pcs in military
General Military Questions

PCS In Military: Here’s What It Means & What To Expect

PCS in the military requires service members to remain flexible.

Unfortunately, moving is often the norm in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Therefore, it’s anticipated that a service member may receive multiple Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders while serving in the military.

For this reason, learn everything this is to know about PCS in the military, including what it actually means.

Related ArticleDPS Military Move: 8 Things You Need To Know

What does PCS in Military mean?

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The U.S. Armed Forces demands that service members are flexible and mobile.

In fact, it’s anticipated that more than 400,000 military personnel switch locations each year.

Therefore, it’s not uncommon to receive Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders while serving in the military.

PCS in the military is an abbreviated version of the aforementioned orders.

In other words, PCS orders inform military personnel that they have been instructed to pack up their belongings and switch duty stations.

As a result, a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is an assignment, detail, or transfer that does not provide for further assignment at a new station, nor direct return to the existing station.

Rather, it assigns the service member to a new location which is not classified as a temporary move.

Types of Change of Station

Accordingly, a PCS military move is different compared to temporary duty assignments.

PCS in the military indicates that a service member will spend at least 2-4 years at the new duty station.

For this reason, it’s considered more of a long-term relocation in the military compared to temporary displacement (which is generally less than 6 months).

Moreover, PCS in the military is distinctively different from a Permanent Change of Assignment (PCA), which reassigns an entire unit to a different military installation.

It can also represent the final destination for a service member before they return home upon discharge.

Military personnel will discover many types of PCS orders each with their own guidelines and regulations.

Nonetheless, PCS in the military usually reflects a long-term assignment that may be defined as CONUS or OCONUS.

In general, these 2 acronyms refer to different destinations:

  • CONUS: Permanent Change of Station (PCS) inside the continental U.S.
  • OCONUS: PCS orders assigned outside the continental United States.

Please note that OCONUS reassignments may also include U.S. territories such as Alaska and Hawaii.

It’s crucial to keep your PCS orders in your possession because they feature authorizations and entitlements.

Consequently, service members need a copy of the PCS orders while coordinating a move in the military.

Related ArticleMilitary TDY: Temporary Duty Assignment Explained

PCS in Military Travel / Housing Allowances

pcs meaning military
Image: Defense.gov

Those that receive a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) are also notified of eligible travel / housing allowances.

These allowances are reserved for service members and make the transition from one duty station to another smoother.

The PCS orders indicate what transportation allowances you may qualify for as military personnel.

Often, the U.S. government covers most of the costs related to a military move / relocation.

Moreover, those that service members and dependents cover out of their own pocket may get reimbursed later once claimed on federal taxes.

As a result, make sure that you take advantage of these wonderful allowances to assist with the high costs associated with moving:

Travel Expenses

Do you need to make a move while serving in the military?

Thankfully, the government covers most of the costs related to the displacement, including transportation costs.

In general, the transportation is provided for service members and eligible dependents via airplane or automobile.

Moreover, individuals may also request transportation via a common carrier (airline, rail, etc) or get reimbursed using their own privately owned vehicle (POV).

Uncle Sam also usually provides a daily per diem which assists with other costs related to travel, such as food and lodging.

Household Goods & Vehicle Shipment

What about all your prized possessions?

Fortunately, the U.S. government also assists with moving costs related to household goods and vehicles.

Therefore, the costs associated with shipping personal belongings from one duty station to another is covered under a military relocation.

In general, each service member (and military dependents) are authorized a weight limit.

The weight limit indicates how much you are allowed to pack and usually calculated based on military rank and family status.

Additionally, military personnel have the option of hiring movers to pack everything and transport it to a new location.

Or, there is the option to elect for a Personally Procured Move (PPM).

Personally procured moves, or “Do-It-Yourself Moves”, allow you to coordinate all the details of the relocation.

In certain circumstances, it’s also possible to request personal vehicle transportation.

Dislocation Allowance

It’s never enjoyable getting displaced.

This is especially true of military dependents like spouses and children that need extra time adjusting to new surroundings.

However, preparing for PCS in the military can also present military families with a change in scenery and fresh start.

Therefore, utilizing the dislocation allowance makes it easier for military families to transition into a new environment.

The allowance is designed to reimburse part of the moving expenses.

Consequently, individuals may use the allowance on utility deposits, household items, clothing, and much more.

Once again, the amount of the tax-free allowances varies by military rank as well as family status.

Temporary Living Reimbursement

Finally, there is reimbursement for living costs that arise while searching for new housing.

The government provides 2 types of reimbursement for temporary living situations:

  • Temporary Lodging Allowance
  • Temporary Lodging Expense

These allowances are helpful while living in temporary quarters and seeking a permanent residence.

Related ArticleUHaul Military Discount

DPS Military Move

permanent change of station - army pcs meaning
Image: Army.mil

PCS in the military is not a death sentence.

In fact, a new assignment and surroundings is sometimes a blessing in disguise.

Accordingly, make sure to take advantage of the numerous allowances and reimbursements provided for military personnel during a move.

The Defense Personal Property Program (DPS) makes moving a lot easier for service members and military dependents.

It provides moving and storage services for military personnel, along with many other helpful resources.

However, in order to enjoy these benefits, you’ll need to process a new DPS military move request to confirm services.

In general, the Armed Forces features 3 main types of military moves that take place stateside.

First, service members have the option of doing it yourself (DITY) with the personally procured move (PPM) option.

Then, there is the option to handle some of the details yourself while contracting other moving services out to a transportation service provider (TSP).

Lastly, those that received overseas PCS orders may not have the time or ability to pack anything.

Thus, programs like DPS assist with a military move and make the process much less stressful on military families.

PCS in Military Resources

It’s never welcomed receiving Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.

Nonetheless, PCS in the military is something that many service members must confront at some point in their military careers.

Therefore, it’s vital that military personnel utilize the abundance of resources available at their disposal.

Every military base features its own Relocation Assistance Program which is also designed to assist in the relocation.

Meanwhile, a military sponsor is assigned to every PCS order.

Therefore, the sponsor is available and ready to assist with any questions, concerns, or problems regarding the displacement.

Often, the transition into a new duty station includes a service member of similar rank and experience being assigned to show you around.

For this reason, do not be afraid to ask if questions or concerns arise.

Check out the Youtube video below to learn more about PCS in the military: 


The U.S. Armed Forces displaces nearly a half-million service members each year.

Often, these are part of reassignments otherwise known as Permanent Change of Station (PCS).

Accordingly, PCS in the military represents reassignment from one duty station to another.

PCS orders usually reflect a long-term decision which may require 2-4 years of service.

Therefore, make sure that you and your family takes advantage of the many military moving services, allowances, and reimbursements available for service members.

Featured Image Sourcewww.Army.mil

Rob V.
PCS Meaning Military

PCS Meaning Military

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PCS in the military indicates a Permanent Change of Station. In other words, a service member has been sent orders for relocation.
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