Moving is a part of military life. Whether a soldier is flying solo or traveling with a big family, they'll likely face moves every few years during their tour of duty with the U.S. military.
When you're relocated for a long-term assignment of more than 20 weeks, you'll be making what's called a permanent change of station, or PCS. These moves are common, as military service members get new assignments frequently. Common or not, though, they can be understandably disruptive for you and your family.
One of the biggest issues you'll face is how to get all of your personal belongings from one place to the next each time. The process can be complicated, and the costs can add up. The military provides a PCS weight allowance just for this purpose. It's designed to cover the costs of moving all your things, but there are some limits. Here's what you need to know about the PCS weight allowance in 2022.
PCS weight allowance is a cap on how many pounds you can move. When the military assigns you to a permanent change of station, you'll receive a predetermined PCS weight allowance for your move. For those without dependents, 14,000 pounds is usually the maximum weight allowance.
This allowance is based on your rank and offers a set weight limit for how much you can move with you. If you exceed the allowance, you'll have to pay for the overage out of pocket after your move is complete.
Your PCS will also vary based on dependents. The number doesn't matter — whether you have one or 10 dependents, your extra allowance will be the same. Your dependents don't need to be traveling with you in order to make you eligible for the additional allowance, either, and the extra applies even for the first move after you get a divorce or your dependents die.
You're eligible for a PCS allowance anytime your commander orders a long-term move that requires you and your family to permanently relocate. As soon as you receive your orders, reach out to your local transportation office to confirm your eligibility and total allowance.
The weight limit for military moves is usually between 350 to 1800 pounds. Allowances range significantly depending on your military rank and dependent status.
In most moves, this weight limit also includes up to 2,000 pounds for unaccompanied baggage (UAB). This UAB can include any clothing, toiletries and other household goods you might need for up to 60 days while you await the arrival of the rest of your shipment. The exact limit for UAB might be lower in certain overseas locations, so be sure to verify yours with your local transportation office.
|Grade *Note 1 and Note 3||PCS Without Dependents||PCS With Dependents *Note 2|
|0-1/W-1/Service Academy Graduate||10,000||12,000|
|E-9 *Note 4||13,000||15,000|
|E-3 and Below||5,000||8,000|
|Service Academy Cadets/Midshipmen||350 *TDY Weight Allowance|
1. This also applies to Uniformed Service regulars and Reserve Component members, as well as officers with a temporary commission in the U.S. Army or Air Force.
2. A "member with dependents" is defined as any member with eligible dependents at the time of travel, regardless of whether the dependents actually accompany them. Service members who have recently divorced or whose dependents are deceased will be eligible for the "with dependents" PCS limit for their first move after these events.
3. A member appointed from an enlisted to a warrant officer grade or from an enlisted or warrant officer grade to a commissioned officer grade is authorized the higher grade’s weight allowance of either:
Upon reversion, they have authorized the higher military weight allowance of the grade they held:
4. A member selected as Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sergeant Major of the Army, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps or Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard receives a PCS weight allowance of 17,000 pounds with dependents or 14,000 pounds without dependents. This applies from the time they receive notice of that selection through the remainder of their military career.
Those allowances may sound like a lot, but you may be surprised how quickly your possessions can add up to a lot of weight. There are a few things you can do to ensure you get everything packed and shipped under the limit, though.
The first step to take in preparing for your move is to estimate how much stuff you actually have. A good place to start is to tally the number of rooms in your house. Count roughly 1,500 pounds per room plus the weight of any large appliances or other unusually heavy items you hope to move. This will give you an initial estimate you can work with as you prepare.
Now that you have an estimate, it's time to whittle things down. Treat your move prep time as a major spring cleaning. Nothing that's broken or awaiting repair should be included in your shipment. Clothes the kids have outgrown, toys they don't use anymore and anything that won't be a staple good in your new location can be donated or sold at a yard sale or online.
Contact local organizations like the Salvation Army that offer donation pickups and schedule junk pickups with your trash service.
If you're having trouble getting everything under the PCS weight limit, consider separating your essentials. Splitting your belongings into multiple shipments is a great way to control weights and separate regular items from more valuable ones. Reserve the valuables for your PCS shipment — under the weight allowance — and use government-provided movers to handle the other one.
If you need any assistance with preparing for your move, your local transportation office can help you with anything you need, including:
Moving frequently probably tops that list of stresses for many service members — so if you're worried about planning for your next move, you're not alone.
Knowing your PCS weight allowance and planning ahead can help make your move smoother and less stressful. If you clean house and keep your possessions to the essentials, you can get your move paid for and avoid extra out-of-pocket expenses.
Preparing for your next big move? You're probably looking for a home loan, too. Get in touch with us for everything you need to line up your next mortgage and get ready to settle into your new home.