Answers to a Few Basic Moving Questions

Moving with the CF is an experience in itself. Here are some FAQs that I’ve collected over the years – and their answers!

What is Brookfield / IRP?
Brookfield is the current service provider for the Canadian Federal Government Integrated Relocation Program (IRP). Canadian Forces members who are moving can find some information at the Brookfield site.

The frustrating thing about the Brookfield website is that all of the links are .pdf downloads instead of web pages. The other thing is that they don’t tell you what you really want to know.

The information you really need is the Annual Posting Season (APS) Relocation Directives from the Canadian Forces. This is a long, involved website that, if you take the time, you will find really valuable information. It will also define all the acronyms too.

Does the military pay for everything when you move?
Yes and no.
Yes they will pay for everything but only if you’re enrolled in the CF as regular or reserve – and then only under certain conditions. There are many, many exceptions as well.

If I just move myself and submit my receipts will I be reimbursed?
No, probably not. All moves must be authorized prior to moving including all out of pocket expenses. For example, internet charges at a hotel may not specifically reimbursed as those expenses should be paid for using the “per diem incidentals” fee. If you spend more than the per diem incidentals it comes out of your pocket!
That being said, there are many items that can be claimed such as having a family member look after your children during packing and moving days or kennel fees for a pet.

How do I know what I’m entitled to?
With your posting message in hand, you need to make an appointment with Brookfield. They will walk you through the procedure and clearly explain what benefits you’re eligible for. They are VERY GOOD at explaining everything. I’ve had positive experiences with Brookfield representatives on several different bases and even did one move completely by phone and email.

Actually, you’ll need to do your house hunting trip (HHT) before you move. Don’t do your HHT on your own because you won’t be reimbursed for expenses! See Brookfield first! You may not even be entitled to an HHT if you move to a PMQ. If you’re not entitled to an HHT you may be entitled to a DIT (Destination Inspection Trip). DITs are shorter than HHTs and there are different eligible expenses. DITs are often taken so that the children can be enrolled in a new school ahead of time or specific services (medical) can be determined before the family moves.

Again, see Brookfield before you do anything.

Can we move from anywhere to anywhere?
If you’re just enrolling in the CF, if you’re not in a recognized domestic relationship (i.e. married/common law) there will be restrictions on whose stuff gets moved and where it gets moved. Often the civilian partner’s belongings will have to be moved at his/her own expense to the member’s place of residence before the CF will move all of the things together. Before you start doing this, see Brookfield. There are certain provisions that are case specific to which you may be entitled to some reimbursements.

How does the whole thing work?
Once you’ve had your appointment with Brookfield, they will send a moving company representative to your home. This person will do an estimation on how much stuff you have. Officially they will evaluate your HG&E (household goods and effects). The maximum limit is 20,000 lbs of HG&E. I’ve only known one family that had over this limit and they had 6 family members, 4 of whom were teenage boys who were into every sport and camping.

Anyway, the moving company will also evaluate how many boxes they need and of what sizes, and then estimate what size of truck they will need to pack everything.

Brookfield will help you coordinate your move so that you go from one house directly to the other with minimal time being “homeless”. This is called the door-to-door move. The CF has approximate travel times between the Bases and this is used to help calculate the timing of the door-to-door move.

The moving company will come and pack everything. The next day they will load everything on the truck. They will drive to the new destination. They will unload the truck and depending on how much stuff you have and how many staff members the moving company has available, they may unpack that day or the following day.

Be aware that you cannot stay longer in the departure city than recommended by Brookfield or your accommodations may not be reimbursed! You must arrive in the destination city at the same time as your HG&E.

Can I just pack my things myself to save time/money?
NO. Once your HG&E has been evaluated you should not pack it yourself. This will void any claim you can make if the movers damage your belongings. If you have a delicate item that requires special packing, point it out to the moving company representative that evaluates your HG&E prior to packing. Be advised that you may be required to hire a specialist to pack certain items such as grandfather clocks or billiard tables. Discuss this with Brookfield as these expenses may be covered.

If you’ve been instructed to move to your stuff to your military partner’s place of residence so that all of your stuff can be moved together, you may have to pack yourself. Be aware that the CF’s moving company may unpack and repack everything OR you can opt to void the insurance on anything you’ve packed yourself.

Personally, I would have them repack anything that is breakable or expensive. Clothes and linens don’t matter so much.

