OCONUS PCS: How to Ship Your Vehicle Overseas

Did you know that when you get orders for an OCONUS PCS (overseas military move), you can actually ship one vehicle overseas for free?

If you're doing an OCONUS PCS, check out this post for info on how to ship your vehicle overseas—it's not as hard or crazy as it seems!

This is our second time shipping our car overseas, and I felt a lot more prepared this time around.

Last time, for example, we didn’t have our gas tank empty enough and had to drive around Atlanta literally all day trying to use up our gas, and then we had to siphon it to get it low enough.

Fun times for sure. We learned our lesson and made sure we figured out the gas situation ahead of time this time.

How to Ship Your Vehicle Overseas

Thankfully, there’s a great website these days (not around nine years ago) that tells you exactly where to go, what to bring, and how to prep your vehicle for its journey.

I really wanted to have photos of the whole process, but due to Covid-19, I wasn’t allowed inside the building (only the service member could go in).

The building was empty, which annoyed me that they wouldn’t even allow me inside, but I was mostly sad I didn’t get a photo with me and my van before they took it away.

Stupid, but still…I love my van and will miss it!

Diving to Colorado to Ship our Van

The closest VPC (vehicle processing center) for us is in Denver 6.5 hours away. Originally we wanted to take it to Texas and check out Magnolia along the way, but Covid changed those plans, so we went with the closest location instead.

We did the trip in one day—leaving the kids at my in-laws all day, renting a car for the drive back, and only stopping for fast food along the way.

It was 15.5 hours round trip from when we dropped the kids off until we picked them off.

On the bright side: we got some great uninterrupted time since he came back from the deployment.

Prepping Our Van

There’s a long list of things you need to do before turning in your vehicle to shop overseas, but here’s the basic gist:

  • Make sure it’s very clean
    • like, get it detailed inside and out. It needs to be “white glove” clean
    • Remove carseats and clean under/around them (you can ship car seats; they’ll wrap them up and leave them in the vehicle)
    • if you’re in Albuquerque, we used Fischer’s Mobile Wash; he came to us, was very reasonably priced, and did a great job
  • Have all your documents ready
    • see if your VPC will let you email documents ahead of time that way you can make sure you have all your ducks in a row (just don’t forget to actually bring them with you)
    • we needed an ETP (exception to policy) letter to ship our vehicle since there is a current stop movement. They accepted the one we used to ship out our HHG.
  • Have 1/4 tank of gas or less
    • this one is legit, so break our your math skills and figure out how much gas you need to get to your VPC.
  • Only factory-installed items allowed.
    • they will have a box to put extra car items inside, but they’ll also fill it up with floor mats, so don’t assume everything in your car can go inside that box

A few weeks before we took the van I scraped off the Pampered Chef logo/info I had on the back of our van with Goo-Gone, a hair dryer, and a pan scraper.

We also took everything out that didn’t belong: cell phone holder, car shade, things in the glove compartment, etc.

And now we wait.

They expect it to take up to 60 days to arrive (so looking like an August arrival…assuming it doesn’t fall off the boat between here and there). Kidding, of course…(kinda). They also have a nifty app you can get to track its whereabouts.

Once we finally get to Germany we’ll have access to our guesthouse’s vehicle, and we will also buy a second car (already planned on doing that). Mostly for my husband to go back and forth to work.

Honestly, this was probably the easiest part of PCS process as far as getting things done. Mostly because there weren’t any hang ups that came up.

Have you shipped your car off before? Did anything surprising happen on your end?

Are you PCSing soon?



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