We just did our first Navy PCS. We moved from Rockford, IL to San Diego, CA. I wanted to write it all down in hopes that others about to PCS get all the info they can. I'll start with general information about the move and entitlements and incentive. At the bottom, I will give our specific situations with actual numbers and also some info on getting into military housing, if that is what you choose to do. First, here are the definitions:
HHG - Household goods
PPO - Personal Property Office
DPS - Defense Personal Property System
POV - Privately Owned Vehicle
POA - Power of Attorney - There are different kinds of these, if you are a spouse and taking care of the move while your servicemember is absent, you will need to make sure you have all the right ones. Your servicemember can have one drawn up on base or sometimes even on a ship and sent to you. You do not have to be present. Ask for a POA that will cover lease signing, financial transactions, and if it's tax season, one for taxes. The legal department should know what to do. *edit - I have recently discovered that you also need a special POA for allotments. Allotments are the amounts taken directly out of the servicemember's paycheck and sent to, for example, housing. We just moved out of housing and I was not able to sign off on the last allotment total because my POA was not the right one. Lesson learned. *
Reimbursement amount - the amount of money the government expects it to cost were they to move your HHGs for you.
Incentive amount - The amount of money you get to keep if you come in under budget (95% of the reimbursement amount).
PCS - Permanent Change of Station - when the military orders a servicemember to move for duty. This can be accompanied (with dependents) or unaccompanied (without dependents). The military will pay for your move and if it is accompanied, they will also pay to move your dependents. You can do it two ways: have the government hire movers to pack and ship your things (government move) or do it yourself and get reimbursed. The do it yourself move is what I am writing about, it used to be called a DITY, but is now a PPM.
PPM - Personally Procured Move - You cannot do a PPM if you're PCSing overseas (which includes HI). You arrange to move your HHG yourself and get reimbursed. You can do this in whatever manner you wish, you can: hire a moving company, or pack yourself and rent a moving truck to drive, or pack and rent a container or trailer that someone else transports after you load it. There is also an incentive for you to get it done cheaply. There is some secret formula based on the weight of your HHG and the distance you're traveling that determines how much the government expects to have to pay to move you in a government move. That is your maximum reimbursement amount. Also, the servicemember has a weight limit based on paygrade, which can be found here: http://usmilitary.about.com/od/assignments/l/blpropweight.htm. You can go over the weight limit on a PPM, but you'll still only get paid the maximum reimbursement amount, even if you pay more to move it.
If you are close to a base, I recommend going to the PPO and getting someone to counsel you. If this is your first PCS or first accompanied PCS, you may live no where near a base. In that case, you can do self-counseling online at www.move.mil. The servicemember will have to register in DPS to get a username and password. A note about the password: The passwords are random, VERY long and have lots of different characters in them, not just letters and numbers. You cannot change your password, but you can request a new one every time. If you are a spouse, make sure your servicemember gives you the answers to the personal questions s/he selected when getting a password (favorite color, favorite fruit, favorite pet's name, etc). Be sure you write them down exactly as they were typed, you don't want to lock up the account. You will need to get a new password occasionally. I have found that copying and pasting into a notepad or wordpad document then saving it on the computer is helpful. Then you can just copy and paste into the password box. No one wants to have to type out all those characters every time.
Once you are logged into DPS through Move.mil, you will start filling in the info. You will need a copy of the orders to do this. You will set up a "shipment" and be able to select PPM as your method. You will also be asked to estimate the weight of your HHG. I suggest underestimating this weight. You will be able to get an advanced operating allowance of 60% of the total allowance. If your weight is less than your estimate, and the advance ended up being more than your allowance, you will have to pay back the difference. So once you enter the weight, it will figure the total expected cost for a government move. This is your maximum reimbursement amount. Your incentive amount is 95% of this number. I will use nice round numbers as examples. If the 100% number is $10,000, your incentive is $9,500. If you only spend $6,000 to move your HHGs, they reimburse you for that, then you get the keep the extra $3,500. *edit - also, I have learned that taxes are taken out of the "profit" part of the move. In the above example, taxes would be withheld on the $3500 amount. A separate, paper W-2 will be mailed in order to file your taxes on that amount. Be sure to get the W-2 found online in MyPay for the regular earnings AND the paper W-2 in the mail. When filing taxes, treat it like a regular W-2.*
After you have completed the self-counseling (or in-person counseling at a base), you will have to sign forms. You will have to mail, fax, email, or bring in person: copies of orders (maybe previous orders and new orders), copy of the Page 2 (called Dependency Application/Record of Emergency Data, it is form # NAVPERS 1070/602), and if this is a first PCS you'll need a document called Enlistment Contract (For, DD 4/1) that will show the home of record. Reimbursement for the move will only be for HHGs at the location listed on the Home of Record. If you've moved since then, call the PPO to see what needs to be included. If you are a spouse and the servicemember will not be present at the in-person counseling, you must have a POA.
