How to Label Moving Boxes Like a Pro

How to label moving boxes
Image source: Billion Photos/

We all know that moving houses can be rather stressful. Especially if this is your first time, it can be quite overwhelming. The scale of organisation for the upcoming move and the psychological adjustment and emotional strain involved in the process are the main culprits behind the tremendous pressure we can experience during this transitional time in our lives.

First-time movers often anticipate key elements of the pre-moving stage, such as shopping around for a removalist service well in advance or packing their possessions correctly.

So, to avoid panic a week before the big day, do your homework and get a quote from a few short-listed removal companies. Also, make sure to start packing your stuff early enough and label the moving boxes properly.

This way, you will be able to find everything you need, fast and easy, when you start unpacking them in your new home.

Why is labelling so important

Imagine this. Utter chaos is reigning in your new house for days. You are on the brink of tears, struggling to find your belongings in a pile of “nondescript”, anonymous moving boxes. Are you ready for such a scenario? We thought not. Then, labelling your moving boxes as you go while packing is what you need to do.

By picking an easy-to-decipher code system for describing what’s in the box and where it should go, you will save yourself a lot of hassle when locating a particular item later. You will also do the removalists a favour by guiding them as to which box goes first in the truck.

Moreover, clearly labelled packs will be unloaded and moved to where they belong in your new home.

And not to mention that the antique crystal vase you got from aunt Margaret will return to its new destination if you furnish the packaging with a nice and big “Fragile”. Last but not least, by numbering each box, you’ll know immediately if one goes missing.

But what is the best way to label your moving boxes? Is there a universal system that works in all cases?

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Prepare your packing and labelling materials

  • Cardboard Boxes (or any other storage containers)
  • Coloured paper
  • Paper Tape
  • Pens and a few sheets of paper
  • Clear Packing Tape or/and Colored Tape
  • Good quality permanent markers in multiple colours
  • Download printable moving box labels or you can also make your own

Before packing make a master inventory list

Before you start with the packing process, take the time to create a detailed inventory list of everything you have. You can include more precious items’ prices and take pictures of them. This will make it a lot easier to keep track of your possessions when packing, and in the unlucky event that something gets damaged or broken during the moving process, you will have detailed information about the item and a picture before the move. You may be curious how this will help you with the labelling process but stay with us on this one!

How to label moving boxes

There isn’t just one right way to approach your packing venture. You can safely incorporate several proven labelling methods without the risk of confusing things. By labelling your moving boxes, you help the professional movers on moving day and yourself when unpacking time comes. Get your packing and labelling supplies ready, and let’s get down to business!

Colour coding labels

Using permanent markers to color code moving boxes
Image source: Ylanite Koppens / Pixabay

Using different colours to label your moving boxes will make the unpacking later a much easier process. The colour-coded labelling system often goes hand in hand with the room-by-room labelling method, as you can pick a different colour for each room.

Go ahead and write “Kitchen” with a yellow permanent marker and “Living room” in blue to ensure that the removalists unload each moving box in its designated place. Use good quality waterproof marker pens to avoid ending up with smudged scribbles if it rains or snows on moving day.

To “reinforce” your colour-coded labelling system, secure the moving boxes with the same colour tape or use clear tape to stick on the same colour paper.

Don’t forget to leave a colour indication in your new home. Stick the same colour tape or paper on the doors of the destination room, corresponding to the moving boxes that need to go there. This will ensure easy communication with professional movers and save you some elbow grease moving boxes around on your own.

Labels by room

Ok, we have already covered the room-by-room packing system. It’s proven that it makes the unloading and unpacking simply a breeze, even if you use only one colour for writing the labels. Ensure that you tape the same label on each side of the box and even place one on top of the packaging.

Again, this will greatly facilitate the movers when trying to get your belongings to the right room. Nothing is more inconvenient than circling around a large box to locate its label when you are strapped for time or, worse, trying to move it because the neatly written sign is on the other side.

Priority code labels

This labelling system could combine a couple of house removals concepts. For instance, it could determine which box goes first in the moving truck and which is loaded last. This way, the removalists can prioritise what items are coming off the vehicle first and get moved into their designated room.

The other idea behind this system is to clearly state and remind yourself which box is a priority before unpacking it.

