Moving Overseas Preparedness


So, you’re moving overseas, or thinking about doing so?

If you are moving overseas with the military below are several things to think about. From our experience of moving to Japan, here are some tips to make your military relocation (PCS) smoother:

1. Start a binder with page covers that you can insert necessary overseas documents into.

2. If you have a pet. Start the overseas screening process for them as soon as possible. Particularly if you are moving to Hawaii, Japan or another island country/ state that does not have rabies. The rabies vaccinations, blood titer, and check- ups all need to be done in a precise order. Your pet will need a 15 digit world microchip. Once the world microchip is valid, 180 days will need to pass after the rabies antibody check blood draw (FAVN). Check with these websites:

Click to access Pet_import_timeline.pdf

Start the process early with pets! Our pet has to be boarded for a month here, before his 180 days has passed from getting the rabies antibody blood titer.

3. Make sure you and your children’s immunizations, health checkup physicals, and such are up-to-date. Make sure you and your children have recent dental checkups, preferably regular checkups with cleanings and a clean bill of health. You and all dependents will need to pass a physical and dental examination process to complete the overseas screening.

4. Check your passports and birth certificates that you will need. I urge you to check those birth certificates and your wedding certificate in order to get your passports or your passports renewed.

Check the date that your passport expires. Just this morning on the AMC (Air Mobility Command) line at the airport, an AMC worker pointed out to a woman ahead of my husband that her passport had expired yesterday. The woman’s husband made the flight, needing to get to Yokosuka to check-in on orders, the woman was not allowed to fly until she renewed her passport.

Make sure you know where your marriage certificate is if you need to renew or get your passport and/or if you need to renew or get your children their passport. Your birth certificate is necessary for you to prove who you are, and your marriage certificate is necessary during the passport application to prove that you are legally married to children’s other parent and if you’ve changed your name since birth due to marriage. The marriage certificate shows this.

Check your children’s birth certificates. If you are a typical military family, you may have children born in different states. Our whole family is born in different states, which makes things exciting if we need new birth certificate copies. Our sons already had valid passports from traveling to Europe with us. Our youngest, did not have a passport prior to overseas screening. While setting up the passport appointment, I scoured the house for her birth certificate. I never found it, and had to rush a copy of her birth certificate in order for us to apply for her passport.

So, double check those birth certificates, that marriage certificate, and your current passports. Put those important documents in a folder or binder. Without valid passports, you won’t make any overseas flight. In the event there is a family emergency and you need to get back to the states, or another country, your passport needs to be valid at a moments notice.

5. Start downsizing your home if you have a lot of stuff. Most overseas living is much smaller than the typical American home. Even on base housing is small. As an O-4, we are entitled to a 1800 sq ft townhouse with minimal storage. As we started downsizing, I thought about what needed to go into these three categories: a.) items to give away/donate/ or trash, b.) which items would be going into long-term storage, c.)which items would be going overseas, lastly d.) which items we would be taking in our luggage bags.

I started this summer, five months before our move, to give away and donate all baby items. We’re done having children, so besides keepsakes to put into long-term storage, we said adios to those baby items. One of our friends was very blessed by all the baby items we’ve been so lucky to have for our children. I started donating old clothes, and giving away the clothes our children had outgrown. I also started trashing junk. When we moved from Rhode Island to Washington State last fall, I had a newborn, and didn’t trash anything before our previous move. Once I was getting more sleep since my daughter was sleeping at night, I started going through bins, putting together keepsake boxes for my children of their artwork, cards written, etc and I trashed and recycled the unnecessary.

I’ve heard that once people pull many items out of long term storage after two years, they wonder why they kept most of the items. With that being said, be selective of what you put into storage. We put in our large duplicate furniture: bulky couches, bulky dressers, large and heavy bed set, and a few other items in our garage that we will need for lawn care when we get back. All of these items would be expensive to replace, and would be too heavy to meet the maximum overseas goods weight allowances. See here for the rules on those allowances.

Think of your items that will be going overseas. Smaller furniture is key for moving overseas. We chose our desk opposed to the kids bulky desk, our small craft table and chairs will be our dinning room table overseas instead put our bulky long dinning room table and chairs we put into long term storage, our smaller bookshelves, our daughter’s crib which turns into a toddler bed will be sufficient overseas and she can use her twin bed frame when we move back to the states, etc. Smaller living quarters requires smaller and less furniture, especially if you have three children and a dog. It is easy to buy used furniture overseas from other military members moving back to the States.

In regards to the baggage you can take, there is a weight limit, but basically it is two bags per person that goes under the plane as cargo, and one carry-on and one personal item that you can carry on. Think of what you’ll want to take as baggage on the flight over, keeping in mind that you will probably not get your shipped overseas belongings until two months after the packers have picked it up. Everything besides what you pack reallocate to long term storage, give away, trash and overseas shipment.

6. If you own a home in the States, have someone else manage your property for you. Start talking to a realtor you trust. It is worth the cost to not manage your home from a 15 hour time- zone difference location. We’ve heard horror stories where owners thought they could manage the property while being overseas. Pay for the management property, and make sure you have savings earmarked for home repairs in the case of emergencies and common repairs. If you have a home and want to be stationed overseas, be prepared for these costs in regards to the investment of your home. Once your home is a rental you write a percentage of certain items off as a tax deduction. If you are renting and moving overseas, you’ve saved yourself a headache for now in regards to home repairs and costs.

Now that you’ve read this, and probably made a list, get enough rest, take a lot of deep breaths and know you’re going to be annoyed by a few overseas screening protocols. It’s all worth it once you get settled overseas.

Good luck!

P.S. Picture above Childe Hassam painting Le Val-de-Grac (1888)
You may also like this post from two weeks out from our recent big move.

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