To ship, or not ship; that is the question

Service members PCSing from one stateside base to another will typically drive to their new duty assignment.

However, if you have orders for an overseas assignment, you need to decide whether to ship your vehicle, or not!

As with anything PCS related, the first call on your list should be to the local Transportation Management Office. They will be able to give you up-to-date information on the why, how and when to ship.

But before you decide to ship a vehicle overseas, there are some things to think about.

  1. The Department of Defense will cover the cost of shipping one vehicle to your final destination. You are, however, limited by your vehicles’ size. The government will pay to ship a vehicle up to 20 metric tons. For any vehicle weighing more (that could be an oversize truck or SUV), the service member may incur additional costs.
  2. Modified vehicles. Many people take pride in after-market modifications to their vehicles, but these could cause issues in other countries. One example that comes to mind is that in Turkey, after-market window tinting is not legal.
  3. Time restraints. As you get ready for your PCS move, you will find there are deadlines for many things ñ scheduling hold baggage and household goods pickups; scheduling a time to move out of government quarters, etc. There will also be deadlines to be met when shipping a vehicle ñ from when and where to drop it off for shipping, to when and where to pick it up at your new duty station.
  4. Packing your vehicle. You may be tempted to load up your car or truck prior to shipment, rather than include them in your household goods. The only things you can ‘ship’ in your vehicle are items used for operating the vehicle or transporting passengers. These include:
  5. Jacks, tire irons, tire chains, spare and snow tires.
  6. Jumper cables and luggage racks.
  7. First aid kits, and
  8. Portable cribs, children’s car seats and strollers.

A full list is available at https://www.ustranscom.mil/dtr/part-iv/dtr_part_iv_app_k_3.pdf

  1. Licensing. Local licensing laws will apply once you arrive at your new duty station. These laws vary by country, and there may be strict deadlines on when to register. Some countries may require you to register your vehicle locally, some may require you to get a U.S. military license plate. Again, contact your Transportation Management Office for more information.
  2. Buying a second car. Once you arrive at your new duty station, you may find that two cars are a necessity for your family.
  3. Buying a secondhand car. Many people opt to buy a secondhand car once they arrive. Many bases, both stateside and overseas, have a Lemon Lot where service members can buy and sell secondhand cars. If you do decide to sell your vehicle (either stateside or overseas), make sure you allow enough time for it to sell before you have to leave.
  4. Buying a new car overseas. Some decide to buy a new vehicle once they arrive overseas. Oftentimes, the prices can seem like you are getting a good deal but you need to remember that if you ship your ‘new’ vehicle back to the States you will have to make sure it meets U.S. standards.
  5. Think about what it will take to ship your American POV stateside after your tour is over. Several years ago, unleaded gasoline was not readily available in the United Kingdom, so everyone had to use leaded fuel. When shipping their U.S. vehicles back to the United States, service members had to pay for a new catalytic converter to be installed.

As with any other aspect of your PCS move, check with your local TMO, or request a sponsor from your gaining unit and ask them for advice and information.

Still have questions? www.militaryonescource.mil has the following Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is a POV?

A: A POV, or privately owned vehicle, is any motor vehicle that provides personal transportation and is owned by, or on a long-term lease to (12 or more months), a customer or a customer’s dependents. A POV can have four or more wheels, like a car or truck. The POV must be:
• Self-propelled
• Licensed to travel on public highways
• Designed to carry passengers or household goods

Q: Will the government pay to ship a POV?

A: You may have an entitlement to ship or store one POV at government expense when you receive permanent change of station orders.


The cost of transporting your POV to your new duty station is largely your responsibility for a CONUS to CONUS move. There are exceptions, so if you’re unsure, contact your local Transportation Management Office (for military members). Civilian employees can contact their human resource office.

If you can’t drive from your previous CONUS duty station to the new CONUS location because of medical or personal reasons, or if the travel time exceeds your report-in date, contact your local Transportation Management Office.


Only one POV owned or leased for personal use may be shipped at government expense. To inquire about exceptions, or if you would like to make your own arrangements to ship more than one POV to your new duty station, contact your local Transportation Management Office.

Q: Is a motorcycle considered a POV?

A: It depends. A motorcycle or moped can be considered a POV if you are not shipping a vehicle at government expense on the same authorization or travel orders. If you have questions, contact your local Transportation Management Office.

Q: What documents do I need to turn in or pick up my POV?

A: Visit https://pcsmypov.com/ for more information.

Q: Who do I contact regarding my POV shipment?

A: Please contact the Vehicle Processing Center nearest your present duty station. You can find out where your nearest VPC is by visiting https://pcsmypov.com/

Q: How do I know if there are restrictions when shipping my POV to a foreign country?

A: Contact your local Transportation Management Office.

Q: How full can my fuel tank be when I ship my POV?

A: U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (Title 49, Transportation, Carriage By Vessel, section 176.905, paragraph A (2) specifically states: “The fuel tank of a motor vehicle or mechanical equipment powered by liquid fuel may not be more than one-fourth full.”

Q: Do I have to clean my POV before it is shipped?

A: The exterior of your POV must be washed and clean of all dirt. The interior of your vehicle must be vacuumed clean (dry vacuumed only).

Q: How long do I have to pick up my POV?

A: You have 21 days from the day your POV is available to pick it up. The destination Vehicle Processing Center will notify you within 24 hours via email or postcard when your vehicle is ready for you. You can also track your vehicle’s progress to its final destination on PCSmyPOV.

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