PCS to Vicenza Q&A
Hawaii to Vicenza
When planning for an overseas move, or any move, you may feel like punching today in the face - multiple times. Hang in there - you’re going to Europe; Italy to be exact. Just imagine - once you’re there, you can hop a train, a bus, or a plane and get to many amazing places within a short time and a small(ish) amount of money; as opposed to traveling from Hawaii. Stay focused on the end goal!
There is a plethora of information you need to know when PCS’ing. If you’re lucky, you’ll have good contacts to help you get through it. The best thing you can do is download a checklist and start months in advance, or as soon as possible. Take it upon yourself to ask everyone questions to get the information you desire that is not provided to you. I’ve prepared a list of questions and answers (based on our experience as civilians). Note: it is totally different for active duty.
Do I need to save money for travel and moving expenses until I’m reimbursed?
Who asked this ever? Not me. I did realize it about halfway through my research though. The answer is YES - save up several thousand dollars. You may need to pay the credit card bill before you are reimbursed for the expenses.
Also, you will be expected to come out of pocket for the deposit to move into your new home. However, you will get it back at the end of your lease (as long as you do right by the contract).
As of April 2019, you will be taxed on your Foreign Transfer Allowance reimbursements and shipping costs. Once we’ve completed this year and filed taxes, I’ll update this with more information.
Here is the DFAS Youtube Channel to help you sort through the manure, I mean minutia!
Do I need to keep ALL receipts?
Keep ALL meal, taxi, parking fees, baggage, airfare, shipping/mailing, and hotel receipts. Anything that may be reimbursable, keep the receipt. We have never produced receipts for meals in Hawaii. After claiming our expenses in Italy for per diem, the finance office requested receipts that we didn’t have for meals (that were not over $75 each). Typically, they only ask if it’s over $75. I dug up credit card bills and bank statements to turn in. I guess the cash purchases won’t be reimbursed.
Tip: Ensure orders, or amended orders, are signed prior to departure. The orders will have to be sent with reimbursement requests and if it’s not signed, it’s going to take even longer.
Will I be reimbursed for postage, if I mail something after our HHG have been taken?
I’m glad you asked. We spent $109.13 on postage. We were told they would reimburse us 95% of what it would’ve cost the government to ship it. That came out to about $10.00. It wasn’t worth the paperwork.
Is there a document I can read to help me with the reimbursements and other information?
Yes, here are a couple:
Do I need a passport and VISA?
You have to get an official passport (you and dependents) which takes time. When the official passports come in, you have to submit for VISAs. You need this before leaving the island, so you’ll need to allow for time to get those. We got the runaround, so it took more time thanks to the partial shutdown in January 2019.
How long did it take for the unaccompanied baggage to arrive (from HI - picked up Feb 4th)?
It arrived 29 March. At this time it’s in temporary storage. We don’t need it, because we are in the Airbnb that has everything we need.
How long did it take for the HHG to arrive (from HI -picked up Feb 6th)?
We received the email on 11 April to schedule delivery (delivered the following week).
How long did it take for the car to arrive (from HI - dropped off Feb 13th)?
TBD - not here as of 9 April
Can I get around easily without a car for 2-3 months?
We had no problems getting where we wanted to go. The public transportation system here is very efficient. I booked Ederle Inn the first week we were here and that was great for in-processing. The next 6 weeks, we stayed in an Airbnb downtown (open link, scroll to Vicenza) next to the bus stop (for bus 1; which goes straight to Ederle).
Are weekly/monthly bus passes available for purchase?
Yes. You have many options. Here is an example of what we use.
If you purchase a ticket on the bus, it’s 2€. This ticket is valid for 120 mins (from the time of validation).
You can purchase a 5 use (multiviaggio) bus pass (valid for 90 mins after each validation) for the city center for 5,30€. If you buy this pass, you will save 4,70€.
There is also a 7 use bus pass (valid for 120 mins after each validation) for the city center and the outlying villages (extra-urban) for 10,45€.
Also, you can buy a SVT card and it’s an actual card that you refill and reuse.
See all options here.
Important to know: the bus hours are from 05:30-20:30. Then, you have to use the evening service which is texting a number and they send someone to pick you up. I haven’t tried this yet.
TIP: Download the Rome2Rio app. I’ve noticed that Google Maps doesn’t consider the regionale buses, only the city bus. We could’ve taken a regionale bus to the other side of Torri di Quartesolo said R2R, but Google maps showed no buses going there.
*******More details on the bus system to come.
Will I have to get an Italian driver’s license?
Yes, if you plan on driving here. Study the driver’s manual and take a written exam. You are not required to do a driving test.
Is there on base housing in Vicenza?
