4 Ways to Keep Your Important Documents Safe When You Move

Laura Hennigan
Written by Laura Hennigan
Updated February 24, 2022
A woman organizing documents
Photo: damircudic / E+ / Getty Images

Follow these tips to ensure your important documents stay safe during a move

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You’ve packed up every pot, pan, toy, blanket, and pair of shoes. Everything is secure in labeled boxes, ready for the movers to take to your new home. But what about your collection of important documents? You haven’t given much thought to the assortment of social security cards, birth certificates, passports, and bank statements that will also need to be transported.

First things first: don’t pack them up in a box. You’ll need to be proactive in making sure that they stay safe and secure, whether you’re moving across the country or just across town. Here are some tips on how to move with your important documents.

1. Start By Making Copies

Creating electronic files of your documents is an important first step, especially if you are preparing for a lengthy move. If your home printer offers a scanner option, you can use that. Otherwise, most office supply stores and even libraries have self-scan options. Another alternative is to simply snap pictures with your phone and save them on your device or upload them to the cloud.

2. Pack Carefully

Woman going through her files in home office
Photo: Grace Cary / Moment / Getty Images

Purchase a portable file box that offers space for different folders, along with an attached lid and secure latch. Next sort your documents into different folders, creating a color-coded system if you wish. Make sure to label each folder carefully, so you can quickly access what you need.

Finally, make sure that the file box is clearly marked to indicate that it should not be moved with the rest of the household items. Important documents should be kept separate and never packed with other household items during a move.

3. Choose the Right Storage

Once your documents are saved electronically, filed appropriately, and the box is sealed up, you’ll need to pay attention to where they are stored. Don’t keep them in any areas with extreme temperatures or where moisture can reach them. Since papers are often thin and sometimes old, avoid places like basements or very hot vehicles.

4. Don’t Let Them Out of Your Sight

If you’re moving a few streets over, keeping the file box within reach shouldn’t be too difficult. But for a cross-country move, you’ll need to make sure you have eyes on them at all times. Have the files travel in a vehicle with you, take them inside during any overnight rest stops, and hide the box with a blanket or in the trunk instead of having it out in the open.

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