Moving Cars During a PCS

By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

While the average number of cars per family in America has decreased over the past 10 years, there are still many military families that own two or more vehicles. (Note, for the purpose of this conversation, we’re only talking about automobiles.) So how do military families move multiple cars to the next duty station in the most cost-efficient and stress-free manner?

The Surface Deployment & Distribution Command (SDDC) oversees all moving regulations and has a host of information on their website. Most of it regarding Privately Owned Vehicles (POVs) is for those authorized a government shipment of their vehicle overseas.

Moving Cars During a PCS

When moving cars, as in two or more, to your next duty station, there are several options. None of them are covered by the military themselves, though mileage reimbursement is available for qualifying situations.

Ship It

If you chose not to drive all of your vehicles to your next duty station, you can pay to ship them. This cost is completely out-of-pocket, though in some cases can be claimed on taxes as a moving expense later on. There are several companies who will ship vehicles through the continental U.S. and will ship door-to-door, making it easier than the government’s shipping which goes to one of a select few shipping ports. A recommended place to start is UShip for Military.

Drive Separately

For each vehicle that is driven to the next duty station, there is an amount per mile that is paid to the service member. That is called the Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT) and is $0.17 per mile per authorized vehicle, which is up to two, as stated in the PCS orders. If you have two adults and two cars, you can each drive one. Caravanning like this can be really annoying, but it is the simplest and usually cheapest option.

Get help

This option is one of my favorites, because it shows just how helpful the military family can be. For everyone who wants to transport multiple vehicles to a new duty station, there is someone else who is willing to drive. That person may be willing to drive your car to the same duty station, in exchange for some room in the back seat or a small monetary contribution. Some families also have parents or siblings who love road trips and would be willing to drive as well.

Tow One

If transporting more than two cars, or more cars than you have drivers for, towing one may be an option. Especially if you are looking at also renting a UHaul or doing a DITY move. You could get a trailer and problem solved. Though not reimbursed, this eliminates some stress and problems, and could be a taxable moving expense.

Make Multiple Trips

This option is probably the least practical, but it really depends on how far away the move is. I’d strongly consider this under a few circumstances, like moving with small children or moving within a two-day drive. I’d send my spouse with one car, fly him back, and then have us all drive together. That way we’re not driving two cars with small kids and adding to the stress level. This would also be a good option if you have more than two cars.

There’s no perfect way to PCS and one size really doesn’t fit all. The military does it’s best to make the process as smooth as possible, and luckily gives some options. Carefully consider all the options available before making any decisions.  Good luck and safe travels!

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PCSgrades AuthorRebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. Her writing experience includes military family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for several publications including to Homefront United Network, PCSGrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. Follow her online at www.whatrebeccathinks.com.

5 thoughts on “Moving Cars During a PCS

  • When we PCSd from Cali to VA, the military did pay to ship one of our cars. It’s an unknown “perk”. My husband found out doing some research. Even the people in the transportation office knew nothing of this obscure rule. The caveat was that we were all riding in the second car (which we were). We did have to prepay, but were reimbursed for the expense. That was in 2013, so I don’t know if it exists anymore.

    • Thanks for the info! That’s the thing with this military life – there are always unknown perks out there! And that’s what this community does so well, sharing information!

  • Question: I assume that if one travels PCS by vehicle, they get a mileage rate for the vehicle, correct? This is for transporting the “person” (military member).
    But, what about a PPM (DITY) movement of household goods? You get reimbursed for the U-Haul when doing that, correct?
    So, my main question is: When transporting your household goods via U-Haul “and” transporting the “person” via the private vehicle, does one get reimbursed for BOTH vehicles (one under the DITY option and one under the PCS by Vehicle option)? Thanks.

    • Thanks for reading Richard. You do get reimbursed for the gas/mileage for that vehicle. And yes you get reimbursed for the U-haul as part of the HHG. You weigh the Uhaul on a certified scale empty at pickup and then weigh it again on a certified scale (doesn’t have to be the same one as long as it’s certified) and you keep both of those weight tickets to turn in at the end. So you are correct that you will get reimbursed for the HHG part of the PPM and 1 vehicle. The 2nd vehicle is an out of pocket expense and can’t be counted even if you tow it. They will not reimburse for gas or the tow or the weight unfortunately.

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