By Buddy Blouin

Undergoing a PCS military move is a common experience for anyone serving and their families. It may be across the state, country, or world, but understanding the military PCS move can help you, especially if it’s your first time. It’s important to know your rights and avoid some of the common slip-ups some families may make. When you receive your orders, be sure to refer to the military PCS guide below for a smooth transition.

What Is PCS Military?

A permanent change of station, or PCS is when an active duty member and their family move to another institution. A PCS military move may be due to an upcoming retirement, being stationed out of state, or even out of the country, as needed.

Your PCS in the military isn’t a guarantee, but moving and a life of service go hand in hand. When it comes to the military PCS move, families can expect to undergo the process once every two to four years on average.

Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE)

TLE is the official military PCS hotel allowance set by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), which helps service members and their dependents cover the cost of meals and lodging in the Continental United States (CONUS).

Here are a few key points about TLE for your move:

  • TLE only applies near your old/new Permanent Duty Station (PDS) and can’t be used for house hunting.
  • Reimbursement for a CONUS to CONUS PCS is available for a maximum of 14 days for a CONUS to CONUS PCS
  • Reimbursement is 7 days when moving to an Out of the Continental United States (OCONUS) PDS.
  • Reimbursement for your TLE is capped at 14 days for an OCONUS PDS to CONUS PCS.
  • You can receive up to $290 daily for your Temporary Lodging Expense entitlement.
  • OCONUS lodging may qualify for reimbursement through a Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA).

TLE Entitlement Rates

TLE per diem rates are set each Fiscal Year on October 1 and can vary by location. You can find your entitlement by multiplying the percentage below by the applicable locality lodging and M&IE rates provided by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA):

*Lodging without dependents during a TLE extension period is 100%, however, your per diem remains at 65%.TLE extensions are available when authorized to help prevent financial hardship for the service member. They are provided in 10-day increments with a maximum of 60 total TLE days available. Eligibility for an extension is determined by an official selected by the installation Commander or a Public Health Service contact.

PCS Entitlements Calculator

When you receive your military PCS orders, you’ll likely be looking to determine how much your entitlements are. Using a calculator can help, however, the amount you receive will vary depending on many factors, including the branch you serve in.

Simply put, things can get complicated.

You’ll want to lean on your local transportation office to learn more about the specific permanent change of station entitlement policy applying to your move. The MilitaryINSTALLATIONS Tool can help you find an office near you.

Finding Your Permanent Change of Station Entitlements

Determining your PCS military entitlements will vary but each branch provides ample resources to help you with your move. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some important PCS resources to help you learn more about the process and your entitlements:

Some military PCS move entitlements come with advances, as allowed by the DFAS:

You may be able to receive Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT), Dislocation Allowances (DLA), and Personally Procured Move (PPM) Allowances in advance of your PCS move.

If you are not a Government Travel Charge Card holder, you can expect to receive the following percentages of your allowance in advance of your move.

  • MALT: 80% in advance
  • DLA: 100% in advance
  • PPM: 100% in advance

You can learn more about your specific authorized issue date via the appropriate forms

for each allowance type:

PCS Military Resources

Any move is going to entail a lot of different logistics, no matter how much help you receive. Therefore, the more resources you have, the better off you will be. Below are a few important resources to help you with a PCS:

Military PCS Rights

Understanding your rights is critical for a military permanent change of station move. Otherwise, you may be taken advantage of or miss out on perks you are entitled to.

Each move is different and for specific PCS military moves, speaking with your Commanding Officer (CO) or Military OneSource can help you understand your process.

With that being said, here are a few important rights you’re entitled to. Keeping these in mind will help your PCS military move go smoother in the long run:

  • You can fire the movers. Unfortunately, there are several horror stories involving everything from damaged personal property to the mistreatment of family pets. If you’re not being treated correctly, report it and fire the movers.
  • Military members who receive a full unpack can have all of their boxes unpacked, furniture assembled, and trash thrown away by the movers.
  • There are pet allowances for moving your furry loved ones.
  • You’ll receive some restrictions on items you can move during your PCS; however, most personal property can be packed. This includes firearms. Hazardous materials and perishable food are not allowed. This includes draining items, such as your lawnmower, of gasoline before moving.
  • Weight allocations vary and can be found using the Joint Travel Regulations Authorized PCS Weight Allowances, Table 5-37.

