Important documents like social security cards, birth certificates, old family photos, wills, etc. require careful handling during a move. Unlike other items, a document that is lost or damaged may not be easily replaced. For that reason alone, it’s worth taking a little extra time to make sure your paperwork is packed up nice and snug.
Do Back Everything Up
What’s the first thing you should do before moving or storing files? That’s right, back it all up. The more places you back up your paperwork the better. In a previous post on packing up paperwork our moving bovines provided detailed information and several suggestions for backing up your files. In addition to your paperwork and files, we also recommend backing up receipts that may get disorganized or misplaced in transit.
Do Make Photo Copies
Even if you are scanning and backing up documents electronically, it’s also a good idea to make photocopies as well. That way you have physical duplicates that are easily accessible during the move.
Do Use the Right Packing Boxes
For easier, more organized packing we prefer to use file boxes for documents. This type of box is perfectly sized, super sturdy and some even have inserts for hanging folders. It’s always a good idea to keep any documents that you don’t want crumpled during a move in folders or a binder.
Do Pack Document Boxes Full
There are two reasons you want to fully pack boxes with documents. 1.) It will minimize how much the papers move around in the box. 2.) It will keep the boxes from getting crushed if something is stacked on top of them.
Do Put Sensitive Documents in Sealed Packages
When the Department of Defense is moving sensitive documents they understandably go to great lengths to protect them. Take a page out of their moving playbook by sealing up extra sensitive documents. The envelopes or containers should be opaque and either permanently sealed with tamper-proof tape or locked. That way it will be obvious if someone tried to tamper with them, or it will be impossible for someone to look through the documents if they’re misplaced.
Don’t Store Documents in Extreme Temperatures
Paper is somewhat fragile, especially paper that’s already decades old. If you have to store boxes of documents for an extended period of time, do so in an area that isn’t susceptible to extreme temperatures.
Don’t Store Documents Where There’s Moisture
The easiest way to destroy paper is to get it wet. Even limited exposure to moisture for a short amount of time can wreak havoc on your documents. For added protection you can use plastic sleeves or seal them up in heavy duty envelops.
Don’t Label Packages and Boxes With Details
Label the box or package with your documents in a generic way that makes the contents obvious to you but not so obvious to others. For example, use something like “Office Supplies” or “School Records”. However, DO put specific handling instructions on the box or package if you aren’t moving the documents yourself.
Don’t Let Sensitive Documents Out of Your Sight
A rule of thumb that our herd lives by is to keep all sensitive information with you during the move. Even if documents like social security cards, medical records and financial statements are packed up that doesn’t mean they are 100% safe from prying eyes. We always suggest that people pack original documents up in their own vehicle rather than loading them up in the truck. If you’re flying to your destination, put all your must-have original documents in a binder and bring it with you. That way you can keep an eye on them at all times, they are in a climate-controlled environment and you have easy access to them if needed.
If you need help packing during a move give the pros at Square Cow Movers a call! We offer a full range of packing services from fragile documents to pianos and everything in between.