Do you know the difference between a registered agent address and a business address? How about a business address and a physical address? It can be tricky to understand which types of addresses you need and what each is used for. However, it's critical that you know the differences between such addresses.
Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll get a breakdown of the various address types, so you’ll be able to discern which one(s) you will need and in which situations they are necessary.
What is a Mailing Address
A mailing address (or postal address) is governed by U.S. Postal Service standards for mail delivery. It’s the address you want your postal mail to be received at for your business.
Does Your Mailing Address Have to Be Where You Live
In short, the answer is no. Your mailing address does not have to be the same as your business location. This means it does not have to be in the state in which you live, nor does it need to be the place where you operate, although it can be.
For example, you’re an online startup owner operating a t-shirt shop, Cleo T-Shirts. You run this shop out of your home, and you want your mailing address to be separate from your business. You can do that – and in fact, it’s actually recommended! By doing so, you will give yourself an extra layer of protection and privacy. It’ll also be helpful in filtering your business mail from your personal mail.
Now, you might be a little confused. Your mailing address can be the same as your business address, so what makes them different? Read the next section to learn about getting a separate business address.
What is a Business Address
Just as it sounds, a business address is the physical location of your business. It is the place in which or from which a business entity operates that can be used for all official communications with the public, state, and government. It is a base of operations for your business that can be used on official forms.
What Can You Use as Your Business Address
There are a few different options that you can use as your business address.
According to SBA.gov, almost half of small businesses are run from home, which means there are about 15 million home-based businesses.
You are allowed to use your home address as your business address. This option is convenient because, well, you already have it, and it’s free. But, before you get too excited, there are several reasons why you shouldn’t use your home address for your LLC.
Using your home address is a major risk to your privacy. Your business address will be available to the public since that address will be used for a multitude of business purposes, including your website, marketing, and communications. By having a public address, you are inviting hackers and stalkers to infiltrate your personal information. You also run the risk of unhappy customers showing up at your door and invading your privacy and personal space. All they need to do is look up your business name, and boom – your home address is right there. Do you really want that?
So, who would benefit most from using their home address as their business address? Business owners who don’t care about their privacy and don’t have many clients could reap the benefits of using their home address. However, if you have more than five clients and want to protect your privacy, this is not the right choice for you.
In 2019, 1519 companies used virtual office spaces, and since the pandemic, that number has only increased.
You can use a virtual office as your business address to receive or pick up mail. Virtual offices also provide office-related services, such as meeting rooms and private offices that you can book, a live receptionist, and phone services. This option gives you the experience of having access to a real physical office without the high overhead costs of a long-term lease and full-time administrative staff.
While a virtual office may provide you with solutions that can help your business, there are still a few drawbacks to this option. First and foremost, this option is pricey. Yes, it is cheaper than paying rent for a brick-and-mortar building, but it is still quite expensive compared to other business address options. You also will not be able to enjoy the flexibility you may desire in terms of choosing which amenities or services you want to use. Often, virtual offices don’t allow you to pick and choose the services you need, so instead, you’ll end up paying for all of their service offerings, including the ones you will never use.
Along the same lines, you won’t have full control over your office hours. There is a maximum number of hours that you’re allowed to hold meetings in day offices, so you will be required to leave once those hours are over.
For instance, you’re about to launch a new product and it’s crunch time. Your team needs to work overtime to make sure the launch happens on time, but you get kicked out of the office because you’ve maxed out your hours. This can slow down your team’s productivity and workflow.
If you need to have a home base to meet face-to-face with clients or hold meetings with employees, you could benefit from having a virtual office. Virtual offices are ideal if you want a location to work in that is separate from your home, but don’t need to go into the office on a daily basis.
Keep reading to learn about the final option: a virtual mailbox (and find out how it compares to a virtual office).
What if you need a middle ground business address option that protects your privacy, let’s you hold your packages and receive your mail for the long term, and allows you to look professional to your clients?
A virtual mailbox provides you with a business address at which to receive all of your mail and packages. Maybe you’re a remote business owner who runs an online shop that sells custom-made bouquets out of your home. A virtual mailbox allows you to protect your privacy, as it is a separate address from your home, so you can use it on your business website and all communications without the worry of strangers finding your personal information.
At VirtualPostMail (VPM), you get a permanent address that let's you worry less about a change of address. You’ll also be able to bolster your company’s reputation and build customer trust with a business address attached to a commercial building. Imagine yourself as a customer. Who would you trust more? A business whose address is a home address or a business whose address is connected to a commercial office in a good area. You’ll get a professional business image because your address is in a prestigious location, and you’ll be able to enjoy the long-term unchanging address.
There are a few downsides to using a virtual mailbox. If you decide to cancel your plan, it can be a pain, since you’ll need to manually update your address on all items and correspondence that use the virtual mailbox address.
