When you move with the US government, the most crucial document you need is the magical “Orders.”
What are Orders?
Orders state precisely where you are moving, what kind of allowances the government pays for, who is on the orders, what date you are moving, and all that kind of stuff.
Without that document, you can not book flights, hotels, or plan for your household goods to be picked up.
Without orders, your move is not official. So, although we knew we would move soon, we could not arrange anything until that document was sent to us from Sean’s new office in Germany.
Before you get our orders, the new office in Germany must process a ton of paperwork. For example, getting or verifying a clearance for the new job.
This time, Sean also needed to have a physical for work. That was another bump in the road. The physical had to be written in a certain way, and Germany did not accept a regular clinic off base to verify these results. Eventually, Sean’s base in Virginia could get him in as a civilian to fulfill that requirement.
Paperwork in general and the above mentioned steps took an enormous amount of time.
What happens next or the Planning Stage
Like I said last time, when we finally received our “Orders,” our house was on the market in a matter of three days.
The next hiccup was our report date, meaning the day you fly out. That happened to align with Christmas week initially, but with people not being around to pick us up from the airport, we had to change that again. I was happy about that, meaning we could still celebrate Christmas in our house and have some sense of normalcy. We even still got a real Christmas tree. It was the calm before the storm.
Dog Travel Plans
The biggest problem with flying out on January 3rd came with getting our dog Toby flying with us. When you enter Germany, they require a health certificate for your dog. This health certificate has to be signed by a USDA-approved vet. The problem is that there are very few USDA-approved vets anywhere in the United States. So that means the regular vet has to send in the paperwork to the USDA (in our case New York, since the Richmond office was closed due to Covid).
And that said health certificate can not be older than ten days (so what if your flight gets canceled and now your health certificate is eleven days old…?)
After calling at least five different vets and trying to get in with the military vet (they are USDA approved and allowed to sign the paperwork themselves), we finally found a vet locally that knew of the process and how to submit the paperwork.
I went to the vet on December 28th (the same day the movers came), and we got the health certificate back on the 30th. The vet, of course, was closed that week for New Years Day on that Friday. So, all that timing was highly stressful and had to work out perfectly.
The paperwork was sent electronically to New York that Monday on the 28th. New York sent out the signed physical copy back to Fredericksburg the next day on Tuesday to arrive at the vet’s office for us to pick up on Wednesday afternoon. Thank god for UPS’s next-day delivery!
We were also very fortunate that our flight was not delayed or canceled. And everything went according to plan.
Hotels and such
Booking our hotels on both sides of the pond was easy-peasy. We stayed 5 miles from the airport on the US site, and in Germany, we went back to the same hotel as last time. It has a beautiful large park around it, and we even got the room we requested on the ground floor because we wanted to make it easy on Toby and us. We always go back to the SI Suites when arriving or leaving in the Stuttgart area. I feel like coming home staying there. Staying at the Si Suite was our third stay for an extended amount of time. This time, we stayed ten weeks before moving into our new house.
It all came together nicely for us, and I am glad everything worked out the way it did.
We also were able to ship one of our two cars on the governments’ dime to Germany. For that, we had to drive the car up to Baltimore to the VPC (Vehicle Processing Center). The car has to be perfectly cleaned inside and outside to be accepted and shipped. Only one-quarter of a gas tank is allowed to be in the tank due to security reasons. Sean drove ahead, and I followed. We drove through DC traffic one day before Thanksgiving, and it was insane, at least for me. I was so glad when we made it back home that day.
We left the car in Baltimore on November 25th, and it made it to base in Germany before we even got out of quarantine at the beginning of January. That was perfect timing. We did not even need a rental car on the German side. If I remember correctly, we picked up the car on base the first day we were officially out of quarantine. Perfect planning.
Since our other car is still pretty new (we got it when we moved to the States in 2018), we decided to pay out of pocket and ship it to Germany. For that, we left the car with our neighbors the day we moved out of our house and picked up a rental for the remaining days before our flight. Transglobal Auto Logistics picked up the car in Fredericksburg, trucked it up to Baltimore for shipment, and all we had to do is pick it up at the local German customs office here in Boeblingen. The car left Fredericksburg on January 6th and made it to Germany by the end of February. We had both of our cars back before moving into our house, which made things a lot easier.
In other news: Sean received his first Covid Shot last Friday, and I am scheduled to get my first shot this Wednesday. I am grateful; I am enrolled on base and able to receive the shot way before other Germans. We are both so looking forward to life after the pandemic. I feel we are getting closer every week.