PCSing With an Established Business
When you have to move your established business for a PCS
As a military spouse small business owner, you are thankful you can take your business with you when you move. However, when those PCS orders come, you can feel a bit of a panic. How will you move the business? What if you are going overseas? What do you need to know?
If your business is already established, you will want to keep things running smoothly during the move. Just taking a few months away from the business isn’t always an option. Here are some things to think about when you PCS with an established business.
Transferring an Existing Business License
When it comes to the legal permits you need to operate a business, laws in your new duty location will apply. It may not be possible to transfer one state’s business license or permit to another. But it IS possible to transfer professional licenses you need to operate in a professional capacity. What is the difference?
One is your city or state’s permit to do business in that state or city. The other is the professional credential a military spouse may earn such as a Real Estate license, Licensed Clinical Counselor credentials, or other certifications.
The licenses you earn as a professional may transfer and military spouses may qualify for reimbursement for any approved fees associated with that transfer as long as it occurs during a permanent change of station move. Each branch of military service has its own policies for license transfer reimbursement, you can see an example of such policies based on branch of service:
There are legal issues related to moving with a small business. Each state can have its own laws and regulations. This is where you need to do your homework and figure out what the move will mean for you.
If you have an LLC, you may have options between keeping your old LLC and starting a new one, dissolving your old LLC, and starting a new one, to merging your LLC into a new one. For more information on that, visit How to Move Your LLC to Another State.
Become aware of any permits, or licenses you will need in your new area. You will also need to be aware of taxes and what you need to do as a business owner in your new state to be in compliance.
Moving your small business overseas is not going to be easy and in some cases, you might need to make some difficult choices. You will need to find out if you are allowed to run your business at your duty station and be aware of the laws of the country you are going to be in. Each country that has American troops will have a SOFA agreement that may have a say in what kind of business you may operate. SOFA laws apply regardless of whether you know about them or not–do not start a business in an overseas location without knowing
Even if you do get approval to run your small business, you can’t use your APO for any business-related mail. This can create a lot of stress for people running a small business. You would need to use a local, in-country postal service to stay within the SOFA agreements. Those who break this rule can lose their APO privileges.
There are also rules about not being able to compete with AAFES, and not being able to buy business supplies at the Exchange or Commissary.
These rules and regulations can be complicated and discouraging. The main point is to figure out what the rules are at your duty station and within your host country. This can differ based on what your business is and where you are going to be stationed.
Putting your business on pause
Some small business owners will need to put operations on pause during the actual move. This will depend on if you have employees or assistants that can take over for a time. Notify customers beforehand if there will be a break in service or the ability to order products.
Make sure your budget is aligned with the move. There will be extra costs from licenses, to taxes, to purchasing new supplies. If your company is based on local customers, finding a new customer base will take time and that can result in a loss in pay.
Once you get to your new duty station you will need a plan for networking. See if there are any local small business owner networking groups. Join local groups to get your business out there. This will take time, especially if you feel like you are starting over, but will be worth it once you are able to get connected in your new community.
Moving an established small business can be complicated so it is important to stay organized and make sure you are checking all the boxes. Reach out for help if you need it, and visit Military One Source’s PCS and Military Moves page to help you with all things PCS.
- PCS Friendly Business Ideas
- Spouses Reimbursed for Licensing and Certification Fees
- Best PCS Tips for Military Families
- PCS: Moving the Family Pet
- The 10 Best PCS Benefits for the Military and Their Families
- PCSing and Your Child’s Education: The Military Interstate Compact
About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.