Friday, October 28, 2011

Household Goods and Unaccompanied Baggage

The main reason I started this blog is because I wanted to help people understand the different aspects of the military that I at times didn't understand.  I wanted to be able to have people learn from my mistakes and come away from my blog with new knowledge about something, whether it be military related, cooking related, etc. etc.

Well with all the talk about moving and to-do lists I realized that there are two terms that people may know, but not understand what they fully entail: Household Goods and Unaccompanied Baggage.  Of course I am referring to the shipment of these goods to our new duty station which has been proven to be more difficult than we originally assumed.

First, let me describe what each shipment is and the "rules" of the shipment and then I'll tell you the secret rules that end up wasting your money that they don't tell you...

Household Goods
When you are moving stateside, this is usually the only shipment that you do.  In that case, everything you own, aside from what you are hand-carrying with you, will be packed and shipped.  Everything from your furniture to your clothing, and all your office and kitchen supplies.  When preparing for this move, don't worry about packing anything up but you DO need to baggie up small pieces of toys, pens, etc.., anything small that you don't want to get separated during the move.  I'm very obsessive of this step and everything gets bundled together if it can fit in a bag including cords for electronics, nail polish and nail supplies, underwear that isn't being brought with me, everything.  Be sure that if you take apart any furniture or take down any decor, save all nuts, bolts, pegs, etc. and place them in a baggie that is taped to the particular furniture item.  If you are having the movers disassemble your furniture, be sure that baggies are provided and be sure to tell them where you want the baggies (attached to furniture, in the "utility box", or given to you to hand carry).  Also, make sure you do a written inventory of all your electronics and their serial number and at least take pictures of their condition before the movers come.  If you want to do one better, do a video with voice recording of the electronics working and their condition so there is no possible way for the Army to refute a claim.

If you are moving overseas, this shipment becomes a bit more divided.  You will ship all furniture and appliances (Keep in mind that some appliances may need to go in a separate shipment to storage because they are not allowed to travel overseas--i.e., washer and dryer) and anything that you will not need for the next few months.  Depending on when you move this can vary greatly because the ship time during the peak of PCS months (summer months) is much longer than those near the end of the year.  The ETA for HHG can range anywhere from 1 to 4 months, so be prepared if you are shipping in June or July.

The Rules:
HHG shippers will not accept any aerosols (including your cooking spray, fabreeze, hair products, etc.), flammables, batteries, or ANY opened liquid containers.  If you have manufactured sealed liquid products, the movers will take them but if the seal  is broken, it's a no-no.  Things like toothpaste and creams are accepted but nothing that could possibly leak and cause damage to other goods that are within the box.

Candles are technically not allowed but I have found that some shippers are more lenient on this rule.  I purchased a medium tote and put all my candles in it so that if they melt there is no damage to any other goods and the packers packed it.

There are specific rules about shipping firearms that you must be aware of including the firearm laws that are present in the state/country that you will be residing in.  Do your homework and triple check with transportation about what you will need to do.  If you have any mowers and gasoline powered tools, be sure to drain the gasoline out because they will not ship if there is some in them.

No booze will be shipped.  Use it up! 

My mistake:
I was not told that opened liquids were a no-go.  I had never heard of that before so I had just gotten some gallon size bags and shoved a bunch of my liquid bottles in it.  About $75 worth of liquids were turned down because they had been opened.  Even if only the slightest amount was used out of the bottle.  What a waste...

Unaccompanied Baggage
If moving overseas, and especially when traveling during the busiest months of the year, you will most likely be sending a shipment of unaccompanied baggage.  Unaccompanied baggage is basically the bare necessities that are used to set up your house but you will not have room to pack in your luggage.  Unaccompanied baggage usually takes less time to deliver to your new duty station because it flies rather than loads onto a cargo ship.  Adding in processing time, you're looking at about 4-6 weeks for delivery for your goods.

