How to Obtain a Virtual Address for an LLC (2023 Guide)
How do you register a virtual business address for your LLC? In this piece, you’ll learn how to register an LLC business address and how a virtual mailbox can streamline your business mail.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that business logistics are a nightmare. So whether you’re an artist whose Etsy sales have recently exploded or an entrepreneur looking to launch your next business venture, you’re probably aware that you need to provide a business address in order to register your LLC.
But what address should you register?
Using your home address for an LLC is generally a huge no-go. It can threaten your privacy, as well as prove overwhelming because of the sheer volume of mail you’ll need to sort through every day. But for smaller business owners, renting a separate physical business location is often impractical or unnecessary. What’s a scrappy business owner to do?
Enter the virtual business address.
What is a Virtual Business Address?
A virtual business address is a service that provides a physical mailing address and mailbox for a business, without the business needing to have a physical office space.
In conjunction with a virtual mailbox service, you’ll not only get an official-looking physical address to which your business mail can be sent—you’ll also benefit from additional features such as mail forwarding, mail scanning, and check cashing.
Virtual mailbox services are particularly convenient for small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs who may work from home or a remote location. With a virtual business address, all your business mail gets sent to a secure remote mail facility, processed, and then uploaded for online viewing and management in a convenient online portal.
When you receive a piece of mail at your virtual business address, your virtual mailbox provider scans and uploads the envelope to your account. From there, you can take a look at the envelope and decide your next steps. If it’s junk, you can simply tell your provider to trash it with a single click. If it’s relevant, tell them to open it and scan the contents for you to read! Super important, classified information? No problem. It’s easy to request immediate mail forwarding to any address of your choice.
Most LLCs receive their fair share of unsolicited junk mail because business addresses are publicly listed—and it’s a pain. With a virtual business address, you only deal with the mail you actually want. No need to add a professional-grade shredder to your business expenses!
What does a virtual business address service provide?
In addition to basic mail management, virtual business address services also provide a slew of other useful features. Most virtual mailbox services will:
Forward mail (including packages!) to anywhere in the world
Hold ground mail and packages while you’re out of town
Send live notifications the second your mail touches down
Ship mail and packages using your virtual mailbox as your return address
Can I use a Virtual Address for my LCC?
You can absolutely use a virtual address for your LLC. There are actually three different types of addresses you can use to register a small business. Let’s take a look at them.
What qualifies as a business address?
A business address must be a valid, legal street address. (1) Because of this requirement, most small businesses and LLCs end up using one of the following types of addresses to register their business:
Home or personal address
Office or commercial address
Home addresses are perfectly usable for LLC registration, but they come with a huge catch. When you register a business, the address used on that registration becomes public information. (2) Not only does that put your personal information (and your family’s information) out into the world, it also opens the door to an annoying influx of spam mail. Even if you run your business from your home, using your home address to register your business isn’t always the best plan.
Office or other commercial addresses are excellent for business mail—if you have them. Many LLCs are small businesses without a concrete home base. If you have a commercial address to register with, fantastic! If not, you’re far from alone.
A virtual address closes the gap between a home address and an office address by providing LLCs with a physical address separate from their home that doesn’t require them to pay rent. It’s the best of both worlds!
Can I use a PO box as my LLC address?
You cannot use a PO box as the address with which you register your LLC. Your LLC must be registered at a physical address with a street name and number. The good news? Virtual mailbox services offer valid physical addresses—even though you’re interacting with most of that mail online.
That said, if you have a PO box already and you want to use it for business mail, you absolutely can—you just can’t use it to register your company. Do keep in mind, however, that PO boxes offer limited space. Virtual, home, and office addresses all offer roomier options for large inventory shipments that might not fit inside a tiny post office box.
Virtual Mailbox vs. Registered Agent?
If you’re looking at registering your LLC business address, you’ve probably come across the term registered agent. Let’s break down what a registered agent is and how it relates to your business address.
What is a registered agent?
A registered agent is an individual who represents your LLC for official government purposes. While your registered agent should be someone responsible, it doesn’t necessarily matter who they are in relation to your company. All that matters is that they’re linked to a physical street address. Sound familiar?
Essentially, the government needs a single registered individual to contact about taxes, rules, and regulations. The government still doesn’t communicate through any form other than snail mail (something to keep in mind when spotting scammers!), thus why your business must have a physical address. A registered agent acts as the person attached to that address so that the government has a known individual to contact with official communications.
