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OIT pcs checklist article

Moving With The Military: Your PCS Binder

By Michelle Volkmann

For most Americans, the summer means planning vacations and spending time with your family. For the military community, summer is the time that PCS orders come down and planning for a move is on the agenda. It undoubtedly becomes the busiest time of the year for military families. Are you preparing for a PCS this summer?

Studies show that moving is one of life’s most stressful events. And military families move nearly 3 times more often than civilian families. Yikes! So, make sure you’re as planned as you ever will be! Aside from all the tips and tricks for a smooth move, there is also a great tactic to ensure that all your appropriate and critical documents are in one place. It’s the PCS binder! Creating a PCS binder is extremely helpful to keep everything you need at your fingertips.

Wondering what should be inside your PCS binder?

Your Guide to Your PCS Binder

For any move, you want to keep ALL vital paperwork on you at all times, especially those that verify your identity. NEVER pack them someplace you can’t easily access. Also, if you PCS OCONUS, you will need these documents for international travel. Because most documents can’t be modified or damaged, I like to keep pocketed tabs to place important paperwork. That way you don’t need to punch holes to put them in your binder. For example, have one pocketed tab for birth certificates and another for Social Security cards and so on. Instead of pocketed tabs, you can use normal dividers and sheet protectors.

Here is a list of important documents for your PCS binder:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security cards
  • Passports
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Naturalization Documents
  • Vehicle Documents (i.e. title/lease info, registration, insurance, etc.)
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Wills
  • Medical Paperwork
  • School Paperwork (i.e. immunization records, transcripts, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous Legal Paperwork

It’s also important to include your home inventory in your binder. Jot down a list of all your valuable appliances, furniture and anything else you spent a pretty penny on that the movers are taking away. Your list of belongings should be something you continually update as you purchase home goods throughout the years. Each service member is allotted a certain amount of money for their PCS. Take the time to make a PCS budget and allocate your money appropriately. Keep your receipts when you are traveling in your PCS binder. Having it in your PCS binder is a great reminder to keep things on track. Your PCS binder should also include your pack-out checklist. This checklist includes everything that you need to do before the packers arrive, while the packers are in your house, and after they leave.

If you have children, put together a special list for them, so they can be included (and let’s be honest, we can use all the help we can get too!).

My PCS Pack-Our Checklist includes:

  • Cancel local memberships and accounts (i.e. electric, cable, gym, etc.)
  • Arrange travel
  • Get ready for a change of address
  • Gather all appropriate documentation
  • Calculate moving budget
  • Research housing options
  • Donate unnecessary items

Next, create a whole section for items that are needed for the actual move. I like to have a personal copy of my husband’s paper orders, just in case it’s needed in any of the planning processes. I have a special tab that also details all our entitlements and cost breakdown of all our expenses and the budget to keep me on track. When we DITY moved, I used this section to keep all the moving receipts and weight tickets, so during in-processing, my husband had everything he needed to turn in.

Finding a home at a new location gets a whole section in my PCS binder. I like to have comparison charts set-up to identify surrounding neighborhoods and then, what the cost of living would be in each area. Starting with finding a neighborhood is helpful to pinpoint an ideal house.