Some common goods that are shipped in UB include linens, clothing if you are arriving in between seasons (if you are arriving near the end of summer and are going to need fall clothing in addition to your warmer season clothing), uniforms, kitchen supplies (including dishes, pots and pans, cutlery, etc.), small electronics (can opener, toaster, TV not to exceed 19", etc.).  Here is more info on things that can ship and can't ship.

The Rules:
No large furniture. No liquids, aerosols, or batteries.

My Mistake:
Again, no one told me the liquids rule.  I assumed from the HHG shipment that we did that we just couldn't ship opened liquids.  While doing our sorting I placed my small "stockpile" in the UB pile because I would most likely need my shampoo/conditioner, hygiene products, etc. before our HHG arrived.  Well I wish I had known before hand that they wont accept them in the UB shipment because I would have just included them with our HHG. 
Just some of the brand new items that they would not take.
Also, they will not ship ANY opened food products, even if they are non-perishables.  I did not know this either and bagged up my flour and nearly new brown sugar, baked goods, dry noodles, etc.  So my tip to you is DO NOT open anything the month before you move unless you are positive that it will be finished off before hand.  About two weeks ago I opened my brown sugar bag and only used about a cup out of it, as well as opened a brand new peanut butter that has only about 1/8 missing... Now I'll have to throw out the rest because there is no way to use it all. After I found out that they wouldn't the reason made sense to me, but it still hit kinda hard realizing the amount of money that is going to be wasted. 

When setting up the shipment of your goods there are a couple of ways to arrange it and it all depends on your preferences and if you have anyone in your current town that is willing to help out and allow you to borrow goods.

1.  Ship HHG well before UB.  We took this route, and shipped out our HHG two weeks prior to our UB. In doing this your home will be without furniture and some of the larger appliances for quite a while.  If in an apartment where you do not own your appliances, it may not prove to be a problem.  You'll essentially be camping in your house, sleeping on an air mattress, and eating at a collapsible table.  I find that this makes the most sense if you would prefer "camping" in your "hometown" rather than being without all your things after you arrive.  Choosing this option will narrow the time lapse between the arrival of both shipments.  The latest date of arrival for all our shipments is within the same week.

2.  Ship UB before HHG.  A lot of people prefer this method.  You would essentially leave a couple of sets of linens and such so that you will not be missing them if they were shipped and send off things that could help your new home feel more like "home".  If you choose this approach you will be more comfortable for the time as you'll still have all your furniture including couches, beds, and televisions.  But the drawback for this is the longer that you wait to ship your HHG, the longer you are without them after arriving overseas.

3. Ship UB and HHG at the same time right before you move.  I'm not sure if I would recommend this situation but yet, I know someone that actually did this.  Rather than spacing out the shipments, she shipped UB and HHG literally a day apart, the day before they left.  Doing this, you may arrive not having anything when you get abroad and it will take an exceptionally long time for your goods to arrive.  Additionally, the longer you wait for all these shipments, the more hectic your final days will be.  Moving is stressful enough without piling it all up at once.

Be smart about your move, plan as far in advance and use things that wont ship.  If I had to estimate, I would say that we're going to be practically throwing out $250 worth of goods away and that was WITH us trying to use up our goods but not fully understanding the rules.


  1. the links for the wont ship list dont work

    1. Thank you for letting me know, they must have taken down the site. I am currently looking for another link to replace it.

  2. There are just some things that you'll learn during the moment despite all the researches and preparations. The value of goods you'd have to throw away is quite a sum however. That's why some sell them or donate the goods to charity houses. How did your things arrive in your new place, by the way? How's your family?

  3. Do you know if hair products can be taken in your personal luggage that you take with you immediately instead of the movers transferring them?

    1. On your carry-on luggage? It depends on the hair product and whether you are checking your bag. Aerosol cans are prohibited. And you can carry up to 3 ounces (per bottle) in you carry-on. If you are checking your bag, you can include large bottles (no size limit) of shampoo, conditioner, etc.

  4. How long before you moved did you send your UAB?

    1. We waited until the last possible moment since it included a lot of items that we were using on a day by day basis. I want to say we shipped it just a few days prior to the move.

  5. How long before you moved did you send your UAB?


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