You got that phone call from your military spouse – “Hey, we have orders.” Excitedly you ask where.
Take a breath.
And start a checklist of all the things you need.
And peruse this article for answers to some of your questions.
What does it mean to move overseas with an OCONUS (Outside of the Continental United States)?
Paperwork upon paperwork upon paperwork.
It is true; there is a lot more paperwork with an OCONUS move. Get a binder or a large folder with tabs and keep track of everything you can in one place. While there a lot more xx required for a move overseas, it is no different than any other move in that once you get it all done, you will be on your way overseas.
What happens to my Privately Owned Vehicle (POV)?
Most locations overseas do not allow shipping a POV as the vehicles overseas have the steering wheel and driving are on the opposite of the road. Most of the time, shipping of one vehicle is covered for OCONUS moves to Hawaii. Check your orders to see if shipping of a vehicle is covered.
In cases where shipping is not allowed or covered as part of the military orders, storing your POV may be covered. In most cases, a service member is eligible to have one POV stored at a storage facility in a government-procured storage facility. There are limitations on vehicle sizes that are covered, so make sure to read the updated TRANSCOM guidelines for storing a vehicle.
What is medical clearance?
Before moving overseas, medical clearance is required. Why? Many of the overseas locations have limited availability of specialized medical services. A medical screening is completed by your medical provider and the paperwork is provided to the military-specific medical group that will be overseeing medical care for you or your family overseas. The screening identifies if there are medications or conditions that cannot be filled while your family is living overseas, and identify any vaccinations that may be required. If a condition is identified that prevents a military move to that location, the service member will be notified. Once medical clearance is provided, your family will be provided area clearance which begins the process for the military to book flights for everyone on the military orders.
How many passports do I need for an OCONUS PCS?
When on a government-ordered move, federal passports are provided. This official passport is also called a “no fee” passport and can be used when on travel orders from the government. It is not to be used for leisure travel outside of the government move. The “no fee” passport will be arranged for through the Human Resources or Travel Office arranging the travel for the move and be required for military dependents as well as the active duty service member. If leisure travel is desired while overseas, a tourist passport is required which can be obtained through the state department.
Will I need a Visa?
Each overseas location has requirements for military stationed overseas. The Travel Office will provide the required paperwork if a visa is required as part of your orders. The visa should be used with the “no fee” passport.
What about scheduling the move?
While most CONUS moves have one move – from door to door or door to a storage facility in one move, OCONUS moves require different moves. An advanced shipment called an unaccompanied shipment, typically smaller in weight allowance, will arrive quicker than a household goods shipment. A second shipment of the most household goods holds furniture and mattresses, etc., and will typically take several months to arrive at the OCONUS location. If there is a weight restriction for the OCONUS move, a third shipment that goes to storage with the other items can be arranged. In some cases, like moving to Okinawa, there may not be a weight limit, but some service branches still cover a storage shipment due to the smaller size of homes and lack of storage. If your OCONUS move has multiple shipments allowed, it will be in the military orders and loaded in the Defense Personal Property System for arranging.
A note about items to bring overseas – many overseas housing locations do not have a garage, basement, or deck, and housing choices are not known until the move has been accomplished. It is best to store larger tool items or outdoor equipment.
Are pets allowed?
This is base dependent. If pets are allowed, they will be required to have a veterinary screening. The screening may include rabies shots, FAVN screening, and vaccinations based on the area moving to.
There may be limitations to flying pets during the summer months due to the heat with commercial airlines but may be allowed on the Patriot Express.
Upon arrival at the duty station, there will likely be a mandatory pet quarantine period for which some of the fees are reimbursable.
Moving overseas is a stressful move, yes, and there is a lot to do. Take each step slowly, and mark off each item as you accomplish it. Many military families had moved overseas before and survived, despite how you may feel after interacting with the military travel office.