How To Get A Virtual Address In 5 Easy Steps // [Full Guide]
Starting a business can be difficult and expensive. There are many start-up costs associated with a new business, and office space is one that many people simply cannot afford. However, it’s hard to keep your business looking legitimate and professional if you list a P.O. box or your home address on a business card. So, how can you solve that problem while still keeping your expenses low? A virtual business address is a great way to look professional while not spending a ton of money on a physical office. We’ll tell you exactly what a virtual address is as well as how to get one, so keep reading!
What Is A Virtual Address?
A virtual address is a physical street address that your business uses for mail and other purposes, even though you may not have an actual office at that location. Most of the time, these addresses are managed and rented by a mail center or mail service provider. In some cases, the owner of office space might rent virtual addresses at a certain location. Your business receives mail at the address, and then you can choose several different options for what happens to that mail. You can opt to have it scanned and emailed to you; it could be forwarded to another address, it might be shredded, or you could have the mail center open it and process certain items.
Virtual addresses are not tied to any kind of physical proximity. You might choose to obtain a virtual address for your company that is located in the same city as you, or you might opt to get an address that is across the country. Since there is no need for you to be near your virtual address, the possibilities are endless. Many people use these types of addresses to register new businesses in other states. Unlike a P.O. box, a virtual address is a real street address, so you can register a new business with one.
How To Get A Virtual Address
If you are starting a small business and have decided that a virtual address is right for you, how do you get one? The process is quite simple. It takes just a few quick steps, and you will have your own mailing address that you can use for your business going forward. Here is what you need to do.
#1. Select Virtual Address Provider
First, you will need to decide on a provider for your virtual address. In some cities, your options may be more limited; however, in larger cities, you will find that there are generally many different providers offering virtual addresses. You can get one at a mail center like The UPS Store or from companies who lease office space. Find a provider who offers the services that you need, like mail forwarding or email capabilities. Once you choose your provider, you can move on to the next step.
#2. Choose Your Location
There are many office leasing companies that offer virtual addresses at several different locations. You likely already know which city you want your address to be in by now, but you might need to narrow down which part of town you want to select. Perhaps your business needs a more prestigious address to look legitimate. Or maybe your business would fit in more in an industrial part of town. Choosing the right location can go a long way toward gaining customer trust for your business.
#3. Add Services
Most virtual address providers offer many additional services that you can add on. Like we mentioned previously, you might have the option to receive scanned images and view your mail online or even have the provider open and process certain pieces of your mail. Perhaps you wish to add on a phone number with an answering service or voicemail option. If you do need a physical office for a few hours a week, you can find a provider who can meet that need too with a virtual office. You know the needs of your business, so it will be up to you to determine which services will work best for your business.
#4. Make Payment & Start Service
Now that you have chosen a provider, location, and which services you need, you simply need to make your payment and get started! Most providers allow you to easily sign up for service online and pay by credit card, so you can make your payment and have your service start right away. If you have added additional services, then your provider should give you a timeline on when those services will begin.
#5. Complete Form 1583 With US Postal Service
Before you can start receiving mail at your virtual mailbox, you will need to complete USPS Form 1583. This is the Application for Delivery of Mail Through Agent. This form basically allows you to tell the post office that you wish to have your mail delivered and handled by a third-party agent. This form requires some basic information such as your name, your business name, your physical address, the address where the mail will be accepted, and a few other pieces of information. Most of the time, your provider can assist you in completing this form if necessary.
How Does A Virtual Office Address Work?
Like we already mentioned, a virtual office address is a great option for business owners who do not wish to use their home address for business purposes. In some cases, local laws might even prohibit you from using your home address. At a basic level, a virtual office address service works like this. The address provider leases you a physical street address to use for business mail purposes. You list this address on your business materials, and your mail is delivered to this address. What happens next is somewhat up to you.
If your virtual address is nearby, then you might choose to pick up your mail each day. In that case, the virtual address simply acts like a P.O. box while still providing the benefits of a real street address. However, you might choose to use your virtual address in other ways. Most providers today will allow your virtual address to be used as a digital mailbox service as well. This means that when physical mail is delivered to that physical location, mail scanning takes place immediately, and the images are emailed to you. You then have an electronic version of all your mail.
From there, you can even choose what happens to each mailpiece as you receive those email notifications. You can opt to have some mail pieces forwarded to you while others are shredded. If your provider offers office services, then you might have them open and process some pieces of your mail. The possibilities are almost endless, and you have total control over how your mail is handled. A virtual address is almost a must-have for today’s online business owners.
