Your moving experience begins when you receive your Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. The information below will give you a head start on what to expect, who you need to contact and what you need to know.
Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Allowances and Entitlements
There are various allowances and entitlements associated with most contigiouis United States (CONUS) and outside the contiguous United States (OCONUS) moves. DO NOT ASSUME that you will receive any of these allowances. Allowances change periodically so ensure you check with the finance office on your installation to determine the exact amount of your allowances and entitlements.
Transportation Office (TO)
Set up an appointment with your transportation office as soon as you have a copy of your PCS orders. The earlier you call or visit your transportation office, the greater your chances of moving on the date you desire. The counselors will explain all your PCS move entitlements in detail. Your first decision is whether to have the government move you or whether to move yourself. There are pros and cons to each type of move. Your counselor will answer all of your questions. If you choose a government move, they will book your shipment and let you know the exact dates the movers will come. If you choose to move yourself, the counselor can assist with recommendations and tips on how to do a personal move.
Your Installation Transportation Office can help you with the following:
- Determining your household goods entitlements
- Learning whether or not you can do a self move
- Getting information on shipping a pet
- Learning about shipping your car
Your Installation Housing Office can help you:
- Determine your housing allowances and entitlements
- Determine availability of government housing at your new location
- Get help finding local community housing at your new location
- Find out about arranging temporary lodging
Personally Procured Transportation Moves (what used to be called DITY moves)
You may move your Household Goods (HHG) yourself using rental equipment or a personally owned vehicle (POV) or by hiring a commercial mover. Under this program you can receive reimbursement up to 100% of the Government Constructive Cost (GCC) or an incentive payment of 95% of the GCC. An advance operating allowance can be authorized to defray out of pocket moving expenses (rental equipment, HHG mover charges, packing material, etc.).
HHG include items associated with the home and all personal effects belonging to a member and dependents on the effective date of the member’s PCS or TDY order that legally may be accepted and transported by an authorized commercial transporter. It also includes: professional books, papers, and equipment (PBP&E), spare POV parts and a pickup tailgate when removed, integral or attached vehicle parts that must be removed due to their high vulnerability to pilferage or damage (e.g., seats, tops, winch, spare tires, portable auxiliary gasoline can(s), and miscellaneous associated hardware), vehicles other than POVs (such as golf carts, motorcycles, mopeds, jet skis, hang gliders, snowmobiles), and their associated trailers, boats and single occupant ultralight vehicles for recreation or sport purposes; weighing less than 155 pounds if uncovered or less than 254 pounds if powered; having a fuel capacity not to exceed (NTE) 5 gallons; airspeed NTE 55 knots; and power-off stall speed NTE 24 knots.
HHG do not include:
- personal baggage when carried free on an airplane, bus or train
- automobiles, trucks, vans and similar motor vehicles
- airplanes, mobile homes, camper trailers and farming vehicles
- live animals including birds, fish and reptiles
- cordwood and building materials
- items for resale, disposal or commercial use rather than for use by the member and dependents
- privately owned live ammunition
- articles that otherwise would qualify as HHG but are acquired after the effective date of PCS orders except: bona fide replacements for articles that have become inadequate, worn out, broken, or unserviceable on/after the effective date of orders
Personally Owned Vehicle (POV)
One POV by you or your family member may be shipped at government expense overseas. It must, however, be for you or your family member’s personal use only. If you desire to make your own arrangements and ship an additional POV, consult your Transportation Office for any restrictions which may apply. You may be required to pay an import duty on a second POV. At the option of the member shipping a vehicle overseas, a motorcycle or moped may be considered a POV if the member does not ship a vehicle with four or more wheels under the same set of military orders. A vehicle under a long-term lease (12 months or longer) may be shipped if you obtain written permission from the leasing company.
The POV should be delivered to the port prior to the departure of the personnel on whose orders the shipment is to be made. This includes dependent travel authorizations when no POV has been previously shipped on the sponsor’s orders. Member must have a minimum 12 months remaining on overseas tour at the time the vehicle is delivered to loading port. If a military spouse delivers the vehicle to the loading port they must have a Special Power of Attorney.
Unaccompanied baggage (UAB)
Unaccompanied baggage are those items that you will need immediately upon arrival at your new destination. It includes clothes, linens, baby or medical equipment.
Allowances and Entitlements
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
An allowance to offset the cost of housing when you do not receive government-provided housing. Your BAH depends upon your location, pay grade and whether you have dependents. BAH rates are set by surveying the cost of rental properties in each geographic location. The rates are established such that members in each pay grade, independent of location, pay approximately the same out-of-pocket expenses.
Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)
An allowance to offset the cost of housing for Service members living off base overseas. Rates are determined by rank and whether or not the military member has dependents. OHA rates have three components rental ceiling, utilities/recurring maintenance allowance and move in housing allowance (MIHA).
Dislocation Allowance (DLA)
Intended to help with miscellaneous moving costs. In general, it is paid once per PCS move. DLA is available CONUS and OCONUS. It is based on your rank and dependent status. DLA is not available from home to your first duty station; when assigned to government quarters, without family members, at new duty station; when transferred to a nearby duty station, unless a local move of household goods has been pre-authorized; and when separating or retiring from the military.
