How to Calculate the Number of Boxes You’ll Need to Move Your Business

While residential moves normally have handy, dandy box packs to help you determine the number of moving boxes needed, commercial and office moves are another matter.  Check with your commercial mover to determine if file cabinets and desks need to be emptied prior to moving.

Some cabinets may be able to simply have drawers secured rather than emptied.  Larger file cabinets may be pulled or twisted due to weight and need to be emptied.  Commercial moving experts recommend:

  • 2 drawer vertical filing cabinets can usually be moved full
  • 4 drawer files cabinets are better moved empty, but some commercial movers may allow just the top 2 of the 4 drawers to be empty at your own risk
  • 2 drawer and 4 drawer lateral files (36” wide) should normally be emptied

Use the following guidelines and tips to estimate your box needs:

File Boxes

One standard sized tote box, normally 12 inches high and 24 inches long, holds approximately one file drawer.  You can use these boxed for legal or letter sized files.

Check on the availability of a file tote box that can pull double duty and hold either size by simply turning it.  These boxes are normally smaller and hold less than other file totes.  Many  movers prefer one piece file tote boxes rather than those with the separate lid, as the lid often can shift and make stacking more difficult.


A standard sized cubicle takes 5-8 file boxes, 1 medium and 1 large box, depending on the file cabinets being moved empty vs. full.


A standard 12 x 12 office takes approximately 10-20 medium boxes, again, the file cabinets are key to determining the number.


Even offices and commercial settings have wall art and perhaps mirrors.  Make sure to count these pieces when determining box needs for a commercial move.  Picture and mirror boxes come in several sizes to keep wall art safe during a move.

Kitchen Needs

Don’t forget the dish packs for the office kitchen area.  Normally 1-2 boxes are needed, as well as several medium boxes for condiments, silverware and more.  Large boxes may also be required for serving pieces and cleaning supplies belonging to the office.

Erring on the side of caution is always the best bet for estimating boxes for a move.  Often, moving companies that supply boxes will allow you to return unused boxes, and it’s always best to keep extra boxes on hand for moving day.