Entitlements And Expenses

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A young family packing a moving truck during a PCS.



One of the questions we’re often asked by clients is what to expect during a PCS (Permanent Change of Station). While moves are a necessary and familiar part of military life, they can be financially challenging. And it’s often unclear what expenses are and aren’t covered during transition to a new duty station.

To help address financial questions, we’ve prepared this guide on PCS entitlements and expenses. The resources below have been developed to help you and your family consider financial factors that are often overlooked before, during and after your move. Also, be sure to check out our PCS Checklist, a compete step-by-step guide designed to ensure you are financially prepared for the big day. You can also find more general information by visiting our PCS FAQ page.

Image of a monthly budget and expenses.
A receipt with change to represent PCS per diem allowances.

PCS Travel Per Diems

During a PCS, service members are entitled to a travel per diem, which can vary based on your location, rank, branch and other factors. In most cases, this is provided as a flat daily rate, but you may be eligible to receive an additional per diem based on the number of dependents you have.
This travel per diem is separate from some of the other PCS entitlements, such as vehicle mileage, airfare and hotels. You can find out more about this by speaking with your nearest military Travel Office or by visiting the Defense Travel Management Office’s Per Diem page.

A toy camouflaged military moving truck to represent PCS moving per diems.

Dislocation Allowance (DLA)

During a PCS, you’ll also be entitled to what’s known as a Dislocation Allowance (or DLA). This is a flat sum that’s meant to cover any incidental or extra expenses that may occur during a military move and is separate from the standard per diem.

The specific DLA amount that you’re entitled to is based on your pay grade and dependent status. That being said, it isn’t something you’ll automatically receive. Instead, you’ll have to submit your travel claim after your PCS is completed.

You can learn more and get specific rates, by visiting the Defense Travel Management Office’s DLA page.

A scale to represent PCS weight allowance.

PCS Weight Allowance

During a PCS, you’re entitled to ship household goods from your old to your new duty station. There is, however, a weight limit on how much you can ship without having to pay out of pocket. For most service members, the weight allowance is greater for moves within the continental United States (CONUS) than it is for overseas moves. As with other entitlements, however, the exact PCS weight allowance varies by your pay grade and number of dependents.

Additionally, your weight allowance is determined by whether you choose to move yourself or use government-provided movers. If you choose to move yourself, this is known as a Personally Procured Move (PPM) (formerly referred to as DITY (Do it Yourself) move).

If you’re stationed overseas, you’ll also be entitled to a Consumables Allowance, which covers the cost of shipping perishable items, such as food and drink, to your new duty station. In most cases, service members are allowed up to 1,250 pounds per year, although this may vary based on your rank, pay grade and location. 

You can learn more about your specific weight allowances by visiting the Defense Travel Management Office’s Allowances page.

A close shot of a smartphone screen calculating PCS mileage rates.

PCS Mileage Rate

If you decide to drive or move to your new duty station yourself, you will receive a mileage allowance. The standard rate is $.19/mile, but it changes periodically and can fluctuate based on your location, pay grade and the number of authorized travelers in your vehicle.

You should be aware, however, that this is a separate item from your travel per diem and isn’t covered up front. Instead, you’ll have to pay any mileage out of pocket and then submit your expenses after you reach your new duty station.

You can learn more about your specific mileage rate by visiting the Defense Travel Management Office's Mileage page.

A hotel sign to represent hotel per diem costs during a PCS.

PCS Hotel Expenses

During a PCS, your lodging expenses are covered by per diem. To stay within your travel budget, it is important to plan the number of nights you will need a hotel room while travelling between duty stations. Make reservations at hotels that fit within your per diem allowance in order to prevent going over budget. Be sure to ask for the government rate. Keep in mind your per diem allocation includes funds for both daily meals and lodging.

Once you arrive at your new duty station, you may be authorized Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) for a short period of time depending on the availability of government quarters. Check in with your local travel office before making TLE plans.

A stack of moving boxes to represent PCS storage costs.

PCS Storage

As part of an approved PCS, you can also choose to have the military store all or some of your household goods for the duration of your assignment. As with other PCS entitlements, however, the specific weight allowance is based on your pay grade, number of dependents and duty station.

If you are interested in storing any items during a PCS, you should speak with your base’s Transportation Office. They can give you more details on specific weight allowances and where storage facilities are located at your current or new duty station.

A man loading a vehicle into a shipping containers for a PCS.

Shipping a Vehicle During an Overseas PCS

Many military members choose to ship a privately-owned vehicle (POV) as part of an overseas transfer. The type of vehicle that can be shipped and the cost, however, are determined by your location and rank.

It’s also important to note that you may have to pay shipping costs up front, with the DoD reimbursing you after you arrive at your new duty station. For that reason, you will want to be sure to include this expense in your personal budget.

You can learn more about your specific vehicle shipping allowances by visiting the Defense Travel Management Offices’ POV Page.

A young military couple and their pet dog relaxing after a PCS military move.

PCsing with Pets

Bringing a beloved cat or dog along during a move can be expensive, particularly if your new duty station is overseas.

That’s because there can be a number of costs associated with vaccinations, checkups and paperwork. Many countries may also require you to quarantine your pet for a certain period of time, which can lead to costs associated with boarding, food and inspection during that time period.

That can also be the case for some moves within CONUS. Hawaii, for example, requires quarantine and an extensive list of vaccinations.

It’s also important to know if pets are permitted at your new destination. Many military installations have a two-pet policy (or even a no-pet policy) and there may also be breed-specific legislation (BSL) which prohibits ownership of certain breeds of dogs within the area of your new duty station.

Consult with your local veterinarian and housing office before you PCS to ensure both you and your pet are prepared.

A young solider filling out a form for their PCS entitlements and expenses.

PCS Loans

Insights from clients and Advisors have led us to develop a number of products that can help military families manage their finances during a move. Personal Lines of Credit and Single Pay notes are both useful tools for military families dealing with unexpected costs associated with PCSing.

Learn more about our PCS Loans.

A stack of dollar bills to represent PCS entitlements and expenses.

Beware of Cash Advances

While loans may be useful to help cover out-of-pocket costs during a PCS, we recommend that you avoid requesting advanced pay to cover costs, as this can leave you cash-strapped when you reach your new duty station. A better option is to create a budget and plan how you will pay for any incidental expenses that arise during your move as far in advance as possible.

Get Started

Find Your Advisor

First Command is well equipped to help you get your finances squared away before you embark on your next PCS. To speak with a Financial Advisor near you, visit our Get Started page.