Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The PCS Files: My PCS Binder

My PCS binder, also known as "The Japan Book" around here, is the brain of our house these days. I cannot take credit for this idea because I saw it mentioned over and over again on military discussion forums, blogs and Pinterest. Of course, I'm an organizing gal, so it instantly appealed to me. This binder will never leave my side as we make the trip to Japan. There is SO much involved with moving overseas that the binder has almost become essential. I'm going to share with you what my binder includes in hopes that it might help anyone else that may be interested in making one.

In the front of my binder, I have our passports in a document sleeve, but those will be going in my purse with me for our plane ride. I also want to mention that we scanned and uploaded all of these documents into mine and my husband's shared Google Drive account so that if we lose the binder (lord help me!), we will have access to copies wherever we are.

The very first section of my binder is filled with all of our official military documents. I have about 6 copies of our official orders (I was told we would need copies for multiple things in Japan - cell phones, cars, off-base housing, etc.). I also have two copies of our Family Entry Approval Form. The last thing I have in this section is an emailed copy of our Port Call, or our flight information.

The second section of my binder holds all the information that will be helpful to us once we arrive. These things include every single piece of correspondence from our sponsor, information about the Navy Lodge where we'll be staying, a print-out of our Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA), and our Overseas Cost of Living Allowance (OCOLA). 

I merged all of the emails from our Sponsor and put them into one large document that I could print out. I highlighted all of the dates that so that everything would be in order and easy to find.

The third section of my binder has information about our shipments. This includes two copies of our Personal Property Checklist, our Entitlement Summary (how much weight can go in our shipments), two copies of each inventory from our movers (we only have one of these thus far, but once our HHG is picked up, that inventory will go in here too), and some helpful information about how to move from the Navy's Shipment Counseling website.

In the fourth section of my binder, I have a guide for moving to Japan that was emailed to us by our Sponsor and Ombudsman. 

The last section of my binder has ALL of our important documents that I would HATE to lose in my luggage or HHG shipment. This is another reason that this folder will be with me at all times. This section has our Social Security Cards, our Insurance cards, our Marriage License, all of our dog's records (I will be giving these to my mother-in-law when we leave our dog with her), each of our family records (birth certificates, immunization records, etc.), copies of my husband's diploma from medical school, my husband's medical school transcript, a copy of our renter's and auto insurance, and a list of contact information for all the companies that we use (banks, insurance agents, cell phone, etc.). 

My binder is definitely full and it's going to add some weight to my backpack on the plane. However, it will be so nice to have EVERYTHING we need inside it. I know it will make the transition easier once we arrive in Japan. I hope that my binder will help you if you are wanting to put one together yourself. 

If you have any suggestions for other things to include, I'd love to hear them!


  1. Nice! We had all of our paperwork in an accordion folder and it was chaos. Our PCS back to the States will include a binder!

  2. I also prefer to put all the papers in clear sleeves instead of punching holes. I don't have to worry about opening up the binder rings to get things out and risk everything fall out of it!

  3. YES! We've used an accordion folder in the past and NEVER again.. I agree..CHAOS! Even though it was separated..it was difficult to find things and with a little one, I dropped things, etc. We are PCSing to Hawaii in about 9 months and I am starting to make a binder. :) Thanks for the post!!! I got some great ideas to include in ours. This is our first OCONUS move as well.

    1. Should be getting close to your move... hope it's going well! And I hope your binder has been helpful. Thanks for reading!