How to organize documents when moving house?

Moving house is notorious for being one of the most stressful, trying, and hectic events in life. And indeed, no matter how prudent, organized and diligent a person you may be, moving house can easily result in moving chaos. It is quite difficult to keep things under control and to keep everything in order when your home is full of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap, when strange people (moving company representatives, appraisers, insurers, real estate agents, potential buyers or renters, etc.) are constantly coming and going, and your daily routine is completely disrupted. Not to mention the emotional upheaval caused by the imminent radical change in your life, the inevitable parting with dear friends and favorite places, and the great number of uncertainties and risks ahead of you.

In such a chaotic atmosphere, it’s really easy to lose track of things and to literally lose or misplace some important items or treasured belongings of yours. To avoid such troublesome situations, you need to harness your organizational skills and make sure that all your valuable and important possessions are safe and within easy access. This is especially true in regard to your documents. You may have a lot of trouble if you lose an important document or if you can’t find it in the chaos when you need it. Therefore, you are strongly recommended to collect all the relevant paperwork well ahead of time, to organize it properly, and to keep it safe throughout the entire moving process.

What documents to take when moving

Start preparing the necessary documents well in advance as it may take a long time to retrieve, update, register, or cancel some of them:

  • Personal ID documents – birth certificates, passports, social security cards, driver’s licenses, marriage certificates or divorce certificates (if any), etc.;
  • Professional licenses, degree certificates, letters of reference and other documents you may need when starting a new job;
  • Moving documents – the Bill of lading and your home inventory, as well as any written estimates, declaration forms, receipts, weight tickets, moving-guide pamphlets, and other moving-related paperwork (including checklists, moving calendars, packing timelines, and other customized lists);
  • Property-related documents – selling and buying agreements, mortgage documents, lease copies, insurance policies, auto insurance cards, registration documents of motor vehicles and other property related documents;
  • Financial documents – credit cards, loan papers, bank account statements, bank transaction statements, saving statements, income tax papers, tax receipts, and tax deduction bills;
  • Medical records (and veterinary records for your pets);
  • School records and transcripts;
  • Warranties, invoices, and instruction manuals (when applicable);
  • A list of important phone numbers – emergency numbers, medical facilities, auto services, your moving company, the hotel you intend to stay in, friends and relatives, etc.

Good to remember: Taking care of the documents needed for moving abroad is a very slow and complicated process. If you are moving to another country you are recommended to contact its embassy in the US well in advance, obtain all the relevant information, and start preparing the required paperwork right away.

SEE ALSO: How to prepare for moving abroad

How to organize your documents for moving

To keep your documents properly organized throughout the moving process, you are advised to create a moving binder:

1) Get a three-ring binder and a number of binder pockets, pocket dividers with tabs, and plastic sleeves;

2) Look through your papers (be careful not to discard a document you may still need) and separate them into categories as described above;

3) Put the separated documents into separate pockets or sleeves and label the sections accordingly;

4) Keep checklists, appointment details and other similar records in a separate section, so that you can easily consult them at any time;

5) You can use a section of the binder to keep a floor plan of your new home, together with the measurements of your furniture pieces and household appliances – it will come very handy on move-in day.

Consider purchasing a specialized file box, a small lockbox, or a portable safe in which to transport your moving binder. Make sure this box travels with you as you may need your documents along the way or before your shipment has been delivered to your new home (not to mention that you risk having your important documents lost or damaged if you simply load them onto the moving truck with the rest of your belongings).

How to keep your documents safe during the moving process

To avoid having your documents mistakenly discarded as trash, used as wrapping paper, or loaded on the moving truck, you are advised to:

  • Return every single piece of paper you have taken out of the moving binder for some reason back in its place as soon as you don’t need it any longer;
  • Keep your moving binder stored in a separate room, where only you and your family members have access to;
  • Clearly mark the outside of the lockbox containing your documents;
  • Don’t entrust your documents to the movers (or any other third persons) under any circumstances;
  • Make photocopies of your most important documents as a backup in case any of the originals get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep the duplicates in a separate folder and consider leaving a set of copies with a close friend or relative;
  • Make digital copies of your documents – scan them and email the copies to yourself or store them in the cloud;
  • Protect sensitive personal information (passwords, credit card numbers, etc.) from identity thieves – always shred or burn old papers, protect your computer and your Internet accounts with strong passwords, delete all the data from electronic devices you intend to sell or donate, forward your mail to your new address so that no important paperwork is delivered to your old home and gets in wrong hands, etc. Remember never to sign blank or incomplete papers!

SEE ALSO: How to prevent identity theft when moving

What documents to change when moving house

When moving to another state or city, you will have to change some of your documents within a specific time frame.  Have in mind that the deadlines for putting your paperwork in order vary in different states, so you are advised to check the relevant regulations in advance and take appropriate measures to have your papers updated in time:

  • Change your address and update your contact details with the IRS, Medicare, Social security administration, your bank, and any other financial or governmental institutions you have dealings with (don’t forget the pet microchip registry your pet is enrolled with);
  • Transfer utility accounts and have the services connected;
  • Transfer your driver’s license and update your car registration at the local DMV office in your new city. Have in mind that you are required to submit the required documents in person;
  • Update all your insurance policies;
  • Update your electoral registration;
  • Transfer or cancel any subscriptions and memberships.

Having your documents in order will ensure your peace of mind and will help you settle into your new area without any hassles and troubles.

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