So, you can label a box with an “H” for high priority, an “M” for medium priority and an “L” to emphasise its low level of priority. This labelling method will prevent you from unpacking your wedding dress first while your kids’ school books are still buried somewhere in the heap of moving boxes. For packing books properly, check our guide and learn how to proceed when paperback editions need to be prepared for a move or storage.

Number code labels

Remember when we advised you to create an inventory list? Well, the number code labelling system involves that inventory list. Across each item, list which number box you have packed it in and what numbers apply for each room. For example, you can easily refer to your list when unpacking boxes 1 to 5 that are destined to go in the kitchen.

And, if the first thing that you want to do is to make a nice cup of tea, then you dash for box number 3 to get the kettle out. Well, the removalists still need to be directed somehow that box 3 belongs in the kitchen, so it won’t hurt if you jot down in red a nice and clear “Kitchen”.

Labels by items

Packing your possessions by items works only in a partial way. And the method cannot replace other labelling systems. For instance, you can group soft items together like bedding, throw overs, rugs, and cushions in a box and pack your kids’ winter clothes in a large bin bag. Using paper tape, you can make labelling bin bags and other plastic containers.

Another example is your camping equipment that can be packed nicely and labelled as such with an added “L” for low priority. All small electrical appliances that must be handled with care can also go in a designated box.

But whether you decide to pack the hairdryer and the table fan together with the coffee maker and the juicer is another matter. Just find what works for you by weighing out the drawbacks and benefits of this labelling system. The key to it is to itemise clearly the contents of each box.

Check also:

10 Packing Tips You Must Know When Moving House

Your Essential Guide to Downsizing

How to label boxes that contain fragile items

Whether you decide to pack your fragile items and breakables by room, number or by using coloured markers, you need to wrap them properly and label them clearly for what they are. The same is important for packing and labelling dangerous goods.

Envelop each object individually with wrapping paper, whether it’s a glass, a plate, or a mirror, and place them carefully inside the box. Use plenty of bubble wrap or old towels and clothes to fill any gaps between the items and the sides of the box.

All the boxes the removal company will handle need clear box labels. Make sure to put a label on all sides of the packs that say “Fragile” or “Handle with care”. This will also prompt the removalists not to get the moving boxes wet. In addition, specify clearly on the label which side of the box is up and which is facing down.

Check also:

How to Pack Plates and Dishes

How to Pack Fragile Items for Moving

How to label a box of essentials

It makes sense to pack a box of essentials that you can access immediately on your first night in your new home. What it will contain is up to you, but commonly people pack items that they need daily or make them feel comfortable.

Whether you put the baby soother, toiletries, medications, snacks, and pyjamas or a bottle of wine, your favourite cheese crackers and a DVD will depend on your family’s needs, preferences, and lifestyle. Whatever you pack, ensure to label this box with the right message so you don’t risk looking for it for hours once you get to your destination.

For example, you can write the following label on this box of essentials with a unique colour that you have not used on any other boxes:

  • First Night Box
  • High priority
  • First off the truck
  • Handle with care

And you can always consider placing your essentials in the boot of your own car to be sure…

How to unpack after moving house

So, you are here now. And there’s so much unpacking to deal with. The best thing you can do is to keep calm and take your time. You will find that the unpacking process can be fun, especially if you’ve done the packing and labelling right.

After all, all this pre-moving hard work you had to do was designed to make things simple when unpacking. Just make use of the labelling system again and start unpacking room by room, from high to low priority. Take regular breaks and enjoy painting the blank canvas of your new abode gradually and in a stress-free manner.

Check also:

Where to Get Free Boxes for Packing and Moving

What to Do with Packing Boxes after Unpacking


A little preparation and taking the time to label your moving boxes can make moving day and unpacking so much easier. So why not give it a shot and save yourself the stress and chaos? Your local moving company will appreciate your efforts too! Just remember to pack, seal, label and stay calm!

Finished? Then, why not open a bottle of wine, light up a scented candle and say ‘hello’ to your new home? And if you need to relocate one day again, you know how to do it easily.

Did we miss anything? Do you have your own unique labelling system that you’re willing to share? Let us know in the comments below, or give us a shout on social media!

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