What is Step by Step Plan for an International Military Move?
The following article is meant to guide you step by step through a successful military move. It covers what you should consider and prepare several months before the move, up to the move itself and immediately afterwards.
3 Months Before the Move
You can set up counseling at the transportation office in your base if you are currently on active military service. Select whether you will have a government move or a PPM (Personally Procured Move).
Inform your landlord about your plan and the estimated move-out date, but leave the exact date open. Afterwards, create a budget and gather savings for your moving expenses.
Help your children fight their relocation fears by giving them a heads up and by letting them know about the relocation plan. If you have a baby, start preparing essentials for your baby's needs during the move.
Determine if you will ship a vehicle. If so, make arrangements to ship it and schedule a session for counseling if you’re taking advantage of the transportation office in your base.
Create a way of tracking your moving expenses with tax deductions. Update your personal property inventory. Take pictures of all your expensive and high priced items and have them appraised for their value.
Organize documents, like insurance paper/warranties, birth certificates and all other important paperwork. Write down names that need to be notified of your forwarding address and moving plan. Then, notify the organizations and clubs you are part of that you will be moving and request for a membership transfer if applicable.
Consider making appointments for medical examinations like dental, optical and physical if needed. Get your records and check the forwarding process.
Clean out and rationalize your closet. Sort it by the following categories: sell, donate and throw-away. Take out all moving stickers on your furniture if you just previously moved.
If you are purchasing something, make sure not to place it in mail order. Finally, get a drawn up Letter of Authority or Power of Attorney for any unexpected situation.
2 Months Before the Move
Get rid of any unnecessary items by sorting your things carefully, and then decide what goes with you to the new place. Consider organizing a yard sale or sell them online.
For any family members that are currently working, they should turn in a resignation letter and ask the current employer for a letter of referral. Update resumes and referral letters and send them to prospective employers.
For child care services, find a child care facility nearby your new address. If your children are of school-age, check out the enrollment requirements and the school schedules in the area where your children are about to transfer.
Make an appointment for your pet's check up with a vet, and update any needed vaccination.
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Make an advanced reservation if you’re planning on spending some time in a vacation spot before going to your final destination. If you'd like to buy a house, choose one ASAP. Set a tentative closing date and arrange financing.
Complete any required repairs and upkeep for your vehicles. Also, check if your car's insurance is still with you. For your vehicle’s shipment, notify the base transportation office and let them set up the process. Ask for your vehicle's estimated weight.
You should have all your local charge accounts closed. You can visit a bank at your new destination for a safe deposit box and you can also open up an account if necessary.
Have your finances organized with the help of a financial advisor, or you may contact the finance center on the military base if required. If you plan to use your major credit cards during the travel, make sure to check the cards’ expiration dates.
To protect your high value items, household goods, and vehicle(s), you may want to contact your insurance company. For information about registration and a new driver's permit, you may contact the DMV at your destination.
1 Month Before the Move Date
Make an arrangement with the mover for storage, and set the dates for delivery and pickup. Afterwards, set up your temporary living accommodations if needed. Confirm your relocation date with the landlords and the realtor.
If you don't have a permanent address yet, you can have your mails managed with a forwarding address or a P.O. Box address. For financial counseling, you may get help from a financial advisor or you may contact the military financial center. Give way to the finance office to tell you about the benefit entitlements available for an active service member.
Organize a garage sale or online merchandising for all unwanted belongings and items that cannot be transferred. You can donate other items to charity, but all your donation receipts must be kept for the purpose of taxation.
Figure out the process of obtaining your children’s school records and submit a record request if necessary. You can request a transfer letter for your membership from any organizations, clubs, scouts and the local church.
You can purchase some walkie-talkies for short range distances if your family will be using multiple vehicles. You can use the walkie-talkie to communicate with them while driving.
Forwarding your tax withholding form must be requested to your employer. Advise your family members to do the same if they are currently employed.
