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As with most things government, military moves come with their fair share of paperwork. One of the mandatory forms when moving stations is the DD Form 1797, or the Personal Property Counseling Checklist. This form serves as evidence that you have been through the counseling that is required by the government as part of moving your personal property. In this case, what may seem like annoying, extra red tape, may actually help you in the long run. By ensuring that your belongings are completely and properly documented, you are protected should the need arise to file a claim against a 3rd party carrier or moving company. DD Form 1797 is required for both government moves and DITY moves. While you can undergo the required counseling in person at your local Transportation Office, it’s much more time efficient to create an online account on Move.mil and go through self-counseling online.

While self-counseling is available for most members, please note the following exceptions. These members are required to complete counseling in-person at the nearest TO:

Counseling Required In Person
Army Air Force Navy Marine Corps Coast Guard
First PPM XXX
Last PPM (retirement/separation)XX X
Not property owner using POAXX X
Moving personal property as "next of kin"XXXXX
Summary Courts OfficerXXXXX
Moving in conjunction with contingency ordersX

 

The self-counseling system will walk you through all the necessary steps to getting yourself set-up and ready to move including outlining your entitlements (your weight allowance and other monetary allowances), your responsibilities, and the responsibilities of your interstate moving company. Though the counseling process is self-guided, your information will be reviewed by the closest counseling office. You will be provided the contact information for this office in order to fax in all of your relevant documents, including the DD  Form 1797.

As you complete self-counselling, both DD Form 1299 and DD Form 1797 will be filled in, so that in the final step all you have to do is print, sign, and fax. However, we’ll break down the primary components of DD Form 1797 here:

Questions 1-6: Name and social security number are pretty self explanatory. The form also asks for your Grade, Rank and Rating. Your grade will impact your weight allowance for the permanent change of station and non-temporary storage. In addition, your grade determines the amount you receive for a dislocation allowance, the allowance intended to cover any additional costs of moving not already covered. Keep in mind that by law, there is not a DLA when coming on or leaving active duty.

Section I:

  1. Entitlements: Where do your orders indicate you are moving and what allowances do they provide?
  2. Allowances: Based on your rank and dependency status (is your family moving with you?), you’ll be given a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) weight allowance. The government will not cover the cost of moving anything over this weight allowance. There are different allowances for TDY, or temporary duty, which are based solely on the member’s rank, and not dependency status. Belongings considered to be Professional Books, Papers and Equipment, are not included in either the PCS or TDY weight allowances, but are considered separately.
  3. If there is a weight restriction at your new duty station, you may be able to place the remainder of your household goods (HHG) in storage or ship them somewhere within the continental US (i.e. the home of a relative).
  4. Reimbursing the government: During counseling, you will have to acknowledge that any excess costs will be personally assumed and that you are responsible for reimbursing the government. As mentioned in the allowances section above, you cannot exceed your weight limit, so it’s very important that you correctly estimate the weight of your household goods prior to the truck being loaded so that there are no surprises at the end of the move. A good rule of thumb is 1000 pounds per room plus additional amounts for any large appliances and items (refrigerator, piano, washer/dryer, etc.)
  5. PUD: Pick-up date RDD: required delivery date
  6. Mode of shipment: At this point you should have determined whether you are doing a government move or a personally procured move (PPM or DITY move). Keep in mind that the government will reimburse PPMs up to 95% of what it would have cost the government to move you. So if you can find a great deal on a 3rd party mover, you could stand to make some money.
  7. Make sure you get rid of unnecessary items that will add weight to your move and possibly put you over the given allowances. Do you really need those 20 pairs of jeans that you outgrew in college, or that ugly chair that’s been following you from station to station? Delight your local Goodwill by dropping off as many of your unneeded items as possible, and don’t forget to get a receipt for your tax deduction!
  8. PBP&E: As mentioned above, you are given a separate weight allowance for all belongings considered necessary to performing your professional duties.
  9. You must fill out a DD Form 1701, which inventories your HHG. This extensive list helps you account for all of your belongings before and after the move, and helps ensure that in the case of a dispute against a carrier, you will receive compensation more quickly.
  10. Appliances: Also included in the DD Form 1701, is a list of all appliances you are moving and the required servicing. Are you taking your washer and dryer with you? If so, you’d indicate on this form that you need them reconnected to water and electric at your new home.
  11. In certain situations when the HHG cannot be delivered to a residence, a member can arrange for temporary storage. Again, this is a service that can either be performed by the government, or arranged with a 3rd party commercial storage facility. The government will reimburse up to the amount it would have cost it to provide the same storage.
  12. – 14) Check your items against your inventory list before and after your move and make sure it’s all there. It may also be helpful to take pictures prior to disassembling your old house, to help you remember all of your major items that should have arrived at your new location. The carrier will prepare the DD Form 619, which details the services provided in relation to your move. This will also be signed by your transportation officer. Make sure that you have thoroughly reviewed this form for accuracy. You’ll be required to sign documents immediately upon delivery.

