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Managing Your Household Goods Move

MOVING OPTIONSThere are two types of household goods moves: Personally Procured Moves and government managed moves. However, moving overseas precludes you from executing a PPM. A government managed move is handled through the installation's transportation office and the WWW.MOVE.MIL website.

If you want to learn all about your move, go to the WWW.MOVE.MIL website and use the calculators, find your weight entitlements, perform self-counseling, connect to your local transportation office and manage your move efficiently from your own home computer.

OVERSEAS MOVESWhether you are a seasoned mover or are new to moving and living overseas, you'll want to check out the resources at MILITARY ONESOURCE.

As questions arise, check with your sponsor who is a great source of information and on-the ground experience. Families that have recently returned from your future overseas assignment can share lots of experiences, both good and bad. Listen to them, but make up your own mind about what is best for your family. While the final decisions are up to you, below are some questions to ask and some ideas on how to organize your personal property to make your overseas move as easy as possible.

Be prepared to wait 35 to 60 days for your unaccompanied baggage and 60 to 70 days for your household goods from the date of shipment.

What are the weight allowances and limitations?

Most overseas locations are weight-restricted destinations. That means that you will only be allowed to ship a portion of your Permanent Change of Station weight allowance overseas. The rest of your property will be placed in long-term storage stateside at government expense. Your transportation office will be able to tell you exactly how much you can ship overseas. Read more at WWW.MOVE.MIL.

Deciding what to ship and what to store...

You can divide your personal property up to five ways when you go overseas! Good planning beforehand can save you money and inconvenience during and after your move. Use each of these shipments to make your move as comfortable and trouble-free as possible.

Checked luggage: Pack just the clothing, medications and toiletries you'll need while in transit and immediately after your arrival. Leave room for a few amenities like games and books, but keep it light. Remember you will be restricted as to the number and weight of bags you can check or carry onto the aircraft taking you overseas.

Mail: One easy way to keep your checked luggage light is to mail extra items that you'll need immediately upon arrival and while you are in transient quarters. Linens, towels, additional clothing are all things you may want to mail ahead. You can send it to yourself at your new address or your sponsor can receive it and hold it for your arrival. Although you will have to pay for this upfront, it can be reimbursed up to a certain dollar amount so keep your receipts.

If you choose to mail items to yourself, you MUST visit your origin Installation Transportation Office (ITO) and obtain a DD Form 2278 before mailing the items. In order to get reimbursed you must provide a DD Form 2278, DD Form 1351 and Personal Property Management sheet with three copies of your receipts which show the postage amount and the weight. You may be reimbursed for the postage up to the government rate (insurance and registered mail are not a reimbursable cost), however, the weight of items mailed will count against your total weight entitlement.

Unaccompanied baggage: Unaccompanied baggage is a government-sponsored shipment that moves by air to your new location. Your unaccompanied baggage should be available for delivery by the time you arrive at your new duty station. Large furniture items are not permitted in unaccompanied baggage. The furnishing management office and lending closets may be able to help you fill your household needs until your furniture and other personal property arrives. Some recommended items for unaccompanied baggage include: linens, blankets, towels, books and toys for children, next season's clothes, military items and professional items, tools, baby items.

Personal property shipment: Your furniture and the remainder of the personal property you'll need during your overseas assignment will go into your personal property shipment. Since this shipment moves by container ship, it will be several weeks or months until it arrives at your new assignment. Keep in mind that you will not want to take delivery of your personal property until you are in your new, permanent quarters. Think carefully about shipping electric tools, large electrical appliances and items like sound systems and TVs. The electric power in Germany is different than that of the U.S. Check with your sponsor to see if you will need to use transformers to make these appliances work. Even with a transformer, some items will not work the way they should. If moving to Europe you should not bring any large electrical appliances.

Long-term storage: Everything that is left over will need to go into long-term storage (what the government calls non-temporary storage). This storage will be at government expense for the duration of your tour, as long as the total weight of your shipments and storage doesn't exceed your PCS weight allowance. Think carefully before you put items into permanent storage as often appliances will not work after two to three years and you may outgrow clothing. It may be better to sell things or donate them rather than store them and have them sustain possible damage that will require you to throw the property away at a later date when you return from your tour.

Carefully check that items are in the right shipment before you sign the descriptive inventory form.

TIPS ON WHAT TO BRING/WHAT NOT TO BRING

YOUR OVERSEAS HOME

Some overseas houses and apartments have smaller rooms, hallways and staircases than what you are accustomed to stateside. Therefore, you may have trouble fitting extremely large or heavy furniture into your new home. Be prepared to look harder to find a place big enough to accommodate your furniture. Generally, you should be able to use all the furniture your weight allowance permits you to bring.

