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.