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Around The Fleet

Five Things to Know About PCSing to Guam

So you just received orders to Naval Base Guam, home to miles of pristine beaches and some of the best diving locations in the world, according to Scuba Diving Magazine. You can almost feel the warm, tropical air brushing against your face, but before you pack your bags, here are a few important things to know.

1. Get a Sponsor

A permanent change of station (PCS) can be stressful, and crossing the International Date Line can add even more challenges when you don't know what to expect. Be sure to contact your incoming command for a designated sponsor who can provide information and help ease the transition to your new duty station. According to its website, Fleet and Family Support Center Guam (FFSC) also provides a Welcome Aboard package and orientation classes for Sailors and their families through its Relocation Assistance Program. This will help you get settled into island life.

2. Plan Your Move

The first step to any successful move is planning. As a popular tourist destination for many visitors in the Pacific region, the cost of living in Guam can be expensive, which means the demand for on base housing is high and waitlists can be long. If you plan to stay on base, it is important to apply as soon as you receive orders. To begin the process, visit the Housing Early Assistance Tool (HEAT) to receive information on local housing communities. The Guam Housing Service Center also provides assistance when applying for base housing and offers referral services for off-base housing.

3. Stay Healthy

To make sure you stay medically ready during your move, remember to bring all medical documents for you and any family members making the trip to Guam. Service members and their families receive health care at Naval Hospital Guam, which provides inpatient and outpatient services for eligible beneficiaries. Medical clinics are also located on Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base. Keep in mind that moving may result in changes to your TRICARE options, and you must transfer your enrollment when you move to a new region. You can schedule an enrollment transfer up to 90 days in advance with TRICARE's Beneficiary Web Enrollment website.

4. Rules of the Road

Once you have arrived, it's natural to want to venture out and see all that the island has to offer. In order to hit the road, Guam law requires service members to register any vehicles through the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation and pass a Guam safety inspection upon arrival. Active duty service members with valid state licenses don't need Guam driver's licenses, but all family members must obtain Guam drivers' licenses within 30 days of arrival. Don't forget to ensure your vehicle coverage is available in Guam. Because typhoons are common in the rainy season, which runs from July to December, drivers are also encouraged to add typhoon insurance to their policies.

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5. Enjoy the Island

Guam's proximity to popular locations like Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bali makes it an easy jumping off point, giving you a chance to visit many destinations throughout Asia and the Pacific within three to four hours. While active duty members are not required to have a passport to travel to Guam - your military I.D. is enough - you will still need a passport to travel to other nations in the region, as will your dependents. If you are PCSing to Guam with family members, steps to obtain "No Fee" passports can be found in your orders and will allow family members to travel with you on military orders. On average, passports are processed in three to six weeks and are valid for 10 years for those 16 or older. The U.S. Department of State provides information on required documents. The Guam MWR Information, Tickets, and Travel (ITT) office provides deals on local events and offers assistance booking travel off the island.