How Does a Military Standard Move Work?

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Once you (or your spouse) receive PCS orders you must decide between a personally procured move or a standard move.


What’s a Standard Move?

During a standard move, the government sends a moving company to your home to pack up all of your belongings.  They’ll be responsible for loading all of your boxes onto a truck and transporting your HHG (household goods) to the new location.  Movers then unload the truck and unpack your goods (if you want) into your new home.

Why Choose a Standard Move?

There definitely are some advantages to choosing to use a standard move.  The biggest advantage is that they do all the work.  Look around your home.  Do you really want to pack all of that stuff?  Lift all those boxes? Go through the paperwork headache of renting a truck, weighing everything, saving every receipt?  PCS-ing can be a very difficult and stressful time period.  There’s something to be said for having some of the burden taken off your shoulders.

Another huge advantage is the ability to file claims.  If anything is lost or damaged you can file a claim with your TSP (transportation service provider) or through the Military Claims Office.  This way you can receive financial compensation for your losses.  If you moved yourself, every bump, scrape, bash or crush is completely your fault and you can’t request reimbursement.

How Does a Standard Move Work?

The move process has been largely digitized.  This is a blessing and curse.  No more sitting in transportation offices and sitting wondering if things are submitted or approved.  Now you’re in charge of submitting everything.  You also have the power to review the status of your move.  Control gives you so much peace of mind.  All of that sounds great, but it’s also the government.  So the websites are bulky, a little confusing, and if you don’t have the correct operating systems you’ll hit dead ends before you even get started.

  1. You need to get a log in for DPS (defense personal property).  That’s the website where you’ll do all of the coordination of your move.  How do you get a log in?  You must register at ETA (electronic transportation acquisition).  It’s super straight forward.  They just need to verify that the service member actually has actionable orders.
  2. Once you’ve logged into DPS the service member must complete self counseling.  The self-counseling module can be found in the Training Tab on the homepage.
  3. Once you finish  self-counseling, you’ll receive an email that’ll tell you who your TSP (transportation service provider) is and/or what moving company handles your move.  If you don’t get that e-mail before the two week mark on your requested date you should definitely contact your local transportation office.

Now What?

Ideally, you receive all of that information in an appropriate amount of time.  You’ll have several conversations with your TSP.  Their job is to hold your hand throughout the process.  Any concerns you may have that aren’t handled in DPS are handled by your TSP.

At this point the government takes over.  The movers arrive, they pack, they move, they unload.  It won’t be until all of your things are unpacked and you can take inventory that you’ll have anything else to do.  Then it’s time to begin the claims process. Hopefully you have a smooth standard move and you won’t even have to claim anything!

Standard Move seem too good to be true?  Learn about Personally Procured Moves in my next post!


20 thoughts on “How Does a Military Standard Move Work?

  1. Never really knew what goes on in the life of a military family but this piece truly puts things into perspective.

  2. That’s an interesting reading! I don’t know anything about US military system, so it’s great to learn a few things through your blog!

  3. My friends couldn’t get approved for this recently and so she moved them themselves and it was so much work. I think this is a great option but wish it was also automatically approved.

  4. I think my parents choose the Standard Move every time we moved to one air force base to another. It was just easier for them. I don’t remember it clearly because when we PCS’ed, it was one day we would have all our stuff and then the next day, we would be moving across the country (and even Canada when we moved back and forth from the lower 48 to Alaska), going towards our new “home”.

  5. This is good information for military families. My husband’s nephew is no longer on active duty (he recently retired) but I am sure he still has buddies who will find this post very useful. Sending your link over to him.

  6. My husband has told me many times about their moves. They always had the government move their stuff. He said they had very few things ever damaged. Of course, he didn’t deal with all the paperwork, his parents did that, so can’t say much about that part. But after moving ourselves many times, I would love to have someone do it when we move.
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  7. I have never heard of this, but it sounds super helpful! I’m so glad the government provides this service to reduce the stress of moving for our military families.

  8. So great to read another military spouses post! I also am a military spouse and man those moves are stressful! haha! Great tips here though!

  9. This is really helpful! Moving is both exciting and extremely stressful, especially if you have kids, pets or people you are caregiving. Good to know the DPS offers this. I especially like the self-counseling bit 🙂 Thanks for sharing the procedure.

    1. My family ad I have lived in 4 different states in the last 4 years… If the military didn’t provide this method of moving we would lose our minds!!

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