How much does a registered agent cost?
The cost of a registered agent varies—but it starts at a whopping $0. That’s right: you can always act as your own registered agent for free.
If you want to hire someone to act as your registered agent, that may cost between $150-$300 a year depending on the state you’re in and the company you choose. (3)
What are the differences between a registered agent and a virtual mailbox?
The key difference between a registered agent and a virtual mailbox is that a registered agent only exists for government correspondence. If you set up an address solely for your registered agent listing or go through a registered agent company, you can’t use that address for the rest of your business mail. That means you end up with two business addresses and double the confusion.
A virtual mailbox, on the other hand, is a one-stop shop! You can use a virtual business address for your registered agent address AND your commercial address. That means less time on paperwork and admin, more time building your business.
Which type of business address is the best choice for your LLC?
Ultimately, you know your LLC’s circumstances and needs better than anyone else. That said, a virtual business address gives you the most convenience, efficiency, and bang for your buck. Even if you have a commercial location for your business, using a virtual address helps you stay organized and eliminate the headache of junk mail.
It also lets you access your mail from anywhere in the world. If you need to travel, you don’t want important correspondence piling up in an office you can’t get to. Your business doesn’t stop—neither should your mail access.
How to set up a virtual business address for your LLC?
Now that we’ve looked into the different types of business addresses, let’s break down how to set up a virtual business address for your LLC.
Step 1: Register with a Virtual Mailbox Provider
Start by signing up with a virtual mailbox provider like Traveling Mailbox. As soon as you open your account, you’ll receive a physical address you can use to register your LLC.
Step 2: Fill out USPS Form 1583
Once you have your virtual mailbox address, you’ll want to go online or stop by your local post office to pick up form 1583. (4) This form authorizes your virtual mailbox (or any third party) to receive mail on behalf of your business and confirms that you are a real and responsible entity.
Step 3: If needed, update your business address
You might not need step 3 if you’re establishing your LLC and opening your business at the same time, but for anyone who’s growing their business from a personal endeavor to an official company, you’ll want to let everyone know you have a new address.
That’s it! You’re ready to start receiving business mail at your virtual business address.
Do you still have questions? Not to worry. We have answers to your most pressing questions about registering a virtual address for your LLC.
Does the IRS accept virtual addresses?
Yes! As long as the address on your taxes can receive and send mail, you can use it with the IRS. LLCs can also use their virtual address to get their Employer Identification Number (EIN) if they end up having more than one person working for the company.
Does the USPS offer virtual addresses?
Sort of. The USPS offers a virtual PO box service, but it comes with limits.(5) The most important limit for small businesses is that the USPS doesn’t handle packages or shipments from non-USPS shipping carriers. That means your virtual PO box wouldn’t be valid for FedEx, UPS, or other third-party carriers—a major drawback for most business owners.
What is an LLC?
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the most common form of business entity for small companies.(6) This popular business structure provides personal liability protection to its owners while allowing for flexible management and taxation options.
The most important thing to remember about LLCs is that their regulations differ depending on your state! Always read up on your local business entity rules and requirements before diving in.
What is a business license?
A business license is a document that allows you to run your business in a certain location. LLCs don’t need a general business license to practice in most states, but certain types of businesses may need specific licenses depending on your industry. If you’re not sure whether your LLC needs a business license, double-check with the U.S. Small Business Administration. (7)
Just keep in mind that if you need a business license, there are some license types that will require you to register a commercial space as your business address (as opposed to your home or a virtual address). Always check your state’s specific requirements before starting your LLC!
Can I open a business bank account with a virtual address?
Yes and no. The Patriot Act states that an individual or company can only register a bank account with a unique physical address. (8) However, you can then list your virtual address on the account for all mailing and transactions. This loophole allows LLCs without a commercial space to use a home address for registration and then a virtual address for correspondence.
Get a virtual address for your LLC with Traveling Mailbox!
With a virtual mailbox and mail forwarding service like Traveling Mailbox, business mail is a breeze. It’s simple to register, and even simpler to keep your mail organized. Just take a glance at each piece, let us know if you want to forward, trash, or open, and we’ll take it from there. Plus, you’ll get a government-approved address for your LLC while keeping your family’s location private.