Planning to start a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or limited partnership? You’re going to need a physical business address.
Businesses in the United States are formally organized through each state’s Secretary of State, and to fulfill regulations in any state, you’ll be required to do a couple of things.
First, you’ll need to designate a registered agent — which can be you. And second, because states don’t allow businesses to register with a P.O. Box, you’ll need to get a valid physical address for the business.
Some business owners use their home address, but not everyone is willing to do so. So (in lieu of renting office space), what are your alternatives?
A virtual mailbox service can be a great solution, but there are others to consider. Below, we’ll explore why your business needs a physical address, plus a few options to help you get one.
The short answer to this question is yes — LLCs do need a physical street address. Even in the modern age of home-based businesses, online businesses, and entrepreneurs, LLCs still need real street addresses to satisfy state regulations for business entities. LLCs, corporations, and limited partnerships aren’t legally allowed to operate using a P.O. Box.
Beyond requiring a physical address, state regulations also stipulate that business entities, including LLCs, have some form of designated agent — which can be you, the small business owner. This person must be available during business hours to accept government and legal documents. So, not only must the LLC have a physical address, the LLC’s registered agent needs one, too.
Even if there weren’t legal requirements, there are lots of good reasons why you may want a physical business address for your LLC. Here are just a few of the most common benefits of using a business address.
Even though most P.O. Box addresses are perfectly legitimate, mistrust often surrounds them. Some people worry that businesses without a physical address or place of business are a scam, or that they might suddenly disappear without completing a transaction. P.O. boxes can give the impression that since the business doesn’t have a “real” address, it may not be a real entity.
Some may also be suspicious that the business is using a P.O. Box to obscure its real physical location — and that’s a major red flag that can turn people away.
If you get a lot of mail, keeping a separate business address helps you keep things organized by keeping personal postal mail and business mail separate. One of the reasons why someone may want to form an LLC is to separate business liabilities from personal liabilities. This is called “limited liability protection” — and it can help you keep personal finances separate and protected from business liabilities. Keeping a business mailing address that is different from your home address offers another layer of separation.
Beyond that, a separate business address can also offer you added security. There’s always the chance that malicious actors could choose to harass your business — and if your office address is the same as your residential address, that means harassment at home.
Similarly, it insulates the business from potential confidentiality issues. Say, for example, that your CFO's home address is where your company receives tax documents and checks. Should the CFO suddenly quit or be terminated before you change your mailing address, they may continue to receive confidential business mail.
The kids are running around the house, the dog just tracked in mud, and you’ve got dirty dishes in the sink — if you’re running your business out of your home, these things suddenly become huge concerns when it comes to hosting clients, customers, or business partners for meetings.
Even if you do most of your work from home, it can still be prudent to have a physical business location with office space where you can host meetings. A physical office creates a more professional image than a meeting held in your living room or at a local coffee shop.
Whether you’re a consumer-facing or business-facing entity, perception is everything. A real, physical address adds authenticity and professionalism that you can’t get with a P.O. Box address or one in a residential neighborhood.
Keeping a business address establishes you in a specific locale — and it can even speak a little about the type of business you have depending on the area in which the address is located. For example, a New York City address may give off big-city, big-business vibes, whereas a Long Island address elsewhere may have a more small-town feel.
You’ve seen some of the reasons why you might want to get a new business address for incorporation. What you might not yet know is that there are different kinds of business addresses you can get depending on your needs. We’ll cover those next.
For many startups and LLCs, a virtual business address service is the way to go. These services typically offer you a real, physical address of your choice based on whatever locations the service provider has available to them.
From there, service providers like Stable offer a suite of virtual office services in that they’ll scan envelopes for you, upload the images online, and let you choose what to do with them from there.
This typically means you can request to have envelopes opened and the contents scanned, request mail forwarding to send letters and packages to your home or another address, or have junk mail shredded. Some mailbox services, like Stable, will also deposit checks for you and offer other perks, like shipping discounts or a registered agent service.
Need a virtual mailbox provider to help you stay on top of business mail? Stable gives you a permanent address that you can manage from anywhere. Scan mail, forward packages, deposit checks, and more. Try it here.
Consider a virtual business address when you have a lot of business mail to handle, but don’t really have a need for physical office space. This could include small, home-based, remote, or distributed businesses.
However, virtual business addresses are also excellent for big businesses that receive tremendous volumes of mail: There’s no physical sorting or routing mail, or scanning and depositing checks. Instead, you can do all of it online with a few clicks.
Large businesses especially can save dozens of hours per week in time spent on managing mail operations — which means your employees (and you) have more time to handle business-critical matters.
You can get a post office box directly through USPS. It’s a fairly basic service. For an annual fee, you get access to a box to receive mail at a local post office branch.
Unlike some other postal mail alternatives, this one doesn’t really offer any bells and whistles like pre-sorting out junk mail or digitizing your mail: it’s just a place to receive your mail. Because it doesn’t count as a street address, it won’t work as a business address if you plan to formally file articles of organization to form an LLC or another entity.
P.O. Boxes are not without their benefits. They’re a simple and effective way to keep personal and business mail separate. You may consider using a post office box if you have a home-based business that you don’t plan to formally incorporate. It’s a good option for freelancers or sole proprietorships.
When people think about where to receive mail, coworking spaces don’t generally come to mind — but nevertheless, this is one option that can fulfill a lot of needs. For one, you can receive business mail at many coworking spaces.
Beyond that, these spaces mostly exist to help you separate home life from work life while providing an avenue to network with the startup community in your area. As such, you get access to office space, meeting areas, and other perks in addition to a physical business address that you can put on your business cards.
Not all coworking spaces offer the same services, but if you use one as your business address, you'll likely enjoy some added perks: high-speed internet, access to shared printers, scanners, and copiers. Some spaces even offer dedicated phone lines so that you can have a business fax or phone number.
Since coworking spaces are easily the most expensive option, consider them only when you need the unique advantages they can deliver. For example, if networking with the local startup community is beneficial for you, or if you need to keep work separate from your home life, then a coworking space is a great option.
Another situation in which you may want to consider a coworking space is when you need a physical location to work and host meetings with clients and business partners. Coworking spaces will give you access to an address and a professional space designed with business needs in mind.
Thinking about forming an LLC? Then you’ll need a business address — and Stable can help with that and more. We offer address locations in New York, California, Delaware, Austin TX, and Miami and offer personalized change of address guidance to help you transition from using your home address, or another business address. (We'll even pre-fill USPS Form 1583 to streamline the process for you.)
With Stable, you can also take full advantage of our virtual mailbox services to simplify your mail operations, saving you time, money, and storage space. Once we receive your mail, we’ll scan it and notify you, and you can view it or select an action directly from our web dashboard.
Get started with Stable here.