Those who would benefit most from using a virtual mailbox for their business address include business owners who want a permanent address, value flexibility, and want to protect their privacy. Unlike with a home address or virtual office, you’ll reduce the risk of needing to change your business address over the years. If you don’t need a physical location to meet with clients and can work from home, a virtual mailbox is an ideal solution for your business.
What is a Physical Address
State and federal governments define a physical address as the actual address where a person or organization can be found. The best rule of thumb to define a physical address is any address attached to a tangible building, which means a home, office, or corporate building all count as physical addresses.
A physical address is a requirement for opening a business bank account. Banks will check if your address meets federal regulations by verifying the given address against the USPS address database and requesting proof of address to confirm that it is, in fact, a physical address.
What Can You Use For Your Physical Address to Open Your Business Bank Account
As mentioned above, a home address, office address, or office suite attached to a corporate building would all work as physical addresses that are accepted by banks. If you have a home office in the state where you formed your LLC, your home address is the most ideal option.
What if you don’t have a home address in your state of LLC formation? You could rent or buy a physical space with a commercial address, but this is an expensive option. If you rent a physical office but never use it, then you’re just paying for the mortgage/rent, utilities, maintenance, and not to mention much more with insurance and other needs to maintain the building.
So, if you don’t want to spend massive amounts of money to rent or buy a physical space and don’t have a home address as an option, a hybrid choice is TruLease, VPM partners with commercial building owners to provide you with physical office spaces. You’ll sign a lease agreement to show proof that you have an office space. If needed, you can request a utility bill for additional proof of address.
In summary, a home address is ideal. But if you don’t have a home in the state in which you formed your LLC and want a hybrid option where you don’t have to spend a ton of money on renting/buying a place in addition to maintenance fees, you may benefit from TruLease.
Why Does an Address Matter For a Registered Agent
All LLCs are required to designate a registered agent to receive service of process and legal correspondence from the Secretary of State. Registered agents must be attached to a physical address and be available during normal business hours to receive deliveries.
The address that you designate for your registered agent matters because it will be made public information that anyone can access with a quick search of your LLC name.
Quick note: PO boxes are not an acceptable form of address for registered agents, so skip this option altogether.
Who Can You Use as Your Registered Agent
There are specific requirements to consider for your registered agent, below you will find a number of different options you can choose for your registered agent.
1. Act as your own registered agent
You are allowed to designate yourself or your business as your own registered agent. This is a quick fix, but it can cause you headaches in the future running your LLC. What are those problems?
Registered agents are required to be available at all times during normal business hours which means you, as your own registered agent, must be at your designated location in case service of process is delivered. This means you cannot have a flexible schedule and take breaks, travel and work outside of normal business hours, or go out to meet clients whenever you want (even if your client is across town).
The most important factor, if you use your home address for your registered agent, you will be making that information known to the world because your registered agent information like name and address are public information on behalf of your LLC. Yikes!
2. Select a business formation service
Ok, so being your own registered agent might not be the fit. You can use a business formation service and the registered agent service offered. Here are some of the popular options for LLC formation services that offer registered agents along with forming your LLC. It’s recommended to make sure that you know the price after a year because most registered agent services with business formation services charge a high price after that “free year”.
Rocket Lawyer - Rocket Lawyer focuses on providing quality legal services, such as contracts and legal sessions. However, they do offer a registered agent service with business formation services. This can range in pricing per year, depending on membership.
Incfile - Incfile offers the first year free for registered agent services, but it’ll cost you after that. Plus, you cannot use Incfile’s registered agent address as a general mail or business address.
Northwest Registered Agent - Northwest Registered Agent handles your service of process and communications with the Secretary of State, which will then be scanned into your online account. This service offers scanning ability for service of process only, while other registered agent services use snail mail.
But, what if you want business mail and service of process mail to be scanned? That’s where a virtual mailbox comes in.
3. Hire a registered agent service
VPM offers a registered agent service in conjunction with select virtual mailbox plans. As a registered agent service, VPM receives service of process on behalf of your LLC and alerts you with same-day notifications through your online account. Because VPM also operates as a virtual mailbox service, you will receive service of process notifications much faster than with a traditional registered agent service that delivers via snail mail.
As an LLC owner, you will have to deal with different address types in different situations. It’s important to understand the difference between a mailing address, business address, physical address, and a registered agent address.
- Your mailing address is where you want to receive postal mail for your business.
- Your business address is the physical location where your business operates from.
- A physical address counts as any address that is attached to a tangible building to open a business bank account.
- A registered agent address is responsible for receiving correspondence from the Secretary of State on behalf of an LLC.
Now that you understand the differences between all of the different addresses associated with an LLC, you’re ready to take the next step!