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How to Label Boxes When Moving House

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

11th Sep 2018 (Last updated on 5th Aug 2021) 7 minute read

Many people underestimate the importance of labelling boxes when moving house. It’s a major factor that will make the process a lot easier for both you and the removal company you're working with. Being organised is key when it comes to moving house and you need to save as much precious time as you can.

It can be easy to slip into the mindset of trying to quickly pack your belongings to get each job ticked off the list. However, this will soon make you lose track of what items you’re putting in each box and result in a fairly difficult unpacking process. Take the time to note down everything that goes in each cardboard box and you’ll soon be thanking yourself when the move is complete.

To help with the packing process, Compare My Move has created downloadable labels for you to personalise. They’re colour coded for each room so you’ll know exactly where to unpack each box. There’s also room for notes for the removal company in case you have any specific requirements. We've also put together 7 top tips so you can easily label your moving boxes.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Why is it Important to Label Moving Boxes?
  2. 1. Prepare Your Packing Materials
  3. 2. Make a Master Inventory
  4. 3. Use Colour Coded Labels
  5. 4. Try a Numbers Based System
  6. 5. Labelling Boxes With Fragile Items
  7. 6. Prepare an “Open First” Box
  8. 7. Take Your Time
  9. When Should You Label Moving Boxes?
  10. Save Time and Money With Compare My Move

Why is it Important to Label Moving Boxes?

Moving day can often be chaotic and stressful. By labelling your moving boxes ahead of time, you're reducing the amount of stress caused and allowing for a more organised and efficient process.

Labelling boxes when moving house can not only help you when unpacking but can also help the removal company know which boxes should be loaded first, as well as where they must be unloaded at the new house. It's also an important factor when it comes to handling fragile items, as labelling the boxes will alert the movers which items need extra care. You should find a simple and easy-to-understand code system that works for you and apply it to each moving label a few days before relocating.

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1. Prepare Your Packing Materials

First things first, you should be fully prepared with all your packing materials before you make a start on the labelling. Make sure you have good enough quality cardboard boxes and bubble wrap - you can usually get cardboard boxes free in supermarkets or from family and friends. You’ll also need brown tape, colour coded labels and coloured pens to make the process even easier.

If you think it might be too difficult to find high-quality packing materials, you can ask your removal company during the pre-move survey if they can provide you with some. Most reputable moving companies will provide packing services that include quality materials for an added price. Whilst this may cost a little more, you will have peace of mind knowing that your items are fully protected and packed in the correct materials.

2. Make a Master Inventory

After you’ve decluttered your belongings, create an inventory of all the items that need to be packed by writing them down, room by room. When it comes to packing, simply tick off the item from the list as you go along. Note down which box they’re packed in and what the label reads to make for a much easier unpacking process.

By creating an inventory for all your belongings, you’ll know everything that’s coming with you and will immediately notice if something has gone missing as you unpack.

3. Use Colour Coded Labels

Choose a simple packing method and then label the boxes as you go along, noting each item that goes in. Colour coding the moving labels for each room will make the unpacking process a lot easier by acting as a great way to distinguish which boxes belong in which room. For example, the boxes with items from your kitchen could all have a red label with a detailed description of the contents and any necessary notes for the removal company.

Additionally, colour coding your boxes will also help the removal company by allowing them to unload the boxes room by room and making them aware of any boxes to take extra care with. It makes the unloading process go much more smoothly when the removals team know where the fragile items are kept.

Knowing how many items you need to move would also help you get more accurate removal quotes when planning for the big day.

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4. Try a Numbers Based System

If you work better with numbers rather than colours, try using a number system for your moving boxes as it’ll make the process even simpler. Make sure you note down the boxes numbers and contents in your inventory and keep the information at hand for when you start unpacking at the new house.

Number each box and make a list with the numbers, the room they belong in and the contents. For example – “Box 1, room = kitchen, contents = cutlery, dishes, pans, pots.” This may take a little extra time but as long as you don't leave everything to the last minute, it can be a very useful packing system.

5. Labelling Boxes With Fragile Items

To avoid any damage to your delicate, sentimental or valuable items, you’ll want to make sure you label the appropriate boxes with a “Fragile” sign. Items such as plates, glasses, china, mirrors, family heirlooms, valuables and sentimental items will need to be handled with great consideration. Labelling these items will ensure that the removal company are aware of what boxes to take extra care with when loading them onto the van.

This should put your mind at ease if you have valuables that could easily become damaged as the removal company will take extra precaution and can use their specialist training to move them with complete care. If necessary, you could even ask the removal company if they provide white glove delivery services for added peace of mind.

6. Prepare an “Open First” Box

It’s a good idea to create an “open first” box to keep all of the moving essential items you’ll need in the first couple of days after the move. This box may contain toiletries, clothes and underwear, dishes, cutlery, pots and pans - anything considered as 'vital' that you may need once you're settling in. Remember to keep all medication with you and not in any of the moving boxes so that they can be easily grabbed in an emergency.

Gather everything you'll definitely need in the first few hours and days of moving house. There may be some things that are specific to you and your family’s needs.

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7. Take Your Time

At first, you may think that planning how to label your moving boxes seems pointless and a waste of time, but when it comes to unpacking everything in your new house, you’ll be very grateful that you did. After a long journey and tiring day, you’ll only want to unpack the necessities and labelling is the easiest way to do so.

It may take longer to pack, but it'll save a huge amount of time and effort when you’re unpacking in the new house, helping you settle in sooner.

When Should You Label Moving Boxes?

Do not label a moving box before physically packing it. Some unexpected items may need to be added which can affect your labelling system. Instead, slowly label the boxes as you go along so you don't forget what items are where. Go through the process one cardboard box at a time and once you've sealed a single box, start labelling it with the items on your inventory.

Good timing is essential when moving house. Don't leave everything until the last minute, create a plan to help you prepare and give yourself a few days or even weeks to pack up the contents of your house. One suggestion for a packing plan would be to pack, seal and then label the moving box.

Save Time and Money With Compare My Move

You should book your removal company before you start packing and labelling your boxes for your removal. Get connected with Compare My Move by completing our quick and easy form and we'll provide you with up to 6 professional removal companies to choose from. We'll also help you save up to 70% on the cost of your home removal as well.

Subscribe to Get Free Labels for Moving House
Subscribe to our moving house newsletter & we'll send you our free colour-coded labels for your move.
Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Co-Founder and Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the co-founder and director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.