Attend a PCS briefing at least 60-90 days prior to your move. There are a lot of things that you’ll want to get started on long before you pick up your clearing papers, and these briefings will help you figure out what you’ll need to do for a worry-free PCS. The PCS/pre-separation briefing is usually held once a month. See a schedule of upcoming briefings on page 6. Preregistration is required. Call the Central Processing Facility to sign-up for the class at DSN 431-2599 Civ. 07031-152599.
Cancel leases and contracts early
Most leases, and contracts for services such as cellular phones, internet, telephone and cable service, require a 90 day termination notice. While some may require only 60 days, and some may even have a shorter-notice military clause, these are the exception not the rule. Also be aware of whether or not you’ll be cancelling before the minimum contract time (often 24 months). If this is the case, there may be additional steps needed to cancel the contract. Be prepared to explain yourself multiple times, and be assertive. Many service providers have a policy specific to U.S. or NATO personnel moving, but some of the customer service representatives may not know about it. See the Ask a JAG feature on page 4 for more information on cancelling contracts.
Make sure you have the appropriate passport and VISA documents. Every member of the family should have a current tourist passport, and many dependents should also have a no fee passport. For all family members that are not U.S. citizens, look into VISA requirements early. Processing Visa requests can be costly and can sometimes take months. Also consider passports, birth certificates and Visas for children born during your tour here, especially if they are born to a mixed U.S. and German family. If you know about your move six or more months in advance, that’s the time to start looking into passport and Visa requirements. See Page 14 for the hours and contact numbers of the USAG Stuttgart Passport office.
Shipping motorcycles and ATVs
Motorcycles, ATVs and similar recreational vehicles can often be shipped as part of household goods, but there are specific preparations required, such as draining fuel and oil. If you plan to ship motorcycles or ATVs let the transportation office know early, and they can provide information on how to get your favorite motorized toy ready for the move. Bear in mind that motorcycles and ATVs can weigh from a few hundred to over a thousand pounds and they do count against your HHG total if shipped with HHG. Be prepared to provide copies of titles and other registration and ownership documents. See page 14 for contact information for the transportation office.
If you live off-post, Be sure to contact the Utility Tax Avoidance Program office before you close out your utilities with your landlord. There is specific utilities close-out information the UTAP office will need for clearing, and the best time to get this information is when you’re doing your utilities close-out with your landlord.
Moving with pets
Moving with pets can be very complicated. Although requirements will vary by your destination it will usually mean immunizations, health certifications, and quite a bit of documentation. Also, different airlines and carriers have differing policies and fees. Be aware of the policy of many airlines that will not ship pets in the cargo hold if forecasted temperatures at origin, destination or any stop between is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Heavier pets may even have to be shipped as cargo separately. The process can take months, so start getting ready now. Also think about lodging options for your pet, both here in Stuttgart and at your destination. Contact the hotels early to see what their pet policies are, or find kennels in the local area of your gaining station. See the article on page 8 for more information on moving with your pets.
During peak PCS season it can take several weeks or even longer to get a household goods pick-up appointment. As soon as you have orders in hand, contact the transportation office and schedule your move to ensure you get the most convenient dates possible. Make sure you’ve got orders. Without them, you can’t schedule your move.
Create a video inventory of your household goods
The prevalence of video capable smart phones and other devices has made inventorying your household goods much easier. Before the movers come, make a video tour of your house highlighting all high value items, and demonstrating the functional condition of your electronics. Capture serial numbers, model names and other specific information on your high-value items. Also, create a backup of the video, perhaps online, in case the movers accidentally break the computer or other device on which you saved the video. Hopefully all your stuff will arrive intact at your gaining station, but if it doesn’t you’ll be better prepared to make a solid claim. For more tips on setting yourself up for a worry-free claim, see the Ask a JAG article on page 4.
If you are planning on shipping a Privately Owned Vehicle, make sure you have all the documents you’ll need well ahead of time. You’ll need more than just your USAREUR registration and orders to ship a vehicle. Usually you’ll need a copy of the title or a statement of origin. If you purchased the vehicle tax free overseas, you’ll need the documents from that purchase as well. Also look into registration and vehicle taxation requirements at your gaining station, and how your tax free purchase may affect those fees. If the vehicle has a lien you’ll often need a statement from the lien-holder authorizing you to ship the vehicle. Contact the vehicle shipping office early to find out exactly what paperwork you’ll need. See page 14 for contact information.
Make sure you have copies of all important documents including passports and other identification, birth certificates, titles and receipts for personal property. The checklist on page 4 is a good list of the items you’ll want to make sure are in order before you start your move. If you do have to request copies of any of these documents, starting early will greatly improve your chances of getting them in time for your move.
If you wait until you pick up your clearing papers to start taking care of your PCS move, you’ll be in for a very rough move. Any PCS takes time, but especially when returning to the U.S. from overseas. Documentation processing can take time, and the summer PCS season places a high demand on offices that help with PCSing. As soon as you know you’ll be moving, start doing as much as you can to prepare.
All that Belgian furniture you’ve been collecting adds pounds to your household goods just as quickly as the Belgian chocolate does to your waistline. Make sure you pay attention to your weight allowance during your transportation appointment. Transportation personnel can help you estimate your household goods weight, using a 1,000 pounds per room method, but this is just an estimate. If your household goods are overweight you may be charged for the difference, and this can get very expensive with overseas moves.