- DLA is NOT PAID on the last move.
- DLA is not paid on a local move, unless movement of household goods has been authorized.
- DLA is not paid if the service member is assigned to government quarters at the new duty station and is not accompanied by family members.
Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT)
The amount paid when a member and/or the member’s family drive to their new duty station, based on the Official Military Table of Distances. MALT is available CONUS and OCONUS. It is figured on a table of miles times the number of travelers and approval is needed before MALT can be paid for more than 2 vehicles. May be advanced at 80% before the move, and is paid by travel voucher.
Move-In Housing Allowance (MIHA)
Designed to reimburse you for overseas costs associated with living in privately-owned or privately-leased quarters. It addresses 3 specific needs: one-time rent-related expenses, modification of homes for security protection and the initial cost of making a home habitable. The State Department determines whether a location is "high threat". This is available OCONUS only. MIHA rates change with currency rates and location so see your base relocation manager.
Per Diem Allowance
Per Diem Allowance is designed to reimburse you and your family for the costs associated with meals and lodging when you travel to your new duty station. It is available for both CONUS and OCONUS moves.
Per diem rates for car travel are based on a flat rate and as 350 miles per day as the standard one-day travel distance to compute per diem rates. To determine the number of days per diem, take the Official Government Mileage between duty stations and divide by 350. An additional day of travel is allowed if the remainder is 51 miles or more.
Per diem rates vary by age. Each family member is entitled to a different percentage of the applicable per diem rate on the days they are eligible. The total per diem reimbursement on your move is the sum of the allowable per diem for each family member.
- Service Member: 100% of rate
- Spouse: 75% of rate
- Children over 12: 75% of rate
- Children under 12: 50% of rate
DO NOT CONFUSE PER DIEM WITH TDY TRAVEL WHICH IS BASED ON LOCATION.
Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA)
Designed to partly offset the cost of temporary housing and meals incurred while waiting for permanent lodging. TLA is available OCONUS only. The amount is determined by the military member’s pay grade, number of family members, actual quarters cost, the availability of cooking facilities and the local per diem rate. TLA starts the same date as the member’s overseas housing allowance and usually has a 60 day maximum when arriving and a 10 day maximum when departing an installation.
- A single Service member is entitled to up to 65% of either the cost of meals and incidental expenses or the local per diem rate.
- A Service member and one family member are entitled to up to 100% of the local per diem rate.
- Add another 25% for each additional family member under 12 and 35% for each family member 12 and over.
Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE)
Designed to partly reimburse relocating members and families for the cost of meals and lodging incurred when temporary housing is needed. TLE is CONUS only. The formula used to calculate TLE includes member’s pay grade, number of family members, actual quarters cost, availability of cooking facilities and the local per diem rate. The maximum TLE rate is $180.00 per day. The maximum amount of time you can claim TLE is up to 10 days for CONUS to CONUS moves and up to 5 days for CONUS to OCONUS moves. Ask your family center relocation manager for help in figuring out your TLE.
DLA, MALT and per diem
When making a PCS move, Service members can request advance payment of 80% of the DLA, MALT, and per diem amounts. The remainder will be paid upon processing of the travel voucher filed after the move is completed. This money does not have to be repaid, if the proper paperwork is completed. It can go a long way toward paying the initial cost of setting up your household in a new location.
- Advances may typically be requested ten days before signing out of the losing unit.
- The funds will be deposited into the Service member’s checking account, so do not close the account when leaving the installation.
- If an advance is not requested, entitlements will be paid after completing the move and filing the travel voucher, and payment can take several weeks.
If absolutely necessary, Service members can receive an advance of basic pay, overseas housing allowance, and basic allowance for housing when making a PCS move. Keep in mind that all of these advances are simply an interest-free loan and are repaid by deductions from pay. Repayment can create an additional financial burden just after the PCS move, at a time when finances are already stressed. Therefore, the use of advance pay is not encouraged unless circumstances require it.
Advance Basic Pay
An interest free loan you can get when you make a permanent change of station move. The collateral is your military salary and you repay advance basic pay in 12 equal installments. Advance Basic Pay is available for both CONUS and OCONUS moves. A member may draw up to 3 months basic pay in advance, interest free. Your base pay and finance offices can provide more details specific to your situation.
Advance Basic Allowance for Housing
An advance against your normal BAH to help you cope with the costs of rental housing off base. This is available for CONUS and OCONUS moves. For CONUS moves BAH is available up to 3 months and for OCONUS moves it is available for up to 12 months. Note: unit commanders must authorize advances in BAH. Payback requirements are determined by the length of the tour.
Advance Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)
An advance against any projected OHA to cover the difference between the cost of economy rental housing and the BAH. Advances are limited to 12 months except for unusual cases and it should not exceed one year’s allowances.
Relocation / PCS Topics of Interest:
- Relocating / PCS 101
- Temporary Lodging While You Wait for Installation Housing
- Getting Ready to Relocate as a Military Family
- Moving Overseas: Your Belongings
- Your Pet and Relocation