How to Transport Your Car for Military Assignment

At a glance

So you’re in the military, and you just received permanent change of station orders. You’re probably wondering if Uncle Sam will pay to ship your privately owned vehicle (POV) to your new station for you.

The answer depends on where you’re relocating to. If you’re living within the continental US and your new station is also within the continental US, the government won’t pay to ship your vehicle (though there are some exceptions). If you’re moving to or from a station that isn’t in the continental US, however, the military will usually pay to ship one POV for you.

Keep reading to learn more about auto transportation for members of the armed forces. You can also start gathering quotes and shopping for a car transport service by checking out our list of the best car shipping companies.

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Need help finding a place to live?

Need help finding a place to live?

If you’re still unsure where you’re going to live near your new service station, check out The Automated Housing Referral Network. This resource is designed to help military families find safe, affordable housing.

How to ship your privately owned vehicle to your new duty station

Shipping a car within the continental US

Unfortunately, the military usually won’t reimburse you for shipping your POV within the continental US. There are some exceptions, so the Department of Defense recommends you reach out to your personal property office if you need financial help getting your car shipped.1

If you contact the office but they can’t help you, don’t despair. There are plenty of auto transport companies that offer discounts to active-duty military members. While these companies won’t ship your car to your new service station for free, their discounts can knock between $35 and $100 off the final cost of your transport service.

That said, auto transportation is pretty expensive, especially for long-distance moves. For cross-country moves, we’ve found that auto transportation can cost anywhere from $600 and $2,000 depending on distance, vehicle type, seasonality, and a handful of other factors.

So if you’re shipping your POV across the continental US, these military discounts probably won’t make a huge difference to your budget. They’re certainly better than paying full price though.

Even if you’re unsure whether you can afford auto transportation services, we recommend contacting one or two of these companies anyway. It never hurts to get a free quote, and then you’ll know exactly what your service would cost.

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Speaking of discounts

Speaking of discounts

If you’re moving soon, you’re probably also looking for an affordable moving company. That’s why we compiled this list of moving companies that offer military discounts. From moving truck rentals to full-service movers, you can almost always find a company that’s proud to support our armed forces.

Driving your POV to your new service station

If there just isn’t room in your budget for auto shipment, even with a military discount, you do have another option. You could always drive your POV to your new service station. While you’ll still need to pay for hotels, gas, and food for your road trip, you can save hundreds by driving instead of shipping your car.

In fact, the government might even help you pay your way if you drive. According to the Department of Defense, military members who drive their cars to their new service stations can be “reimbursed for mileage and some travel costs.”2

In addition to cost, you should also consider how long the trip will take. If you need to report at your new base across the country in just a few days, you may not have enough time to drive your car. If this is the case, we recommend calling your personal property office for assistance.

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The last resort

The last resort

If auto transport is too expensive and driving isn’t an option, then you could also consider selling your car and buying a new one when you get to your new service station. While parting with a reliable or beloved vehicle is never ideal, it might be what’s best for your wallet.

Shipping a car to or from stations outside the continental US

Military service members shipping POVs to duty stations outside of the continental US actually have to book their auto transport services through the military. Essentially, the military decides how your POV will be shipped and which carrier will deliver it.

Only civilian military employees can choose their auto shipping company and still get military reimbursement.3

Exact details depend on if you’re in the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the Army, or the Navy,4 so we recommend contacting your transportation office (TO) for necessary details. You will also need to contact your TO if you need to ship multiple POVs.5

Shipping a car when you’re in the Coast Guard

Auto transportation reimbursement works differently for Coast Guard service members than it does for other active-duty military personnel. The government will reimburse a Coast Guard member for auto transportation costs for one POV, but only if they meet these conditions:

  • The member has dependents.
  • The member chooses the auto transport service themselves.
  • The member has more than one POV.
  • The member travels with their dependants in one other POV (no family member can use commercial transportation).
  • The member can’t drive their car themselves because of physical inability or insufficient time.

If none of these cases apply to you, you will probably have to pay your auto transportation bill yourself. There are always special exceptions, though, so we recommend you visit the US Coast Guard website to get the full scoop.

Recommended resources

Now that you know the ins and outs of military car shipping, we recommend checking out these other resources to prepare for your permanent change of station:

People also asked. . .

Sources

  1. US Department of Defense, “Privately Owned Vehicles (POVs)
  2. US Department of Defense, “Privately Owned Vehicles (POVs)
  3. United States Transportation Command, “ATTACHMENT K3 SHIPPING YOUR POV,” Section F
  4. United States Transportation Command, “ATTACHMENT K3 SHIPPING YOUR POV,” Section H
  5. United States Transportation Command, “ATTACHMENT K3 SHIPPING YOUR POV,” Section D

About Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over three years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.