Virtual Mailbox vs. Registered Agent: Which is Better?

Businesses are required to have a street address at which they can receive official mail—so which is better? A virtual mailbox or a registered agent? Learn exactly what services registered agents and virtual mailboxes provide so you can make the best decision for your business.

Starting a business should be as easy as yelling out “Apples for sale!,” selling those apples to an eager crowd, and going home to a roaring fire. Alas, in the real world, starting a business is less like apple selling and more like the logistics Olympics. 

Lawfully receiving business mail shouldn’t be rocket science. Read on for a full breakdown of registered agents, virtual mailboxes, and the best ways to handle mail for your new business.

virtual mailbox v registered agent

What is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is a person who represents your company for official government purposes. It doesn’t really matter who this person is—although it should definitely be someone responsible and not your cat in a bowtie. Most importantly, the government requires that your registered agent have a physical street address at which they can be contacted. 

Why does that matter? Well, whether your company is a one-room startup or a global corporation, when the government reaches out to you, you need to be able to receive that correspondence! Even if you’re on your best behavior, the Fed still needs somewhere to deliver legal documents, tax forms, and official notices. And if you’ve ended up on Santa’s naughty list, they need somewhere to serve the legal paperwork. Note: your address cannot be a P.O. Box. 

This situation leaves companies with three options: 

  1. An official office address
  2. A personal home address
  3. Paying for a third-party registered agent
  4. A virtual mailbox

Now, it’s a no-brainer to use an official office address if you already have a physical location for your business. But what if you’re running an out-of-home LLC? You could always use your personal address, but that means your address becomes public information. Not only can that expose you to potential danger, it also gives every spam bot and troll in the world access to your personal address.

You can ask another member of your company to act as your registered agent at their address, but that gets extremely messy. First of all, your agent will have to constantly forward official mail to you, which defeats the entire purpose of setting up an alternate location. Secondly, that’s a lot of trust to put in a partner or employee.

You may also pay a third party to act as your registered agent. However, using a third-party registered agent can be costly. Depending on your state, baseline services from a registered agent can run around $300 without any additional services. And that’s just for government mail. You’d still need to set up a mailing address for any non-government business mail at an additional price. 

That leaves you with a fourth option: the virtual mailbox.

What is a Virtual Mailbox?

A virtual mailbox is a physical address where your mail is sent, processed, and then uploaded for online viewing. It gives you the separation and protection of a P.O. Box—but with way more perks. 

Unlike P.O. Boxes, which you have to visit regularly, virtual mailboxes give you 24/7 access to your mail from anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter what you’re waiting on. W2? Pull it up on your phone on your way to London. New supplier inventory offers? Check them out with a click while you’re on a run. Any mail sent to your virtual mailbox is immediately available for scanning and viewing online. You could even view it on the moon—if you had phone service, of course. 

Virtual mailboxes also come with a host of convenient services. They can:

  • Deposit checks on your behalf with a virtual sign-off
  • Forward mail to your personal address or anywhere else in the world—including packages! 
  • Hold ground mail and packages while you’re out of town 
  • Dispose of annoying junk mail
  • Send live notifications the second your mail touches down
  • Ship mail and packages using your virtual mailbox as your return address

The best part about a virtual mailbox? It’s affordable. On average, you’re looking at all of your mail in one location for under $100 a year.

What are the differences between a registered agent and a virtual mailbox?

There are two key differences to remember when it comes to registered agent addresses, virtual mailboxes, and your business. 

  1. Registered agents are ONLY there for your government correspondence. No matter what address you use for your registry, it doesn’t automatically connect to all of your business mail. If you have an address solely for your registered agent listing, that address won’t receive additional mail—which is a real bummer when it comes to efficiency. 

Virtual mailboxes, on the other hand, are one-stop shops. You can use a virtual mailbox as your registered agent address as well as your business hub. It’s a win-win! 

  1. While there’s no way around publicly listing your business address, with a virtual mailbox, there’s no risk of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Nothing builds a happier business than a dynamite combo of security and efficiency.

Discover hassle-free business mail with a virtual mailbox!

With a virtual mailbox and mail forwarding service like Traveling Mailbox, business mail is a piece of cake. Our physical locations give you a government-friendly business address while keeping your personal information safe and secure. Additionally, there’s no need to bury your home in business mail when you can sort it online. 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.

Keeping your business mail in one safe, efficient location takes mountains of weight off your shoulders. Try Traveling Mailbox today and see how easy it is to stay organized while keeping your government ducks neatly in a row.