Even rookie military movers may be aware of the allowance for professional books, papers and equipment that allows troops making permanent change-of-station moves to separate their job-related gear (up to a ton of it) from their personal goods.
But the rules regarding PBP&E, or Pro-Gear, have changed in recent years, and service members (or spouses) may draw the line between “personal” and “professional” equipment different than military officials.
Some reminders and examples of how the benefit works are below. For the full, official rules, head to Move.mil.
Pro-Gear: Measuring instruments and other job-specific tools, generally held by technicians, mechanics and professionals in other similar fields.
Not Pro-Gear: Personal computers or computer peripherals, no matter how work-exclusive they may be. This was part of a Defense Department policy change in 2014.
Pro-Gear: Field gear/clothing and other organizational clothing issued by your service, as well as job-specific gear such as band uniforms or chaplain’s vestments. Are you an astronaut? Good news: DoD guidance specifically covers your spacesuit.
Not Pro-Gear: Workout or sports equipment.
Pro-Gear: Reference material related to your military specialty.
Not Pro-Gear: Specific reference material related to your current station that won’t be required at your next station (some textbooks, for example) or reference material that will be available either in hard copy or online at your next station.
Also not Pro-Gear: No office furniture or fixtures qualify, regardless of what gear you store within or use on top of it. The 2014 rules also eliminated work-related memorabilia from this moving list, including going-away gifts, photos and office decorations. No matter what general officer signed your Certificate of Appreciation, or how many teams the unit softball team had to beat to earn that trophy, it’s not Pro-Gear.
Spouses also can qualify for a separate 500-pound Pro-Gear allowance, if authorized by the service. Similar rules apply; one to take note of is a provision against counting unsold merchandise as professional gear, which may alter some packing plans for those with at-home businesses that involve physical inventory.