In this editorial, we will try and cover a few fundamental topics surrounding virtual addresses. “What is a virtual address? Why would someone need one? How much would a virtual address cost?”
It’s critical that you know about all of the benefits, all of the drawbacks, and all of the reasons behind why so many people are choosing to take advantage of virtual address services these days.
We all recognize that our modern world is moving more and more towards a paperless kind of environment, jumping on board the digital forms of communication that so many of us are already very comfortable with.
And while texting and emails (as well as social media direct messages, and the like) may never totally replace physical mail, the combination of a virtual address that gives you all the benefits a physical address provides mixed with the benefits of its virtual nature – the control, customization, and flexibility you get out of this address – make it something really special.
By the time you are done with the inside information below you’ll have a much better idea of everything that these kinds addresses have to offer. We will also cover how best use virtual address so that you can hit the ground running!
These topics, and more, will be outlined extensively below.
Let’s start from the top.
What Is a Virtual Address
A virtual address is an address you get to register, located in a remote location and at which you can receive postal mail and packages. Sometimes, also known as a virtual business address, this can be a good alternative to renting an office space to register one’s business or LLC.
Virtual addresses have started popping up into existence throughout the last twenty years, when businesses started realizing that a PO Box was probably not going to be the most professional way to display a business’s location. The rise of home based businesses and online enterprises has also driven the growth in the use of virtual addresses. E-bay businesses, Internet marketing ventures and other non brick & mortar services, have opted into virtual addresses to ensure a prestigious location & display of their business.
We often times get the question: “Why can’t we use our own home address as our business address?”
The answer to that will differ depending on who gets to ask that question. But the lion share of people who have responded to our surveys, said they prefer virtual business addresses as a cheaper alternative to office space and a more secure alternative to a home address.
Think about it; if you list your home as the location of your business, you are inviting all sorts of creeps and crooks to your own residence. The Internet can be a scary place at times, and ill intentioned people won’t hesitate to use it to take advantage of you and your family. Privacy is a well worth privilege to want to protect.
Having said that, there are a couple other reasons you would not want to display your home address as a business address:
- HOA Community Regulation. If you are part of a community residence area, often times there are certain restrictions that apply, depending on the terms and conditions you have agreed to adhere to, with regards to the HOA.
- Conflict between residential & commercial zoning laws. If the area you reside in has been zoned as a residence only area, then running a business from that location would get you down a very bad legal rabbit hole.
How Much Does A Virtual Address Cost?
Every service is a little bit different, but typically the cost for a virtual address ranges from $9.95 to $35 per month.
Keep in mind that a virtual address can come with a series of bells and whistles that beef up the total cost. When doing your due diligence, make sure you understand what the details of your plan include. As an example, some facilities that look more like virtual offices, will have a secretary that can answer your phone calls, or the option to opt in a few times a week to actually utilize the office as well.
For the most part however, that would refer to a virtual office. Virtual addresses are typically used for the purpose of registering a business or more streamlined enterprise mail management. Which means that you would probably be looking for a simpler (and lower cost) package. The typical features you would get pretty much across the board, would include mail scanning, mail forwarding & shredding any mail you don’t wish to keep in your virtual mailbox.
One often overlooked advantage of a virtual address over a virtual office, is the flexibility in the terms. For the most part, when you need to lease a virtual address, you will need to sign a long term contract of some sort.
Something like that would not give you enough flexibility to change your address (should you need to,) and could turn out as a more costly option. And if you are looking for a long term solution, then typically speaking a virtual address would be cheaper compared to a virtual office (consider that a virtual office often times requires brokers and has a bunch of intermediaries that all want a piece of the pie, driving up the cost of the service.)
Are Virtual Addresses Safe?
Getting mail at a virtual address, means that it is received at a physical address location and stored in a physical mailbox. Therefore, the physical copy of your mail is securely stored. As for the digital copy, that is protected by encryption as well as security compliances that the virtual address company should comply to.
Can I Use A Virtual Address For My Business?
Yes. Virtual addresses are real street addresses and as such, can be used for the registration of any business. Additionally, you can view all your business mail online, through your virtual address account.
How Do Businesses Get A Virtual Address?
Getting a virtual address for a business, is very simple. After a business signs up, it will need to complete a change of address with the USPS and a 1583 Form which allows the Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) to legally manage mail on the business’s behalf.
The only other thing that is required from the business, is to send a couple forms of ID of the owner or manager of the business, and they can be compliant with USPS rules on accessing mail through a virtual address.
Do You Need A Physical Address For An Online Business?
In order to register an online business, you need to have a physical street address that can be used. PO Boxes will not do. Examples of physical addresses are a UPS Mailbox or a Virtual Address.
What is the difference between virtual address and physical address space?
Not all physical addresses are virtual addresses, but all virtual addresses are physical addresses. The main difference between a virtual & a physical address, is that with a virtual address you also get a virtual mailbox, on top of the physical address.
How is a virtual address converted to a physical address?
A virtual address does not get converted to a physical address. Rather the virtual address is a physical address that comes with a virtual mailbox.
Pros & Cons Of Using A Virtual Address
First impressions they say are everything in life. When doing business with someone, the first element that needs to be satisfied is that of trust. If there is any distrust sensed throughout a transaction of a business service, at best it doesn’t help prosper further collaboration and at worst it closes shut the current transaction opportunity.
