PCS or PPM Moves and Unaccompanied Baggage

When you are ordered on PCS you are also authorized to ship your household goods (HHG) at government expense. The government authorizes you a weight limit based on your rank and family status. You are also authorized to ship unaccompanied baggage in conjunction with your orders.

Unaccompanied baggage is generally limited to 2,000 pounds, but there may be lower limits in some cases such as certain overseas locations, unaccompanied tours, etc. (Trünk domestic or international micromoves are a perfect match for unaccompanied baggage moves). This 2,000 pounds is part of your weight limit, but you normally use unaccompanied baggage to include clothing, electronics, etc. that you do not want to haul with you when you travel. The unaccompanied baggage can be delivered separately when you report to your new station and before you find a new house.

Arranging Household Goods Shipments

As soon as you are alerted to your upcoming PCS move, start getting your house and family ready. Get rid of junk and plan to clean up. Hold a yard sale or take serviceable items you no longer need to a thrift shop or donate to charity. Get important family records together in one place. You can even check your weight allowances and estimate the weight of your household goods before you start to set up your move.

If you are going overseas, you should begin to plan what items you will take in your unaccompanied baggage, in your household goods shipment, and what might need to go into permanent storage. Remember, in overseas areas, the electric current is different and houses are generally much smaller than U.S. standards and cannot handle large furniture.

Most likely, you will use the Defense Personal Property System (DPS) portal, Move.mil, to setup your move so you may ship personal property anytime after you receive your official orders/authorization.
Pack dates are usually a day or two before the actual pickup date of your shipment. Pack dates can and do vary, if choosing a PPM solution which is becoming more popular, pack flexibility is ensure. For DPS, and to ensure a smooth move,the travel office coordinates the pack dates with you during the pre-move survey process. 

Personally Procured Move

The Personally Procured Move (also known as the Do-It-Yourself (DITY) move) allows you to be reimbursed by the government for moving your belongings yourself. You're eligible if you make a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), Temporary Duty (TDY), or Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) move, or separate, retire, or move to or from government quarters under orders.The program is voluntary.

Advantages of the PPM Move

At first glance, the PPM Program may seem to be more trouble than it's worth -- after all, you have to take care of your own moving arrangements and expenses, rather than have the government do it for you (for some, keeping track of all the receipts is a major hassle by itself). But if you do a little planning and put forth a bit of effort, doing a PPM move offers significant advantages over a normal military move. For example:

  • Money, Money, Money. In the PPM Program, you receive a government payment of 95 percent of what it would cost the government to move you. In addition, you receive the standard travel allowances for you and your family. If you end up spending less than the 95 percent payment the government providesyou get to keep the rest. This may sound difficult, but if you take advantage of moving company discounts (Trünk offers a great discount for Military) or other offers, you'll find that you can make money for yourself. You should especially consider a PPM move if you have a limited amount of items that need shipping or moving -- you may be able to take care of all the packing.
  • Time, Time, Time. When you receive orders to move to another area, you're authorized permissive TDY or travel time in order to take care of all your moving arrangements. With PPM, you'll receive additional time to handle your move -- time that you can use to relax if you're efficient about planning.
  • Total Control. While it's nice to do without the headaches of planning a move, many military personnel have less-than-ideal experiences when the government took care of their moves. With the PPM program, you're in control every step of the way.

Ready to take advantage of the PPM program, you can follow these easy steps for a smooth move:

Step 1. Apply for the PPM move by scheduling an appointment with your base Personal Property Transportation Office (PTO) -- this is your opportunity to ask specific questions about your move and get the low-down on the PPM program. A PTO representative will provide you with all forms and instructions you need. 

You can only do the move after you have been authorized by your PTO. If you make a partial PPM move (i.e., only shipping a certain amount of household goods), make sure you work out all the details with your PTO representative. Note that you will not receive full government payment for your PPM move until after your move.

Step 2. Decide on your type of move. Will you be doing this all yourself? Will you have packers help? Will you have a moving company take care of the actual transport? Nail down these arrangements as soon as possible.

Step 3. Arrange for any rental equipment or moving services you need. You can either do it all yourself, have a professional handle tasks, or some of both. Packing materials can be purchased from commercial suppliers, online, or at big box stores. Your PTO can often recommend stores and services in your old and new locations, or you can search online.

Step 4. Confirm your insurance coverage. Make sure you are up to date on your car and accident insurance. If you use a trailer, check your auto insurance policy to make sure you're covered. State laws regarding liability for accidents during a PPM move vary, so if you're involved in an accident while performing a PPM move, you should contact the legal office at the military installation nearest the accident site as soon as possible.

Step 5. Pick up your operating allowance from your local payroll office.

Step 6. Get receipts for all moving expenses. All costs associated with the move are not taxable, and will be deducted from the allowance you receive from the move to determine your actual financial profit. Only your profit will be taxed, so be sure to keep track of everything to maximize your profit.

Step 7. Make your move, and submit your settlement. Once you complete your actual move, you have 45 days to submit a claim for full payment of your PPM allowance. 

More specific details can be obtained from the Personal Property Transportation office at your installation.

Important PPM Notes:

  • Your base transportation office must approve a PPM. Without approval your payment could be limited or denied.
  • Any actual moving costs that exceed the government cost will be at your expense, including overweight costs or expenses not covered.
  • An advance allowance may be permitted to help defray up-front costs. Regulations differ by service branch; check with your base transportation office.
  • Some expenses are not authorized. These include tow dolly rental, insurance fees and sales tax. Again, check with your transportation office for specifics.
  • Temporary storage may be available with a PPM. Check with your transportation office for more information.
  • Be sure to file any loss or damage claims directly with your commercial moving company before you file with the government. Claims are usually not paid unless the loss or damage was due to circumstances beyond your control, such as an accident.
  • Payments more than your actual moving costs may be taxable. Read IRS Publication 521 for more information.


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