Benefits Of A Virtual Business Address
Now that you know how virtual addresses work, why would you want to use one? Why not just send all your company’s mail to your business mailroom? If you are a home-based business, why not just use your personal address and mailbox for your company mail? A virtual business address provides many great benefits – some of which even go beyond simple address services. Here are some of the top benefits that you will experience from using a virtual address for your business.
— Not Tied To P.O. Box Location
What happens if you have a P.O. box for your business and you decide to move to another city? It can be difficult and frustrating to change your business address, and it can cause you to lose business. This can be especially true if you move far away. With a virtual address, you are not tied to a P.O. box in the city in which you live. Even if you move across the country, your business can keep the same virtual address it has always had. This keeps consistency in your business and keeps those customers rolling in. You can simply have your mail forwarded to your new personal address or handle it all electronically through your address provider.
— Professional Business Image
Customers want to deal with businesses that are reliable and professional. Having a residential address or a P.O. box listed on your business card does not ooze professionalism. You want your business to look legitimate by having its own office space – or at least the appearance of one. A virtual mailing address gives you a professional appearance without hitting your bank account as much as a physical office. It can give your startup business a professional image without costing you a ton of money.
— Extra Office Services Available
You will find that most virtual address providers will do much more than simply handle your postal mail. They can also provide a phone number, fax number, physical office space, and meeting rooms. If you need a meeting room or an office space for a couple of hours a week, then you can pay for that as an extra service. Most virtual address providers will also provide some clerical office work if needed as well. You might receive certain types of mail pieces that need to be opened and processed. Perhaps you are receiving checks that need to be deposited. You can let your virtual address service handle this for you so that you are not spending your time processing your mail.
You also get the benefit of package handling. Remember that UPS or FedEx often won’t deliver to a P.O. box, but you can have your packages delivered to a virtual address. Many entrepreneurs love the added benefit of being able to ship packages to their business addresses.
— Digital Access To Mail
This makes your mail processing extremely easy and takes the hassle out of dealing with tons of paper mail. With a virtual address, you can have digital access to images of all your mail pieces. You can even select what happens to each piece of mail that you receive. You might tell your provider to forward some pieces while they shred others. The process of going through the mail has never been easier when you can do it all electronically.
— Save Money
Saving money is one of the biggest reasons that business owners opt for a virtual address. Small business owners might be shocked to learn how much you can save by getting a virtual address for your business instead of physical office space. You likely won’t find a decent office for less than $500 per month, while a basic virtual address might only run you $59 each month. You can even add extra services like phone answering or a few hours per month in a physical workspace and still save money. Most businesses don’t have a need for a dedicated office anyway, so they can save a ton of money by going the virtual address route.
— Home Address Stays Hidden
Most business owners care about their privacy, so plastering your home address on all your business marketing materials might not be the best idea. By using a virtual address, no one has to know where you live. Your LLC or corporation can even use your virtual address as the address of your registered agent when registering your business with your state. This keeps your home address totally hidden but still allows you to follow all the laws and serve your customers.
The Bottom Line
Virtual addresses are a great option for business owners who want to save money, keep their personal information private, and even add on extra office services at competitive rates. A virtual address allows you to see your mail electronically in real-time, and your service provider likely offers many other great services that your business could take advantage of too. All you need to do is find a provider, decide on your location, pay for your service, and file a Form 1583 with the post office. You can then start receiving your mail right away at your new address!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get a free virtual address?
There are several companies in existence that offer free virtual addresses. However, you should always read the fine print. Many of these are only free for a limited time, and then you must start paying for the service to continue using it. Others might be free, but the services they provide are extremely limited. Make sure that you are aware of all the details before signing up for a service, and make sure that the service will fully meet your needs.
How much does a virtual address cost?
The cost of a virtual address varies by service provider. You can find a few providers who offer very basic virtual address services for free. However, most providers will charge around $50 per month for a virtual address with a few basic services. If you wish to add other services like phone answering or mail processing, then the price will increase from there. In some cases, you can even get a few hours per month in a physical office at your address for less than $200 per month.
Does USPS offer virtual addresses?
No, USPS does not offer virtual addresses. However, some post office locations offer P.O. boxes that come with a real street address. For example, instead of P.O. Box 123, your address might read 250 Main Street #123. This can allow you to register your business and receive packages at the address. However, you are still tied to that particular location and city. The USPS does not provide any of the mail handling services that other virtual address providers offer, so if you are moving across the country, then you will almost be forced to change your business address.
What is the difference between a virtual and physical address?
A physical address is when your business is located inside of an office at a particular location. A virtual address, on the other hand, is simply where your business receives mail. The virtual address is still associated with a physical location, but the address provider receives and handles all your mail there. Your business is not physically located at the location of the virtual address.