Moving overseas can be both exciting and overwhelming. When the orders arrive, thousands of unanswered questions may pop into your head. What can we bring? Where will we live? Do we need passports?
The first step to take when receiving overseas orders is to contact your base transportation office. They will schedule (either in person or online) pickup of your household goods. Typically with an overseas PCS, you will have three separate moves: one for the goods you want to store stateside, one for the goods you want shipped to your overseas location, and one for unaccompanied goods - those essential items, such as bedding and dishes, that you want to arrive earlier than your household goods shipment. Be sure to check on your total household goods weight allowance since allowances will vary and some locations will issue government furniture for your use while overseas.
Some locations allow you to transport your vehicle, but others will not. For example if you are moving to Japan, you will be authorized vehicle storage at a storage unit in the States. Often it is more economical to purchase a used car in the new country rather than pay exorbitant fees to register and alter your own vehicle so it is in compliance with the country's regulations.
Dependants of service members are required to have "no fee" passports to move to the overseas location. Even if you have a traveler's passport, you will also need a no fee passport. Apply for the passport at the transportation office. Typically it takes four weeks to receive the passport so plan early!
All dependants of service members moving overseas will also need a physical examination. This exam is to assure that dependants will receive the medical care they will need in their overseas location. If you live far from a base, your Tricare authorized physician can perform the exam.
Once all dependents have been approved for travel, the transportation office will schedule your flight. This could be a military flight or commercial flight depending on the location you are traveling from. Typically, family members are allowed two bags each plus one carry-on and service members are allowed four bags plus a carry-on.
Finally, if you prefer to live on base (some bases will require it), contact the housing office on your new base and fill out a housing application so that you will be put on a waiting list. Also, at least a month before you arrive, make a reservation at temporary lodging so you have somewhere to stay until you are assigned a house.
One of the many perks of being in the military is being able to live in a foreign country without having to leave behind all the amenities of life in the States. Once you arrive, take a breath and take advantage of your exciting new surroundings!