15) – 16) Your installation transportation officers (ITOs) are important contacts during your move. They should be aware of where your delivery is going and also of any changes to plans.

Other: Sometimes a family member or friend will have to receive property on your behalf. You must have a proper Power of Attorney in place for someone other than yourself to receive property.

Section II:

This section is all about unaccompanied baggage. These are belongings that are not carried free, for example, baggage in addition to the allowance provided with an airline ticket. Unaccompanied baggage is usually packed separately from the remainder of the HHG shipment, and may be expedited because of the need for immediate use. For TDY moves, UB is generally limited to clothing. When moving permanently or abroad, the definition of UB is much broader, as there are more essentials when arriving in a foreign destination. Items included are personal clothing, some kitchen essentials, cribs and strollers, and other items needed for dependent care. UB weight counts towards the weight of the HHG weight allowance.

Section III:

Members are entitled to a weight allowance both for the physical move of HHG and non-temporary storage. Non-temporary storage is for long-term storage of HHG and is generally restricted to assignments where there are weight restrictions, overseas duty, or extended  training. It may be a long time before you see your belongings again, so it’s especially important to have a thorough inventory of your HHG to check off items upon retrieval.

Section IV:

Shipping a mobile home replaces a standard HHG shipment, since the mobile home will serve as your residence at your new station. There are 6 requirements to make the move of your mobile home reimbursable:

  1. Must have PCS orders
  2. Must own or have permission from the owner to move your mobile home
  3. Have to own your mobile home at the time you receive your PCS orders
  4. Must be used as your home upon arrival at your destination
  5. Must be roadworthy
  6. Mobile home must be compliant with local laws and regulations of your destination state

While you will receive reimbursement for the move of your mobile home, the government will not pay anymore than they would for a normal HHG move. Consider the weight and costs of moving a mobile home versus a normal household move – it’s probably going to end up costing you out-of-pocket to move your home, so it better be a pretty sweet mobile home if you’re going to bother with moving it.

There are several costs the government will not cover in relation to moving your mobile home, including, but not limited to brakes and other repairs, turning utilities on and off, building permits, etc. There are also restrictions on what items you may move inside your mobile home, among them hazardous materials and waterbeds (you don’t want your home becoming Sea World on wheels).

Moving a mobile home also requires filling out additional paperwork: DD Form 1412, Inventory of Articles Shipped in House Trailer.

Section V:

If you have received PCS orders, you are entitled to move one Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) that does not exceed 20 Measurement Tons.

1 Measurement Ton = Length X Height X Width of vehicle/1728 = Cubic Feet / 40

As with HHG shipments you may arrange your own move of a POV with a commercial carrier and receive reimbursement. If you exceed the entitlement, you must pay any additional cost of transport.

You are able to ship some additional items such as car seats, tires, car tools, etc.  within your POV, which can give you some additional wiggle room with your HHG weight allowance. You must make sure your POV has working brakes, is operable, and is clean at the time you drop off your vehicle. At time of drop-off, you will receive a DD Form 788 signed by you and your inspector. Keep a copy in case you need to file a claim.

Once your POV lands safely at its destination, you are notified and may pick up the vehicle provided you have a copy of your ID, a set of keys, and your copy of the DD Form 788. A spouse may also pick up the vehicle, but other parties must have a signed POA to do so.

In the case of damage to your POV during transport, you have two years to file a claim against the carrier.

Section VI:

If transporting weapons, they must be inoperable, free of ammunition, properly inventoried (make, model, serial number, gauge) and placed in container one for easy access for customs officials.You must be compliant with state and local laws, or the laws of the country where you are shipping your arms.

Section VII:

In the event of loss or damage to your HHG during your move, you have the right to file a claim with your transportation service provider. Fill out the DD Form 1840 and have the TSP agent sign if you notice damaged or lost items on the day of delivery. Subsequent to delivery, should you notice additional loss or damage, you should file DD Form 1840R. Submit both forms  through the Military Claims Office. Most TSPs are fully insured and there’s additional assurance from the Department of Defense that you will receive Full Replacement Value for your goods. This is great news, because if will enable you to go repurchase those items at no financial loss.

That covers the sections you will go through during your pre-move counseling. Get moving!