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PCS Prohibited List - What Can’t be Moved in a PCS

When going through a PCS move, it's important to understand what is and isn't allowed for the move.

Published on February 15, 2022

Moving is never an easy task, but the military tries to make the PCS (permanent change of station) moving process as smooth as possible. Authorized movers will pack your belongings, itemize them, and handle the relocation for you. All you have to do is make sure you’re not asking the movers to pack anything on the PCS prohibited list.

Unfortunately, unauthorized items for PCS aren’t always obvious. That’s why we created this PCS Prohibited List Cheat Sheet. Consider this your guide for what not to pack for your next PCS.

Prohibited and Unauthorized PCS Items

Unauthorized items for PCS are not allowed to be moved by military moving contractors. It doesn’t matter which moving company you’re using; no moving company is legally allowed to move any of the items on this list.

Moving companies know that they could face serious legal consequences for violating the PCS prohibited list, so they won’t bend the rules for you. But even if they wanted to accommodate your items, you could personally face fines or penalties for ignoring the PCS unauthorized list. Instead, make arrangements to properly dispose of these unauthorized items before the move, or move them yourself.

Here is the PCS unauthorized list:

1. Hazardous Materials

“Hazardous materials” covers a lot more than the propane tanks and full gasoline cans that immediately come to mind. Many cleaning supplies, auto care supplies, and hobby supplies (like glue and paint) also fall into the hazardous category. As a general rule, if it’s liquid and has a flammable or hazardous warning on the label, you shouldn’t pack it.

2. Building Materials

Lumber and cordwood can’t be moved. Even a small amount of wood for building furniture is included in this category. So if you’re planning to build something with the supplies in your garage, make sure you complete your project before the PCS.

3. Vehicles

Cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, boats, planes, campers, trailers, jet skis, ATVs...all of these vehicles are on the PCS prohibited list. You can make arrangements to move them yourself, store them, or sell them before the move.

4. Live Animals

This one is a pretty easy one to understand, any living animal cannot be handled by PCS movers. Make sure to have a plan ahead of time of how you will be transferring your animals.

5. Household Goods for Resale or Commercial Use

If you have a side hustle selling household goods, PCS movers will not be authorized to relocate your inventory. They won’t move any household goods that you plan to resell or put to commercial use.

6. Ammunition

While PCS movers will move many types of guns, they won’t move any private ammunition.

Other Items Movers Probably Won’t Pack

In addition to the items on the PCS prohibited list, there are lots of other items that movers will not pack simply for liability purposes. Movers are taking responsibility for getting your belongings safely from one place to the next, so they don’t want to pack anything that could potentially damage your belongings.

The exact list of unpackable items varies by moving company, but many companies have similar lists because they face the same liability issues. You might find a moving company that will pack some of the items on our cheat sheet, but you should make other plans just in case.

Here is your cheat sheet for items movers likely won’t pack:

  • Live plants. They’re messy, and your movers don’t want to kill your plants.
  • Candles. The wax can melt in the heat and ruin your belongings.
  • Batteries. Battery acid can leak, creating a hazard. Batteries should be removed from battery-powered items and discarded before the items are packed.
  • Excluded guns and parts. While permitted and licensed conventional firearms will be packed, any unpermitted and unlicensed firearms will not be.
  • Open food. Not only can food spill and ruin your belongings, but open food can also attract bugs and rodents.
  • Jars and cans of food. Glass jars can easily break, making a mess and potentially ruining your belongings. Canned food is acceptable by some movers, but others don’t want to risk the cans getting punctured and leaking.
  • Drinks. This includes juice, bottled water, alcohol, and everything in between. Whether in cans, bottles, cartons, or jugs, drinks will probably not be moved since they can easily leak onto your other belongings.
  • Large bottles of perfume or personal care liquids. You might be seeing a trend here. Movers try to avoid moving liquids. If you have large bottles of perfume, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, nail polish remover, etc., you should probably try to use up those products prior to your PCS.
  • Non-hazardous cleaning supplies. Even if your cleaning supplies are made of gentle, natural ingredients, they’re likely still going to pose a problem if they’re in liquid form.
  • Assembled structures. If you have swing sets, trampolines, or playhouses, you’ll need to disassemble them before the movers arrive.
  • Bulky items without prior notice. All movers are expecting to move standard furnishings like couches, tables, and beds. But if you have something out-of-the-ordinary, like a piano or hot tub, you’ll need to warn the movers ahead of time so they can prepare.
Our Lender
Veterans United Home Loans is a VA approved lender; Mortgage Research Center, LLC – NMLS #1907 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Not affiliated with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs or any government agency. Not available in NV. 1400 Veterans United Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. Equal Housing Lender

Smart Packing Tips for a Smooth PCS Move

Here are a few tips to make your move as smooth and stress-free as possible.

  1. Inventory your home. Knowing what you have will help you decide what should be sold, donated, or tossed before the move.
  2. Pay attention to the weight of your items. You’ll get a weight allowance for your move based on your rank, and exceeding the limit can be expensive. Heavy items like weights or pianos might not be worth the expense of going over your limit.
  3. Keep your important documents readily available. Passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other identifying documents may be needed during your move, particularly if you’re moving overseas. So make sure these documents don’t get packed by accident.
  4. Keep sentimental items with you. While movers make every effort to protect your belongings, it’s always a good idea to personally move your irreplaceables.
  5. Plan for delays. It may take a while to be reunited with your belongings after your move. Make sure you have clothing and necessities to get you through several days.

Take Advantage of VA Financing

Are you looking to buy a new home when you move? Take advantage of VA financing.

With a VA loan, you can buy a home with no down payment and a favorable interest rate. And VA loans don’t require PMI (private mortgage insurance), so you won’t have to pay a monthly fee for mortgage insurance when you use a VA loan.

VA loans are available to active military service members and Veterans with reasonable credit scores and sufficient income to cover the mortgage payment. For information about home financing and refinancing, visit VAMortgageCenter.com.

START HERE: $0 Down VA Home Loans
Our Lender
Veterans United Home Loans is a VA approved lender; Mortgage Research Center, LLC – NMLS #1907 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Not affiliated with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs or any government agency. Not available in NV. 1400 Veterans United Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. Equal Housing Lender