PCSing this summer? Many people would rather ship a car than drive it. There’s a misconception that there’s no way to get an allowance for shipping a car. Well, according to the Joint Travel Regs, you absolutely can be reimbursed for a portion of the cost of shipping a car within the United States. There are qualifications, but it’s not hard to qualify.
What Are The Joint Travel Regulations?
The Joint Travel Regulations is the document that interprets and implements all the laws regarding travel that is paid for by the Department of Defense. This includes military service members, military family members, civilian employees, and anyone else who is traveling on the government’s money, related to the military. I consider it the great big book of all things military travel.
The Joint Travel Regs answer 99% of the questions about money and moves. Some other stuff ends up in the Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation. Between these two resources, you can find pretty much everything you need with regard to moving and other pay and allowance questions.
These documents are your friends when it comes to military pay and allowances.
What Allowances Do You Get For A Permanent Change of Station Move?
There are four main allowances that you get for a permanent change of station move: transportation of household goods (government move or PPM), transportation of people (which usually happens in conjunction with the transportation of a vehicle when you’re in the United States), dislocation allowance, and temporary lodging (TLE or TLA.)
Shipping a car falls under the transportation of people and vehicles portion of the allowances.
What Does The JTR Say About Shipping A Car CONUS?
JTR Chapter 5, Part E, Section 052902, says that you may be paid the cost of driving your car from your old duty station to your new duty station even if you ship it instead of driving it.
In the interest of not misrepresenting anything, I’m going to blockquote exactly what the JTR says.
In subsection A, Eligibility, the JTR states:
“A Service member with dependents, who are relocating due to PCS orders in CONUS, may be authorized to transport a privately owned vehicle (POV). A Service member is not authorized reimbursement to ship a POV if he or she has no dependents or has dependents who are either ineligible for transportation at Government expense or are not being relocated as a result of the Service member’s permanent change of station (PCS).”
In subsection B, Allowances, the JTR states:
“Reimbursement for shipping for one POV may be authorized in the CONUS under the circumstances in Table 5-63. See PDT computation example 13.”
JTR Table 5-63. Shipment of a POV by the Service Member
|1||A Service member with eligible dependent are relocating between PDSs in the CONUS and must meet all of the following conditions:
a. The dependent is eligible for transportation at Government expense and relocates with the Service member.
b. The Service member or his or her eligible dependent owns more than one POV that must be relocated.
c. The Service member and all of his or her dependents travel at one time in one POV.
|2||The Government’s transportation cost to ship the second POV is limited to the remainder of the monetary allowance in lieu of transportation (MALT) plus flat per diem (MALT Plus) for driving two POVs to the new PDS.|
|3||The Service member is financially responsible for all excess costs and additional expenses associated with shipping the second POV.|
|4||MALT and cost reimbursement are separately authorized for the POV being driven.|
Under Limitations, the JTR states:
“1. A Service member who is authorized to ship a POV is ineligible for any of the following allowances:
a. Commercial travel at Government expense for the Service member or dependent.
b. Government-procured transportation (as the Service member must self-obtain.)
c. Reimbursement for TDY mileage or MALT to drop off or pick up the POV.
d. POV storage at Government expense instead of POV transportation.
e. Transportation of a POV from the location in the CONUS where the POV was left while the Service member was stationed overseas to a new PDS in the CONUS unless it was stored at Government expense because it could not be transported to the PDS outside of the CONUS (OCONUS).
2. A Service member who drives one vehicle and ships his or her second vehicle must receive authorization or approval through the Secretarial Process to drive any additional vehicles.”
A Sample Military Car Shipping Computation
You’ll notice that subsection B says, “See PDT computation example 13.” It’s a lot, so I’m not going to cut and paste here. You can read the full example here: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Docs/CE-MPDT-13.pdf
As you can see, the amount reimbursed by the Department of Defense is likely not going to cover the full cost of shipping. But it will absolutely help!!
Is It Really A Reimbursement?
Great question! Yes and no. Just like payments for Personally Procured Moves (PPM, formerly known as DITY moves), this IS and IS NOT a reimbursement. And for no discernable reason, I don’t hate it being used this way as much as I hate the way it is used for PPM, even though the logic is exactly the same.
The service member is not being reimbursed for their costs, in any way shape or form. They’re receiving a monetary allowance equal to the amount the government would have paid if the service member had used another option (driving the second car.)
I think the logic of the word reimbursement is that you must have an expense (transporting your car, however you do it) to get the payment. So in that sense, it is a reimbursement. It’s not like Dislocation Allowance, where you just get the money no matter what.
Why You May Get Told No (and need to fight for it)
If you ask if the government will ship a car, you may well be told “No,” even though that’s not the whole answer.
The previous section of the JTR talks about special situations where the government will ship a car for the service member. They include a ship’s homeport change, not enough time for the service member to drive, or the service member’s physical inability to drive.
However, reimbursement for the cost that the government would pay to ship a second car is in a different section of the JTR. The rules from the previous section (where the government handles the move) are different from the rules for reimbursement for a second car.
Depending on how you ask the question, or the transportation person hears the question, they may not understand exactly what you’re asking. This is where the JTR can help 🙂
Obviously, this isn’t going to apply to every situation. But it does apply to most situations where a military family might want to ship a car instead of driving multiple vehicles.
If your local transportation office is confused by this, help them out! Print out the relevant section of the JTR and PDT example linked above, and take it into the office with you. They’ll figure out what to do next.
Let me help you keep up-to-date on your military pay and benefits! Subscribe now for my newsy emails, which come about once every two weeks.