How to Ship a Car if You're in the Military

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How to Ship a Car if You're in the Military
How to Ship a Car if You're in the Military

If you're an active duty military service member and have received your permanent change of station (PCS) orders, you should know that you're allowed to ship your privately owned vehicle (POV) overseas and back. Best of all, it can be shipped at no personal cost to you if you meet the eligibility requirements and follow the necessary steps. However, many of those in the military may be a bit confused about the process. The following guide will make it quite easy for you to ship a vehicle if you're in the military:

Who is Eligible?

In order to be able to ship your POV, you have to be either:

  • An active member of the U.S. armed forces
  • An authorized retiree
  • A DoD civilian with the appropriate orders

It should be noted that shipping a POV is only granted to those who are given orders of a permanent change of station either to or from places overseas, as well as for those who have had the homeport of their assigned vessel changed.

The United States Government will only pay for one POV that is either leased or owned by you or your dependent for personal use only. Shipping an additional POV may require you to pay an import duty.

Vehicle Restrictions

The vehicles that can be shipped as a POV are only those that are wheeled motor vehicles and that are self-propelled. Furthermore, if your vehicle has been changed to be a "low rider," it has to have a minimum of 6 inches of clearance space from the ground. This is in order to ensure that no damage is done to it during loading and unloading the vehicle to and from the carrier. Finally, it also can't have a lift kit that is more than 3 inches in height.

Weight restrictions have to also be considered. A POV can weigh up to 20 measurement tons, in which one measurement ton is the equivalent of 40 cubic feet. In order to determine the measurement tons, you can use the formula of L x H x W = Cubic Feet, which represents length, height, and width respectively. Then, divide the total by 40.

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Shipping Timetable

When determining when to ship your POV, you should understand that the timetable is divided into two groups: Army / Air Force personnel and Navy / Marine Corps personnel.

Army / Air Force Personnel

Your POV will be eligible for shipment within a 90 day timeframe from the moment you or your dependent has left for the overseas tour IF it's for more than one year. If the tour of duty is for less than one year, then it must be shipped within 30 days.

If it isn't shipped within 90 days for an overseas tour of more than a year, special approval must be granted by an overseas commander for it to still be shipped. In addition, you must have a minimum of one year left on your time to serve overseas starting from the time in which the POV has been delivered to the relevant port.

Navy / Marine Corps Personnel

In this case, your POV will be eligible to shipped if you have at least 12 months left on your time to serve at the overseas duty station from the time in which it was delivered to the loading port. An exception can be granted if having the POV will allow you to perform your duties, as determined by a commanding officer.

Personal Items

The general rule is that any item that is considered a household item or an outdoors item, such as for camping, can't be shipped with the POV.

You won't be able to ship:

  • Television sets, and DVD / Blu-ray players, unless they are factory sealed
  • Anything that is a flammable or hazardous substance, such as oils, paints, and polishes
  • Liquids that can leave stains or spill, including antifreeze
  • Any accessory in the vehicle that isn't permanently installed in it
  • Citizen Band (CB) radios

You will be able to ship:

  • A spare tire and two snow tires, as long as they have wheels that are mounted or unmounted
  • Luggage supports and racks
  • Children accessories, such as baby carriages, car seats, or strollers
  • Less than $200 worth of tools
  • Items for car repair, maintenance, and warnings, such as tire chains, car jacks, fire extinguishers, tire inflators that are nonflammable, first aid kits, and jumper cables
  • Items that can be packed into one carton that has been supplied by the Vehicle Processing Center (VPC)
  • Audio equipment that is permanently placed in the POV

If you don't follow the above list, your POV can experience significant delays at the shipping port until the items are removed. You may have to pay for removal fees in some instances.

Military.com has a great checklist that can assist you, located at http://www.military.com/off-duty/autos/shipping-car-overseas-checklist.html.

Once your POV has been shipped, you can track its progress via the International Auto Logistics website (//www.pcsmypov.com). You simply have to enter in your name, order number, and Social Security number. In addition, you will be able to find out information about the location of pick-up centers.

Contact the nearest Vehicle Processing Station or call us today to get the process started.


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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.


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It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
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