Yes, it’s down the street from the base and it’s only for active duty military members.
What’s the average cost of rent downtown and outside?
City Center (as of Mar 2019) - Approx $1900+ (nice, 3 bedroom)
Vicenza area (outside of center) (as of Mar 2019) - Approx. $1700+/- (large, nice 3 bedroom)
I’ve heard the houses are smaller, will my furniture fit?
If you’re looking for an apartment in the center, be mindful of the doorways into the building. Sometimes they are very small. Ask if there’s another entrance and if there’s an elevator (how small is it?). Is there a cellar (storage area)?
If you’re looking at stand alone or townhouses outside of the city center, you will have many options.
Can I bring my TVs, lamps, phone chargers, laptop, etc.?
You can bring anything that is dual voltage (110/220). We brought our TVs, lamps, laptops, etc. If it’s not dual voltage, you may want to do further investigation or ask your future co-workers before trying to use it. For lamps, you’ll need to buy 220v light bulbs and use an adapter for the outlet.
What about closet space?
Closets, like you have in the states, are few and far between. Housing will loan you wardrobes or you can purchase your own from Ikea or the antique markets. (loaner ones may be from the barracks and they are ugly, but functional)
Tip: Sometimes rentals aren’t equipped with appliances. Housing will also loan you washer/dryer (EU size), stove, refrigerator, and a dishwasher. *You don’t get to choose what you want, you get what housing gives you.
Is there a school on or near base?
Yes, you can find more info on schools in the PCS guide above. Our children aren’t here, so I’m not up to speed on the school system.
Do my visitors need VISAs?
At this time, they only need VISAs if they’re staying over 90 days. See travel.state.gov for travel info.
Are language classes available on base?
Yes, check with ACS for registration and class dates. You must pre-register for these free classes.
Are there cultural classes?
ACS offers a free 3 day cultural and language class designed for spouses (Benvenuti). You must pre-register in person for this one also; it fills up fast.
There is also a benvenuti (welcome) program for teens to get them acquainted with their new home.
Are there things my kids can do while visiting in the summer?
So much to do. Gardaland and camping is one thing we have planned. CYS offer Summer Camps that sound outstanding (trips to Croatia, dive certifications, etc.) and there is a youth center on Vallagio. There is a boy scout troop on Ederle as well.
Once you arrive in Vicenza, go to the ACS building and speak with someone in the CYS office about your specific situation regarding registering the children. Our kids aren’t on our orders because they don’t live with us. Either way we have to register them with CYS so they may attend Summer Camp. Certain branches or organizations have different documentation requirements, so I advise you to check first.
This will be our first summer here. I’ll give a review after.
Are there activities on base for adults and children?
Outdoor Recreation, painting, wood shop, picture framing classes, sewing classes, USO, fitness center, bowling, movies, photography classes, library, Teen Center, and more.
Tip: The fitness center and library have free Wi-Fi.
Will I receive a Welcome Packet from Vicenza?
Someone sent us one, but we never received it. I wouldn’t depend on it.
Tip: Facebook pages you’ll want to follow:
Some websites to bookmark:
Trenitalia (buy train tickets)
Read about our travels in Italy here.
A quick list of Requirements:
After receiving orders:
Book travel with SATO.
Book pre-PCS lodging.
Book in-country temp lodging after arrival. I suggest staying on base for the first week.
Schedule vehicle drop-off.
Apply for passport. (If you don't have)
Go to passport photo lab on base and get at least 6 passport photos.
Apply for official passport. (You must have tourist passport also)
Take 2 passport photos.
Once official passports are received, complete the Visa application.
Get Visa App notarized.
Take app to passport office with the following documents:
Marriage certificate (if there is one)
2 passport photos
Get IDP (int’l driver’s permit).
Although some countries will accept your SETAF license (valid ONLY in NATO countries;
this does not include Switzerland or Austria) or even a U.S. license, you are strongly
encouraged to get an international driving permit. *
Visit JAG for a power of attorney (for spouses).
Email post office box at destination base and request p.o. box.
Request change of address after you receive p.o. box address.
Obtain car insurance for the destination country. It is more expensive in Italy as there is only one option.
Before dropping off vehicle, it should be cleaned inside/out, necessary maintenance done, free of recalls, and less than ¼ tank of gas.
Whomever is dropping the car off should have their name on the title of the car or you should have a joint ownership document from the travel office; among other documentation. Double check days before drop-off to avoid unnecessary stress.
All in all, it’s totally worth it. I will encourage you to help your spouse/family member in getting things done. It’s a lot to keep up with and they have to work.
If you have more questions, comment below and I’ll try to help. I hope you’ve found this helpful.