For me, all the Navy stuff was the hardest. The arranging of the move was simple. I called around, got quotes on different options and compared benefits. I scheduled a date, but made sure I knew the cancellation policy just in case. You never know what might come up last minute. Figure out how you're getting to your next station. Are you driving? Flying? That may make a difference in how you ship. We have two cars, two kids and two large dogs. The dogs and kids won't all fit in the backseat of either car, so we had to each drive one. If you end up having to ship a vehicle, talk to the PPO first to determine if there are more forms. I have no experience in that. Also, read below about travel entitlements so you can plan your pickup/delivery dates appropriately. Arrange for your packing materials, keep receipts for all of it, boxes, tape, anything non-reusable is reimbursable. *edit - We've moved again recently and I have found that we were able to save a large amount of space in the moving truck by buying good boxes that fit together well. Since we were paying by the foot, it was worth it to spend $100 on boxes.*
Then, move. : ) The easy part - hopefully! Save every receipt.
After you arrive, you can set up your claim package for the rest of the reimbursement. You'll need the forms you got from the counseling process, orders, weight tickets of the empty and full truck (VERY IMPORTANT!), rental contracts, all your fuel (if you're driving the moving truck) toll and equipment receipts, the enlistment contract. Don't worry, they give you a check list. Gather it all together, make copies and/or scan them into a computer. You can email PDF files to them or mail it snail mail. *edit - Definitely keep the originals for yourself and send the copies. There was an issue with our payment and my husband went to the PPO office. He called me and had me email copies of the papers that had been lost and it was fixed right away.*
We estimated that we had 6000lbs, which for the distance we were moving, would pay a total of $5147.81 to move us. My husband is an E-3 at the time of the move, so he is allowed 8000lbs. Our incentive amount worked out to: $4890.42. We received 60% of our incentive amount before the move, $2934.25. That was deposited at the first payday after we completed the counseling. I just finished the paperwork, we had 8080lbs of HHGs, so our incentive amount for that weight (I played with different weight estimates in DPS before finalizing to get an idea) is $6344.24. We only spent $2716.62, so we get to keep $3627.62. Not bad.
HOUSING - Before you get firm orders, you can start the housing process. Go to http://www.cnic.navy.mil/CNIC_HQ_Site/WhatWeDo/FleetandFamilyReadin... and fill it out for the bases you think you might get. This tool, called HEAT - Housing Early Application Tool, is designed to be used even if you don't have orders. The representative from HEAT will send you info on the bases and when you do get orders, you will be transferred to the correct person at that base. I was able to download the housing application and fill it out and email it back.
TRAVEL - You get paid for your travel. The military expects you to travel 350 miles per day. So you take the distance you're traveling and divide by 350 and that's the maximum number of days the servicemember will have off for travel. Travel time is not counted for leave time. Ours came out to 6 days (you round to the higher number if it is not an even number. 5.23 = 6 days). You do not have to take that time, but if you plan well, you can also make money here. Plus you get to spend a little extra time with your sweetie. If you are allowed 6 days but only take 4, the servicemember doesn't get to take those extra 2 days, they're forfeited. You also won't get paid Per Diem for those days. And you cannot stay within 100 miles of the duty station for it to count as a travel day. There are a few entitlements for PCSing.
MALT - (Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation) Basically, if you're getting yourself there instead of having the Navy arrange transportation, they'll pay you. I'm not sure what it is by plane, but by car they pay 23 cents per mile per vehicle being driven. We each had to drive a car, so we got paid 23 cents per mile times 2 vehicles times 2004 miles. It more than paid for gas.
Per Diem - This is the amount they pay for food and lodging while you're traveling. It is currently per day: $86 for the servicemember, $64.50 for dependents over age of 12, and $43 for dependents under 12. Keep all of your receipts. You do not have to itemize to receive Per Diem, but keep them until you receive the travel entitlements.
DLA - Dislocation Allowance - to offset some of the costs of relocation. There is a rate table here: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/otherratesDLA.cfm.
If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to message me.