Notify your insurers of your new address and make sure to update your insurance, such as life, fire, auto, and health insurance. Return all borrowed items and everything that doesn’t belong to you like books from the library, etc.
Set an appointment for vehicle maintenance and make sure to comply with all the vehicle maintenance requirements. Copy and note the serial numbers of your equipment and electronics. Finally, you can fill out a form in PDF format, available from the IRS, for change of address purposes.
2 Weeks Before the Move Date
You may reach out to your pay office in order to sign your PCS and have them certify your BAQ (Basic Allowance for Quarters). Afterwards, recheck with the mover the dates for packing, pick-up, and delivery. Check your military ID card's date of expiration and have it updated if needed.
The banks that issued your credit cards must be informed of your temporary or new address. Your temporary or new address must also be provided to your investment counselor or broker.
Have your outstanding bills settled or pay your bills in advance if possible. Regular deliveries and membership for diaper, newspaper and other services should be called off. More so, all your loaned out items should be retrieved.
Submit your new address information to the USPS / post office. Start using up the items in your cabinets and refrigerator, and get rid of perishable food before the relocation. All your boxes and furniture must be cleared from stickers and TSP markings.
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Reconfirm the moving date with the PPSO or Personal Property Shipping Office if needed. Remove from plastic wrappers all your cleaned carpets and curtains.
Your current quarter or living space should be cleaned up. Afterwards, start cleaning out some more areas in the house, like crawl spaces, the attic and the like.
Refill prescription medications and get prescription slips for emergency purposes during the move. Use spill proof and leak-proof containers for packing medicine.
Inform the packers about the military weight allowance given to on active duty member. Your professional items, such as papers, books, and equipment are not counted into your weight allowance. They are weighed separately and listed on your shipping inventory.
One Week Prior to the Move
If you own a vault box, make sure to close it. Purchase zip-top bags and make it’s enough to pack small items from your kitchen and furniture components, such as bolts, screws, etc.
Next, make a printout copy of all your documents and paper works before you mail or carry them with you to your new location.
Take down hanging hardware and all the accessories on the wall. Make sure all your hoses from the garden are drained. Empty gas and oil from lawn mowers and any power equipment. Make sure all the spark plugs are disconnected, and discard any flammable items, like gas, paints, fireworks, etc.
Have the local dealer of propane gas purge and seal your refillable tanks. Non-refillable tanks must be discarded. Propane tanks cannot be shipped by the military and by other carriers.
Package all your electronic devices, such as televisions and stereos. Pull together all the original boxes of your equipment if they are still in full shape. You can ask the mover to put your particulars in their original boxes or you can bundle your items on your own, but keep the box open for stock purposes.
Take your computers in a box, but make sure its systems are disconnected. Use a protective shell for your DVDs and CDs before you place them in the box.
Make an appointment for vehicle maintenance in case you want to use it. Your vehicle must be in proper running order and has to have completed all its maintenance requirements.
Let your family and friends know your schedule and route so they can reach out to you, if necessary. All the cleaning items you will be using at your new destination must be set apart.
State laws are your responsibility and hence you have to comply with USDA requirements for personal property items by making sure your belongings are soil free and not infested with pests.
One day before your move:
Put aside your suitcase and other items that should not be touched by the movers. Pack the belongings meant for Express shipment or unaccompanied baggage. These (dishes, linens, etc.) will be placed in your new home before your move.
Make sure to always keep with you the household inventory. Also, make a thorough inventory for every moving box. You’ll need to check it after the relocation. Label each box according to where it will go in your new home with a color code, so the movers will know where to place your items.
Have your important documents, jewelries, checkbook, and cash secured by taking them with you. If you opted to let a vehicle carry your belongings to the new address, make sure it is working properly.
If you have damaged items, make a notation of the item’s exact condition and the problem’s location (ex. Dented, soiled, scratched). Dry out and leave your freezer and refrigerator’s door open for 1 to 2 days. Place some briquettes of charcoal in a sock or stocking inside the refrigerator and freezer to avoid the musty odor.
