Moving overseas can be extremely stressful. Heck, every move is stressful, but a foreign country, scary!! When we got our assignment to Japan I was completely overwhelmed with emotions and things to do. I’ve put together a checklist to help prep you for your overseas move. A printable version of this checklist is included in the Less Stress PCS printable binder. I am currently working on this PCS series to keep an eye out for corresponding posts! [I will be adding links as the posts go live.]
1. Get actual orders.
Nothing is for sure until you have orders in hand. And you pretty much can’t do anything (schedule TMO, apply for housing, get passports…) without them. Make about 5 million copies of them. Honestly, you’ll want to make 30 or so. Different offices will ask for copies and we include a copy of orders in our crates in case they get…er… umm… misplaced.
1.2 Have active duty member schedule an appointment with their personnel office for their initial outbound counseling and checklist.
This will tell them on the workside of things what to do.
2. Schedule TMO (Packers).
Packing and pick up days fill up fast. You want to make sure you get a date before your report no later than date. See #9 for the 3 different shipments you will need to schedule.
3. Make a PCS binder.
There are so many papers and documents to keep track of! So I designed and recently revamped my Less Stress PCS binder printables. You can find them HERE. [Read this post about how my PCS binder saved me during our move.]
4. Make medical evaluation appointments.
They need to make sure that your next assignment has the medical facilities to take care of you and your family. We had a specific meeting asking us if we had any concerns, including my mental health with post-partum depression. This can take the longest because the results have to be seen by a few people.
5. Apply for housing.
Depending on your base, you may not be allowed to apply for housing until 60 days out. Call or email the housing office of your new instillation and ask them what you need to do to apply.
6. Get passports and visas.
Some assignments require visas and this is dependent on the destination and if the spouse will be working. There will be an office on base that will do this and you should be told which at the outbound counseling. If you plan on traveling to surrounding countries I would suggest on getting your own passport or renewing yours if it will expires while you are stationed overseas.
7. Establish a P.O. Box at your new base.
Your sponsor (someone in the receiving squadron who is assigned to help you with the move) should be able to do this for you. Some people decided to ship things like sheets and towels to themselves or their sponsors early.
8. Do anti-terrorism awareness training.
This is an online training that is super quick. Link should be given to the active duty member during outbound counseling.
9. Decided if pets will be coming with you.
Some countries are very strict on animals. Call the receiving base vet to see what the requirements are.
10. Start planning, purging, and organizing for shipments.
There are 3 shipments for overseas moves. First is express or unaccompanied baggage (UB.) These are the items that you want right away once you get into your new home. This shipment is supposed to arrive quickly but with our experience, ours arrived a week before our HHG got there. Ask your sponsor about the average times it takes to get stuff over there. [See my UB checklist here] Second is household goods (HHG.) This is the main body of your stuff. Third is storage. Items that you don’t want to take or can’t. [Check out this post about why I won’t do a storage shipment again.] Weight allotment is less for moving overseas so you will need to ask your TMO what your allotment is. You might need to downsize based on the amount of stuff you have. You can estimate your weight here https://www.move.mil/resources/weight-estimator We got rid of a lot of furniture because before we moved which I regret. We were told the houses were tiny but it actually was the biggest house we had lived in so far. If you aren’t concerned about your weight limit, bring it and then if it doesn’t fit sell it on a yard sell page and no harm done and you’ve made some money. You will have your luggage too. If you are traveling via Patriot Express (contracted military flight to the base) you have a two pieces of luggage weighing 70 lbs. or less, a carry-on, and personal item (i.e. purse or backpack. I shoved my purse into my backpack.)If you are flying commercial, show your orders upon check-in to have the luggage fee waived. [See my checklist here of what you should pack in your luggage]
11. Continue with the usual PCS Checklist items.
With any move there are a million things you need to get done. In addition to these steps you’ll need to do the steps on the Less Stress PCS Checklist for other things you need to do before you move.