What is a PCS?
The meaning of PCS is defined as a permanent change of station. Permanent change of station refers to the transfer, detail, or assignment of a service member to some other duty station. PCS is an assignment where the service member moves to a new station. Unlike a temporary duty assignment, PCS can last up to four years. Remember that PCS is not the same as PCA (Permanent Change of Assignment). While PCA refers to reassignment in the military post itself, PCS refers to complete relocation. Another thing to remember is that PCS is called deployment in a few service branches. However, technically speaking, the two are not exactly the same. Deployment refers to the movement to some forward location whereas PCS is the movement to a permanent duty station. PCS orders are intended to cover an employee’s and their direct family members’ transportation and lodging costs, as well as the storage and movement of their personal belongings and household items while they are traveling abroad.
PCS in military
Military service members often get PCS in military. In fact, every year, over 400,000 service members make a PCS. It comes with the job description and the peak season for such orders is usually May to July. However, how does it work? Firstly, service members receive military PCS orders. They first get an “assignment notification”, although it doesn’t specify anything right away. It only gets official once the active duty service member receives a PCS order. Those orders contain information regarding where you are going as well as when you are required to report to duty. An order can often mean moving the entire family and is known as accompanied order. However, many duty stations are not exactly right for families, in which case they become unaccompanied orders where personnel with dependents must travel alone and they are sometimes called Geographic Bachelors. For instance, most orders to Turkey or Korea are usually accompanied. Broadly speaking, the orders tell you where you will be moving: either CONUS or OCONUS. CONUS means that you will be moving within the continental United States whereas OCONUS means you will be moving to an overseas location or outside of the continental United States including places like Hawaii and Alaska. The orders also contain information regarding entitlements and authorizations.
How to request PCS Orders
To request PCS orders, you have to contact the Human Resources office in order to place a request. Processing times can differ as per government business days. Get yourself a relocation brochure.
Army PCS regulation
There are different kinds of army PCS regulation that you should know about. We have discussed them below.
DTR Part IV Appendix B: Called Tender of Service, this regulation is the contract drawn between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Transportation Service Provider (TSP).
JTR Chapter 5: This regulation oversees your per diem, financial entitlements, lodging entitlements, travel, and more and is a guide for the storage of household goods and personal effects.
DTR Part IV Attachment K1: This document has all the answers to questions you might have regarding firearms, boats, and pro gear. Excluded from pro gear are table service, equipment / professional gear, commercial products, office decorations, personal computer equipment, personal books, and professional books from schools unrelated to future duties, peripheral devices, and other such things of professional nature that are not required for official duties. On the other hand, it includes things like reference material, equipment peculiar to mechanics or technicians, band uniforms, field clothing, Clothing Communications Equipment, and specialized apparel.
Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO): Lastly, at your closest transportation office, you can find out how many days have been authorized for your PCS as well as details about the dislocation allowance.
There are different PCS costs involved with the movement of military families. Most rates and expenses for PCS moves and reimbursement for service members will be covered by the government. Moreover, military personnel might have expense deduction that isn’t from their taxes. You must be aware of the current rates such as the MALT rate and Milage Rate. We have discussed some of the pocket expenses below that are for affording resources at new duty location. Let us see what are the pocket costs.
Personal & Dependent Travel
The first expense is the personal and dependent travel, under which the government will financially support your dependents and you. Firstly, the government can transport you using their vehicle or airplane or they can issue a ticket for you from a common carrier. They can also offer you transportation expenses to travel in your privately owned vehicle (POV) such as mileage reimbursement. Secondly, you will also receive per diem amounts. It refers to the predetermined sum for food and housing that you will need while traveling.
The purpose of a dislocation allowance is to partially cover the actual expenses and nondeductible expenses associated with moving and house hunting for E-6 Service Members. This form of payment can cover things like utility deposits, Maximum Weight Allowance, Household Goods Weight Allowance, and consumables. Dislocation allowance is free of service taxes and keeps on varying depending on family status, dependency status, and rank.
Temporary lodging reimbursement
As per this type of payment, the government will help cover some of the extra expenses you might incur while looking for a new home or when relocating such as the lodging expense, cost of rent, incidental expenses, meal expenses, personal expenses, travel expenses, storage costs, and any other excess cost.
PCS-Related family disruptions are common so when relocating, it is best if you take the help of professional relocation services and storage services. The delivery crew of the moving services and transportation services will make moving much easier with their professional skills. Try to make lists for everything and hire highly-rated relocation services near you and let them know your preferred dates, which should not be on official holidays and they will give you the delivery dates. As you wait for orders, have clean packing materials ready and get rid of any common household items you do not use or donate them. Do not have excess packing material and it’s always preferable to move less since it will be easier for the relocation professionals as well. Moreover, you can prepare a list of your possessions or a legible inventory so you’ll understand what has to be moved when orders come in. Mark the contents of the boxes to make it easier. Plus, do a One-Time Placement of kitchen shelves, placement of rugs, and ironing boards.
You can submit a claim for loss or damage for an inventory item during shipments with the aid of a precise and comprehensive inventory form in case you have damage at delivery. There are different claim types like a travel claim and an inconvenience claim and you can also check your claim status. Lastly, remember to pack mirrors, pictures, as well as glass tabletops safely to protect finished surfaces and appliances against damage and protect rugs pads at residence. In addition, you will also be required to contact your local transportation office, Traffic Management Office, and housing office. There are also Relocation Assistance Programs you can check out. Take a Pre-Move Survey too from your nearest travel office.
Below we have discussed some PCS FAQs that cover the most common questions.
How often can you PCS in the Army?
You can PCS in the army every 2 to 4 years. In case you are expecting a PCS order, it is best to be prepared beforehand, and to do that, give away things or put products for sale and start planning everything early so that you do not feel overwhelmed by the sudden order. Do not forget to inform the landlord or property owner too or the government quarters or temporary quarters you live in. Avoid damage to your property during movement.
When it comes to leave, you are authorized to PCS for about 10 days. However, when it comes to the official direct travel time, for every 350 miles of the total distance of the ordered travel, 1 day is often granted. One extra day for travelling is permitted in case the remaining distance, after dividing the official distance by 350, is 51 miles or above that.
How soon after PCS can I retire?
Soldiers who have 19 years or more of active federal service (AFS) can retire after PCS. In order to retire, the application for retirement has to be submitted as well as approved within the first 30 days of receiving the PCS and you must meet service requirements.