Place each liquid jar in a waterproof bag and fasten it with tape. Throw out any containers and cans that are partly used and contain liquid substances.
The disconnection and reconnection of electrical appliances and gas is not usually done by moving companies, so you have to do it yourself. Bring down all hanging hardware/objects from the ceiling, such as kitchenware, mirrors, curtain rods, cabinets, and photo frames.
Satellite dishes and TV antennas must be withdrawn and disconnected. All air conditioners from the windows must be removed, and water from water beds and hot tubs must be drained.
Remember to schedule for your utilities to be turned on at your new destination.
On the Shipping Date
Be prepared on the date the shipping company is scheduled to arrive. Make sure your place is clean and organized. Dirt and trash should be thrown into the garbage bin.
Beverage and light snacks must be available so there is something to eat while you are organizing your belongings. This will definitely be a busy day for you.
The majority of the moving process takes place during business hours, so you better have someone ready in case you need assistance. If you have important belongings, like jewelry, cash, or confidential documents, secure them properly, and if possible, do not include them in the shipment.
Pets must be inside their cages when the moving company comes to ensure they will not be distracted. This is applicable if you have not brought them to a pet shop for safekeeping.
Inspect all cabinets, rooms, tables, and the garage area to see if everything is ready and packed for shipment. Afterwards, make sure to get a reliable marker to use when there is a need for writing important notes on each box.
When you are excluding some items and you want to personally carry them, you must indicate it by using the "DO NOT MOVE" note on it. Also, keep a box that includes all the materials you will need on the moving day. This box must include medicines, papers, cleaning materials, and markers.
Examine if the details included on the list or inventory are complete and precise. Be mindful during the loading and unloading process, and inspect every item. Only after you notice everything was delivered in a similar condition, should you sign the receipt.
If you notice some of the items you are shipping are slightly damaged or have stains on them, please write a note (like stains, dents, or dirt) on the box describing where the damage can be seen.
When the moving process is facilitated by military representatives, you need to secure a GBL copy, the form DD-619, and the inventory form from the office of Household Goods. The forms need to be filled out accurately and checked before the movers leave your place. Please do not forget to obtain a copy of it.
Inspect all areas to ensure nothing is left during the moving process. The old key/s must be left to the new owner or tenant who will be occupying the place.
After the Move
Call the provided telephone number of your office. Alert them your personal belongings will be delivered. Coordinate and inform them ahead of time to make sure utilities, like the telephone line, water, electricity, and gas will be available for use. Examine if the appliances are working well.
When you are relocating to a different state, do not forget to complete the registration and get a new license if required. If you are bringing your kids with you, make sure to enroll them at the nearest school.
Get the contact details of the medical institutions in your new area. This will ease your worries if you need to get a hold of them.
Organize and clean your place perfectly before the delivery comes to make sure there will be no mishaps in unloading your items. Compare the checklist you have made of your belongings before and after the delivery. You have to make sure there are no discrepancies.
Decide where the movers should place your items in your home. Remember: They need to unload and place each item individually.
Upon delivery of your belongings, you need to put the items together if they were taken into parts. If you did not include the removal of packaging materials for your items, you need to do it by yourself.
Should there be instances where there are missing or damaged items, you need to fill out a DD Form 1840. Three copies must be cleared and received for reference. This serves as proof that some items were reported lost or damaged. If there are any added belongings found to still be missing after the delivery, you need to include these details on the opposite part of the form. This is called the DD Form 1840R.
The contact information of the transport office will be given to you if you are on active military service. You must call your office and inform them of the telephone number of the service member or if his associate may be contacted. There are instances in which you need to contact the office for household items and notify them there will be items to be delivered.
Check if utilities like the telephone line, gas, electricity and water are functioning properly. Inspect the appliances you will often use to make sure there will be no hassle when you arrive.
Finally, you’ll need to register your vehicle and apply for a renewal of your license if required.
Written By:Joe Webster
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.