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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Organize Household Effects


Sort and Eliminate
Sure, you can probably take everything. But why not make the most of the opportunity to get rid of those ancient textbooks or not-so-favorite gifts?  With government weight allowance restrictions for shipping and storage, it is best to clean out those unwanted items you no longer need.

You can try selling desirable items through a yard sale, eBay, Craig's List, or advertising in the local paper.  For items of lesser value, donating through the "Free" section of websites such as Craig's List  or Freecycle is a good way to share with your neighbors. Many charities and organizations welcome donations of items in good condition. Check to see if your local Good Will or Salvation Army offer drop-off locations.

Develop a Complete Inventory
Once you have pared down your possessions, make an inventory of what is left. Use a computer program, video each room, take photographs, or do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper. This would be a good time to obtain appraisals of high-value items and arrange cleaning and repair as needed.

Sample inventory suggestions and control sheet (PDF)
Sample inventory spreadsheet (Excel)

The publication It's Your Move has more information on "Why You Need an Inventory" and Chapter 11 Packing to Go (PDF) from the Foreign Service Assignment Notebook: What Do I Do Now? offers details on inventories.

Obtain written appraisals for valuable items such as antiques, silver, furs, jewelry, musical instruments, carpets, and paintings. Insurance companies may require an appraisal every two years.

External links are provided for informational purposes only and do not indicate an endorsement by the U.S. Government, which does not take responsibility for the content or privacy practics of the sites.

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