Breaking Down a “Full Unpack”

During a PCS military move, you can receive a full or partial unpack. In most cases, military members are authorized for a full unpacking, and the crew is required to remove empty boxes, packing materials, and set up your furniture.

Here’s the problem.

While in an ideal world, every moving company does as it says and it will unpack every box, some movers don’t fulfill this end of the deal.

One of the common mistakes made is allowing the crew to pack kitchens and bedrooms last and then unpacking the kitchen last.

For most, kitchens are going to have the most amount of boxes. If you don’t pack the kitchen first and then unpack it first, some movers may claim that there isn’t enough time later and attempt to leave early.

This is important to know as it’s unfortunately a trick some movers may attempt. Remember, if a company isn’t operating in good faith you can fire them as it’s your right to do so.

Related read: Where to Get Moving Boxes For Your PCS Move

PCS Military Move With Guns

If you have firearms, you can move with them; however, doing so responsibly is key. Remember, you can’t make stops when transporting firearms on and off of any base. Therefore, if you have to stop, you’ll need to make other arrangements.

Furthermore, while you can complete a PCS with firearms by giving them to movers, when possible, it’s best to transport your weapons personally following the law and off of your person.

In the event you have to have movers transport your firearms, here are a few key points to remember:

Your firearms must comply with each state’s laws that they’ll be passing through and can be a part of your household goods if you choose to do so.

This includes an OCONUS PCS, assuming the country you’re moving to allows such weaponry. However, when you get back to the United States, you’ll need to identify your weapons on customs forms and get the appropriate ATF Form 6:

This process can take as much as six weeks. For more information, contact your local transportation office.

During shipment, your firearm should have the bolt, firing pin, trigger assembly, and any other arming parts removed to ensure it’s inoperable.

You can’t ship your firearms inside of your safe, they must be individually packed. Ammo must be removed from your firearm before shipping and you can’t ship live ammo with household goods.

Both you and the movers will need a copy of each firearm’s caliber or gauge, serial number, make, model, and unique characteristics.

Military PCS Alcohol Shipment

If you’re looking to move alcohol after receiving your PCS military orders, here are a few things to remember:

  • Generally speaking, you’ll have limits depending on a number of factors, including the branch you are serving in. Be sure to learn about these limits and preferred methods of transportation for your base(s) to avoid any mishaps.
  • Furthermore, depending on where you are shipping alcohol, different laws apply. This refers both to international and stateside shipments as state laws vary greatly on this subject.
  • Taxes and duties also vary depending upon many factors.

Because each state has its own laws and regulations for transporting alcohol without a license, it’s important to research the appropriate legislation when moving.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) handles alcohol coming into the United States for personal consumption, whereas, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is in charge of the commercial use of alcohol.

For more information and resources for contacts, the TTB contact information is available here.

Are Military PCS Moves on Hold?

Budgeting issues due to the designation of U.S. Space Command had briefly put a pause on military PCS moves for the Air Force.

There were also concerns due to potential government shutdowns. However, these issues have been resolved and the military PCS freeze is no longer in effect as of this writing.

Privatized PCS Military Update 2024

Beginning in 2024, PCSing will be privatized through a collaboration between the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) and HomeSafe Alliance for the movement of household goods (HHGs).

This will occur in phases with 14 military bases beginning the transition and others over time, beginning in the second quarter of 2024. The $20 billion contract is aiming to help eliminate the frustrations families have felt for years when undergoing PCS military moves.


1. Personal Property FAQs, Military OneSource. Accessed April 2024. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/moving-pcs/plan-to-move/military-pcs-moving-faqs/

2. PCS Entitlements, Military OneSource. Accessed April 2024. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/benefits/pcs-entitlements/

3. Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE), DFAS. Accessed April 2024. https://www.dfas.mil/militarymembers/travelpay/armypcs/tle/




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