About PCS and Assignments Follow

    Topics Covered
  • PCS Overview
  • Assignments Overview
  • PCS Initiation
  • Pre-Arrival Process Overview
  • Check-In Process Overview
  • Check-Out Process Overview
    Target Users
  • Employees
  • Service Providers
  • Organization Administrators


This article provides an overview of the PCS process and what it means to fill an Assignment at post/mission or other duty location.

PCS, Assignments and Processing

A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is the official relocation of a United States Direct Hire (USDH) – along with any family members living with him or her – to a different duty location, such as an embassy or domestic office.

An Assignment is the association of an employee to the specific position at the duty location.

ADS primarily provides the mechanisms to electronically track and manage the PCS process as it pertains to the post or mission. Data collection in preparation for an arrival has previously been done using combinations of physical mail, email (both personal and official as necessary) and phone calls with varying levels of security, efficiency and processing coordination. ADS provides a secure and consistent data transport platform for this sensitive data allowing much better coordination in processing the PCS.

Typically, it is expected that the gaining post/mission would initiate a PCS but this is not always the case. The PCS may be created by Service Providers at the gaining post/mission or may be requested by the employee.

In ADS, PCSs are processed over 3 distinct processes: Pre-Arrival, Check-In and Check-Out. These processes are defined by post/mission based on the specific needs of that post/mission and host country. To provide the most flexibility to handle various arrival/departure situations, each process can be started at any time. Please note that the start of a Check-In process will set the status of an employee as arrived at the new post/mission and departed from the previous post/mission.



Pre-Arrival consists of activities that should be completed prior to the employee arriving at post/mission. This information helps make the preparations of an arriving employee more efficient and expedite onsite processing once the employee/household arrives.

When to start Pre-Arrival

Pre-Arrival should be started as soon as possible once it is known the employee is coming to post/mission to best prepare for the employee and their household needs.

Examples of what to expect

The following are examples of what can be expected in the Pre-Arrival process:

  • Setting/updating the Arrival Date
  • Selecting Accompanying Household, Pets and/or Vehicles from your Profile
  • Assignment of Residence
  • Assignment of Sponsor(s)


Note: In ADS, the employee is considered to have arrived at post once the Check-In process is started.

Check-In consists of activities that should be completed once the employee arrives at post/mission. With ADS, an increasing part of PCS processing can be done prior to the employee physically arriving at post/mission via the Pre-Arrival process. However, the employee will still have some final details that can only be accomplished once the employee physically arrives at post/mission.

When to start Check-In

Check-In should only be started once the employee has arrived at post/mission as this action will set the status of the employee both for the gaining and losing post/mission. 

Examples of what to expect

The following are examples of what can be expected in the Check-In process:

  • Start post allowance
  • Attending security briefings
  • Meet with HR, MED and other sections
  • Enroll in SAFE (or local equivalent)
  • Meeting the management
  • Providing a National ID
  • Delivering housing keys
  • Registering vehicle(s)


Check-Out consists of activities that should be completed prior to the employee physically leaving post but is flexible enough to handle this process extending beyond the employee physically leaving post/mission. Additionally, ADS now provides additional value in possible post/mission to post/mission coordination on employee PCSs to help make the transitions smoother.

When to start Check-Out

Check-Out will typically start at least 4 to 6 months prior to the employee departure date. This is highly dependent on the specifics required by the losing post/missions needs and the needs of the host country.

Examples of what to expect

The following are examples of what can be expected in the Check-Out process:

  • End post allowance
  • Setting/updating the Departure Date
  • Assignment of Departure Sponsor(s)
  • Returning equipment
  • Schedule Packing and Shipping
  • Medical Clearance
  • Advance of Pay
  • Complete EER 
  • Housing check-out





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