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A Service Family Checklist for Moving OCONUS

When you receive orders for a permanent change of station overseas, your mind may jump to thoughts of international travel, exotic foods and new experiences. There is work involved, yes, but Military OneSource provides relocation assistance as well as online tools and personalized support so you can focus on your new adventure.

Tap into the resources available to you through your military community so that you can embrace your new home, job and culture.

Consider these helpful steps to plan your move overseas

When you receive orders, Military OneSource is the place to turn. We have your back, highlighting helpful to-dos and resources, all to help make your move smooth. The moment you receive your orders, it's time to start planning. Here are some of the first things to consider:

  • Obtain command sponsorship: If you intend to take your family with you overseas, you'll need to obtain command sponsorship. This designation, which will appear on your orders, ensures your family will receive travel compensation, housing support and legal protection in your host country.
  • Think housing: Whether you stay in government housing or receive an overseas housing allowance, there are certain things to consider before you leave, including how much stuff to bring.
  • Set up your move: Visit Move.mil or contact your transportation office to set up the logistics of your upcoming move.
  • Check your finances: Moving can be costly. Even with the military picking up your tab for travel and household goods, you’ll likely face unexpected expenses. Be sure you'll be able to cover any last-minute surprises and keep records of reimbursable expenses. If you need assistance, financial support services are available .
  • Don't overpack: Take inventory of all your belongings before the movers arrive and decide what you'll really need. Find out your “household good weight limit” and stick to it. If you don't need something, don't bring it. Remember, it will likely take months for your regular household goods shipment to arrive.
  • Prepare for culture shock. Even the most seasoned travelers will experience some level of culture shock when moving to a new country. A new language, new food and different customs take some getting used to. One of the best ways to prepare: attend a Far Away Places Workshop; which is specifically designed to help you and your family anticipate and manage the stresses that come with moving to a foreign country.

Resources to ease your move overseas

The resources to help with your relocation are already in place. These include the Relocation Assistance Program, emergency financial help and the military-wide sponsorship program.

  • Contact the Relocation Assistance Program: Talking to a Relocation Assistance Program specialist at your current or new installation is a great place to start planning your overseas move. These experts can offer one-on-one advice and support or direct you to moving classes, workshops — including the Far Away Places Workshop — and online tools to help you navigate the moving process.
  • Use Plan My Move: Military OneSource's online moving tool can help you make smoother work of an overseas permanent change of station.
  • Consider sponsorship: A sponsor can be your very best resource for figuring out what your life will look like overseas. Sponsors can tell you about your new unit and life on base, as well as fill you in on cultural norms and quirky customs. They might even pick you up at the airport.
  • Help for kids: Kids are resilient — and military kids are more resilient than most. Still, it's important to prepare them for the huge change of an overseas move. Your current and new installations will both have the resources to help.

Embrace your new home

Living overseas grants military families a wonderful opportunity to experience the world as very few others can. It's not always easy: living in a foreign country requires effort and creativity. But it can also be the adventure of a lifetime.