PCS Moves

Best Moving Overseas Checklist for Military Families

If you are preparing for a military overseas PCS move then you definitely want a moving overseas checklist! Moving overseas can be a very stressful time for military families. It certainly was for us! I will spare you the long version of the story, but my husband was away at school in another state as we were preparing to move overseas to Japan. It gets really complicated trying to figure everything out when you and your spouse are not in the same geographical location. The only reassurance is that I know it can be done, especially if you have a moving overseas checklist to help you out.

This is the BEST moving overseas checklist for military families that I've found. If you're planning an OCONUS move, grab this overseas moving checklist. #movingoverseaschecklist #militarymove #movingchecklistformilitary #oconusmilitarymove #pcsmoveoverseas

So take a deep breath! You can do this! In fact, you are going to rock this! Especially now that you have an awesome checklist in front of you. This should help keep you organized and help you see your progress.

Moving overseas checklist items to do before you even receive orders overseas:

I’m not much for wasting time on something that may or may not happen, but when moving overseas the earlier you can get things done, the better. This is a list of things I recommend doing even before you have actual orders, but are anticipating an overseas move.

  • Attend a moving overseas workshop. Hopefully your branch offers this! They should!
  • Gather information. Check out family services, command and base websites for your anticipated duty station
  • Research the country. Go the the library or check them out online.
  • Get current on all forms of identification. Obtain birth certificates, social security cards, and updated forms of identification for all family members. Regardless if you are moving overseas or not, this is something we all need to have on hand.
  • Obtain wills and power of attorney for both you and your spouse. If you are preparing to move overseas, you will always want your spouse (and vice versa) to have power of attorney. This will enable you and your spouse to get things done even when one person is not present.
  • Renew driver’s licenses. If you are able to renew your driver’s license before moving overseas, do so. It can be a conundrum trying to renew a driver’s license when you are overseas. It can be done in most cases, but it is often a HUGE hassle. Know that having an expired American driver’s license sometimes invalidates your SOFA (overseas driver’s license) in some host countries. Just something to be aware of.
  • Get started on personal passports. When moving overseas you need a military passport and a personal passport. The military passport is for when you are traveling on orders (that comes later in this checklist), but for personal travel you need a regular personal passport for each family member, babies included. This is something that is always good to have on hand regardless if you are moving overseas or not. In a family emergency, you don’t want to be stressing trying to expedite a passport with the Dept. of State. In addition, you will need a personal passport if you ever plan to leave your host country to go on vacation back to the states or travel anywhere else.

Things to do once you have orders:

  • Schedule overseas screening for all family members. Your service member will typically complete his overseas screening through his command. All other family members (aka dependents) need to complete an overseas screening. You will likely need to pick up the paperwork to complete a screening at an overseas screening office. This is commonly at your local Naval Hospital. Once you have the paperwork, go ahead and call your care provider and schedule an overseas screening. You will want to take all your vaccination records with you to this appointment.
  • Schedule appointment with TMO. They will help you arrange for shipping and storage of household goods. You will schedule shipments for an express shipment overseas (basic essentials), a regular shipment overseas (everything else), and a storage shipment (everything you are NOT bringing overseas).
  • Apply for no-fee passports. This is your military passports. They are good only when family members and service members are traveling on official military orders. For family members this passport is only enough to get you to and from your host country during a PCS move. All other travel will require a personal passport.
  • Request a sponsor.  This is a military family who is already in the overseas host country. They will help you get settled with cell phones, cars and finding your way around for the first few weeks.
  • Book temporary lodging at new duty station. If you have a sponsor, I would ask them to do this for you! Once you arrive in your host country, you will be in temporary lodging for several weeks before you are placed in base housing or moved out in town. Note: You will need to pay out of pocket for this and apply for reimbursement from the military. Plan to have several thousand dollars on hand to cover this expense until you are reimbursed!

Things to do three to six months before moving:

  • Notify housing or property manager. If you own a home this is the time you want to put it on the market and prepare to sell. If you rent or live on base, this is the time to give notice of moving.
  • Contact TRICARE health benefits adviser. This is the time to let TRICARE know that you will soon be moving to a new benefits region. They will inform you of next steps required.
  • Develop a relocation spending plan. Military Moves Overseas are very expensive upfront, as it is typically months and months before you will see reimbursement. Implement record-keeping to track moving expenses. Determine what relocations allowances and benefits you are entitled to.
  • Inventory household items. Learn your weight allotment for moving to your overseas duty station. Determine what you will ship overseas, what you will put into storage, and what you will sell or donate.
  • Determine if your pets can come with you. Certain breeds of dogs are not allowed overseas. In addition, there are many steps required to move a pet overseas. Plan ahead and get started as soon as possible.
  • Double check copies of legal documents. If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and acquire original copies of medical, dental and legal documents, including marriage licenses, birth certificates, divorce documents, personal passports, social security cards, wills, power of attorney, etc.
  • Request a port call. This is a request to travel to your host country on a given date. You can do this as soon as you have orders (up to 3 months out from your requested flight date). Please double check instructions you received during your overseas moving class on how to complete this for your specific branch.
  • Book flights. You can book a flight to your host country as early as 3 months out! If you have pets, I highly recommend booking 3 months out if you are able to. There are very limited spots available for pets on overseas flights. If your pet is not able to get on a military flight, it could cost you thousands of dollars. Yes, thousands. That is not an exaggeration. (Note: in order to book flights to your host country, you must have your medical overseas screening completed)

