How Military PCS Works

When you get your moving orders, the military is usually good about taking care of the logistics behind a permanent change of station (PCS). One U.S. Army captain told Fox Business News that the PCS move process is fairly easy, and the military breaks it down for each person changing duty stations. The military has a few websites, such as, that sum up your typical experiences into succinct tips, regs and tricks for a PCS military move.

When you get your moving orders, here are five tips for you and your family as they prepare to go to another base.

Use Your Leave

The military grants all movers a 10-day leave period to help find a house near your next duty station. Although you aren’t paid for this time, this leave period, called permissive temporary duty (PTDY), doesn’t detract from your accumulated leave. When you take advantage of veterans’ benefits for housing, this makes a move even easier.

Rely on Colleagues

A PCS move is a part of military life, and your CO knows it. Your CO approves your leave, but also you can lean on a sponsor at your next duty station. Your sponsor gets you ready for life in a new unit. JAG staffers can help you with the legal aspects of PCS military moves, such as dealing with leases, mortgages and any paperwork associated with changing your address.

Get Your Finances in Line

Save up money ahead of your PCS. Even though the military pays per diem rates when you move from one duty station to another, this only works for the physical moving part. Food and house hunting aren’t covered. However, the moving truck, logistics and even storage might have government assistance involved, so make sure you know what Uncle Sam pays for when it comes to moving.

Make Copies

One military spouse writes, “Make like 30 copies of your orders.” This is so everyone is clear when and where you have to be, including the movers.

Organize Like Crazy

The same military spouse says organization is the key. Number boxes that correlate to a spreadsheet that tell you where everything goes. Instead of writing names of rooms on boxes, color-code the boxes to different rooms using colored paper or patterned paper. That way, everything is visual for quick identification, especially when you memorize which patterns apply for which rooms.


All of these tips make your PCS easier. Nothing’s worse than having a snafu when time is of the essence while going from one duty station to the next. Much like active duty, moving should be efficient, quick and painless even though it introduces a measure of stress on military families. When you rely on others, also much like a well-trained military unit, your PCS becomes much less hectic and more like getting to the next destination as ordered by your CO.

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