Now That You Have Received Your Official Orders, It’s Time To Get Busy!
Your military spouse has just received orders for an OCONUS PCS to Germany! I touched a bit on how to mentally prepare for a military move. Now you can get the ball rolling! Before the movers come, there is a list of requirements to move to Germany. For many, this OCONUS PCS can be a dream come true.
EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program)
Every family member will need to be cleared by EFMP for any OCONUS (outside the continental US) PCS (permanent change of station). This needs to be done before scheduling the movers and booking the flights. Now that you have orders, getting your family cleared should be one of the first steps. It can be a lengthy process. Call your EFMP office on post to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. You will need to pick up paperwork to have your physicians fill out. Start with these forms: EFMP Forms for Service Providers & Leaders | Military OneSource.
Children will need to be evaluated as well. Once the paperwork has been completed by your physician, you will be able to be seen by an EFMP representative. The EFMP office will request a copy of all medical records. I would advise that you obtain two copies, one for EFMP, and one to keep on your person. The appointment may be in person or virtual. During this visit, all medical history will be reviewed. The EFMP office will send it to the OCONUS EFMP office overseas for clearance, in fact this was a 30 day window for us. I can’t stress the importance of getting this process started immediately. In my experience, it took almost two months to get an appointment. The OCONUS EFMP office may deny a family member, in which a new duty station could be issued.
This step can be overwhelming, but the goal is that all family members will be able to receive the care they need overseas.
Travel And “No-Fee” Passports
Each family member will need a travel passport. Check your local pharmacy to see which ones process passport photos. How to Apply for A Passport gives step by step instructions on how to apply and/ or renew a passport. My little one was just over a year old, and we needed both my husband and myself at the appointment.
The no-fee passport is an official/ non travel passport. This passport allows one to stay in the OCONUS country for the entire duration of the duty station. You will need to have a copy of the marriage license, orders and military ID’s. To start this process contact the military chain of command and admin office.
Link In With Your Sponsor
Your sponsor is your go to person. Link up with them frequently, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your sponsor should help make arrangements overseas. Check out the social media groups for that location.
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If you are bringing any animals they will also need to go through a screening process as well. Make sure your pet has a recent physical and is up to date with all vaccines. I also recommend having a copy of all their medical records. Familiarize yourself with the pet policy at your new station.
This is an excellent resource through the US Army: Read here
To get your child enrolled in school, reach out to the DOD education system. Reach out to your sponsor if you will be living off post. You will need to figure out if your child will be able to attend school on post or on the economy. This is a very helpful link that will list all of the schools and contact information through the DOD: Click here.
The military will pay for the shipping of one vehicle. Some important questions to consider:
- Is your car in good condition? It will need to pass inspection at the OCONUS station.
- If you have more than one car, consider what you want to do with the other.
- Is it up to date on all parts?
- If you have more than one car, start thinking about what you want to do with second.
I would recommend taking it in for a routine exam. Get it thoroughly detailed, and painted if necessary.
- Related post: How to ship your car overseas
As soon as the entire family is cleared by EFMP, go ahead and schedule the movers. There will be three sets: HHG (house hold goods), UAB (unaccompanied baggage, and NTS (non temporary storage)
Start downsizing and decluttering. The housing in the next duty station is likely to be smaller. Consider donating items, or scheduling a garage sale. Now is a great time to go through your children’s clothes and toys.
Start a list and categorize the items you want in each move. Inventory your electronics/ high valued items. Take photos!
Will you be living on or off post? Both have advantages and disadvantages. If not assigned by the military, I encouraged you to sit down and write a list of what your family needs, and go from there. Contact your sponsor, they should be able to help provide insight to help with this decision process.
The in-processing can take a bit of time. You’ll want to contact the hotel on post and make arrangements to stay during this time. This process can take up to a few months, be mentally prepared.
Double check your drivers license. You will need to make sure the expiration date will not occur while overseas. For Germany, you will need to take a lengthy written drivers test. The material is long, and can take several hours.
Banking and Secondary Verification
You will be receiving a new phone number when in Germany. This is especially important for any double verifications for all accounts. This will be an issue if it goes through your American number. Make sure to contact all financial and banking accounts to inform them of the overseas move.
One of the main disadvantages of PCSing overseas is being far away from family. This is going to be a very busy time, see if family can come and visit.
- Related post: Tips for moving away from family
- Related post: How to handle the feelings of lonliness as a military spouse
Now That You Have Your OCONUS PCS Orders, It’s Time To Make A List And Start Checking It Off
This window leading up to the PCS can be overwhelming. Have patience and grace. I encourage you to take it one step at a time, and remember- this can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Soak it up!