing the following:
    • If you own a piano or other costly furniture, request a professional for moving prep.
    • Set aside and point out military professional gear.
    • Note items requiring special handling.
    • Identify high-value items.
    • Discuss what you expect on moving day, including details like removing any doors, protecting bannisters, laying down cardboard or runners on high-traffic areas, taking apart furniture, identifying "no pack" rooms or areas, packing certain items in product boxes.

garage sale

Photo by Muhammadtaha Ibrahim Ma'aji from Pexels

Household Tasks to Remember

  • Hold the best and most organized garage sale of your military career!
  • Dig deep in the cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer and make meals at home to avoid wasting groceries.
  • Plan a goodbye meal with friends, serving a "little bit of this and a little bit of that." Military friends will understand; non-military friends will find it humorous. Send them home with a box of barely used spices and condiments as a parting gift.
  • If needed, pick a room to begin separating professional gear for the military member and spouse.
  • Set aside a space where movers will not enter ("do not pack" space) and separate items you'll want for your travel, such as suitcases and kid’s entertainment systems.
  • Don’t move trash or junk! Throw out half-empty beauty products, broken toys, and endless amounts of art projects you've collected.
  • Clean windows and baseboards as you go; they won’t be dirty before you leave.
  • Remove window coverings, wall art, and other decorative items.
  • Clean, dry, and store outdoor furniture.
  • Begin any yard clean-up if vacating a rental home or selling your house.
  • Review leases to determine if nail holes should be filled or if painting is necessary.

One Week Before Your Move

  • Find new homes for potted plants.
  • Ask for items to be returned that were loaned to family and friends.
  • Ensure that clothes and military uniforms have been picked up from the dry cleaners.
  • Check that prescription refills have been ordered and delivered or picked up.
  • Empty your gym locker or any other place where you may have stored personal items.
  • Find creative meal ideas that help empty your pantry shelves, such as breakfast for dinner, finger foods, or buffet-style meals.
  • Donate any unopened goods to a local food pantry.
  • Collect owners’ manuals for items. Store miscellaneous paperwork in sturdy banker’s file boxes.
  • Invest in bulk quantities of zip-lock plastic storage bags. Tuck small and easily lost items into these.
  • Organize items stored in the attic and basement.
  • Collect the professional items of the military member and spouse into one area. From binders and books to uniforms and gear, these "pro gear" items will not be counted towards your weight limit.
  • Back up your computer and save files on an external hard drive or cloud storage.
  • Use zip ties to wrap cords of electronics. Tape matching cords to items. Keep remotes with items, batteries removed.
  • Scrub clean and dry any trash cans or recycling bins you plan to move.
  • Unplug portable air conditioner units and dehumidifiers and allow them to dry out.
  • Disconnect the refrigerator and washing machine at least 24 hours before the movers arrive to allow them time to drain and dry out.
  • Make arrangements for your children and your pets to leave the house on moving day.
  • Finalize the space you’ve identified as the "do not pack" area. Items you place here will be things you don’t wish the movers to handle and might include:
    • Remotes, cable boxes, modems, and routers from your local cable/internet provider that you still need to return
    • Suitcases with clothes and toiletries
    • Prescription drugs
    • High-value jewelry
    • Cash
    • Wallet or purse
    • Keys
    • Cell phones, laptops, and other electronics
    • Chargers
    • Firearms
    • Trash cans or bins you don’t plan to move
    • Supplies needed for cleaning 
    • Important paperwork, passports, and your PCS binder

moving truck and boxes in front of home

Photo from Canva

Moving Day!

  • Drop off small children and pets at playdates or daycare.
  • Supervise the moving crew as they pack your goods and load the moving van.
  • Set up fans to keep air circulating as the moving crew works.
  • Provide food and drink and an optional gratuity to each crew member.
  • Before the movers leave, check that each room, cupboard, drawer, and shelf have been emptied.
  • Finalize any paperwork and share contact information with the moving van driver.

Once moving day is over, it's time to take a breather before the next big step—moving in!

By Jen McDonald

Find even more checklists for arrival day and moving into your new home with our free resource, Bloom Where PCS Plants You. Grab your copy below!





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