Serving in the United States Armed Forces means being exposed to a long list of abbreviations and acronyms that may not be standard across all branches. There are a few exceptions in this regard, and they are related to what we will cover herein, which is the process of shipping a car, truck, SUV, or even a motorcycle. We are going to start by explaining these terms and abbreviations before explaining how the process unfolds from beginning to end.
Permanent Change of Station Orders
A PCS is sometimes referred to as a Permanent Change of Assignment in the Army, and a Permanent Change of Duty Station in the Air Force, but it is understood across all branches that this is what activates the military vehicle shipping process. PCS orders involve some level of travel and relocation benefits to service members on active duty. If you are in the reserve components or the National Guard, you don’t normally get PCS orders unless you are active.
Regardless of the terms of PCS orders, you will have the benefit of car shipping as long as the distance is 600 miles within the continental U.S. (CONUS). If your new duty station is outside of the continental U.S. (OCONUS), you may qualify for car shipping under certain circumstances. When the CONUS distance is less than 600 miles, you can still use the military vehicle shipping provider that works with your base, but you will have to cover the costs.
Privately Owned Vehicles You Can Ship
POV is a standard abbreviation across all branches, and it refers to any motor vehicle you use for personal transportation. Most service members who wish to drive their POVs on base are required to register them, but this does not mean that an unregistered POV cannot be shipped. Your PCS orders allow you to ship one POV at no cost; this is the same for CONUS and OCONUS orders, but it is up to you to ensure that the POV will meet the conditions and requirements to register it at your next duty station. Generally speaking, you can ship any passenger car or motorcycle as a POV, but you are limited to just one of them for OCONUS orders and no more than two for CONUS. If you have a car plus a motorcycle, you may be able to declare both as POV in a CONUS move.
Coordinating With the Personal Property Office
All branches strive to issue PCS orders within 60 days of the date you are supposed to check into your new command. You will want to contact the personal property office on base with a set of PCS orders as soon as they are in your hands; this is when you will complete form DD 1351-2 to ship your POV. Not all PPOs work the same; some have a designated provider for car shipping services, but most will give you a list to choose from. When this is the case, your first move will be to contact the providers, check out how they work, and get a quote before booking an order. You must get an all-inclusive quote because this is what PPO requires. If you have a motorcycle or boat that did not qualify for a CONUS move, check with PPO to see if it can be included as part of your household goods shipment.
The POV Pick-Up and Delivery Process
Once you get the green light from PPO, coordination is between you and the carrier. If you happen to live close to the carrier office, you can always drive the vehicle there, but scheduled pick-ups are more common. Someone will need to be there when the carrier representative arrives to pick up the POV, which should be parked in a spot where a tow truck can maneuver and load. A release will need to be signed at that point, and the carrier representative will walk you through the inspection process before generating a Bill of Lading required by PPO.
Please note that the release document can also be signed by a trusted individual you designate. You will want to choose a car shipping firm that provides real-time updates through voice calls, text messages, or a mobile app. The delivery process is similar in the sense that you will arrange a meeting place with the carrier, and a release form will be signed to complete the process.
In the end, shipping your POV will likely be the least complicated aspect of your PCS move. Even if you are not approved for POV shipping, you should consider retaining the services of a carrier that works with military personnel; in many cases, they offer nice discounts to active duty and retired members.