PCS 101: Getting Started on Your Move
by Megan Harless - October 1st, 2021
The days of waiting in limbo are over, and you finally have your orders! But, before you start checking into school districts, neighborhood ratings, and other amenities around your new duty station, you’ll need to set up your move.
Sign up for your military move through DPS
Sure, you may have a few months before your actual moving date, but the longer you wait to set up the logistics, the harder it might be for the moving company to coordinate your move. The sooner you sit down and set up your move, the easier it will be for the moving company to make sure there’s no scheduling issues and that your move is staffed properly. Bottom Line: This should be at the very TOP of your PCS priority list!
Your very first step to set up your move is to head over to Military OneSource (formerly move.mil.) Once on the site, scroll down to where it says “Schedule Your Move” and click “Sign In to DPS”. DPS stands for Defense Personal Property System.
If you don’t have an account yet, take a moment to register. Your service member can also login with their Common Access Card (CAC).
Signing up for your military move
If this is your first move, you’ll need to visit your local transportation office so they can walk you through the process. The same goes for your last move as well, either separation or retirement, as your relocation entitlements when separating from military service will be different than the entitlements you’ve received for previous PCS moves.
You need your hard orders to set up the move (web orders don’t count). There are a set of numbers at the top of your service member’s paper orders that you will input into the system. When you are asked if you have those “hard orders”, the system will prompt you to input that number. You will also be prompted to state what days you would like to have your household goods packed and loaded.
When the system asks you for an address at your next duty station, DO NOT WORRY if you don’t know where you’ll be living yet! You’ll be able to simply list the location of your next duty station and can update the information in the system when you figure out exactly where “home” will be.
You’ll also need to estimate the weight of your household goods. The general rule of thumb is about 1,000 pounds per room. Obviously, a garage may be more and a bathroom will be less, but you get the gist, right?
It’s perfectly fine if you’re not completely accurate in your estimate, the company assigned to deal with your household goods shipment will either schedule a virtual or in person survey to get a better estimate later. DPS also has a “weight estimator” on its website if you’d like to get a better idea of what you’re looking at.
Working with a Transportation Service Provider in your military move
Once you’re all set up in DPS, your move will be assigned to a Transportation Service Provider (TSP). This is the company that coordinates all the logistical pieces of your move. This company will assign you a move coordinator who will become your single point of contact through your PCS process. When they call you, be sure to get their name, number, and email to keep handy for when you need it (trust me, you’ll want to keep that information close by). If at any point you have a question or any issues, this should be the first person you call.
In addition to being assigned your TSP, your TSP may also assign local agents to your shipment. You will usually have an origin agent (the ones packing your home and loading it onto a truck), and then also a destination agent (the ones delivering your household goods to your new home).
Again, you will always coordinate, ask questions, and raise concerns to your move coordinator from your TSP. You can also contact your local transportation office if you’re not able to reach your move coordinator.
When you have questions about your military move
Sometimes it can get confusing when trying to figure out what company is tasked with each part of your move. Our household good shipments are contracted out to companies using a Standard Carrier Alpha Code, or SCA… (because we really needed more acronyms in our life, right?). These codes are often sold to other companies and there is a chance you’ll be assigned to one company, when another owns the code number. I’m telling you this side-note into how the sausage is made because I don’t want you to be alarmed when you receive a call from one company when you thought you were going to be dealing with another one.
Now that your move is all set up, you can go back to researching your new duty station and prepping your home for your upcoming PCS! Ready to start your research? PCSgrades is a great place to start! You can find your real estate agent and read real reviews on moving companies, base housing, and more.