How many addresses does one business need? What are the differences between a registered agent & a virtual mailing address & why can’t I use a virtual mailing address as a registered agent?
These are some of the most important questions that come up in regards to setting up your business and ensuring proper document fillings. Whether you are launching an online business, an LLC or Corporation, it is very likely you will need to sign up for a registered agent. And depending on what your approach is to ensuring privacy & security of mail (more on that here) you may consider having a virtual mailing address as well.
In order to understand what role a registered agent plays and how a virtual mailing address fits into the picture, it’s best to identify & define what are these two terms and their main differences.
What is a registered agent?
The best way to think of a registered agent, is the individual who is responsible of representing your company within the same state in which you registered your company. Whether it’s an LLC or a Corporation, a registered agent will need to have a physical street address appointed and not a PO Box. That address will be used for tax fillings, federal documents and legal suits etc. Therefore the registered agent needs to ensure they can access and receive mail, during normal business hours.
Being a registered agent comes with an urgency of handling mail. Depending on the deadline set on each mail notification (whether an IRS notice, or a lawsuit that requires the business’s attention,) the registered agent is responsible for forwarding all important mail to the business owner. This will ensure no deadlines are missed.
What Is A Virtual Mailing Address?
A virtual mailing address is a physical street address that receives your mail which can all be accessed online. Think of it as an outsourced mailing room; your mail arrives to a remote location were professionally trained personnel manages your mail & packages. If you have an important document you need scanned, you just request that from within your virtual mailbox and within a couple hours, you can view everything digitally. Items shipped to your location will usually get a large discount as well, due to the amount of shipping mail forwarding companies conduct.
What are the differences between a registered agent and a virtual mailing address?
The most significant differentiating factor between a registered agent and a virtual mailing address, is the type of mail they receive. A registered agent can only be used for the receipt of government documents and no other mail shall be sent there. On the other hand, a virtual mailing address can be used for all other purposes, including personal mail.
You have 3 address options when getting a registered agent:
Home Address. By far the least secure & private option of receiving mail, a home address is often used by smaller companies in order to avoid using office space and physical business addresses. The primary reason you should avoid using a home address as a registered address, is due to the fact that it’s easily accessible online by anyone (angry customers, white collar criminals etc.)
Private Mailbox. This is an option for people that want the best of both worlds; the safety that comes with distancing your home address but at the price of using your home address. The primary reason people use home addresses as a registered agent, is to avoid paying for office space. Getting a private mailbox (think UPS, independent postal centers etc,) can be a hit or miss since not all locations will provide registered agent services. Another common issue with private mailboxes is the geographic proximity to your home address; sometimes they can be quite a distance to drive to.
Virtual Mailing Address. These addresses are by far the best combination of keeping your mail secure, being on top of your mail/packages, and being able to access it all with the click of a button. That means no driving or waiting in line is required; you just log into your virtual mailbox account and view everything digitally. Virtual mailing addresses are often cheaper to use than Private Mailboxes as well, as they do not require any physical storage space and can be stored into the cloud.
How to get a physical address for your registered Agent
As discussed earlier, the main significance to a registered agent’s address, is that that needs to be located within the same state in which the business operates in. Virtual addresses have become more and more relevant & used by business owners, that do not wish to disclose their registered agent’s location throughout the internet and public records.
When you sign up for a virtual mailing address, you will be able to access all mail online. These companies responsible for handling your mail, are based in warehouse operations with 24/7 security surveillance systems and on property security personnel. Mail is securely stored, scanned & even shipped to your location.
The best part about using a virtual mailing address for your registered agent, is that you can also use that same address as your business address. Additionally, all incoming mail will be stored within your account, and can be traced at any later date simply by using the search feature (think Gmail.) Label your mail to find it easily, and you’re good to go!
A registered agent and the address your business is registered in, can be the same exact address. You can always go to a UPS store and register everything there, but then that creates a weekly hassle of stopping by to pick up the mail in person. Virtual mailing addresses will let you view, scan, shred or ship all your mail from the comfort of your own couch.
If you need help in deciding what virtual address is right for you, reach out to us here.