Moving with the Military: Your PCS Binder


School’s ending soon and summer is following behind, which means most Americans are in the process of planning vacations and spending time off with family.

For the military community, summer is also a time that orders come down and planning for a move is on the agenda. It undoubtedly becomes the busiest time of the year for military families.

Are you gearing up to move this summer?

Even if you’re not moving, be sure to pocket as many resources you can to help you plan for a smooth move. There are actual studies proving that moving is one of life’s most stressful events. And military families move nearly 3 times more often than civilian families. Yikes! So, make sure you’re as planned as you ever will be!

Aside from all the tips and tricks for a smooth move, there is also a great tactic to ensure that all your appropriate and critical documents are in one place. Creating a PCS binder would be extremely helpful to keep everything you need at your fingertips.

Wondering what should be inside your PCS binder?

PCS binder

For any move, you want to keep ALL vital paperwork on you at all times, especially those that verify your identity. NEVER pack them someplace you can’t easily access. Also, if you PCS OCONUS, you might actually need them for travel.

Because most documents can’t be modified or damaged, I like to keep pocketed tabs to place important paperwork that way you don’t need to punch holes to put them in your binder. For example, have one pocketed tab for birth certificates and another for social security cards and so on. Instead of pocketed tabs, you can use normal dividers and sheet protectors. Do whatever floats your boat!

Here is a list of important documents for your PCS binder:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security cards
  • Passports
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Naturalization Documents
  • Vehicle Documents (i.e. title/lease info, registration, insurance, etc.)
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Wills
  • Medical Paperwork
  • School Paperwork (i.e. immunization records, transcripts, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous Legal Paperwork

It’s also important to include your home inventory in your binder. Jot down a list of all your valuable appliances, furniture and anything else you spent a pretty penny on that the movers are taking away. Your list of belongings should be something you work from as you add or take away home goods to help you with any future moves too.

I love budgeting. Saving money is fun for me and anyway to do it is great! In this case, budgeting is actually beneficial to get your move off on the right foot. Each service member is entitled to a certain amount of money for their move depending on all the factors that play into your move. Take the time to write everything out and allocate your money appropriately. Having it in your PCS binder is a great reminder to keep things on track.

To help prep for pack-up at your losing installation, I create a unique checklist of things that I need to do to help with the process. A special checklist for myself and for my husband.

If you have kiddos, put together a special list for them, so they can be included (and let’s be honest, we can use all the help we can get too!).

Some of the items I had on my list were:

  • Cancel local memberships and accounts (i.e. electric, cable, gym, etc.)
  • Arrange travel
  • Get ready for change of address
  • Gather all appropriate documentation
  • Calculate moving budget
  • Research housing options
  • Donate unnecessary items

Next, create a whole section for items that are needed for the actual move. I like to have a personal copy of my husband’s paper orders, just in case it’s needed in any of the planning process.

I have a special tab that also details all our entitlements and cost breakdown of all our expenses and the budget to keep me on track. When we DITY moved, I used this section to keep all the moving receipts and weight tickets, so during in-processing, my husband had everything he needed to turn in.

Finding a home at a new location gets a whole section in my PCS binder. I like to have comparison charts set-up to identify surrounding neighborhoods and then, the cost of living would be in each area. Starting with finding a neighborhood is helpful to pinpoint an ideal house. There are lots of different resources out there to help find a perfect home like, and even Facebook!

Need some more inspiration or guidance for your PCS binder?

A lot of great military-related organizations have templates you can use to help you get started. For example, released their 2015 PCS Toolkit recently. I’ve also used’s PCS checklist and Military OneSource’s moving section. NextGen MilSpouse also pulled some additional resources you should bookmark for your move.

What documents or checklist do you put in your PCS binder? I would love to know.



  1. Very useful post, thank you so much! My sister will be going through her first PCS, so it will come in handy to her.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.