Things to know before you PCS

Robert Szostek
USEUCOM Customs Public Affairs

People moving to the States this summer should start preparing now by finding new homes for the things that are banned from import and applying now for import permits on restricted items since the process can take months, customs officials advise.

“Prohibited items include meat and meat products such as sausage, pâté and salami, as well as plants, flammable substances, poisons, destructive devices and explosives,” said Bill Greenwood, acting director of the U.S. European Command’s Customs and Border Clearance Agency.

“If you’re planning on shipping firearms, ensure you have proof that you owned them in the States or have an import permit.”

Mr. Greenwood also explained that other important points to remember are:

• Owners of vehicles not made to U.S. standards have to ship them through commercial importers registered with the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency. However, vehicles more than 25 years old are exempt from that rule.
• Mopeds and motorcycles must also meet U.S. safety and pollution standards and all vehicles must be free of dirt, insects and vegetation.
• Wine collections can be shipped with some advance coordination with the transportation office.
• Endangered species items such as ivory, if registered, and some furs may only be shipped if owners can prove they were previously owned in the U.S.
• Prescription drugs and tobacco products are not allowed in household goods, but can be taken on the airplane.
• State attorneys general must approve imports of gambling devices.  These devices must be registered with the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.
Pamphlets are available from a military customs office or check out the military customs Web site at

A key component of the Families First program will be the selection of moving companies based on the best value, as opposed to lowest cost.

Seventy percent of the best-value score will be based on performance, so officials say they need the customer satisfaction surveys to start compiling data for the performance score.

A new regulation requires service members to fill out the survey for each shipment. There will be multiple efforts to ensure that happens, said Army Lt. Col. G.P. “Cliff” Mirabella, a spokesman for U.S. Transportation Command.

It is unclear what the consequences, if any, will be for servicemembers who do not participate in the 12-question, multiple choice survey.