Hand holding folder with moving papers

What to Hand Carry When You Move

Make the first days of your permanent change of station as smooth as possible. Important items should be carried personally, by hand, rather than going with a mover. From important documents to materials you need on day one, here’s what to keep close. 

Important documents

The most important items to keep with you during a PCS are your vital documents. Check off each item in this list and make multiple copies of them in case you misplace one along the way. Don't just rely on electronic copies either; make physical copies.

  • Orders — Keep your original set of orders with you at all times and make more than one copy.
  • Identification for each family member — Bring your military IDs and driver's licenses, but also Social Security cards, passports and birth, marriage and naturalization certificates.
  • Vehicle documentation — Take your vehicle title or lease information and proof of vehicle inspection, registration and insurance.
  • Financial information — Bring personal checks, any hard copies of recent bank statements, and all credit and debit cards — even the ones from department stores you never use.
  • Housing information — Carry the household inventory list your moving company provided, as well as lease or mortgage paperwork.
  • Legal documents — Bring divorce or annulment paperwork from a previous marriage, wills, custody or adoption paperwork, and any active power of attorney documents.
  • School or employment records — Carry all transcripts, report cards or grade sheets your children may need for school registration. If your child has an individualized education program, it's important to carry this with you. If you are moving with a child with special needs, please check out Military OneSource.
  • Medical and physician information — Previous medical and dental records and vaccination records will likely be needed for school registration and for some employment.

Many of these items can easily be carried in a big folder. You may want to take an extra step and back up important files on a flash drive, external hard drive or in the cloud.

Essentials for your trip and first nights in your new home

Here's a list of items to consider carrying with you to help the transition:

  • Medication for each family member — Prescription medications for each family member should be close at hand. You might want to bring some headache meds for you too in case of a sibling screaming match on the way there.
  • Phones and chargers — Surviving without your smartphone and charger today is almost inconceivable.
  • Valuables — If you can't imagine living without a family heirloom or treasured item, carry it with you.
  • Home items — If you are doing a stateside PCS and you have your vehicle with you, you might want to bring some basic kitchen, bath, cleaning and bedroom items with you like a pot, paper plates and a blow-up mattress so you don't wind up sleeping on a hardwood floor on the very first night.

Through the Relocation Assistance Program, Military OneSource provides relocation help as well as online tools and personalized support that will help you master your move. Speak to a consultant about how to best prepare and what essential items you need to bring with you. Tap into the resources that can help you master your PCS and focus on your new and exciting chapter in your life.