Are there restrictions on what we can pack/move?
YES! You cannot pack or move the following items:

  • Biohazards – syringes, needles
  • Compressed gasses – propane tanks, fire extinguishers, spray paint
  • Corrosives – bleach and other cleaners
  • Flammables – everything from matches to glue to hairspray to shoe polish
  • Liquids – everything from food colouring to wine to windshield washer fluid
  • Radioactive material – If you have an evil villain mad scientist kit

Other items that may not be permitted include firewood, farm machinery, patio stones, fences, building material and outdoor fireplaces. The moving company rep should indicate to you what is and is not permitted. If you’re unsure, ask! Don’t wait until moving day to find out they won’t take your stuff!

Why won’t Brookfield deal with me? They only want to deal with the military member.
Get used to it. Brookfield deals with the military member as it is his/her move. I suggest that you get a Power of Attorney and provide it to Brookfield so that you can help your partner/spouse deal with the paperwork, appointments and phone calls. Often the military member is so busy doing a handover at work that he/she doesn’t have much extra time for dealing with the details of the move.

If you’ve got more questions about the moving process, please ask. If you’ve got any advice to share please contribute. The more we know, the more we grow!

14 thoughts on “Answers to a Few Basic Moving Questions

  1. Hi Jacki,

    I can’t even begin to thank you for your prompt and thorough response, I’ve been seriously freaking out, I even e-mailed my husband’s recruiter (without his consent lol) with a few basic questions, and that’s when he told me we are responsible for moving our own belongings back to Canada and that we’d have to use their professional movers. Of course he thought I was my husband, oops. That is probably easier for us anyway, because we have tons of my husbands books that are already there, our bed, etc. I trust that Brookfield will be very helpful once we can actually talk to them I was just a bit nervous about packing everything on this end, then being told we have too much clothes or too many toys and have to then sort through it, on the road, outside of our storage unit.
    While I don’t want to be paying to move more things, I also don’t want to have to get rid of a lot and then have to repurchase it. So far, we’ve done 6 international moves, half of them being back to Canada from wherever we were. I’ve only packed our max luggage allowance plus shipped that same amount, and left the remainder with family and friends. But its extremely hard trying to go through every item you own and decide whether to take, ship, store or toss it, and weigh out the cost of shipping the item versus buying a new one. And then once we arrive at our new home, I spend about 2-3 months trying to acquire everything we need, and that long trying to dispose of it and plan our move back, once a year that is! Our US move was the easiest because we weren’t accountable to anyone, I basically packed (almost) everything we owned, put it on a truck and drove it here.
    Why do members have to have a yard sale etc, to reduce their own costs or the cost to the military? My husband is a chaplain and i imagine he is afforded the same treatment as regular members. Well, he will be a regular member. In terms of regular household items, books (5-6 bookshelves’ worth), toys, bikes, kitchen items, basic furniture, clothes (which we may have too much of lol), linens, rugs, appliances, baby gear, etc. do they basically cover the entire cost? Because you also mentioned saving money on the move. Do you actually pay any of the professional movers cost yourself? I know with civilian friends’ job moves, they had to pay a huge portion of their own move, even though the move was technically “covered”. Who is paying the $3/lb you mentioned in your email, me or them?
    What about unopened toiletries, pantry items, bulk diapers, etc. Do you get rid of all those things every time you move? You mentioned liquids of any sort are not allowed.
    I just want to make sure I get rid of everything I need to before our first move into storage so that the most demanding part is done before I get uncomfortably enormous (pregnancy).
    I wanted to respond back on here so any other newbies who are moving in the future can benefit from the info you’ve provided.
    Again, thank you so much for taking them time to read my insanely long message and responding!

    1. Hi Mrs. C
      Brookfield is very helpful – once you get your appointment.

      Don’t worry, they won’t make you sort your stuff outside on the road! As you mentioned, you can leave stuff in a storage unit or with family then slowly ship it back over a longer period of time. If you’ve already done 6 international moves on your own then this will be very easy for you. The only thing you’ll have to pay attention to are your benefits and restrictions. Brookfield will explain everything to you.

      It is extremely hard to decide whether to take, ship or store your items. I suggest you contact a professional organizer in Canada or the United States. They can help you decide, organize and plan what to do with your stuff.

      Many members have yard sales to dispose of stuff they no longer need or want. Very often it will be kids clothing, toys or sports equipment. They do this because they don’t want the stuff in their new home. The military benefits because they don’t have to pay to move the stuff but the real reason is the member does not have room for it in their new home. Also, the more stuff you have, the longer it takes to pack. No one wants to spend 2 full days watching people pack your stuff into boxes.

