Overseas PCS moves are very different from regular CONUS moves. If you get overseas orders, the military will generally pay for and process passports for the entire family, allowing service members and their families to stay in a foreign country without a visa. These passports however are not intended for personal travel, so it is encouraged that you get a regular civilian passport before you move as well. Civilian passports on the other hand, will not work for government travel, so make sure you have both!
The service member and their family all have to complete an overseas medical screening process before they can move. This usually consists of a physical and dental check-up ensuring everyone is up to date on shots and is able to receive their needed prescriptions at the overseas base.
When the military moves your household goods, they generally will have to take apart all of your furniture and lay it flat in shipping containers. You do get the added benefit of having an express shipment which will be flown to your duty station and is generally available before you arrive. Most families use this express shipment for clothes, electronics, cookware, air mattress, towels, sheets, military gear, or any other items they may need right away. The military will also ship one vehicle overseas for free.
When it comes to the family pet, the military will not pay or reimburse any fees associated with shipping an animal overseas. There are however, several options to ship your pet to your overseas duty station. Costs associated with shipping your pet can be extensive, so prepare to spend around $1,000 – $2,000 for a large breed. Mandatory pet quarantine fees however may be reimbursable up to $550 per move. Also depending on the time of year of your PCS move, your pet may not be able to fly on a commercial airline. Since the cargo holds are not climate-controlled, it is illegal to transport pets when temperatures are below 45 degrees and are not allowed on flights lasting more than 12 hours. Keep in mind, not all animals are able to make an international flight overseas and even then, there are many rules and regulations you have to follow:
Animals cannot be too elderly or weak
Birds are able to be shipped in the cargo hold if they are in a cage
Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and given a clean bill of health by a veterinarian.
Many airlines prohibit “snub-nosed” breeds such as pugs and french bulldogs due to common respiratory complications, as well as “dangerous breeds” such as pitbulls and rottweilers.
Some airlines also have a 100-pound weight restriction per pet; military flights to Europe allow pets in kennels up to 150 pounds.
Some countries require imported animals to go through a period of quarantine at the airport before they are allowed to take them into the country. This stops the potential spread of diseases and infections.
Since you will spend the first month or more without your household goods, the overseas base will usually provide temporary housing where you have up to 30 days to decide whether to live on or off base. This temporary housing can occasionally include furniture and household essentials such as dishes.
Moving is stressful but moving overseas in a foreign country has its own set of challenges, so we created an OCONUS PCS Checklist to better help you plan for your big move!
Lightfoot, Lizann. “Here’s Everything You need to Know About Transporting Pets Overseas.” MilitaryOneClick. 21 Feb. 2017. Web.
Lightfoot, Lizann. “These 10 Things Make and Overseas PCS Different From Other Moves.” MilitaryOneClick. 9 June 2017. Web.
“What to Expect with an OCONUS (Overseas) Move.” Move.mil. Web. move.mil/moving-guide/oconus#introduction
Tamm, Lauren. “Best Moving Overseas Checklist for Military Families.” The Military Wife and Mom. 2018. themilitarywifeandmom.com/moving-overseas-checklist/