Things to do four to eight weeks before your military PCS move overseas:

  • Contact utility companies. Let them know you are moving and schedule shut off dates with each company. Offer a forwarding address as well. This typically needs to be your parents address or you spouse’s parents address. You will need an interim stateside address until you obtain an overseas P.O. Box.
  • Contact insurance companies. You will want to inform life insurance, car insurance, renters insurance, and/or home owner’s insurance companies that you are moving overseas. Determine in collaboration with your insurance companies what your insurance needs will be.
  • File change of address with the post office. You can schedule a change of address with USPS online way ahead of time. Again this will likely need to be a parents address until you are settled enough overseas to obtain a P.O. Box.
  • Double check all family member ID card expiration dates. Like I mentioned before, you don’t want to get stuck overseas with an expired form of identification. It is a huge hassle trying to renew overseas.
  • Notify your kids’ schools. Gather all school records for you children and inform the school of your upcoming overseas PCS move.
  • Obtain anti-terrorism training. All family members over the age of 14 are typically required to complete educational training on this topic. Please refer to information you received from the command to complete this eduction.
  • Book flights. If you haven’t already done so, book flights during this time frame. This is done through TMO.

Moving overseas checklist things to do one to two weeks moving:

  • Arrange for child and pet care for packing and moving days. It really is best to have the kids and pets out of the house when the movers come. It’s important that you be able to focus on what the movers are packing and they are getting your items in the correct shipment.
  • Double check all travel arrangements. Make sure everything is scheduled as planned.
  • On moving day separate items for various shipments. When the movers arrive, you will want to guide them with packing your express shipment vs your regular shipment vs your storage shipment.
  • Prepare to hand-carry important documents. Keep all school, heath records and identification for all family members in a file folder you intend to hand carry. You will need all of these documents with you during travel and you will want them readily available once you arrive in your host country.

Free printable moving overseas checklist

Military Overseas Moving Checklist Sample

Click here to download a free printable copy of the moving overseas checklist!

Simply right-click and save the image to your computer. Then print as an 8 X 10.

Want more on military life?

What else would you add to this moving overseas checklist? Let’s chat in the comments!

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37 Comments

  1. 17 smart packing tips to make moving home a breeze
    1. Bag hanging clothes
    2. Pack a “1st Day Box”
    3. Put things in things
    4. Use coloured tape
    5. Write a list
    6. Label plugs
    7. Protect breakables
    8. Ziplock
    9. Roll clothes
    10. Magic Eraser
    11. De-clutter
    12. Make up your new bed first
    13. Involve the kids…
    14. …or don’t involve the kids!
    15. Order food
    16. Wrap cutlery
    17. Wear comfy clothes

  2. Thank you. While this was helpful, what I’m really looking for is a discussion on what to take and what to leave behind in long term storage. Any suggestions on where to find THAT checklist?

  3. Thank you very much for sharing! Very timely tips! So useful! Thank You for your precious experience. So on time! Genius!
    You really need to know how much, per pound, your movers are charging you. A good mover can help you estimate how much any given item would cost to move. For instance, we thought of getting rid of our chest freezer because of its size, but the mover helped us figure out that it would cost more to buy a new one than it would to move it.

  4. hi! my name is Nicole, i just learned my husband, Nathan Magare, he is an O-3 doctor in the Navy, has been planning to secretly PCS overseas without myself and our 2 kids!

    we are in Beaufort South Carolina, he was the officer in charge of the pharmacy here, and because of his physical and sexual abuse against our kids we had been living in an apartment separate from him, for the kids’ protection.

    he is our sole source of income & he is actually telling me he is getting out of the military and moving to Kenya, his home country so that he won’t have to pay any child support. but his command is saying he is going to be PCS-ing to be the pharmacist in charge of the Navy’s Sigonella, Italy pharmacy.

    just wondering if this kind of thing, like.. happens all the time in the military?

    i have no idea what we’re going to do.

  5. Moving is always a challenge :)) But it is definitely worth the effort. Recently, I helped to move my friend to a suburb of New York City from downtown. He had his own checklist to make sure he didn’t forget anything, as well as many different tokens that helped a lot, some of which he obviously looked at you 🙂 My friend was madly happy to move, because the proximity of nature and the lack of noise made his life better and more peaceful. Did anybody have the same experience of a successful move?

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