      All military regular force members have the same benefits as far as moving goes. It doesn’t make a difference if your husband is a chaplain or an infantryman. There may be differences in benefits if your husband is regular or reserve force. Again Brookfield will explain everything.

      Civilian moving companies, when they do a complete pack, load, unload and unpack charge about $2-$5 per pound. If you were to hire a company yourself and pay out of your own pocket, this would be the approximate cost.

      I’ll post a list of what movers typically don’t take.

      1. Thanks so much for all the info. I feel totally relaxed now that I have an idea of what is going on! Probably more relaxed than I should feel when I’m supposed to be moving in a couple weeks and haven’t packed a thing yet!

        I will look out for your list.

        Quick question, do you get rid of all food items in your pantry/kitchen cupboards, aside from liquids?

      2. As long as your pantry items won’t expire before you arrive at destination, AND they are packed in tightly sealed containers (insect proof) then yes you can keep them. Remember if you’re moving in the summer the truck can get pretty hot and in the winter it gets below freezing. Anything that won’t handle extreme temperatures for extended periods shouldn’t go on the truck.

  2. Well, I just googled this since I couldn’t understand a stupid thing on the Brookfield site, and here I go. I thought I had found all the CF wives blogs on the interwebs, but I was apparently very mistaken! Will have to take a little read through :). And thanks for the info, all I needed was a *&($#^ lkist of things I can’t pack so I know what to use up, but this is the first one I’ve found!

    1. Coming up in a moment – that which can’t be packed!

  3. Hey Jackie,

    I’m wondering if you used a the CF realtor or a private one to buy. I’m also wondering if you bought or rented most of your moves? I can see an entire post on that one 😀
    I just want to know if there is a benefit to using the military one.

    1. I know that the CF doesn’t have its “own” realtors. They do have ones that are suggested. I think the important thing is that you find a realtor with whom you’re comfortable.

      To be honest, I’ve never bought or sold a home in my life so I can’t give you an answer on this. It is just so much easier to rent. I’ve known quite a few people that take a loss on real estate when selling. I’ve also known people who can’t find a decent house for sale on their destination. The other thing is that when you buy a house every single cent is spent on upkeep so that you can resell. Personally, I’m not interested in doing that. However, everybody has to make their own decision.

  4. I have a home to rent in Colorado Springs Colorado and know there is a contingent of Canadian Military here. Is there a link or Canadian military housing site such as where I could post my rental? Thank you.

  5. Good day,
    Just wondering if you could give me some advice on how to go about getting power of attorney..
    Thank you
    P.s really appreciate your blog is very helpful to a semi new military wife

    1. Hey Megan,
      For a power of attorney you’ll need to see a lawyer or notary public (depending on your province). The legal expert will let you know what you need to bring (e.g. ID) and the cost. It may seem expensive but it is worth the cost. It is better to have these things done by a legal professional. If you don’t you and/or your loved ones may not get the result you’re looking for should the power of attorney need to be put into effect.

  6. hello,
    i was looking arround for information on military moving and stumbled on your blog, it was very helpful and full of information.
    But i do have a few questions if you wouldn’t mind taking the time to email the answers.
    you see i started dating a fine young man who wants to join the army next summer for basic training, 3 months later it’s done and he gets his papers for what base he will belong to.
    the thing is, because we just started dating 5 months ago it’s still very new, though I’m not scared of the idea of being part of the military as i am a mili brat, i am concerned if the forces will pay for my move as well as his if i’m not his wife, i do want to get married mind you, but everything in it’s own time, i would hate to tell my guy he has to put a ring on my finger or else i can’t follow him to god knows where, it would seem… i don’t know… all wrong.
    i also have 4 cats as well as my own car, how does that work exactly? do i have to sell my car as i want to go by plain/train or do they bring it? and do they pay for the pet transport as well as the tranquilizers needed for the trip?
    thank you so much for your time and any additional information about housing etc would be very helpful.

    1. sorry for the double post, but i forgot to mention that i’m a huge lover of house plants and have quite the collection of African violets, amaryllis, spider plants,orchids, etc. how do i go about taking them with me? my mother had the same problem with her own house plants, but i can’t ask her how she did it as she is no longer of this world, and my army dad can’t really remember the specifics of the moves as he’s been retired for roughly 20 years now.

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