Once the PCS is complete, the to-do list doesn’t stop. Here is who you need to inform of your address change ASAP.
Submit a change of address, or COA, as soon as you have a new address. Due to the changes to mail forwarding as of May 2023, it is not recommended to hold mail due to the backlog of mail forwarding. In lieu of holding mail before forwarding, forwarding mail to a trusted family member or friend is recommended. Once you have a permanent to address, change the address with all the companies you do business with limit the need for mail forwarding through the USPS.
Department of Motor Vehicles
Thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relive Act (SCRA), military members do not need to change their driver’s license with each move if they remain on active-duty service. The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act extended the ability to military spouses to maintain the driver’s license they entered marriage with or maintain the same state driver’s license as their active-duty partner. Due to these laws, neither the military spouse nor the active duty member are required to change their driver’s license through the DMV. Yay! Less lines!
While you may not need to change your driver’s license, you should update your address. Most states allow an address update online and have a provision for military service, allowing for an out-of-state address to be listed on the state driver’s license.
However, car registration may be required. An active-duty member may maintain car registration in the state of their home of record, but if the non-active-duty military spouse is on the registration, the registration must be changed to the new state.
Make sure to learn the requirements of each state for inspections. For instance, in the state of California all cars over a certain age must have a SMOG inspection even if they are not registered in the state of California.
In most cases, voter registration is linked to your driver’s license. You may need to update your address separately with the voter’s registration. Ask your DMV, and check in with the local county you are registered to vote in.
You must have an updated address to receive an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots are sent out several weeks before the election date, so update it ASAP to ensure timely receipt of the ballot. Your vote matters; make sure your voice is heard!
Whether you are a teacher or health professional, make sure to update the address on your national and state-level certificates and licenses ASAP. This prevents missing any renewal deadlines. The internet typically can be used to update and renew licenses nowadays, but some states mail a verification code to update the address or pay for renewal, so make sure to update the address to avoid a lapse. You worked hard for those certifications!
Auto and Homeowners Insurance Company
Your auto and homeowners’ insurance are billed based on your current location. You can continue to pay for auto insurance in California if you are now three months into living in Virginia, but if there is a car accident in Virginia and your listed address is not correct there may be an issue with paying for damages. Make sure to update your new physical address for accurate charges and necessary insurance adjustments. Each state is different in what is covered for homeowners’ insurance – earthquake insurance that is required in California may not be needed in Alabama. States with “no fault” laws will have higher monthly rates and more coverage.
Call your insurance company directly if you have questions about what is covered.
Don’t forget to shop around if the prices are cost-prohibitive. Insurance brokers may be a great resource for quotes with multiple companies.
Updating your address with TRICARE will ensure you are linked to the right region for insurance and are able to be seen in the local area. If you are living in a hotel or temporary living facility for a time period, you can use that address until you have a more permanent one. Changing TRICARE regions ASAP is vital to ensuring timely visits, especially if the transfer of prescriptions is needed.
Credit Card Companies
If you are not signed up for e-billing, you must change your address with each credit card company to avoid missing billing statements or notices.
Just like your credit card companies, you want to update your address with any banks you utilize. This will ensure statements, end-of-year tax statements, and notifications are mailed to you in a timely manner. Don’t forget about banks utilized for mortgages.
Your change of address may affect your taxes if you change your home of record. The military service member is assigned a “home of record” upon entering military service. This home of record is typically the state the service member lived in when entering service. Some service members, like pilots who do a lot of training Florida, change this home of record to Florida when they are training. Florida offers no state income tax, meaning military members take home more of their paycheck no matter where they reside. As long as both the non-active-duty military spouse and the active-duty member hold the same residency, taxes can be done in the same state jointly, and no change in where state taxes are filed.
Thanks to the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act (MSRRA), the income tax is the same with each move if military spouses hold the same state residency as their active-duty spouse. Make sure to clarify with your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) before tax season to ensure everything is up to date.
Make sure all your address ducks are in a row, even if it is before your household goods arrive and the first box is unpacked. It will save a lot of frustration and headaches later.