  • CLOSET SPACE --  Some overseas houses don't have built-in closets or cabinets. For some people, these will not be enough. Expect that your new residence will not have all of the storage you have in your stateside home and plan to bring or purchase shelving units and get creative.
  • WINDOW COVERINGS -- It is unlikely to find a place where your drapes fit the windows perfectly. Some windows require drapes longer than average American curtains. If you do not want to alter your draperies to fit the windows you may want to keep them in storage. Many people still bring drapes, curtains and rods (or order these from the States).
  • FLOORING AND RUGS -- Some overseas housing, both off-post and on, has tiled or wood flooring. Therefore, you may find you need to use rugs or other floor-coverings in your home. If you need to purchase rugs, it is important to note that many companies will not ship their large rugs to overseas or Army Post Office addresses. You are encouraged to bring your rugs with you or purchase them here. The Exchange sells rugs, as do many furniture stores on the surrounding countries' economies.​​​

 

ELECTRICITY

Check ahead for electric currents used at your next duty station. For example, the electrical current in Germany is 220 volts and 50 cycles-per-second, while most American appliances operate on 110 volts and 60 cycles-per-second. You will need a voltage adapter or transformer to use your appliances with American voltage/plugs in German electrical outlets. Every electrical appliance should be marked with its required voltage or wattage to determine the appropriate size transformer to use. Some government housing units have both 110V and 220V outlets.

  • LAMPS -- Lamps work well by using 220V light bulbs and an inexpensive electrical plug adapter. Although 110V appliances can be operated with transformers, long-term use can shorten appliance life. 
  • SMALL APPLIANCES -- You must take into consideration a few things when determining if replacing your appliances with 220V appliances or using your 110V appliances with a transformer is a better option. When using 110V appliances with heating elements, such as irons and toasters, the different hertz rating of the American product can affect heating capability. The same holds true for personal grooming items like hair dryers and curling irons. Other items are recommended to be left behind altogether, such as space heaters, as they are expensive to use and can be unsafe. 110V 60-cycle electrical clocks will not keep time properly (battery-operated clocks do work just fine, however). The timing function on devices such as microwaves, DVD players, etc. will also encounter problems keeping the time. If an appliance is old and unreliable, or if you are ready to replace it anyway, consider disposing of it and buying a new one here. Some newer products have built-in converters. Used appliances are also available upon arrival; many departing personnel sell their German specification items before leaving. 
  • VACUUMS -- Vacuum cleaners can operate using a transformer, but you will need to test the vacuum's polarity using a polarity tester to ensure you don't damage the motor. The same holds true for any appliance with a motor. You can purchase these gadgets at the local Exchange.
  • MICROWAVES -- Personnel are encouraged to not bring microwaves to Germany. FMO will issue a microwave for your use during your tour. If you decide to bring a 110V microwave, it will work using a transformer but it will cook slower and the clock may not work correctly. When deciding to bring your 110V microwave, consider the age and quality of your microwave. 
  • TVS, STEREOS, COMPUTERS, ELECTRONICS -- Many TVs, stereos, computers and other electronics are dual voltage. If an electronic is 110V a transformer can be used. The American Forces Network TV is broadcast on the NTSC frequency -- all U.S.-specification TVs will receive this frequency. Some TVs are multi-system and can receive both AFN and German channels--these types of TVs are also available for purchase at the Exchange. Paying for cable each month is an option to receive a wider variety of channels. If you have a turntable, it may need to be converted to 50 hertz to run at the proper speed. Not all turntables can be converted. Check this out with a local electrician before you leave the states. Most personal computers are dual-voltage and only require an adaptor, but check with your computer's manufacturer to make sure. If your computer has a dual voltage switch, remember to completely unplug the computer before changing voltage otherwise you will burn out the computer power supply.
  • TELEPHONES -- Your home telephone purchased in the States will work in most places with an adaptor. However, you may  have to get your phone approved by the local company. Certain cordless phones may not be approved if they are not dual voltage (110/220V) or run on unapproved frequencies.

 

ITEMS NOT TO SHIP

  • WASHER, DRYER OR REFRIGERATOR -- These items are available in government quarters. If you need these items for your off-post home, the Furnishings Management Office will loan these to you for the duration of your tour or as long as they are needed. There is no cost for these loans.
  • WATER BEDS -- Not authorized in on-post housing and many overseas homes.