Getting a real street address at a business location, makes you look more authentic, professional and as someone who is genuine about the service provided. One effect of the devastating 2008-2009 crisis a decade ago other than the obvious, was the increase of illegitimate online businesses, which using some PO box or home address, were able to setup “legitimate” LLCs. Your attention should be focused on doing good for your customers and growing your business, not trying to cover up for a “cheap” image.
It’s no secret that we live in the middle of the most competitive business environment that’s ever existed. You are no longer just competing against businesses in your local area, but are (quite literally) competing against businesses from all corners of the globe – pretty much regardless of the industry or market that you are operating in.
This means that every single aspect of your business really has to be dialed in to give you a competitive advantage. Having a PO Box address, or anything other than a “legitimate” physical address – made possible with virtual address services – is going to handicap your credibility, your authority, and your legitimacy in the eyes of prospects and customers.
With a virtual address, however, all of those issues disappear completely. You get all the benefits of a physical address with all the benefits of a virtual one – literally enjoying the best of both worlds.
As mentioned earlier in this article and elsewhere, ensuring that no dissatisfied customer knows where you live, will bring forward peace of mind and security for you & your loved ones. It can also help you avoid telemarketers or people snooping into your tax and financial information.
Imagine for a moment that you did use your residential address for your online business, and (for variety of different reasons, including some that have nothing whatsoever to do with you or your business) you have to deal with some unhappy or unpleasant customers.
Would feel completely comfortable with these total strangers having important information like that?
Would you feel comfortable knowing that at any point in time – even when you aren’t home, but your family and loved ones might be – a customer or client that is disgruntled or unhappy could show up unannounced?
Of course not. No business owner would.
Thankfully, with a virtual business address, you’re able to enjoy a bit more anonymity and a bit more protection than you would have with a more traditional business address set up.
With a virtual address you are able to avoid those kinds of sticky situations filled with unpleasantness and potentially unsafe situations, all while conducting business with an address that adds legitimacy and credibility to your business along the way.
Unless you are an individual looking to get an occasional piece of mail forwarded to you overseas or a new location you have recently moved to, virtual addresses are most sought out by businesses.
Even in the case that you are an individual and want a more digitized alternative to snail mail, documentation can be important for tax filings and resurfacing important notes from your archive etc. Businesses usually have to do deal with a lot more paperwork and invoicing.
Using a virtual address service can help keep everything in one place. Additionally, it can help connect your favorite business tools (cloud storage systems like Dropbox,) to the Virtual Mailbox, so you can extract and analyze your data in a very streamlined manner.
The flexibility that a virtual address provides is second to none.
Physical addresses (including PO boxes) are always going to “lock you down” to a singular location, are going to be rather difficult to manage, and our next to impossible to customize the way you might want to – particularly in today’s fast-moving and rapidly evolving business landscape.
By choosing a virtual mailbox or virtual address service you’re able to enjoy all the benefits that this digital solution provides while still maintaining the credibility and legitimacy of a physical address.
We have highlighted this a couple of times already through this quick guide but it really bears repeating. One of the biggest advantages of a virtual mailbox and virtual address service is the combination of all the benefits that a traditional address provides with once only available through virtual and digital spaces.
Although the pricing range is pretty wide, using a virtual address for business would definitely cost a bit more than using your home address. Generally speaking, virtual addresses are not that expensive, however there are many upsells in the process if you don’t do proper due diligence.
For example you may have super-charges on shipping (retail shipping + a markup price,) or a limit to how much mail you can receive before it is shredded, forcing you to go ahead and subscribe to some premium features.
They are not mandatory of course, but depending on how “on top” you are of things, you may see no other option but to sign up for a extended storage of your mail, or an increase on the cap of mail you can receive etc.
Initial Setup Process
Another hurdle that you are going to have to clear when you choose to take advantage of a virtual address or virtual mailbox service is the initialization of getting that new address up and running.
As far as working with top-tier providers (like the folks at US Global Mail, for example) is concerned, the setup process is pretty simple and straightforward. They walk you through the process of securing your new virtual address and show you how to make the most of your new virtual mailbox.
On the flip side of things, though, there are going to need to be some change of address processes you have to move forward with if you are changing a traditional address over to a virtual mailing service for a business that is already up and running.
If you’re starting with a brand-new operation this process is going to be a little more streamlined and a little more straightforward. But if you have already been in business for a while and have been using a different address there are going to be a couple of “growing pains” that you’ll have to navigate as you shift things over to this new solution.
This isn’t to suggest that you going to deal with a lot of headache and hassle by making the jump to a virtual mailbox or virtual address set up. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But it is going to be something that you’ll have to anticipate and preempt as much as possible, particularly if you really want to be able to hit the ground running with your new address as quickly and as easily as possible.
Should I Get A Virtual Address?
Getting a virtual address is a decision that can be disruptive to the way you are currently receive your mail. If it is the first time you come across the concept of a virtual address, it may sound foreign and new to you. Don’t let the name fool you; it is really just another app on your phone (or website on your computer.)
The virtual address company, will process everything for you, allowing you to simply log into your account, and see all your mail.
Companies like US Global Mail, make sure you have all associated fees upfront, and there are no hidden costs what so ever. In fact, our pricing model was structured with the mindset of out-beating all of our competition’s pricing and hidden fees. We pride ourselves with offering a top notch service, at the fraction of what you would pay elsewhere.
If you’d like to learn a little bit more about everything that we offer here at US Global Mail, or would like questions you have about our services answered directly, please don’t hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.
We will get back to you just as soon as we are able to with detailed information and answers about your request, sharing as much as possible to help you better understand if our solutions are a perfect fit for your specific needs.